Was General Haig to blame for so many deaths at the battle of the Somme?
In this essay I will be trying to answer the following question: ‘do you think General Haig was to blame for so many deaths in the battle of the Somme?’ Haig became General of the Army on the 10th of December 1915 at the age of 54. At the time, he appeared to be the best man for the job as he had led and won successful battles in his past. In 1916, he launched an attack. His attack took place near the Somme River, against the Germans. He won, but was it worth losing 420,000 people’s lives for the sake of a small piece of land? He certainly thought so. As a result of this, he earned himself the nickname ‘Butcher of the Somme’. There are reasons why he is to blame, and why he isn’t. I hope to cover both sides and conclude with my opinion.
The following reasons all support the idea that Haig was to blame. First of all, Haig had planned the Battle of the Somme to be one of the most important of the many battles of World War 1. He had planned it to obliterate the German Line, and clear a path for the British to invade Germany and win the war. He even admitted this in the lead up to the battle. This meant that he was clueless of what could and what eventually did happen. Secondly, he was very over-confident. Commanders were told, by him, that the 7 day heavy artillery bombardment would kill all of the German defence. So there was no need to run, why run when you could walk? The bombardment turned out to be very unsuccessful; it didn’t manage to cut the barbed wire correctly. Furthermore, the Germans who had just hidden underground all that time simply returned to their trenches, which were pretty much in the same state as they had been left, and shot down the British who were advancing at walking pace. This showed that not only was Haig over-confident, but he was also prepared to stand-by as people quite literally walked to their deaths. Thirdly, despite the huge catastrophe on the first day...
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