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Source based work on Haig.

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HISTORY ASSIGNMENT 1: MODEL A2: HAIG Question 1 Sources A, B and C could be fairly useful to an historian studying the attitudes of British soldiers to their commanders during the First World War. They all have positive values but they all also have limitations. Each source shows different attitudes and they all vary in what they say. Source A is taken from a British comedy magazine called "Punch" and shows one view of soldiers' attitudes toward their generals. The cartoon is poking fun at Haig, basically by saying that the soldiers are all out fighting for their lives while the commanders (in this case Haig) are sat in nice cosy chateau's 20 miles behind the front line. We have no knowledge of where this source was drawn, it could have been drawn by someone there at the time, or more likely it could have been drawn by someone back home. We also don't know when or where the source was published, however I do know from my own knowledge that the magazine "Punch" was around during the First World War and so more than likely, the cartoon would have been published fairly near the time. The fact that it may have been published fairly near the time may, however, be irrelevant as the cartoon is only one persons view. I know from my own knowledge that not everyone felt the same way, and many people, including soldiers from the time, had a lot of respect for Haig. One soldier from the time was quoted saying "He looked the part, a real soldier all over". ...read more.


The source shows us that Earl Haig thought very highly of his father as he says, "I thought he was one of the great men of the twentieth century". It also says however, that "he is portrayed as this most callous, uncaring man" which shows that many felt this way and not the same way as John Keegan. The situation of this source is that it is written in 1998, so it means that it has the benefit of hindsight. However the purpose of this source is to try and save his family's reputation. Source E is taken from Haigs personal diary and so evidently supports the statement. As it was extracted from his diary everything that is said is his interpretation of events. Source E is a primary source, not a contemporary one, as it was written at the time, which happens to be at the time of the Battle of the Somme. Haig thought that everything was going according to plan - "Very successful attack this morning...All went like clockwork" when I know that this was untrue. Haig was getting information from John Charters - The Head of Intelligence that had been given a positive spin. Even if Haig hadn't have been given this information, he still would have carried on in the battle as his tactics were attrition, i.e grinding down the enemy. Source H supports Haig as it was taken from his official biography. The writer of his biography - Duff Cooper - was asked by Haig's family to write it and so the source is biased. ...read more.


Source K is taken from a recent GCSE History textbook. This source is more complimenting than is critical of Haig but again is fairly balanced. It says that it would be harsh to lay all the blame on Haig for the failings of the British war effort, which to me is the view of either someone who likes Haig or someone who has mixed views. I know that usually in a textbook, views are normally fairly balanced as they usually give two sides to every story. Source L is the BBC TV "Timewatch" video. On the video there were mixed opinions about Haig. Some rated him highly, some disliked him. It interviews soldiers from the time and most of them rated him quite highly and said he was a great commander. Others felt he was "stubborn as a donkey" and also that he should have stopped the Somme offensive earlier and shared similar views to those of David Lloyd George. Although people criticised his ways, Haig died a hero in 1928 winning some of the greatest battles in military history. So this source is the most evenly balanced as it has lots of points from both sides. In conclusion, I would say that looking at these sources, more agree with Keegan's statement than disagree. However, all but one of the sources from C - L that support the statement, has a member of Haig's family involved somewhere. Source C is by Haig's son, source E is from his own personal diary and source H is his biography which was written by Duff Cooper who was asked by Haig's family to write it. Tim Vague 11F - History Coursework ...read more.

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