Was Haig a Butcher or War Winner Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:15
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(The battle of the Sommes was a notorious event that occurred in the time frame of World War I, between France and England on one side, while on the other side, Germany. The objective of this battle for the English side is too re-conquer/ seize the French town of Verdun, a stronghold of France against Germany. Also, the English soldiers were ordered to annihilate as much German soldiers as possible, in order to eventually gain the vantage point of the battle.

The English soldiers were lead by General Douglas Haig, and as a General, he devised a tactic that he thought would ensure victory for England and France. However, it was because of this plan that Haig became one of the main focal point of controversy for the last few 100 years¦ _ The Battle of Sommes began in 1916, and Haig, along with his army rushed to the frontline to quickly execute the plan.

He sent the artillery force to bombard the enemy trenches for 8 days straight, in hope of severely damaging the enemy trenches and in hope of being able to cut the barbed wires for the foot soldiers to break through. However, things did not go as he planned, as the German soldiers had somehow got a grasp of the situation and had fortified their trenches with concrete and making sure that defense system cannot be bypassed. Failing to penetrate the enemys defense, Haig ordered the foot soldiers to march ahead and fight on.

The war continued on, and eventually, it ended with Haig succeeding in capturing Verdun and drove the Germans off French soil. However, there were heavy war casualties, and from then on, General Douglas Haig was either regarded as a victorious war winner by some or a ruthless butcher by others¦ (After the war was over, and even until now, Haig was regarded by many of the English (and global) society as being a ruthless soldier butcher, as he sent more than a million of lives to their tragic demise through one single plan.

These people who think negatively of Haig would fall into the Butcher group, which includes: ¢ Family members, relatives, even girlfriends of the soldiers that Haig had leaded into tragic ends. These people would, after finding out the people they relish had died in battle because of Haig, will definitely grieve. And so that certain event would likely to ignite a spark of hatred and resentment, and definitely would leave a profound effect in their minds; and this motivates them to dub Haig as being a butcher.

¢ Newspaper reporters. These people work under the payment and order of the Government, and obviously, they follow and report up what was said by the Government and leaders- which tend to be quite negative. Common civilians, when knowing nothing of the outcome of the battle, would be informed in a negative way through reading these reports, and would certainly trust what was told, thus regarding Haig as a butcher, without knowing the full details of the actual battle, and as such blinded from the positive facts.

¢ The other Generals. Many of the Generals and leaders have perpetual quarrels with General Haig and hated him even before the Battle of the Somme even occurred. These people, for example General Lloyd George, might have used their authorities and infamies to manipulate the other soldiers and civilians into thinking about Haig negatively. ¢ Ex-soldiers who partook in the actual battle of the Sommes. With the vantage of actually partaking in the warfare experience, these soldiers have a right mind to think, as such they realised the stupidity and questioned Haigs tactic for being so vexing and dull.

After the battle had ended and after witnessing the many deaths taking place, these soldiers might think of him as unable to lead, thick-headed, and inexperienced, and as such regarded him as a butcher of the Sommes. These people who fall into the Butcher group tended to think negatively of Haig, reviewed on the mistakes and lethal flaws he had made within the Battle of the Sommes, rather than revise the positive points about him, one of which would be actually winning the war.

Mostly, these people have certain events involving Haig that triggered their hatred for him, and the flaws Haig had made in the war came coincidental enough for the people to regard him negatively. So what did he do wrong for people to regard him as a butcher and a simple-minded fool? Even though no one could deny that Haig eventually did his job in capturing Verdun, the war casualties were extremely heavy, and more than one million soldiers have died in less than a few weeks, in which more than 400 000 were English soldiers.

