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 General Falkenhayn was replaced with Generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff - page 3 / 3





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Haig didn’t rate very highly the new weaponry available for the war; and in 1915 he said, "The machine gun is a much over rated weapon". He was under the old fashioned belief that the cavalry would be able to win the battle. Even so, the huge successes of the British and Dominion forces in the 8th August and 11th November 1918 were largely due to Haig, who was commanding them.

He was kept in the dark over many things; he was expected to make plans without knowing the real situation. For example he was told there were only 40000 casualties and he wasn’t told that the wire hadn’t been cut.  But in response he wrote that the causality figures couldn’t ‘be considered severe in view of the numbers engaged, and the length if front attack.’  Here I believe he was wrong. The first day of the battle of the Somme was the worst day in British military history, 60000 causalities for very little ground. Most historians agree that the cost in human terms was too high for relatively little gain.  The battle of the Somme was a mass slaughter of troops from many countries. Yet the attack was called off by Haig on 18 November 1916 and is technically a British victory.  

I do not agree with the myth of the uncaring generals, as 78 Alliance officers of the rank of “Brigadier Genera” died on active service and 146 were wounded. This proves that not all the Generals were as far from the front line as Haig.  There were some generals who were more in touch with there troops than Haig, ie General Pétain and Falkenhayn.

The battle of Neuve Chappelle in 1915 should have been a lesson for Haig, instead he insisted to continue ‘regardless of loss’. At the time, the prime minister, David Lloyd George was unhappy with Haig’s tactics in the Somme, but he did very little about it.




N.Stewart The changing nature of warfare (Hodder & Stewart)

V. Brendon The first world war 1914-18 (Hodder & Stewart)

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