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World War One Sources Question

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Introduction

Question 1: Source A describes the optimism and confidence shown by General Rawlinson. He thought that at the main attack there would be minimal losses to his men if the artillery worked to plan. He thought that the Somme would remind the men of Salisbury plain, a place where the men trained, therefore it would boost the morale of the troops. Rawlinson says " it is a great improvement on the flat muddy plains of Flanders." This was a place destroyed to a quagmire during previous attacks. The weather and conditions would be perfect for a decent attack. The observation points would provide good hit rates for the artillery, whereas at Flanders this was not the case. Rawlinson quoted " it is excellent country on which to undertake an offensive when we get enough artillery, for the observation is excellent." The battle, according to Rawlinson, would be very easy for the infantry advance. This would be the case only if there had been good artillery attack and good conditions for the advance. The flat land would provide perfect advancing and infantry positions. These factors and points made by Rawlinson show us the way he perceived the battle to be like. This idea of an infantry 'cake-walk' and an 'artillery barrage' were seen as the tactics that would result in a break-through on the front lines. ...read more.

Middle

Their use of machine-guns upon slowly marching men were never examined. They ignored evidence from other wars in which the machine gun was used in trench warfare, e.g. US Civil war, Boer War. Question3: Sources D, E and F all give different accounts of the Somme. Source D is an optimistic picture of the fist of the British Army punching a German on the nose, where the Somme is placed. This was published in a wartime newspaper. The Government censored the press during wartime. They did this in order to keep morale high for the public. They did not show the poor conditions, only positive points of the war. The source was published in July, after the attack. The results were not known by then so an optimistic view was given. This cartoon was used to promote confidence to those who had seen it. The person who drew it would not have known the true results. This explains why it is drawn in an optimistic way, if it had been a disaster it could not have been drawn. Source E is an extract from A E Ellis, an ordinary soldier who took part in the offensive. The source is his diary, which he kept at the time of the war. ...read more.

Conclusion

The two sources may have been written in two different places. Ellis talks about the 46th division, who were based in the North of the offensive. Source F may have been written in a different place where the original offensives had worked to a point. This is not described in the sources so the reasons ofor differences are unknown. Source D is a typical picture during the time. It represents the optimism and confidence of the High-Command. Though as the results of the attack were unknown it was unable to depict the actual results. However they would never have been shown, as this would bring the morale down within Britain. Source D does not describe the way in which Ellis felt about the attacks. They are different in their views of the war and so do not hold the same purpose. The provenances of the sources are all different. Source D is an artificial description of the war, published to the public, without correct knowledge of the attack. Source E is an account after a failed and bloody-battle. It depicts the way in which a soldier would feel after witnessing such a failure of tactics in the British Army. Source F is an extract from an officer after the war in a time of recrimination. He may have just been keen to exonerate the blame from his fellow men or he may have been recounting what had happened. ...read more.

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