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How Successful a Military Leader Was Sir Douglas Haig

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How successful a military leader was Haig? Explain your answer.

I think Sir Douglas Haig was not a very successful military leader. Although he did have some achievements, but compared to his mistakes on leadership, I think it’s not enough to say he was a great leader. Some people argue that death is a part of the war, and that “British generals were not uncaring but they accepted, as they had to, that the very nature of the war, would lead to many deaths however hard they tried to avoid them. ” However we might want to question this statement. Did Haig really try hard to avoid death? If we look closely at the battle plan for the Battle of Somme one would hardly agree. Firstly, Haig assumed a seven-day-bombardment would make the German trenches so deserted that “not even a rat would live”, however he was proven wrong. Also he told the soldiers to walk towards the German trenches; they did, however the Germans simply aimed the machine guns at them and this turned into a suicidal mission. In order to minimize the casualties, he could’ve talk to the soldiers at the front and would know right away that machine gun shells will not beat barbed wire into pieces. In fact, it would only pick it up and through it onto the floor, often in a bigger mess than before… No, he didn’t do any of that. He simply sat kilometers behind the frontline, knowing nothing about the real trenches save the limited intelligence he gets daily. Another piece of evidence that one may argue is Haig’s biography, written by Alfred Duff Cooper, a soldier during the war. In the text, it implied that “prejudice, propaganda and false witness” had altered Haig’s image. He also talked about how in truth, Haig was “a giant” in “moral stature”, and that “it may be easy in history to find a more brilliant man, but it would be harder to find a better one”, since he “believed from the first that the German line could be broken and it was”. However, this biography was not only written by someone who was not only a soldier in World War One, but also a friend to the Haig family, therefore it may be biased. Also, this whole argument is based on him believing that the German line could be broken. Eventually it did and the allies won the war, but it was only because both sides had great casualties and it was the Germans who gave up first. Technically he was correct, but the statement was rather vague and predictable. Haig did achieve some successes. During the earlier stages of the war, Haig commanded the BEF, which efficiently stopped the Germans from advancing. Also, the BEF fought alongside the French Army during the Battle of Marne, in which it helped save Paris and kept France in the war. Plus, although the Battle of Somme didn’t achieve it’s most important objective, but it did inflict a lot of casualties upon the German soldiers, which for them is irreplaceable. The severity was shown later on during the war, in which Germany basically went into a shortage for soldiers. Also, the Battle of Somme stretched the German lines out even further and reduced their morale. To this point, men from both sides finally realized how long this war would last, and how “modern” technology could be devastating and lethal to use in war. From the evidence above, I think Haig was not a very successful leader. It is true that he did accomplish some positive things during the war, but that was based on huge casualties on the allies’ side. I think the first thing to being a commander is to ensure the safety of your soldiers, and then it is to ensure your aim is being accomplished. However, judging from the evidence, Haig did not fulfill it. That is why I think he is not a successful military leader.

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