Field Marshall Haig: The Butcher Of The Somme?

a) Study sources A and B. How far does source A and B prove that Haig did
not care about the lives of his men?
In source A it seems as though Haig doesn’t care for his men. He isn’t
very sympathetic. He says ‘The nation must be taught to bear losses’. He is
saying that even though someone in your family may die, you will just have
to forget about it and get over it straight away. He also didn’t train his
army and there was ‘no superiority of arms and ammunition’. How could he
expect them to win? If he cared about them then he would train them and
give them decent weapons. He doesn’t necessarily have to care but if he
wants them to win the battle, then he must show some sort of caring. But
was it Haig’s job to care? He wasn’t a nurse or anyone who had to care. It
was his job to send them out to the battlefield to win and not care if they
die. If he wants them to win then he must show a bit of care. They will
only go out and do their best if they feel confident that they will win,
and to feel confident they need to have good weapons and be trained. We
don’t know how he would have felt in this source, because he would be
waiting for tomorrow to come and may be feeling nervous about the battle
that he will have mixed emotions and may not be writing the whole truth.

In source B it is about all of the good things of the Somme. He
doesn’t mention any bad things. He says ‘The men are in splendid spirits’,
but that doesn’t necessarily mean the people who go over the top. He
doesn’t mention the soldiers which shows a sign of not caring. Another part
of the text that shows this is ‘the commanders are full of confidence’, but
it doesn’t say that the soldiers are.

Source A was written before the first day of the attack and it is
really negative, but source B is from the first day but is very positive,
even though lots of people got killed. He says ‘Very successful attack this
morning ‘, even though 20,000 people got died, which isn’t very successful,
but may have been less than the Germans. He says that the enemy is short of
men, but he doesn’t know how many Germans were killed, and neither do we
now. He is also getting a bit big headed because he says ‘Several
have…never been so instructed and informed.’ Because he is the Field
Marshall he would tell them what to do and if they say that then he must
have done a good job. If he was being big headed then it shows that he must
have done a good job. If he was being big headed then it shows that he
cares more about himself than his soldiers.

We can evaluate source A by using source B. in source A it says ‘The
nation must be taught to bear losses’. In source B it says ‘Very successful
attack this morning.’ The whole point of the war is to achieve military
objects and the number of soldiers killed is irrelevant. A battle can be
successful despite the high loss of life.

Overall, I think that Haig didn’t care that much about his men. This
is because whenever he is writing he never mentioned how they were feeling.

He also didn’t give them any training or decent weapons, and how could he
expect them to fight properly. In source B I think that he is trying to
forget what the soldiers feely think, because if the soldiers wrote it then
it would probably be very negative. If he tries to forget what the soldiers
think and lie then it shows that he can’t care that much. But the question
we still need to find out is was it Haig’s job to care and we cannot answer
this question properly until we have found out the answer.


b) Study sources B and C. Which one of these sources do you trust more?
Source B is written by Haig. It is a source that you can’t trust now,
but you may have done in the wartime. It is hard to believe now because
20,000 people got killed in the first day but he says ‘Very successful
attack this morning.’ People would probably have believed it in the wartime
because you didn’t know how many people were killed, and we still don’t
know. We know that people must have trusted in this source a bit because
people were signing up for the war even after the Somme, but it may not
have been released until after the war.

We could trust this source because if you had no knowledge of history
then you would trust it because you wouldn’t know the number of people
which died and if it did go ‘like clockwork’ or not. Also with it being the
first day you would think that even the start of the plan was going Haig’s
way. You would trust it when it says ‘the men are in splendid spirits’
because after one day they shouldn’t be that sad.

Source C is probably a more realistic source. It is written by private
George Coppard. It gives the truth of the war. We all know that the war
wasn’t perfect, and in fact it was the opposite. We know this because it
says ‘Hundreds of dead were strung out on barbed wire’. He was very
doubtful about the whole battle. He says ‘How did the planners imagine that
Tommies would get through the wire?’ that is very trustworthy because we
know now that the wire was thick and hard to get through so he would have
been telling the truth.

