How Far Did General Haig Deserve to Be Known as Butcher of the Somme

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07/10/12
How far does General Haig deserve to be known as ‘The Butcher of the Somme’? The Battle of the Somme was the most costly battle in terms of casualties every in the history of British Military. A decisive breakthrough was needed by the allies after 2 years of stalemate on the Western Front however after the first day of fighting at the Somme, it became very clear that the artillery bombardment had fail to smash German defences and barbed wire and so there were 60000 casualties on the 1/7/1916. General Haig had the authority to stop the battle; however he didn’t resulting in huge losses over the next 4 months at the Somme. He prolonged the battle unnecessarily when failure became obvious and therefore deserves his name as ‘butcher of the Somme.’ Some historians believe he doesn’t deserve this name because he was just doing his job as a general and death is an inevitable part of war and loss of men is a consequence of any decision made by Haig. There had been stalemate on the western front for 2 years and the Germans were still on French soil. An attack was needed in an attempt to push the Germans out of France and bring the war to a close. Haig had the right intentions in trying to do this and this is one of the reasons he launched such a large battle. The French were under considerable pressure at Verdun and so one of the reasons was to attract German soldiers and guns north to the Somme from Verdun, therefore relieving the pressure. If Haig had called off the offensive at the beginning of July he would have thrown away this advantage. In one article it states how ‘the only real achievement of the Anglo-French armies on 1 July 1916 was to relieve pressure on Verdun.’ (DSP) This shows how the battle did draw German soldiers north and it made the difference in that the Germans did not capture the city of Verdun. It can be argued also that the Battle of Somme broke German morale and key infantry and experienced officers were lost at the Somme too. The...
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