Edenbridge Kent, TN8 Kent, garden of England Property kent places of interest Kentish Town Edenbridge Business South East English Tourist Board
Hever Castle, Penshurst, Chartwell, Chiddingstone South East England Home Community Business Leisure Local Places of Interest Information Travel
General Sir Douglas Haig
edenbridge
edenbridge
Business Direct
Direct Links
Bonfire Night
Bonfire Night
Charities
Charities
Eating Out
Eating Out
Edenbridge Initiative Eden Initiative
Police Eden Police
Education
Education
Ethics
Ethics
edenbridge
Fun & Games
Getting Around
Getting Around
Health
Health
Help in a Hurry
Help in a Hurry
History - in the past
In the Past
Leisure Leisure
Local
Local
Maps
Maps
Places of Interest
Places of Interest
Sevenoaks District Council
S.D.C.
Travel
Travel
edenbridge  
Contact Us
Contact Us
edenbridge
 Advertise with us
kent
Kent
THE ROAD TO WAR -
Kent
 
General Sir Douglas Haig!
 
"Good morning, good morning!" the General said when we met him last week on the way to the line. Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead, and we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine. "He's a cheery old card" grunted Harry to Jack, as they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack. But he did for them both with his plan of attack.
 
The General referred to in this one of Sassoon's searing verses was certainly not Sir Douglas Haig, as nobody could or would have ever called him a "cheery old card" or a particularly decent person, because Haig was certainly not noted for his humour as such, but always had a reserved and perhaps remote manner from his fellow generals and certainly far distant emotions for the soldiers!
This verse does somewhat illustrate the prevailing British opinion of all military leadership in the years immediately after World War 1. General Haig always attracted controversy concerning his competence and his insight into his plans for battles that produced some horrendous casualties.

(Left) General Sir Douglas Haig
 
To many of his own Generals and staff officers Haig was not a great Captain. It is maintained that, no matter how well he may have performed as Commander in Chief of the British and Commonwealth forces, his plans of attack unnecessarily and did so, kill hundreds of thousands of his soldiers in the great battles of the Somme and Passchendaele (Third Ypres). Haig's plans were conceived and deliberated on from those used for the battle of Neuve - Chappelle, he used this basic plan of battle throughout the war, which according to his theory a purposeful one. His plans were always very painstaking in their timing, although this was completely impractical due to battle conditions, enemy strong points and of course the weather as well as the massive task of moving troops mainly by foot tens if not hundreds of miles to their objective front lines. But, never the less he was meticulous and critical and as much prior intelligence as possible was obtained by aerial observation / spotter planes taking ariel photographs, special ground patrols were sent out to reconnoitre the enemy positions and the use of interrogation of prisoners gave him a better idea of all and any situation. The battles would always start with an artillery bombardment in a hope of destroying the German defences and the barbwire hundreds of yards deep in front of their trenches in which the men had to cut and crawl over in “No Man's land” towards the enemy trenches.
The bombardment, he hoped, as he and all his Generals always “hoped” that this would without question kill or demoralise the German front line troops and those in the rear back-up trenches waiting to join in the battle, and allow his men to cross safely to the German trenches before they were exposed to the deadly machine gun fire.. This was the theory, but in real life situations that he had witnessed well before the battle of ...The Somme...all failed dismally to basically do any real damage! There were breakthroughs in some and different areas but all in all it was a catastrophe for the soldiers as not only were they mown down in a hurricane of machine gun fire but enemy artillery would explode above, possibly only 100feet or less and completely scythe through the Allied troops decimating them to literally pieces of bodies!
With all these so called ideas and “perfect battle plans”, they never did allow for his human mistakes, despite his other Generals and the High Command opposing his thoughts with their own disagreements. These tragic mistakes would always become unavoidable in the hectic, horror and confusion of battle. The known fact was that however long the duration the bombardment continued...it would fail on every account to simply cut the defences of the barb wire. Not only this, but the German artillery was in no doubt positioned in safety many miles behind their own front lines, completely and usually out of range of British and French artillery guns. With all being seen and planned by Haig, it followed that the horrific solution could only be the devastation of his troops marching clumsily through the mud and water filled craters to their death!
General Hackett wrote regarding the - Battle of Loos: "Then twelve battalions, 10,000 men, on a clear morning, in columns, advanced up a gentle slope towards the enemy's trenches. The wire behind which these lay was still unbroken. The British advance met with a storm of machine gun fire. Incredulous!...The Germans mowed the attackers down, until, three and a half hours later, the remnants staggered away... having lost 385 officers and 7,681 men. The Germans as they watched the survivors leave, (the battle areas) stopped firing in compassion. Their (the German) casualties at the same time had been nil."
These unavoidable delays (in being unable to break through the barb wire defences) resulted mainly from such slaughter which was inevitable and caused complete disruption to the soldiers having to try and cut through the wire but more so to Haig's precise plans, because no provision was thought out or was made for them. The Germans had the means at their disposal and were given time to regroup, causing the British to suffer further failure of their attacks, thus adding more and more killed to the already growing list. Despite the losses seen and as were relayed to the General himself, who was somewhere between four and six miles behind the front lines heard of the fatal destruction of his men…Haig's usual reaction was to order them to advance again and “Keep Advancing”! They were ordered to do so whatever the consequences involved and obeyed their orders, even though this led to almost certain death for many thousands and tens of thousands of Brave soldiers.
At Neuve - Chappelle, a relatively small battle, the British lost nearly 17,000 casualties, at the Somme they lost about 420,000 in a rough total, an unbelievable amount of men...wasted due to the incompetence of Haig and the British High Command!
 
   
Back..........
Edenbridge, Kent TN8 Community and Business web site Member of SEETB
Edenbridge, Hever, Westerham, Chiddingstone Bonfire Night, Leisure Centre, Museum South East England
All Rights Reserved © 2001 www.edenbridgetown.com Telephone: 01732 864070 E-Mail:info@edenbridgetown.com
Terms Contact Us E-Mail Us