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Field Marshal Haig - source based answers.

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Introduction

FIELD MARSHAL HAIG: THE BUTCHER OF THE SOMME A// Source A was written by Haig in June 1916 shortly before the Somme. We can see that Haig is speaking about the nation but we don't who to. He is saying that the nation must be taught to bear losses, we see from this and the fact that it was written before the battle, that he knows there is going to be losses and is making excuses for himself. He goes on to say that nothing could possibly enable victories without the 'sacrifice' of men's lives. He uses the word sacrifice, the act of giving up something valued for a greater good, in other words he is using the men as tools like pawns on a chess board to get at the enemy and protect the king. This shows that he doesn't really care for them and that he is willing to send them to their deaths. The final sentence of his writing says that the nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists, Rawlinson predicts to see 10,000 men a day die. Haig is saying that his plan will see the slaughter of many innocent men. Source B is split into two parts both written by Haig, the first written the day before the attack, the second on the first day. In the previous source Haig is saying that the nation must be ready for losses however in this source nothing is mentioned about casualties at all. ...read more.

Middle

It is of no use to a historian at all. The source takes the mickey out of everything we know about the attack and the war as a whole as it is designed to do. Source E is a cartoon published in a British newspaper months after the attack. It shows a major general addressing the men before a practise attack behind enemy lines. It portrays the Tommy's feelings about the officer's part in the war and the way they felt towards being pushed around. The source is a comic cartoon designed to get around the defence of the realms act (DORA) by not naming the major general as Haig but instead just leaving him for the public to name. The cartoon has deeper meaning than just British humour; it is letting out the horrible truth about the war and the way it is run by officers who don't set foot in the trenches. This cartoon is of more use to a historian as it is from the time shortly after the Somme and shows how newspapers try to get the truth out. It helps historians know how the British Tommy's and citizens felt about the war and its officers. D// Source F is from a recent British book entitled 'British Butchers and Bunglers of World War' it is written to show the bad ways that commanders destroyed their armies and lost their battles. ...read more.

Conclusion

Haig's reports from the first day of the attack in source B say that everything went well, this is evidence of him reporting false information, as the first day was the worst day of the attack, so Haig has showed us that he has something to hide 'very successful attack this morning...the battle is going very well for us and already the Germans are surrendering freely'. The battle did lift the pressure on Verdun and by the end the Germans had suffered casualties of around 600,000, it is said that the battle of the Somme was the reason for the allied victory in the war. One British commander in source H sees Haig as 'one of the main architects of the allied victory' he says that the battle broke 'Germany's spirit of resistance' and had the 'purpose of 'breaking down the powers of resistance...both morally and physically'. So it seems Haig wasn't just sending them into their deaths, he had planned to send them in expecting little to no resistance, but the waiting force was not that, so Haig adjusted his plans and continued the attack, to his cost, but also to secure the victory and relief of Verdun. Haig engineered the battle to fit the situation and although many soldiers died under his command he achieved his main goal and managed to discourage German troops and officials, he was 'one of the main architects of the allied victory'. ...read more.

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