Technically, all the flaws made in the battle that had lead to so many deaths were originated from one thing- Haigs original tactic. Firstly, Haig had devised a plan that did not came into effect, and were said to be ham-fisted and clumsy by P. W. Turner and R. H. Haig, two writers who wrote a book called Not for Glory in 1969, more than 40 years after the event actually occurred. Then, his made mistake was that he ordered the artilleries to bombard the barbed wires, despite the explicit fact known to ANY Tommy that instead of being cut, the wires would get tangled up even worse than before.

After the bombardment had miserably failed, he made an even worse mistake by making the foot soldiers walk through No Mans Land, carrying 60 pounds bags of utilities. This, instead of providing them all the materials they needed, only slowed them down, making them worthless walking targets for the Germans to shoot down. Therefore, even when England eventually won the battle, and many of Germanys best men were killed, far more of Englands best men were shot down, which cancels out the victorious effect.

His plan was said to lack finesse, the element of surprise, and the plan was too predictable, thus ultimately lead many men to their ends, and thus made him into a soldier butcher, according to many people. Out of the many people who regarded him as the Butcher of the Sommes, some were famous for writing books and documents explaining their state of mind about Haig. In these documents, these people have described Haig as being very horrible, inexperienced, and pointed out explicitly his stupidity.

However, even though some writers might tell the truth, many of the others were biased, and as such were persistent to stay on the negative side. For example, George Coppard, a machine gunner who participated in the battle of the Sommes, wrote in his book With a Machine Gun to Cambrai: _Had they studied the black density of it through their powerful binoculars? Who told them that artillery fire would pound such wire to pieces, making it impossible to get through? Any Tommy could have told them that shell fire lifts wire up and drops it own, often in a worse tangle than before.

This quote made by George was describing the black density within Haigs mind upon planning the attack, and thus commented on his stupidity and thick-headedness for using shell fire to try and cut the barbed wires (which miserably failed). Even though the quote was written in 1969, almost more than 40 years after the war had ended, because George was an experienced soldier he had shown the full details of the battle, as such showing explicitly Haigs lack of warfare experience.

Also, George only wrote this book to inform the people of the event from a soldiers perspective through his own memories, and as such he was not told by anyone to write negatively about Haig, and was not biased. Another piece of writing that gained infamy through writing negatively about General Haig and addressing him as the butcher of the Sommes was the book Butchers and Bunglers of World War One written by the military historian John Laffin in 1988. Within the book, he wrote: _Haig was as stubborn as a donkey and as unthinking as a donkey¦He knew he had no chance of a breakthrough yet still sent men to their deaths.

This quote made by John Laffin compared Haig to a donkey- a creature that was said to embody stupidity. Throughout Laffins work, he described Haig negatively and commented vigorously on his flaws. However, this source is highly biased and unreliable, for certain reasons. First, the quote was written in 1988- 70 years after the war ended, and as such, Laffin was not even born when the battle took place, so he never actually partook in the battle of the Sommes, therefore would not know every single detail about the battle, but rather, what was told.

Because he was so uninformed that clearly about the battle, Laffin might have used his own creativity and made-up some original ideas about Haig to make his book more complete, as such some of the information he wrote might be incorrect. Also, Laffins parents died in World War I, and possibly the Sommes, therefore that motivated Laffin to think of Haig as a butcher, as he might have leaded his parents to their deaths. This certain event had ignited the spark of vengeful hatred within Laffin, so he became biased and bombarded Haig through his book. Even when such a vast majority of people regarded Haig as a butcher, many people then and still have regarded him as an actual war winner, and instead of just manipulated by hatred and looked at only his flaws, these people revised the battle and saw through his good points.

These people were dubbed as falling in the War Winner group, and this group consisted of: ¢ The French. After Haig won the battle of the Sommes and saved the French town of Verdun (and ultimately saved France from an invasion), the French were eternally grateful of Haig or his deeds to France, and out of relief and joy, they dubbed him as a true war winner, without looking at the heavy war casualties. However, this might be because out of the million died, the amount of French soldiers died took only a mere 10%, and so that did not create much of a profound effect on the French as much as the English. ¢ The family members and relatives of Haig. Family members, such as wife, and kids, of General Douglas Haig, obviously must support their husband and fathers side.

