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How useful are Sources A, B and M to an historian studying the attitudes of British soldiers to their commanders during the First World War

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Introduction

How useful are Sources A, B and M to an historian studying the attitudes of British soldiers to their commanders during the First World War The relationship between the British soldiers and their commanders is a vital part of the war; therefore, it is of great importance that we take their attitudes and relationships into account when studying the First World War and ultimately, the consequences. Without question, the men during the war fought with great bravery and courage till their tragic deaths for their country, but did their commanders also put in this same effort? Many historians past and present continue to share and fluctuate in views on the relationship between British soldiers and their commanders, in this essay I will study and evaluate three sources to see how useful they are to an historian, and inevitably come to an accurate conclusion. Source A shows us a view of soldiers' attitudes towards their generals in the form of a cartoon, the drawing and caption is from a satirical British magazine 'Punch'. The cartoon shows us the major- General addressing the men (his troops) before practicing an attack behind the lines. The sources suggest to us, a restrained conflict between the General and troops; the soldiers resented the protection the generals had and they saw the commanders as remote and cowardly in the war effort. ...read more.

Middle

studying the attitudes of soldiers towards high commanders during the war, and must be treated with caution if taken into account at all. Source B is a poem entitled 'The General' by Siegfried Sassoon who was a junior officer in the British Army during World War One. Very much like Source A, Sassoon supports views of which the Generals were resented by their troops because they were distant and never put themselves in danger, he also focuses part of his poem on the plans they used that cost many lives. An example of this is on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The initial bombardment plans were flawed, and the generals failed to adapt, hardly any of the objectives were met and there were huge casualties and men lost. Sassoon mentions the battle is Arras in particular because he fought in this battle and there were over 160,000 men lost. It was if they were sending men into the war for the sake of it. These frustrations are shown in Sassoon's poem, "And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine." in addition these themes of anger and frustration are carried out by other anti-war poets such as Wilfred Owen. The fact that Sassoon was there in 1917 gives the source a high level of accuracy, however he was a junior officer and there might have been a destruction between the attitudes to junior officers and attitudes towards generals. ...read more.

Conclusion

Following on from that, one must question the distinction between junior officers and generals and how people became higher ranked during the war. In regards to the context of the letter, the typicality of it must be put under further scrutiny; many of these letters were written during the war, for instance, Captain Tweed of Salford Pals would write home to all parents of those who died. This is just one letter, so perhaps not all relationships were like this. Overall, I think this source would be unreliable to an historian. Although it does present to us some traits that suggest it is genuine and all relationships were similar, it's hard to know how typical it actually is. In conclusion, I think that all of these sources are unreliable and inaccurate to a certain extent. Although all three of them present us a lot of valuable information on views during the First World War- we have a view from the public, a view from a soldier and a view from a commander and they must all be respected when studying them. I feel that source B is the most useful source, despite it being bias to one side of the argument, using provenance and in particular my own knowledge it seems the most accurate source. ?? ?? ?? ?? Prashant Patel 11S Candidate number: 8076 GCSE History Coursework Centre Number: 16325 ...read more.

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