By Inayah Ahmed Farhia Rashid Faye Zhao
Haig: Butcher Of the Somme?
The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive,was one ofthe largest battles of the First World War.Fought between July 1 and November 1 1918 near the Somme River in France, it was also one of the bloodiest military battles in history . On the first day alone, the British suffered more than 57,000 casualties and by the end of the campaign the Allies and Central Powers would lose more than 1.5 million men .
What happened at the battle of the somme?
Is There Evidence that Haig made mistakes ?
Haig sent thousands of men to their deaths continuously after his war efforts seemed not to be working. For instance 60,000 soldiers died in the first day alone in the battle of the Somme
While his men were starving in the cold and muddy trench, Haig was sipping French wine in cosy château miles away from the fighting. This shows that he only cared for himself, not for the hard fighting soldiers Haig did not spend his time on the front line with his men, but stayed away from the direct fighting.
•General Haig did not however stop the battle. Day after day, British soldiers went ‘ over the top’ to attack the German trenches. Every time the British attacked the Germans counter attacked and forced them to retreat. This went on for 140 days (nearly 4 months). Haig could see how many people were dying. Why didn’t he stop the battle?
Evidence that Haig did do well in difficult situations :
Haig assisted Britain in winning the war and although he did so with tremendous loss of life, these men did not die pointlessly. They died to protect their families and everyone else on the home front, and they died to prevent Britain from becoming a German Nation.
Haig was in a lose lose position, as, in the circumstances the only way in which he could win was through mass casualties as that was what a war of attrition was reduced to and he would be held responsible for the deaths . While if Haig lost he would be responsible for losing the war and would receive excessive abuse for all the men that died. Therefore either way Haig would be considered a ‘butcher’.
More evidence to prove Haig did well :
•Haig did not spend his time on the front line with his men, but stayed away from the direct fighting. This was done not so he could live a luxurious life, but so he was able to see a further stretch of the trenches and plan his tactics accordingly. This is compared to being on the front line and only seeing a small area of the battle field and would therefore have less well planned tactics as they would only take a small proportion of the trenches into account. Hence Haig was acting well in his role, rather being ‘the butcher of the Somme’ as he positioned himself in a position where he could have an overview of the whole battlefield. This resulted in the best planned tactics in the given circumstances. Also, if Haig was in the front line of the Trenches then there was a higher risk of him being killed and then the army would be in a much worse state than actually being in the state they were in when General Haig was in charge.
•Haig was advised that his seven day artillery bombardment had proven to be successful(the aim of the bombardment was to brake all the barbed wire and kill most of the Germans in the trenches) therefore he ordered his men to walk across no-man’s land and look for mines. This shows that he thought about what to do and what was in the best interest for his men as there was no point in telling his men to run across no-man’s land to be blown up by mines.
Overall, Haig was a good leader of the battle of the Somme. Although he was said to have sent many people to their deaths, this was not completely in vain and in the end, Britain did win the war. It was difficult for Haig – he was in a lose lose position. In addition, contrary to popular belief, he did not deliberately try to stay away from the trenches and live in luxury. If the definition of a good general is one that helps to win the war, Haig was definitely a good leader for the country and its warfare.
BY : Inayah Ahmed Farhia Rashid Faye Zhao
To Conclude ....