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Does General Haig Deserve To Be Remembered ‘The Butcher Of The Somme’?

1617 words - 7 pages

Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig (19 June 1861 – 29 January 1928) was a senior commander in the First World War (WWI), and perhaps one of the most notable figures in British Military history. Although he served as the commander of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from 1915 to the end of the war – which was one of the greatest victories in Britain’s military history – the involvement during the Battle of the Somme, lead him to become one of the most criticized Commanders in the WWI. The Battle of the Somme is the battle with one of the highest casualties in Britain military history, alongside with the highest single casualties in the whole history of British military.

General Haig was the commander of the BEF in the battle.

Some of the British regard the man who led Britain’s biggest-ever army to one of the most important victories to Britain as a national hero. However since the 1960s, some people started to call Haig “Butcher Haig” or “butcher of the Somme” who simply didn’t care how many soldiers were killed to accomplish an objective that could be far more less than a battle should be. Nevertheless, does General Haig deserve to be remembered as ‘the butcher of the Somme’? This essay will mainly focus on the reasons of why and why not Haig deserve the nickname ‘butcher Haig’ or ‘butcher of the Somme’, and will make a conclusion of does Haig may or may not be accused wrongly after all.

The Battle of the Somme is arguably one of the most horrible battles in the world, and certainly one of the most horrible battles in Britain military history. On the first day of the battle the British had suffered nearly sixty thousand casualties, while by the end of the battle the number had raised to four hundred and twenty thousand men. The French also lost around two hundred thousand men and the Germans had lost nearly five hundred thousand soldiers. There was not a single battle before the battle of the Somme that have a casualty number any way near than this. What kind of commander can let this thing happen? General Haig got no way to avoid the responsibility. Fred Pearson, a private on the Western Front, commented on Haig, stating: ‘The biggest murderer of the lot was Haig. I'm very bitter; always have been and always will be and everybody else that knew him. He lived almost 50 kilometers behind the line and that's about as near as he got. I don't think he knew what a trench was like. And they made him an Earl and gave him £100,000. I know what I'd have given him.’ The source has clearly showed how Haig treats his soldiers – stay 50 kilometers away the front line and giving commands when he is feeling good.

Alongside Fred, David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister during the First World War, writing in his War Memoirs (1935) had mentioned that ‘Haig was a second-rate Commander in unparalleled and unforeseen circumstances... He was not endowed with any of the elements of imagination and vision ... And he certainly had none of that personal...

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