PROFESSOR GARY SHEFFIELD DELIVERS A FASCINATING LECTURE
Field Marshall Douglas Haig is a name synonymous with the Great War, and we were fortunate to hear about him from Professor Gary Sheffield, an expert in war studies, currently teaching and researching at the University of Wolverhampton, having previously taught at Sandhurst and King’s College, London.
Haig brings with him many differing views; a national hero of the war, a man on edge with Prime Minister David Lloyd-George, the general who led his own to slaughter at the Somme, or even that of an unhelpful and annoying superior to 'Edmund Blackadder'. The general perception of him is that he was not afraid to send his men into a fight he knew few would come out of, however, this was not always the case. From the end of the Great War right up until his death in 1928 we heard that he was a war hero with more people attending his funeral than that of Princess Diana's.
Haig’s reputation has deteriorated since the post war period and it is historians like Professor Sheffield who are offering an important revisionist view of Haig’s record. One anecdote he mentioned was how Haig was visibly shocked when a former right hand man died on the front line. For a man who had to deal with death on a catastrophic scale every day, this showed us the humanity within him which many of us were not aware of.
It was an excellent night and Boniface Hall was packed, not least with many young historians from Year 10 and above who clearly enjoyed the views of an expert in his field. I was even able to discuss the reputation of Napoleon Bonaparte with the Professor – the subject of my historical enquiry!
Thank you to Mr McQueen and Mrs Brumby for organising the event.
Ben Stone, Lower Sixth