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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

Question one: - 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? Sources A, B and C are all about General Haig and the tactics he used during the Battle of the Somme. They are all very different sources. Source A is a cartoon from the British magazine Punch, without looking at the source we already know what it is likely to be made up of due to its origin. Firstly, it is British and so is obviously going to bias. Secondly, the cartoon is from the magazine Punch, Punch is a very controversial, sarcastic and ironic magazine and is made to entertain and humour the public. Because of these reasons it is quite unreliable and unhelpful. ...read more.

Middle

In order for this source to be more useful it could contain soldier's thoughts or opinions and what the Generals orders were. Another sarcastic view of Haig's tactics comes from source B. This source is made up of quotes from a Blackadder episode, again we know that this programme is set out to entertain and takes a sarcastic approach rather than a serious one. The source refers to the commanders as "Captain 'insanity' Melchitt" and refers to the battle as "A mass slaughter" Because of this we again doubt the commander's skills and capabilities and the source is telling us that this is also the public perception. Similarly to Source A the source does not give a soldiers opinion and only shows the opinion of the public. And although the actors are meant to be soldiers at the battle of the Somme, we still have no factual evidence of what the actual soldiers thought. ...read more.

Conclusion

I also know from personal knowledge and from studying other sources that the soldiers disagreed with the commander's leadership tactics. From a source written by Lieutenant J.A Raws he states: "I honestly believe that Goldie and many others were murdered through the stupidity of those on authority." This shows the actual viewpoints of the soldiers, some thing which none of the sources do. In order for this source to be more useful it could include the number of deaths i.e. 60 000 on the first day of battle, and some quotes from the soldiers that Earl Haig talked to, this would make the source also become more reliable. For the aforementioned reasons I have come to the conclusion that, although the sources show certain opinions about the commanders, they are not useful to an historian studying the attitudes of British soldiers. In order for them to be useful they must contain actual quotes from soldiers i.e. like that of Lieutenant J.A Raws. ...read more.

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