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Haig and 'The Battle of the Somme' - source related study.

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Introduction

Haig and 'The Battle of the Somme' Coursework (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 is written by Haig in June 1916, where he says that no superiority will enable them victory and the nation must be taught to bear losses, as men must be sacrificed. To some extent this source does show that Haig doesn't care about the lives of his men, as it wouldn't bear well with the morale of his troops. He sends his men out with simple advice, to kill as many Germans as possible. This shows that he acknowledges that men must be sacrificed and he encourages them to go and fight. However, on the other hand Source A may not show that Haig didn't care about the lives of his men because this source was written by Haig in June 1916, before the battle of the Somme. I believe that Haig would have been presenting his men with a very realistic view, however harsh it may be perceived. Haig's tactics may also be perceived as butchery, that he wanted to kill more Germans than they do kill his own, but no other General used any different tactics, winning battles by their artillery and men. This source was written by Haig and may have been intended by him to by kept a secret, taking into account the morale of his men. I believe that Haig did care about the lives of his men. Source B supports this view in the extract written by Haig the day before the attack showing Haigs preparation. The source shows how 'the men are in splendid spirits' and that 'the artillery so thorough'. I believe this is true as Haigs week long of artillery bombardment was now coming to an end and how they believed they could stroll through no mans land. ...read more.

Middle

Although source G does have some similar views as source F, overall it does show that they are contradicting each other. Source H is an extract written by a British general in 1973 mentioning that he fought in both world wars. This source does contradict source F as it focuses on Haigs achievements and how his men were inspired by his determination, whereas source F perceives Haig as a Butcher and sat back while his men were killed. This source does show some truth and also shows some aspects that are not true as the source says that the 'French resistance would have crumbled', which is not true as the French were getting the upper had at Verdun because many of the German troops had to leave the battle and help Austria-Hungry. I would say that the British general who wrote this was nationalistic and could be patriotic to his country causing him to be biased. The source was written in 1973, years after the battle, which might affect his memories, or his experience and access to the broader picture as he fought in both world wars give him a balanced view. Despite the contradiction of the sources, I feel that they do not necessarily prove that source F was wrong; as I have shown that source F does show some aspects of the truth. I feel that sources G and H do contradict source F, but also show misinformation as well as some aspects of truth. (e) Study sources I and J Why do you think that sources I and J differ about the battle of the Somme? Source I was written by Lloyd George to Haig on 21st September 1916, after visiting the battlefield as a Secretary of war. The source shows Lloyd George congratulating Haig 'most warmly on the skill with which your plans were laid' and of 'the heartening news of the last few days has confirmed our hopes that the tide has definitely in our favour'. ...read more.

Conclusion

This source does not support the view that Haig was an uncaring general to any extent as it focuses on Haigs achievements and how his men were inspired by his determination. I would say that the British general who wrote this was nationalistic and could be patriotic to his country causing him to be biased. The source was written in 1973, years after the battle, which might affect his memories, or his experience and access to the broader picture as he fought in both world wars give him a balanced view and similar to the ones of Haig. Source I was written by Lloyd George to Haig on 21st September 1916, after visiting the battlefield as a Secretary of war. The source shows Lloyd George congratulating Haig 'most warmly on the skill with which your plans were laid' and of 'the heartening news of the last few days has confirmed our hopes that the tide has definitely in our favour'. We know this is not true as overall the battle was a disaster, but the source does none the less support the view as it does show that Haig cares, despite the fact that it is not the truth. Source J was written by Lloyd George in his War Memoirs in the 1930s. Source J shows George presenting a negative feeling towards Haig 'I expressed my doubts to General Haig as to whether cavalry could ever operate successfully on a front bristling for miles with barbed wire and machine guns,' almost saying he knew Haig was wrong but could do nothing. This source does support the view that Haig was an uncaring general. Each one these sources have factors that support this view, and on the other hand factors that don't support this view as I have stated. I personally feel that Haig did care for his men after reading these sources and I conclude to some extent that these sources do not support the view that says Haig was an uncaring general who sacrificed the lives of his soldiers for no good reason. Angelo Parla 5S ...read more.

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