History: Historiography and Source Essay

Submitted By chloe_norton1999
Words: 1831
Pages: 8

The attack of the Battle of Somme began July 1, 1916 with a predominately British force clambering out of its trenches and crossing No Man's Land under withering German machinegun and artillery fire. The attack soon stalled and deteriorated into disaster. On that day the British suffered almost 60,000 casualties making it the bloodiest day in British military history. Douglas Haig was born in Edinburgh on 19 June 1861 into a wealthy family who owned a whisky business. He studied at Oxford University and in 1884 went to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He then served as a cavalry officer for nine years, mainly in India. There is much evidence which suggests that Haig was an uncaring general for example on the one hand Haig was called the butcher of Somme and some people argue that Haig deserved this given nickname. The reason for that was because Haig had ‘sent men to their deaths’. The reason behind this was because Haig didn’t care that troops died and sent soldiers who weren’t highly enough trained to fight this war which wasn’t the best idea and showed that he didn’t have very good tactics. There didn’t seem to be much point in the battle despite knowing they were going to lose more young precious lives and that their team was weakening day by day however ‘Haig was not disheartened by heavy losses’ . Although, there were 420,000 British Casualties the French lost 200,000 soldiers and the Germans lost 500,000 soldiers. This shows that the battle wasn’t a complete failure.
Source B1 supports that Haig is an incompetent leader because in source B1 it shows that Haig has not done his job properly and the source is trying to persuade us to not forgive him. This is shown in the source when it says “Haig and other British generals must be blamed for wilful blunders and wicked butchery”. This is contradicting that Haig is an incompetent leader. This source was written in 2003, after the Battle of Somme, this shows that our source is unreliable as it is a secondary source, information could be passed down and things could be lied about so therefore it wouldn’t be55 reliable as it wouldn’t be the truth. The source is unreliable because it wasn’t written in the time of the Battle and the writer wasn’t alive when the battle took place so therefore, they’ve had no experience with the Battle. However, the writer has the benefit of hand sight ability to cross- reference with other sources. The author would have had his opinion on this battle because John Laffin (the writer) is a military historian so therefore he Laffin would have been able to research other sources and be able to research other soldier’s point of view. However, this can be seen as biased. The purpose of this source is to educate and provide military history however this could be his own opinion. Due to this source wanting to educate people, Laffin should want to present facts and he wouldn’t lie so therefore this could be a reliable source.
Source B3 was written in a newspaper again supporting that Haig is incompetent and presenting him to be a murderer. Although, newspapers exaggerate news as they want to entertain people so they exaggerate news to make people more intrigued. The author may have exaggerated it due to them being angry because of the way Haig led his troops. Haig describes himself as “bitter; always have been and always will be” which depicts that he is a harsh character and by saying this he doesn’t show a lot of emotion towards his troops that had been killed. Haig shows once again his lack of leadership skills as he didn’t know what the trenches were like as he didn’t inspect them which meant the troops suffered problems. By Haig staying at least 50km away this shows that he wasn’t a very good leader; he don’t deserve to be called a good leader if he didn’t take part in the battle effort. Source B3 was written in 1966 meaning that it is a secondary source which could mean that it’s unreliable as it wasn’t written during the battle. It