Source B was written by Haig and source C was written by Private
George Coppard. I would trust source C more because Haig would not have
been in the battle but Private George Coppard was. This makes us trust
source C more because it is primary evidence.

Only one of these sources can be the correct information, because it
can’t have been totally positive on day and then really negative the next.

Overall, I think that I trust source C the most. This is because it
states the reality. ‘Hundreds of dead…Many died on the enemy wire…it
was clear that there were no gaps in the wire…It was so thick that day
light could barely be seen through it.’ Another thing that makes me trust
it more is the fact that it comes from someone who was at the battle. And
even years after the battle he still remembers everything about it, so it
must have been the truth or else he would have forgotten it.


c) Study sources D and E. These two sources are not about Haig and the
Battle of the Somme. How far do you agree that they have no use for the
historian studying Haig and the battle of the Somme?
Source D is a scene from ‘Blackadder Goes Forth.’ It shows two
officers discussing an imminent attack on the Germans.

Blackadder is speaking to George and saying that they will go over
the top soon. George replies saying that they will ‘Give Harry Hun a darn
good British style thrashing.’ Then Blackadder says ‘Field Marshall Haig is
about to make yet another giant effort to move his drinks cabinet six
inches closer to Berlin.’ They are sort of calling Haig an alcoholic
because he has to move his drinks cabinet with him when he fights.

This is a good source if a historian was studying the Somme because
it was written after the Somme, so the writers would know more about it
than at the time of the battle.

Source E is a satirical cartoon from a British magazine published in
February 1917. It has a Major General addressing the men before practising
an attack behind the lines. It shows what part the Generals play in the
war. This source is criticising the Generals. The Generals wouldn’t
normally go to fight. They are criticising them by saying ‘The absence of
the General.’ This is saying that the General is never there.

This is a helpful source because it shows to us how much fighting the
generals did, and they didn’t do any.

Source C can tell us things about the war. Blackadder says ‘Are we
all going to get killed? Yes.’ He can answer his own question straight away
so they know that they will get killed, as did nearly every one who was
about to go over the top in the war.

This source is relevant to Haig and the Battle of the Somme because
Blackadder talks about it. He talks about Haig and moving his drinks
cabinet 6 inches closer. The six inches could have something to do with the
Battle of the Somme because Haig only managed to move his troops six miles
in it. We can also tell that they are going to get killed and then they
refer to Haig and they also know that the plans won’t work if the last ones
were anything to go by.

Source E can tell us information about the war. We know from it that
the generals don’t take part in the fighting. It also shows the soldiers do
all of the fighting and they even know it. That is why they say what they
say, which is ‘The absence of the General.’
This can give us some information about Haig and the Battle of the
Somme. We can use this information to tell us that Haig also probably
didn’t fight in the Somme. He would have just sent them to fight like the
General on the picture does.


D) Study sources F,G and H. Do sources G and H prove that source F is
wrong?
Source F is a very biased source. It is really against Haig. It is
from a book called ‘British Butchers and Bunglers of world war. They
probably are so against him because of what has to be in the book, which is
bad things, and if they fill it with good things about Haig then it is
irrelevant.

The whole paragraph is full of bad things. They say that ‘Haig was
as stubborn as a donkey.’ They think that the strategy was ‘appalling’ and
that it isn’t a strategy but ‘slaughter.’ They also said that ‘The Somme
was criminal negligence.’ Which means it is against the law because he is
just killing people even though he knew he had no chance of a break
through.

Source G is the complete opposite of source F. it is all of the good
things about Haig and the battle of the Somme. It says the western
countries confidence and ‘their armies has accomplished an achievement that
gave good promise for the future.’ The German troops had their confidence
lowered, probably because Britain were strong. ‘A great part of the best,
most experienced and most reliable officers and men were no longer in their
places.’
It was written by the German Official history of the First World War,
published in the 1930’s. Because it was written sometime in the 1930’s it
could have been during World War Two. They might have said good things so
that when they were fighting, Britain wouldn’t be too harsh, or if it was
the time leading up to the war and they sort of knew that there was going
to be a war then they may have said the things to stop the war. But it
could have done the opposite. It could have made Britain feel that they are
good at fighting, so they will go to war, but the Germans could also be
improving, so they could just beat Britain. It being written by Germans is
also quite surprising because you would expect them to be on Germanys side
and say how good they were but they say how good Britain were.

