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Did all of Lord Kitchener's Volunteer army march to war with Zest and Idealism in the first place?

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Introduction

G.C.S.E Coursework Daniel Cole 6) The historian A.J.P. Taylor wrote, "On the Somme ... perished ...the zest and idealism with which nearly three million English men had marched forth to war." However, did all of Lord Kitchener's Volunteer army march to war with Zest and Idealism in the first place? In 1914, men "flocked to the colours". Many wanted to impress sweethearts or wives, hundreds wanted to have a "crack at the Kaiser" and "fight back the Hun" like the crusaders centuries before them. Others wanted to fight for and protect their King and country and some wanted to save the British Empire, in which they fully believed. But still there were those men who had been pressurised and even forced to fight. In Trafalgar Square, and outside cinemas and theatres women handed out white feathers to men, not in uniform and at home, there was often a lot of pressure from children parents and even spouses to fight. These men didn't go to war with zest and idealism. Source A is made up mostly of opinion; "there are those who see the Somme...as an event so terrible that it killed the breezy, crusading spirit of 1914-15." ...read more.

Middle

Source F shows the British losses on the first day of the Battle, 1st July 1916. It states that 57,970 men were lost on that day and we usually round that figure up to 60000. These are official British Army figures and therefore, we have no reason to question them. With such a grotesque number of casualties, how could zest and idealism still exist in the British lines? Lloyd George is the author of source G. At the time, George was the minister for munitions at the Somme. When he wrote the source, he was fighting for appeasement, and pacifism. His memories of which, source G is an extract, could easily be coloured with hindsight. Lloyd George could feel responsible for the huge number of casualties because his shells, of which many were duds, may have helped contribute to the first day's failure. In this self-blame, he could have a motive to deflect blame onto Haig and/or Rawlingson. He says, "We failed to achieve our objective of a breakthrough." This is his way of blaming those in command. This quote is fact. With this on their minds how could the average British soldier; keep hold of his zest and idealism? ...read more.

Conclusion

"When the Battle of the Somme began the Entente had a tremendous superiority, both on land and in the air. The Entente troops had worked their way further and further into the German lines. We had heavy losses in men and material. As a result of the Somme fighting we were completely exhausted on the Western Front. If the war lasted, our defeat seemed inevitable." If this extract is true, why on earth would the British army loose its zest and idealism? The weight of evidence in these sources shows that the British zest and idealism did perish on the Somme. However, to make a more valid decision, I would have liked: a key British eyewitness, newspapers from the time, the original battle plans, and photographs. Also, source F is one-sided and therefore I would also want the German casualty figures. With these sources, I could make a more valid judgement. However I still agree with Taylor's statement because, only seven and a half miles was gained at the deepest point in the line with huge casualties. The British only managed to push the Germans into a more defendable position in the Hindenburg Line, and the bombardment on which so much rested, was a failure. A lot of effort and minimal achievement. ...read more.

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