Interpretation that Haig was/wasn’t a Butcher (Source analysis)

Table of Content

Interpretation that Haig was a Butcher:

Source B2 was written by P. Smith a private in the 1st Border Regiment during the Somme describes the battle from how he saw it during the battle. He described it as “pure bloody murder” on the battlefield and he goes on to say in the source how Haig should have been “hung, drawn and quartered for what he did at the Somme”. He also goes on later to see how “The cream of British manhood was shattered in less than 6 hours”. Source B2 is reliable because of the fact that it was written during the Somme so because of that it is a Primary source. It however is not reliable because he was only a private which gave him not a very good overall view of the battlefield which makes the source unreliable. Source B3 was written by Fred Pearson, a private on the Western Front, writing a letter to a local newspaper in 1966. He said “The biggest murderer of the lot was Haig” describing how he stupidly sent soldiers to die, in the source he says how Haig “lived almost 50km behind the line” in the source with this quote he basically described Haig as a coward who didn’t know what the trenches were like. Source B2 is reliable because of the fact that it was written by a Private who was at the Somme during the battle, so in that respect he had a firsthand view of the battlefield.

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However the Source is also not reliable because of the fact that it was written 50 years after the Somme so the author could have forgotten some of the details, on top of that the fact that he wrote it for a newspaper so he could have over-exaggerated to get his story published. Source B4 was written by David Lloyd George, who was at the time Prime Minister of Britain during WW1. He describes Haig as a “second rate commander” because of the high death count at the Somme, he later describes Haig as being incapable of “planning vast campaigns on the scale demanded on so immense a battlefield”. The source is reliable because of the fact that it was written by the Prime Minister who had a well rounded view of the battlefield. It is however an unreliable source because it was not written during the time of the war.

Also he could have been trying to shift the blame from himself and onto his generals for possibly his mistakes. Source B6 is a cartoon strip published in the British satirical magazine punch in February 1917. The cartoon mocks the absence of general Haig at the battle of the Somme, even though it is a cartoon it does have some truth to it as in the way that general Haig always stayed 50km behind the trenches to ensure he was as far away from the battle as possible but still able to give and receive orders. The cartoon is not reliable because of the fact that that it is a cartoon and has most like exaggerated. However it does state some truth in it.

Interpretation that Haig was not a Butcher:

Source B10 describes Haig’s view of the battlefield from his point of view as a general, describing the German forces as “practically beaten men” who are “thoroughly tired of war”, this source shows Haig’s vast views of the battlefield to be able to know that the German soldiers were half beaten, even though the British army did not know it at the time we still won the war and the victory of a battle cannot be praised without praising the commander that led the allied forces to victory at the Somme. The source is not reliable because it was obviously a bias opinion as Haig was the commander of the battle he is not going to have critical views against his own leadership. It is however reliable because of the fact that it does provide some insight in to the battlefield as he had a good view of the battlefield.

Source B11 is written by Basil Liddell Hart, a lieutenant in the Yorkshire Light Infantry describes the leadership at the Somme was flawless, he later goes on to describe Haig as a genius “which has made General Haig fit to rank with any general of past or modern times”. The source is not reliable because it does not provide any insight into the battle at the Somme, neither does it provide any proof to the contrary and once again it is a bias opinion.

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