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General Douglas Haig

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GENERAL DOUGLAS HAIG Douglas Haig, a wealthy Scot and a good friend of George V was also a famous General who led Britain to Victory in the First World War. In the past 85 years historians have portrayed him in many different ways as being both good and bad. Sources C to L vary widely in support of the historian John Keegan's interpretation, which is 'General Haig was an efficient and highly skilled soldier who did much to lead Britain to victory in the First World War.' I will now examine and evaluate all the sources in order to draw a conclusion as to whether or not the above statement is correct. Having examined the first of these sources, source C; I noticed that it is one of the most balanced sources. The source begins by praising General Haig, referring to him as 'One of the Great Men of the Twentieth Century'. We also learn that the soldiers seemed satisfied with him as a leader - 'when the old soldiers were alive I never heard a word of criticism from them'. The writer of this source does accept that only now, through the passing of time, people are criticising him. 'In more recent time more pour scorn on my father'. ...read more.


With the French in the difficult situation they were currently in, it would have been quite unlikely that their co-operation with the British would have broken down, as without British help they would have had no real support to fall back on. Being an autobiographical source and the writer being asked to write it by Haig's family would suggest that the source might be biased and the writer given instructions as to what he should write. I form the impression that the extract is trying to justify some of the 'arguable mistakes' that Haig made. The two sources, which display the most un-supporting views of Haig as a military leader, are sources D and G. The poster in source D makes a mockery of the original poster, which, was used in the war as a very strong propaganda message to persuade people to join the British army in World War I. This poster was of John Kitchener with a caption that read 'Your Country Needs You'. The poster in the source would have, if it was displayed at the time of the war, convinced people not to join as the caption read 'Your Country Needs Me, like a hole in the head, which is what most of you are going to get.' ...read more.


Despite the video being slightly confusing at times, with many different historians speaking all with slightly different views, at the end of the video it was said that Haig acknowledged that there would be heavy casualties and that this was unavoidable. After a lot of debating one historian in particular says that true support for Haig will not be acknowledged until some fifty years to come but Haig should be given the credit he is due, which means that this source ultimately supports Keegan's interpretation. In conclusion, many of the sources that I have studied are against Haig as a military leader, more than that are for Haig and Support Keegan's statement. Despite this I do not believe the majority of these sources can be thought of as reliable as they are either biased or written for another purpose than to inform. Therefore they cannot be deemed useful. The most useful sources of all and the fairest to Haig, from what I already know, are sources K and L. These sources give a balanced and fair view of Haig and indicate that although he made some big mistakes he was well educated, highly trained and ultimately he did what needed to be done. I believe that Haig did the best that he could do under the circumstances and with what he had to hand so on balance, Keegan's interpretation is supported by the most useful and reliable sources. Declan Archer 1 ...read more.

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