Defining Field Marshal General Sir Douglas Haig
Haig was a technical innovator; Haig was an old fashioned fool. Haig
was a brilliant strategist; Haig was ignorant. Haig was a great man;
Haig was hardly a man. Haig was easily the best man for the job; Haig
was obviously the only man left for the job. All these views are
shared by different people about Haig, in my essay I will put forward
my views about Haig and justifications by referring to the facts.
Douglas Haig was born on June 19th 1861. He was the son of John Haig,
a wealthy owner of a whisky-distilling factory. After his education,
Haig joined the army in 1885 and served in India, Egypt, South Africa
and Sudan. He slowly worked up through the Ranks. In 1906, he got to
the rank of Major General and was the youngest Major General in the
British army at that time. In 1914 when World War 1 broke out Haig was
given command of the First Army Corps in France. Haig's part in WW1
became greater when the leader of the British Expeditionary Forces
made some critical errors in the way the war was being fought, and was
sacked. Therefore, on the 10th of December 1915 Haig was appointed the
new leader of the British Expeditionary Forces.
The fact that Haig stayed in some form of military leadership
throughout WW1 immediately tells you that he must have been successful
to stay in such a high-ranking position to the end of such a big war.
In his second year, he was in charge of one of the bloodiest battles
in British warfare: the Somme, which was probably Haig's worst battle.
- Already it sounds like he was a poor strategist and even ignorant-.
In the battle of the Somme Haig's plan was to launch a massive
artillery attack on the Germans, and then British troops were supposed
to be able to easily walk across no-man's land - ambitious to say the
least. However, a week before the attack a German concrete dugout was
captured. This showed the British that the German defences were well
built and safe. Nevertheless, the British plan of attack did not
change. This makes Haig sound ignorant, however, Haig's intelligence
sources have often been questioned.
"The selection of leaders from pre-war professionals was likely to
produce a rich crop of mediocrities. Put bluntly, the nobility and
gentry used the army as a dumping ground for their stupid children,"
Denis Winter, Haig's Command - A Reassessment, 1991.
Many people criticise Haig for being so far away from the frontline in
the Somme. However, there is no point in being on the frontline for a
leader, because he cannot see everything that is going on and he might
be killed or injured which is pointless because he needs to plan the
military strategy. Therefore, Haig was not (necessarily) uncaring.
When the battle of the Somme started, the...