Over years, they tried to do everything to regain the authority he once had and tried to elude the thought of him being a butcher from everyone, yet not much progress have been made. These people look at the battle positively, and commented on the good deeds he had demonstrated by hiring writers to advertise the idea. ¢ Writers. Some writers at that time were hired by the Haig family to published books describing and commenting on the good deeds General Haig had demonstrated in the Sommes.

Some did not agree with the idea, however, they had to do it reluctantly due to the high payment the Haig family had compromised. The people on the War Winner side, instead of persistently commenting on the flaws Haig had made, chose to comment more on the good deeds he had demonstrated. Firstly, though sacrificing many lives, Haig had succeeded anyway in winning the battle and seizing Verdun. Haig also managed to capture 70 square miles of enemy territory, and drove the Germans off French soil, thus succeeded in pursuing the set objectives.

Haig also took long enough in the battle, allowing the French to re-assemble their troops and armies. Furthermore, the battle of the Sommes had worked in boosting the Triple Allies morale, while shattering Germanys spirit of resistance through Haigs armys courage. Also, Haig did a great deed in targeting and killing off Germanys best men, giving the Allies a strong vantage point. Finally, no one can argue that the Sommes was just another war scenario, and heavy war casualties are to be expected nonetheless¦

After the Sommes ended, the controversy about Haig either being a butcher/ war winner started to become a heated debate. Because the people who thought that Haig was a butcher published documentaries expressing their points of views, the positive side also published many different books expressing their feelings as well. The writer Duff Cooper had wrote a book about General Haig with his family name being the title in 1936. He was directly sked and persuaded by the Haig family to do so, and he wrote: Greatness of character is something different from greatness of mind or of intellect. In moral stature, Haig was a giant. It maybe easy to find in history a man more brilliant, yet it would be hard to find a better man. This quote written by Duff supported Haig in a fairly neutral way, in softly admitting that Haig was obviously not the best or most brilliant war general in history. However, he wrote that General Haig had an amazing character, and was definitely a very good man, thus positively supporting him.

Even though this book was written and published in 1936, only 8 years after the war ended, making it seem a tad more reliable, it could be highly biased. Firstly, the most important contributing point for it being biased is that Duff Cooper was asked by the family of General Haig to write this book, and thus he had to write according to whatever their point of views were , and because they were Haigs relatives, their points were positively biased.

Also, the purpose in writing this book is to inform the people the positive deeds he had made in the battle to try to elude the ideas of the Butcher of the Sommes. In order for that to happen, Duff Cooper most likely had to be as hyperbolic as possible, thus making him very biased, in a positive way. Another writer, Vyvyen Brendon, published a book in 2000. There was a section of the Sommes, and obviously, she had incorporated Haig in it. She wrote: ¦and that the French army would have collapsed without heavy British engagement.

Since there was no wonder-weapon which could achieve victory there was no alternative but to wear the enemy down. Heavy casualties, according to Gary Sheffield, were inevitable. Vyvyen Brendon, in her book, has described the engagement of Haig and his army into battle as a blessing to the French- as it was necessary and vital that the English troops (and Haig) took part in the battle. She also said that heavy casualties were inevitable, which would be quite true. However, there were certain things about her that could make this source unreliable.

First, Vyvyen wrote this book in the year 2000, and that was nearly 80 years since the battle of the Sommes ended, so just like John Laffin, she would not have any idea what the event was like aside from what she was told, as she did not exist at the time to find out. Also, she lacked originality, as the source mentioned quoted the works of Gary Sheffield, and he might also be biased. Therefore, the clarity of her book was perplexing and not very vivid. However, for existing in such a late time, she wouldve had more information, as now there are tools that can give her more access to evidences to study and make any judgements.

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