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Field Marshall Haig - 'the butcher of the Somme'?

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Introduction

Field Marshall Haig - 'the butcher of the Somme'? (a) Study sources A and B How far does source A prove that Haig did not care about the lives of his men? Source A does not prove that Haig did not care about the lives of his soldiers because the purpose of the source is to warn the nation of an impending battle in which there will be many casualties. The source is not Haig's opinion. It is probably written a few weeks before the battle of the Somme. He was facing the reality of war because he knew that no matter how good the army was, men would die. In a way, it reveals he did care because he is preparing the relatives of soldiers for the worst. But if he knew there would be casualties, then why didn't he change his plan? Source B is a statement the day before the battle. It does not reveal his own opinion because he received information from the information centres on the frontline. We now know that this information was false because it says 'The barbed wire has never been so well cut' but on the first day, the British had 60,000 casualties. ...read more.

Middle

This is the opinion of a British general who fought in both world wars. Source H is more reliable than source F because the general fought in the war and so has first hand experience of what Haig was like as a Field Marshall. Although source G is an extract from the German Official History of the First World War, it is based purely on facts, and so makes it the most reliable and balanced source. Even though it is written by German's, it says that Haig did a good job in weakening German 'morale' and ' a great part of the best, most experienced and most reliable officers and men were no longer in their place'. Sources F and H are in need of facts which would support their ideas. John Laffin comments are more personal than those made in sources G and H, John Laffin insults Haig he says that he was 'as stubborn as a donkey'. This comment is made to entertain the audience and also makes him look unprofessional. Source H is written by a general who fought in the battle of the Somme, this might make us rely on his ideas because he witnessed the battle, but he wrote these 56 years after the battle so his memory might be a bit unreliable. ...read more.

Conclusion

The purpose of the source is to prepare the families of the soldier's for the worst. Haig is being realistic and sensible in this speech because he knows that no battle can be won without bloodshed. Therefore, this source is reliable in saying that Haig did care for the lives of his soldiers. Another source that opposes the view that Haig was an uncaring general is source H. It is written by a British general in 1973, who fought in both world wars. He says that they were 'inspired by his determination' and that he 'never wavered from his purpose of breaking down the powers of resistance of the enemy'. Although, this source opposes the above statement, it is not totally reliable because source H is wrote 56 years after the battle so his memory might be a bit unreliable and it is also biased towards Haig. It is need of facts and a balanced argument to make it more reliable. Overall, there are many sources that do and don't support the statement in the question. The amounts of sources that do and don't support the statement are equal. But neither side of the argument is reliable enough to come to a conclusion. Therefore, these sources can not support the statement as they need more information and facts to increase their reliability. Adhal Mahmood 11PL ...read more.

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