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"'Lions led by donkeys.' How valid is this interpretation of the conduct of British soldiers and generals on the Western Front, 1914-18".

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"'Lions led by donkeys.' How valid is this interpretation of the conduct of British soldiers and generals on the Western Front, 1914-18" Introduction Word War One comes under much criticism when it comes to the politics at home and the way in which the war was led. This essay will look at how the British government (known as the "donkeys" in the interpretation) led British soldiers (known as the "lions" in the interpretation) through the four-year battle with Germany. Section A - The battle scene Source A1 shows a map of Europe and the ground the Allies and Germany gained. The immediate thoughts are that both sides gained equal amounts. The map doesn't show a much regarding utility and the reliability of the map, however is gives us some guess as to how the war ground was fought. We now know that trenches were set out in a "zigzag" grid structure which would stop enemies getting too far into the trenches, should they make it through no-man's land and we also know that no-man's land was a piece of land which separated the opposing sides which had barbed wire to protect the trenches. Source A1 does not show any detail of this. World War One was fought using weaponry by both sides; source A2 is a photo of British heavy artillery, which shows us this to some extent. ...read more.


The leaders of the war had the British newspapers on their side. The government could give so-called "official statements" as to the war's progress, which would give the newspapers something to write about in their daily edition, which people all over the country wanted to read, and the government could control what the public actually knew about the war. Source B5 is an article published in the News of the World on the 2nd of July, 1916 about the first day in the Battle of Somme. This article is useful as far as us knowing what the public were being told, however it is very much unreliable because with hindsight we know that it is not an accurate report. The headline "The day goes well" is very inaccurate because there was 54,470 casualties on the first day, including 19,000 dead. The Battle of Somme lasted for 5 months and 415,000 British soldiers died. Section C - Soldier's experiences This section is focused on the experiences of the soldiers and extracts written by the "lions" in the statement. The government, to say the least, hasn't always appreciated the views of Soldiers. Source C1 contains two poems written by war hero Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967), who was nicknamed "Mad Jack". ...read more.


Conclusion It's clear that there are a lot of contrasting views as far as the leadership and their instructions in the war go, and the "Lions led by Donkeys" interpretation. It is important to realise there are different points of arguments and a number of pieces of evidence which add up to make more aspects believable than others. It is important to realise that this debate will go on for many years, and as less evidence is being found, it's getting harder to reach a definite answer. I think that the "Lions led by Donkeys" theory is correct. I don't think the British government knew how to tackle the German's properly and underestimated their power and battle plans. My opinion is biased towards agreeing to the theory because I come from a family that would be involved in the war, should we have lived during the First World War and can see the perspective of the soldiers and the sources. I think the government were too concerned with the way they presented the war to the population because of sources B3, B4 (i) and B4 (ii) and also think that Haig was not the right man to lead the war, especially as he would have been more concerned about his image during the war because of his relationship with the king. GCSE History Coursework Aaron Hudson ...read more.

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