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To What Extent Was Douglas Haig The Most Successful Theatre Commander, In The British Century Of Warfare 1899 2003?

3549 words - 14 pages

1MORGAN FARGOTO WHAT EXTENT WAS DOUGLAS HAIG THE MOST SUCCESSFUL THEATRE COMMANDER, IN THE BRITISH CENTURY OF WARFARE 1899 - 2003?It has been said that a theatre commanders goal during wartime is "to bring that conflict to an end on favourable terms," through efficient and effective command. However, Douglas Haig has been deemed a theatre commander who "must be indicted…for willful blunders and wicked butchery" during World War One. This debate of butchery or brilliance has raged since Haig's return from the bloody battlefields with the development of clichés such as, "another gargantuan effort to move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin." However this is to simplify the complex task of theatre command, which goes beyond the immediate battlefield; having to incorporate working with allies, military-political relations and the integration an utilization of technology. This essay, therefore will question not only if Haig was in fact successful, but more over whether he was the most successful in relation to other commanders in the British Century of Warfare, 1899 - 2003. [1: Col. John W Guthrie US Marine Corps The Theatre Commander: Planning for Conflict Termination (2006) p2][2: John Laffin British Butchers and Bunglers of World War One (2003) p16][3: Captain Cook Episode of the popular television show Blackadder 1989 ]To evaluate a theatre commander, it is necessary to examine their relationship with allied armies, should they be fighting under a coalition force. I believe that Haig was a good ally, as he understood that the crux of the issue was to win the war, rather than concerning himself with the politics of command. Haig has also been seemingly unfairly criticized for being "unimaginative…and even contemptuous of his European allies." [4: Brian Bond and Nigel Cave (Editors), Haig: A Reappraisal 70 Years On (1999) ]Generally it can be said that Haig was never outwardly disrespectful towards the Allies. Haig's issues were recorded only in his diary and in July 1918 Haig notes that he was "glad… that Lloyd George was at last angry with the French" as they "were taking too large a share in the direction of the war, [giving] little credit to Britain." Haig's "francophobia" stemmed from their abandonment of the BEF at Mons, but did not let it obscure his judgment.Haig's first instance of major cooperation with the French came with the Somme offensive in July 1916. Haig understood that the BEF was the subordinate ally and "must march to support the French." Joffre consistently harangued Haig to relieve the French at Verdun but Haig was quick to remind Joffre, "It lies with me to judge what… and when I can undertake it." Here Haig displayed his merits as both BEF leader and as an ally, ensuring that his own army was durable enough, before reaching a compromise with the French.[5: Gary Sheffield, The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army (2011) p193]Lloyd George's attempted placement of the BEF under...

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