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John Keegan, a modern military historian, suggests that Haig was an 'efficient and highly skilled soldier who did much to lead Britainto victory in the First World War'. Is there sufficient evidence in Sources A to H to support this interpretation?

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Introduction

John Keegan, a modern military historian, suggests that Haig was an 'efficient and highly skilled soldier who did much to lead Britain to victory in the First World War'. Is there sufficient evidence in Sources A to H to support this interpretation? Use the sources and your knowledge to explain your answer. There are conflicting ideas as to whether Haig was 'an efficient and highly skilled soldier' or whether he was an ambitious, self-confident optimist. Source A, part of a report written by Haig in December 1916, claims that German soldiers were ready to surrender. It also claims that German casualties were 'greater than ours', a fact that is untrue if the number of French and British casualties were added together. This source forms only a part of a report and therefore could be selective and not the full story. ...read more.

Middle

In part 3, written on 1st July 1916, Haig claims that there had been a successful attack and that the battle was going well. He also claims that the Germans were surrendering and that British troops were in high spirits and full of confidence. These claims would seem to be false, as there was a large casualty list during fighting on 1st July. Source D, written by Anthony Livesey, a modern historian, and published in 1989, claims Haig was 'silent, humourless and reserved'. He claims that Haig had a constant, often misplaced, optimism, and an inability to recognize defeat. This source, more than any other, contradicts Keegan's views on Haig. Source E, was written after the war by Lloyd George, who was Prime Minister at the time. It shows that he had serious concerns as to whether he should have stopped the battle, or have resigned rather than 'allow this slaughter of brave men'. ...read more.

Conclusion

contributed to the half a million casualties suffered by the allies'. Again, this is contrary to Keegan's view. In my opinion, the sources do not support Keegan's interpretation. Although Haig had a good education and military training and experience, he did make numerous mistakes during the Battle of the Somme. I think that the sources which come directly from Haig show him to be over confident and present an untrue picture of what was really happening, and give an untrue version of the morale of the soldiers. The sources from other people show that, although the Battle of the Somme was eventually won, Haig did make some bad mistakes. One of the most important sources to show this is source E, which was written by Lloyd George. If the Prime Minister felt that there were 'grounds for criticism' about 'two or three individuals who would rather millions perish ... than admit that they were blunderers', how can Haig be seen as an 'efficient and highly skilled soldier'? ...read more.

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