But this source doesn’t actually say that Britain was brilliant. It
just says that they have achieved something, but the rest was about how bad
the Germans were.

Source h says the same sort of things as source G. This talks more
about how good Haig was. It makes Haig look powerful. It says that Haig’s
armies broke Germany’s spirit o resistance by the courage and resolution
they had, and they had complete confidence in Haig, which would have played
some part in their courage. It also says that his armies were ‘inspired by
his determination.’ Haig also had the ‘moral courage’ and without that the
‘French resistance would have crumbled.’ ‘Haig was one of the main
architects of the Allied victory.’ That means that if Haig wouldn’t have
done what he did then the war could have ended up the opposite of what it
did and Britain’s confidence would have collapsed.

It is written by a British General in 1973. He fought in both wars.

He might have been there but not necessarily fought, because not many
Generals did.

I don’t think that sources G and H prove that source F is wrong, but
because there is more evidence saying that Haig was nice, that is what you
believe.


e) Study sources I and J. Why do you think that sources I and J differ
about the Battle of the Somme?
Source I is written by Lloyd George to Haig on 21st September 1916,
after visiting the battlefield. At this time he was Secretary for War at
the time of the Somme.

This source says good things about the Somme. He congratulates Haig
on his skill used. He is being nice to Haig. Lloyd George can’t say bad
things about Haig, because his job gives him limits of what he can and
can’t say. If he said bad things about Haig then he might have lost his
job.

What I want to know is was this letter a personal letter or one that
the nation could know about? If it was a national letter then he probably
would have been a bit more encouraging, so it is probably a personal letter
because he only has one person to try and please, instead of a whole
nation.

The purpose of this letter is to support Haig and all of the people
in the battlefield. It is also to congratulate Haig for all of his efforts.

It may also be to boost morale of the soldiers.

In source J David Lloyd George has completely changed his attitude.

He is saying how bad the battle was, even though he was congratulating Haig
in the battle. He is getting quite stressed out. He says ‘It killed off far
more of our best’ and he ‘expressed hi doubts’ at the time even though he
said that everything was going fine in the war. In our textbooks, GCSE
Modern World History, written by Ben Walsh, there is a source on page 36.

It is from Lloyd George’s War Memoirs. It says ‘Should I have resigned
rather than agree to this slaughter of men?’ he is calling the battle
‘slaughter’. It also shows that he was doubting whether they would win the
war.

David Lloyd George says bad things in source J because he hasn’t got
a job to lose. He may be criticising so they don’t go to war again. There
is no need to boost the morale of the soldiers. He also has no
responsibility because he wasn’t secretary of the war.

I think that sources I and J differ about the Battle of the Somme
because of what position Lloyd George is in. It is his job that stops him
saying bad things, because if he does then he would probably lose his job.

In source J he can say what he wants.


f) Study all the sources. ‘Haig was an uncaring general who sacrificed the
lives of his soldiers for no good reason.’ How far do these sources support
this view?
‘Haig was an uncaring general who sacrificed the lives of his men for
no good reason.’
Some people would agree with this statement. From the sources we have
we can prove this.

In source A it says that the men had ‘No training…no superiority of
arms and ammunition.’ If Haig cared about his men then he would have
trained them how to fight and given them good weapons. He also said ‘The
nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists.’ This shows that Haig
knows that there will be lots of casualties and he doesn’t do anything to
help try and stop as many casualties e.g. he could give them weapons and
training. He has no consideration for the feelings of the people at home,
who may lose loved ones. He just says ‘The nation must be taught to bear
losses.’ He is just telling people to ‘get over’ losing their family. He
opens his paragraph with that and closes his paragraph with something just
like it.

