How far does General Haig deserve to be known as ‘The Butcher Of The Somme’?
By the battle of the Somme in 1916 the war had been in a huge stalemate for 18 months that didn’t look like it was going to be broken any time soon. Trenches had been dug on the Western front all they way from the coast at Ostend to the Alps. Just before the offensive at the Somme, Verdun was under a heavy attack from German forces forcing the French to pull all their troops back to Verdun. General Haig was asked to relieve pressure of the French by French commanders. Therefore there was no choice but an offensive somewhere on the Western Front by the British army. I believe General Haig did deserve to be named Butcher of the Somme for several reasons. Firstly because of the number of casualties, secondly because of his naivety not to change his tactics and lastly due to the poor planning by Haig,
On one hand there are several reasons why I believe he deserved to be called ‘The Butcher Of The Somme’. Firstly throughout the whole battle that only lasted five months, there were over one million casualties in all, around 600,000 of those were British soldiers, this included 57,000 on the first day that was the 1st of July 1916, for example 548 of the Sheffield Pals died on the first day, this is shown in source 27 of Ben Walsh’s book. This was the highest number of casualties ever recorded in British history in a single battle. It was believed that Haig did not care for his soldiers and in his mind if there was more German casualties than British casualties they would win the war in the end, this is shown in the source booklet where it says ‘Haig was as stubborn as a donkey and as unthinking as a donkey’, this shows that he didn’t care what happened as long as he achieved success even if he sacrificed his whole army to win. Lastly throughout the battle Haig changed very few of his tactics even though it was clear his tactic of sending waves of soldiers over the top wasn’t...
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