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'Lions Led by Donkeys'. Using the information in the sources and your own knowledge, how valid is the interpretation of the conduct of British soldiers and generals on the Western Front, 1914-1918?There

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Introduction

'Lions Led by Donkeys'. Using the information in the sources and your own knowledge, how valid is the interpretation of the conduct of British soldiers and generals on the Western Front, 1914-1918? There were many different perspectives to the question used above but most people today and then believed this interpretation of the British army. In 1914 Stalemate occurred during the war which continued for a period of four years and was also when the war of attrition had begun. Stalemate was when neither side of the armies made any progress. The reasons for Stalemate occurring were mainly because the weapons were better suited for defence than attack. The battle of the Somme was the event which occurred during Stalemate was when General Haig introduced a full offensive attack on the Germans. This battle resulted in thousands of deaths of the British, French and German soldiers which gave the interpretation of 'Lions led by donkeys' to many people at home. On the battle field, the first day after a week of bombardment in the battle of the Somme, at 7:30 am, the British army walked there way into the German's barbed wire. ...read more.

Middle

But it disagrees with the interpretation as it says 'Both sides conducted their battles on similar lines' meaning that other Generals used the same tactics as Haig. From these sources it shows Haig's tactics were not the right ones. He made mistakes by underestimating the German defences and not learning from them. He used old fashioned cavalry forces which were mowed down. He also did not think on how his troops would be able to carry all the equipment quick enough not to be killed. One can argue the benefit of hindsight enables us to realise the mistakes he made for example Haig would not have known how hard and long it would have taken for soldiers to carry all the equipment. Source G shows how wrong he was from a part of the list of dead and wounded on the first day of the Somme. It is possible there were many more dead as the first letter of every soldier begins with B which possibly means there were many more soldiers with a different starting letter of there name. Also the list shows that most of the soldiers who did die were privates who were inexperienced which certainly shows that the officers hid away at the back or they did not fight. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also it is important to remember that the battle was originally planned as an attack by the French army with British support. The British commander, General Haig, actually favoured an attack further north and west in Flanders. One can also argue that Haig did try other tactics to get out of the Stalemate as he tried attacking different areas and brought in the use of the tanks for the first time. From the sources and my own knowledge I can conclude that the interpretation of 'Lions led by donkeys is not entirely correct. General Haig did make many mistakes in the war and did not reconsider any tactics which caused many deaths in the battle of the Somme. But it was not Haig's fault there was a Stalemate as it was only the timing of the war when ammunition was better suited for defence than attack. Haig also made many victories in the History of Britain and during the battle of the Somme the British did capture Verdun and killed Germany's best soldiers which need to be taken into account. That is why I believe any General of Britain would have had the Stalemate problem. Also Haig did do a good job in places which are clouded by the battle of the Somme. H/W Sohail Deen 11H 24/11/02 1 ...read more.

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