General Haig Essay

Submitted By thegrumpyslothxx
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Pages: 4

Field Marshall Haig

Sir Douglas Haig replaced Sir John French as commander of the British army. He faced many problems from the state French had left the army in. He faced the task of planning battles and training his army. His tactics were first put to the test at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the casualties began to rise into unacceptable numbers.

The British army put their faith into Haig because of his reputation as a great leader. He had had past success' during the Boer War in South Africa, were some of his tactics proved to be very successful. These tactics would soon come under scrutiny later on.

Many historians believed that Haig's tactics were outdated. Haig used conventional tactics and believed that one final push against the Germans at Somme would kill them off. This did not prove to be successful as it resulted in 400,000 British deaths with only 10 miles of ground gained by the end of the battle. Haig lost 20,000 men in one day on occasions. Historians claim that Haig should have adjusted his tactics due to these statistics. Haig's ignorance to the fact that his tactics weren't working was the reason why Haig has been labelled a 'butchered' and a 'bungler' and in this piece of coursework I will try and justify whether or not Haig deserved these titles.

Q2. During the time when Haig was Field Marshall, people held different opinions on the way he commanded his men at the front line.

The prime minister at the time, Lloyd George, believed that Haig was not a competent Field Marshall due to the fact that he was not gaining much ground given the time he had had and the casualties that were rising.

On the other hand, fellow Generals and Marshall's who had worked with him in past wars and who had seen what Haig was capable of, believed that Haig was accomplished enough to command an army the size of Britain's. This knowledge came from what people had said who had been under his command in the Boer War in South Africa.

Despite what others had seen of him in the Boer War. His soldiers, under his command, knew that Haig's out-dated tactics weren't working and that they weren't making any progress, this damaged morale through the trenches knowing that the warfare was still going to last along time. However there is evidence to suggest that morale was high in other battalions in the trenches because t may be possible that some battalions did not suffer the same losses as other battalions further down the trench.

People back home in Britain may have been on Haig's side because thought that Haig was a military success out in the trenches, but really they were being false fed information about the battles in France. However it became quite clear that people with access to accurate information about what was happening realised that Haig's tactics were not working.

Q3. Today we have the ability and knowledge to understand Haig's tactics and why he used them. We can also see if his tactics worked by looking at the evidence that we have.

People still do believe that Haig's tactics were slow, and out of date and that he should have changed them as soon as he started to see that they weren't working. However, we have discovered that during trench warfare it took a long time for messages do get sent back to HQ, this is because messengers got killed or injured or the message got changed along the way, so it is possible that Haig was quite misinformed and the news he…