Haig Butcher Of The Somme Essay

Haig Butcher Of The Somme Essay-82
Haig’s tenure as c-in-c saw the horrendous losses at the Battle of the Somme (July-November 1916) and the Third Battle of Ypres, otherwise known as Passchendaele, (July-November 1917), for which Haig earned the sobriquet the ‘butcher’.

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It was Lloyd George, who during the election campaign of 1918, had promised a land ‘fit for heroes to live in’. In 1921, Haig was one of the founders of the Royal British Legion, becoming its first president, a post he held until his death, and helped introduce the poppy of remembrance into Britain.

He championed the rights of ex-servicemen and refused all state honours until the government improved their pensions, which duly came in August 1919. On 29 January 1928, Douglas Haig died from a heart attack brought on, according to his widow, by the strain of wartime command. Haig’s reticence certainly didn’t help his own cause – prone to long silences and often coming across as callous.

Haig’s actions at the Battle of Mons and the First Battle of Ypres earned him praise while, conversely, John French’s fortunes plummeted as the British failed to make any headway on the Western Front.

Haig helped manoeuvre the mood-swinging French out of power and was appointed by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith as French’s replacement in December 1915.

Born in Edinburgh, 19 June 1861, Douglas Haig was the eleventh son of a wealthy whiskey distiller.

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An expert horseman, he once represented England at polo.

But Haig was often under pressure of his French allies to act, bringing forward, for example, the Somme offensive by six weeks to help take the pressure off the French at the long slug that was the Battle of Verdun.

The question remains however would the extra six weeks to prepare made a difference? While Douglas Haig is remembered for the losses at the Somme and Passchendaele, it is often forgotten that from August 1918, Haig oversaw Britain’s advance during what became known as the Hundred Days Offensive, the Allies’ great push, in partnership with the overall Allied commander, the French c-in-c, Ferdinand Foch.

On 15 September 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, Haig had insisted on their use, despite advice to wait for more testing.

He got his way and the introduction of 32 tanks met with mixed results – many broke down but a few managed to penetrate German lines.


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