Haig: The Evolution of a Commander (Military Profiles)

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Francis Barracks, FL Francis River Francis River District Army George Island George, ME Helena, LA, land office Helena's Island, SC Helena's Parish, SC James Parish, LA John River Commission John the Baptist Parish, LA John's River Bar, FL Johnsbury, VT, internal revenue collection district Joseph, MO, internal revenue collection district Joseph, MO, Subdistrict of Army Joseph River Josephs Boarding School Landry Parish, LA Lawrence River District Army Engineers Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Louis Land Bank Louis, MO, 1st Subdistrict of Army Louis, MO, 2d Subdistrict of Army Louis, MO, Assay Office Louis, MO, District of Army Louis, MO, division Army Engineers Louis, MO, field office Military Railroads Louis, MO, Harbor Louis, MO, internal revenue collection district Louis, MO, Medical Depot Louis, MO, public health hospital Luke's Parish, SC Marks, FL Mary's College, CA Mary's, District of Army Marys Falls ship canals Mary's Parish, LA Marys River Canada-U.

Michael, AK, land office Onge, SD Patrick's Mission Paul, AK Paul Island Paul, MN, Attorney, U. Paul, MN, federal depository Paul, MN, internal revenue collection district Peter, MN Petersburg, FL, Biological Laboratory Regis Stephens, AL, land office Thomas Harbor Thomas, VI, Naval Station Gordon Talks Guyford Herbert Mail motion picture Supply Washington, DC The "donkeys" school of historians, led by the late Alan Clark MP, emerged in the s and seems to have been as much a reaction to Vietnam and an angry Beatles-generation expression against authority as serious historical thought.

Generals killed Modern scholars tend towards the view that the Somme battles were part of a painful learning curve whereby the BEF weakened the skilful, courageous and highly professional German army. Without the Somme, argue Professors Richard Holmes and Gary Sheffield, the decisive victory of could not have happened. Were Haig and his generals really "donkeys"? The evidence suggests not.

Annual War Studies Symposium | Department of History

Haig lost 58 of his fellow generals, killed or dying of wounds while leading from the front during the four years of war. Three died in the Somme in the first few days. So the General Melchett image of Blackadder - of arrogant generals safe back at headquarters - is unfounded. They were brave, and their challenge was commanding an army of several million conscripts and volunteers, for which they had not been prepared. The Somme was a turning point in the war, though not evident at the time.

Understandably, the casualties of that first day still distort the achievement of the rest of the campaign for us, which was never as costly or wasteful of lives. Nevertheless, the awfulness of the campaign has had a profound and lasting effect on Britain. For this reason, historians have concluded that to study the Somme battles is to study British society and the British Army, and how the latter has evolved since.

Just one of many lessons that today's military commanders have learned from the casualties is to split up recruits from the same town or village, in case of military disaster, to avoid the blighting of small communities.

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Although the intense shelling of turned the Somme area into a muddy, hellish landscape, it has since returned to its pre-war state. Where once there was the thump of artillery, now there is only the chatter of children and coach parties.

Add your comments on this story, using the form below. The major problem faced by people now looking back at the first world war is a lack of empathy. In Britain had not fought a major war for 60 years and the skills required were sadly lacking. Rather than attack the generals understand them, they were fighting a war they were totally unused to and it took some time for them to adjust. It was only in and that tactics emerged to brealk the deadlock as generals came to grips with this new form of warfare.

Owen , Guildford Peter from Nottingham talks of generals having to base their plans on 'little intelligence'. I whole heartedly agree! Poor intelligence can almost be accepted for the first day of slaughter Educated idiots leading from the rear. Rhys Jones, aberdeen The evidence of people actually involved in battle such as grandfathers is evidence of how painful it was to be involved, not evidence of whether Haig was a good general or not. Victims are not un-biased observers.

Haig: The Evolution of a Commander

To argue that Haig was a bad general, you'd first have to point to someone better. The fact that all generals seem to have performed equally badly in WWI suggests it was the war that was at fault, not the generals. Mike, Reading The debate over the Battle of the Somme will continue for many more years yet. However, any discussion on the battle needs to put it context.


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As the article points out, the original plan was for a massive Anglo-French offensive, the timetable for which was several weeks later than 1 July. As Professors Holmes and Sheffield amongst others point out, Verdun changed all that. This would suggest that he was not universally regarded in a negative way by those who served under him. Ultimately, Haig emerged victorious, which is just what he was hired to do. So is Haig-bashing really a product of the agendas of the modern age, rather than a product of the facts? Can anyone suggest a commander in the Great War who didn't incur major losses amongst his troops?

Paul, Stoke Peter of Nottingham. The generals had the reports of army recce and fighting patrols, the debriefs from German prisoners, reports from French and Belgian patriots in occupied territory and hard-won aerial recce photos and reports. Haig chose to ignore them all.

The Architect Of The Battle of the Somme - Douglas Haig I WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?

To his dying day he cursed Haig and Churchill. The latter for his role in Gallipoli.

He knew Haig for an arrogant fool who saw men as numbers and so long as he could throw more forward than the Germans that was acceptable. Paul Coyne, Glasgow I remember doing a Somme reconstruction computer programme during history lessons at school. We had to try to kill less people than the generals did by adjusting the amount of artillery, the formation etc. None of us came close. Holmes is right. The Allies fired a million heavy shells at the German positions in the week before the attack. The generals had no way of knowing how deep the German positions were this is 70 years before spy satellites and had to plan a battle on the limited intelligence available.

Peter, Nottingham There's no argument, the men at the front were sacrificed by incompetent leadership. General Haig spent much of his career as a cavalry officer and his tactics still revolved around opening up holes in the german lines to finish the war off with dashing cavalry charges. It's alleged that Haig said "the machine gun is a much overrated weapon", those that died in the mud of the Somme would disagree.

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Ramon Russell, Edinburgh I have no idea where you researched this piece of revised history, but you might like to read, amongst others, Liddell-Hart's "History of the First World War" and Montgomery's "Concise History of Warfare" Both fought in the War, so can hardly be described as the angry Beatles generation. Lloyd-George was not in revolt against authority when he described Haig as "brilliant to the top of his boots". I agree that many generals died bravely, but that was not what they were paid for.

Hague was not only dim, but so suspicious of intellect that he removed any member of his general staff who showed any understanding of the conflict or initiative in fighting the war. Furthermore, the armistice was not a decisive victory. Germany stopped fighting because of the ever-increasing number of US troops joining the conflict. At the time, a major political figure said Versailles "was not peace, it was war in 20 years". He was right.

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