Does anyone know much about the chap? As a child of the seventies, my impression was always that of the Blackadder Goes Fourth image, Geoffrey Palmer symbolically sweeping up soldiers from a model battlefield with a dust pan and brush and tossing them casually over his shoulder, and I had a conversation with a mate recently along the same lines - how, at the Somme, Haig had KNOWN that the barrage hadn't cut through the wire, and he ordered his men over the top nevertheless. Heartless, vicious and pointless slaughter.
But I've just started reading a book about the Somme with a slightly different stance - on both sides it was accepted that the war was attritional, whoever ran out of resources last would win, so the plan was to bleed the opposition dry whilst trying to lose less men and materials than the enemy. On the Somme the plan had been for the British to support a major French offensive, but when the French had to defend and relieve Verdun, the onus on the Somme shifted to the British to lead with French support, and the decision to go over the top at that time in many places, had been made days before - there was no option NOT to attack, because it would jeopardise allied forces elsewhere. What's more, although the casuarty figures are truly horrifying, the scale of the attack distorts them - British casualties on the Somme were about the same per unit per week as those suffered by British forces during the Normandy landings. And the thought that occurs from that is, how come we think of the Somme (and other "going over the top" battles; Ypres, Mons, Cambrai, etc) as sensless slaughter, while Normandy was a heroic and necessary action?
So, err... Discuss, really.