Was General Haig the Butcher of the Somme?
General Haig's title of 'butcher of the Somme' originated after the First World War, when, due to a large number of casualties Britain suffered from the war and mostly the Somme. The people of Britain wanted someone to blame. This was a coping mechanism in which people could deal with the loss of the 'lost generation'. Feild Marshall Haig has often been called the butcher of the Somme because 20000 soldiers died on the first day of the battle, and a further 40000 were injured. The battle of the Somme was one of the 6 blodiest battles of world war one, and resulted in more British dead than any battle before it. One canadian Battalion lost 700 out of 850 men in the battle of the Somme. Stories started to reach home of the heavy casulty losses and the awful conditions n the trenches.However, some historians disagree and argue that Haig was not responsible for the human losses, because his military methods were in line with the ideas of the time (source 2, a book called Feild Marshall Haig written by Philip Warner an Historian). Death is a fact of war. Haig wrote 'The nation must be thought to bear losses. No amount of skill on the part of the commanders, no training however good, no superiority of arms and ammunition will enable victories to be won without the sacrifice of men's lives. The nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists.
The plan of attack.
Haig's plan of attack at the battle of the Somme was the bombardment of the German trenches. Haig has been blamed for the weakness of the plan because the British navy could have been used to bomb the Germans from the west. Some argue that Haig cannot be held responsible for the plan failing because his methods were correct and in 1916 he said 'the machine gun is a much over-rated weapon'. Also, the English bombarded the enemy front line with shells for 6 days. This should have been enough to destroy the German front line. But they didn't know that