Haig: Butcher of the Somme?

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Field Marshal Douglas Haig was a British senior officer during World War 1. He commanded the British Expeditionary Force from 1915 to the end of the War. This meant that he was in charge of the Battle of the Somme. His part in this battle has led to split views on him as an army officer. Some believe that his tactic was poor and he was mindlessly sending men to their deaths. However, some believe that the Somme was actually not a disaster and that Haig employed a good tactic. I will explored both sides of the argument and then conclude with my overall view on whether Haig was a “butcher” or not.


There are several reasons why Haig was or was not a “butcher”. I’m going to start off with a reason why I think he was a “butcher”. The reason was his location during the Battle of the Somme. He was situated in the luxuries of a chateau a whole fifty miles behind the line. This meant that, to be perfectly honest, Haig had next to no idea as to what was going on in the battle. This is backed up by Source D where the differences between a rehearsal and a real attack. The Sergeant Major says that the “absence of the general” is one. This clearly shows that Haig was nowhere to be seen when war broke – thus out showing his cowardice.

My point about Haig having no idea about what was going on is proved by Source B where there is an extract written by Haig about the first day of the attack. It is clear that he was not there and is clueless as the report is simply wrong.

The fact that he was clueless and thought that the battle was going well meant that he didn’t change his tactic. This was not really his fault you could say – he was ill informed. However, what facts say is that he wouldn’t have to be informed at all if he was nearer to the battle and so would have known that his tactic was not working. Haig’s perseverance of his tactic is what he is most criticised for and...
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