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How useful are Sources A, B and C to an historian studying the attitudes of British soldiers to their commanders during the First World War?

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Introduction

Qs 1: Evaluation of sources for their utility. How useful are Sources A, B and C to an historian studying the attitudes of British soldiers to their commanders during the First World War? Use Sources A to C and knowledge from your studies in your answer. Source A, labelled ' One view of soldier's attitudes towards their generals' we are given the impression that this is an actual account from a soldier. If you look at the text underneath the cartoon picture, we learn that this picture comes from a British magazine called 'Punch'. However we are not given any information as to what period of time this cartoon was made or if it was an actual view of a soldier in WW1 and made by a soldier from the war. Through my research on the magazine made on the Internet, I found out that this magazine was actually around before World War 1 and still around after it. Consequently a limitation to the usefulness of this source is the lack of a date and name of who made it to see if this was an actual soldiers view. Never the less, if this was a reliable source, it appears to be taking a humorous turn as it uses a cartoon picture to make a sarcastic comment towards the absence of the general during a battle. This implies that the soldiers view in this source is regarding to the fact they felt their was no visible leader during the battles. To conclude source A would not be very useful for a historian studying the attitudes of British soldiers to their commanders during WW1 as it unreliable with the lack of date and name. ...read more.

Middle

This evidence proves that Haig had weaknesses as an efficient war leader. Source G is an extract from Prime Minister David Lloyd George's war memoirs, which were published at no given date after the war. In it he informs us of the doubt he had in Field Marshall Haig as an efficient war leader. The evidence given to suggest that Haig was appalling leader is Lloyd George's comment on the 'individuals who would rather the million perish then that they as a leader should admit - even to themselves - that they were blunderers...' and that he should of resigned than allow those brave men be 'slaughtered' to uphold Haig's foolish persistence of not facing defeat. This evidence clearly suggests that Lloyd George did not view Haig as the efficient war leader and objected to his strategies. This next source comes from the official biography of Haig written by Duff Cooper, who was asked by Haig's family to write this and consequently the source is probably biased. This source implies that Haig had no choice but to fight the Germans at Somme, as it would have meant abandonment of Verdun and breakdown of co-operation with the French. Hence this does agree with research I made on the battle and that Haig chose to fight at Somme for political on military reasons which is not what an efficient leader would do. Source J is an extract from The Times newspaper, from 10th May 1917 and was initially taken from a German newspaper dedicated to Field Marshall Haig. This source includes the important requirements to label this source as being reliable with dates and names of publishers. ...read more.

Conclusion

He also defends Haig as an efficient war leader, referring to a statement made by a German officer condemning the Somme as, 'the muddy grave of the German army'. This implies that the Somme wasn't just a British battle failure from which they suffered huge loses but their enemies were affected just as inadequately. Source L provides with an inside into the efficiency of Haig as war leader through Dr Sheffield who presents us with evidence in the video that Haig was often given poor intelligence on the German advancements and was often made to believe he was doing well/winning at the battles. We are informed that he did eventually learn from his mistakes on how to combine the usage of artillery, tanks and the infantry. Moreover many viewed the fact that this would be a war of attrition and not over in 6 months as it was assumed. Through the Sources C to L I believe there is sufficient evidence to support John Keegan's interpretation that Haig was an 'efficient and highly skilled soldier, who did much to lead Britain to victory in World War 1'. Within each source there is evidence that Haig did make mistakes which thousands of lives, however he did subsequently learn from them and through persistence achieve victory. I do nevertheless, do not believe that Haig was a great leader but an efficient leader who was the product of his time and did evidently bring the war to an end, the only way he knew. As he was the only leader from either side to still be the Commander in Chief from 1916 to 1918, he was thought as the one who learned from mistakes and brought the war to an end. Kashif Quraishy 11Sn Assignment 1: Model 2: HAIG ...read more.

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