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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? Use Sources A to C and knowledge form your studies in your answer

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Introduction

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 form your studies in your answer. Source A is a cartoon from the British magazine Punch. Punch was known for its attention to detail, therefore at the very least the source is reliable, and therefore can be useful. Although I have not managed to find any information on the picture on the internet, its style and design suggest that it was done during the time of the war, or just after. The fact that it is ridiculing generals suggests the latter; however Punch is a controversial magazine, so this is not definite. Either way, the author had a good opportunity to have accurate information, straight from the soldiers who had been on the front and in the rehearsals, but weren't currently serving. Indeed, the source would most probably have these soldiers' opinions as its origin. ...read more.

Middle

However, to be fully useful, other sources would have to be used to verify these assumptions. Source B is a quote from a comedy television series. More exactly, it is from the 6th episode of Blackadder goes forth, and was first broadcast on the 2nd November 1989, and presumably written not long before. This means that the scriptwriter (Ben Elton) most probably would have not consulted actual soldiers, nor had been there himself. Indeed, Ben Elton was born in 1959, making it impossible for him to have been a soldier, and anyone he would interview would have to be at least 88, and I doubt that the scriptwriter would go to such lengths. However, what it does do is base itself on common opinions. Since, as I have previously mentioned, the common view was that of the soldier of his family, it would have been based on soldiers' views. If this was taken alone, it would make the source very useful. Also, the scriptwriter would have unconscious bias against the generals, simply from the society. ...read more.

Conclusion

He would therefore not only have conscious bias due to his feeling of loyalty to his family, but would also have unconscious bias due to his father's bringing up. Earl Haig mentions what the old soldiers thought. However, he would not have actually talked to them, but would have just heard his father saying this. In turn, Field Marshall Haig would not have had very accurate reports on his soldiers' attitudes to his plans, for the simple reason that they would have been afraid to say anything bad about them. This stops the source from being reliable for soldiers' opinions. An unreliable source is rarely useful by itself. Furthermore, Earl Haig's purpose in saying this would be to somewhat rescue his father's reputation; therefore he may have been inclined to bend the truth somewhat. In conclusion, Earl Haig's quote is an attempt to rescue his father's reputation based on unreliable information given to him by his father. It is unreliable, and since a historian can't tell whether what he says is true or not, it is in no way useful in finding out what soldiers thought about generals, especially Haig. Leszek Swirski Question 1 ...read more.

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