Source B also shows that Haig is uncaring and wastes the lives of his
men. He mentions all of the good things and no bad things. He says ‘All the
commanders are full of confidence.’ He doesn’t mention the soldiers or
their thoughts. This shows a sign of not caring. He also says ‘A very
successful attack this morning,’ but 20,000 people died, which isn’t very
successful. He is trying to forget what the soldiers think, which shows a
sign of not caring, and he also lies to himself.

Source C is realistic about the deaths of people. ‘Hundreds of
dead…many died on the enemy wire.’ Private George Coppard wrote this and
he can’t see why the planners (including Haig) could send soldiers up to
the Germans barbed wire even though ‘It was so thick that daylight could
barely be seen through it.’ Haig wouldn’t send his soldiers out if he cared
about them, because he knew they would get killed. He would have known that
they wouldn’t be able to get through the wire.

Source D is also a source, which suggests bad things about Haig.

Blackadder and George are talking to each other then Blackadder says
‘Clearly Field Marshall Haig is about to make yet another giant effort to
move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin.’ They are making jokes
about Haig, because in the Battle of the Somme he only managed to move six
miles. They are showing that he doesn’t care about his soldiers because he
would be more interested in taking his drinks cabinet to Berlin instead of
taking his soldiers, who helped him get to there.

Source E is a cartoon from a British magazine from 1917. It doesn’t
mention Haig’s name but it is talking about Generals. It says how they are
never at the battles. If they cared about the troops then they would go out
there and fight to help them, instead of just sitting down and ordering the
troops about.

Source F is very biased. It is from a book called ‘British Butchers
and Bunglers of World War.’ The book has to have lots of bad things in it,
and we can tell this because this paragraph is full of bad things. It says
‘He was as stubborn and as unthinking as a donkey…that is an appalling
kind of strategy. It is not a strategy. It is not a strategy, it’s
slaughter. The Somme was criminal negligence.’ This says bad things about
Haig’s personality and his fighting strategies in one small paragraph. It
also says that ‘He knew he had no chance of a breakthrough but still sent
men to their deaths.’ This shows that he doesn’t care and he sacrificed his
men for no reason because even though he knew they will die he still sent
then out.

Source J is the final source, which shows that Haig was uncaring and
he sacrificed the lives of his men. ‘I expressed my doubts to General Haig
as to whether cavalry could ever operate successfully on a front bristling
for miles with barbed wire and machine guns.’ Lloyd George told Haig that
cavalry wouldn’t be able to operate and Haig would clearly be able to see
that. But he still sent soldiers out to try and get past the barbed wire
and machine guns, which shows he didn’t care. The battle’ killed of far
more of our best.’
But some people would argue that Haig was caring and didn’t sacrifice
the lives of his men.

A source that shows this is source G. Britain are winning and the
Germans are losing confidence. This shows that Haig might have cared
because for the Germans to lose confidence then Britain must have fought
well, and to do that they need to have a good leader who teaches them well,
who would have been Haig. The Germans knew they were losing. ‘The most
reliable officers and men were no longer in their places.’ The German
officers would either have been killed or left because they knew they were
losing.

In source H it shows that Haig was a good man and helped the troops.

‘The courage and resolution of Haig’s armies, which had complete confidence
in the leadership of their Commander.’ Their commander was Haig and he must
have been caring to get the soldiers confidence so high. The soldiers were
also ‘inspired by his determination.’ It also says that the French
resistance would have crumbled if it wasn’t for Haig and his moral courage.

He must have cared to stop the whole French resistance collapsing.

The final source which shows that Haig cared about his men and didn’t
waste their lives is source I. It is written by Lloyd George. He
congratulated Haig for ‘the skills with which your plans were laid.’ This
shows that Haig cared because he made good plans so he wouldn’t lose as
many lives of his men.

Overall, I think that Haig was uncaring and he sacrificed the lives
of his soldiers for no good reason. In source A he can’t have cared because
he didn’t give the soldiers any training or good weapons. He also starts
and ends his paragraph with ‘The nation must be taught to bear losses’ and
‘the nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists.’ It shows that he
is expecting lots of soldiers to die and he still doesn’t give them decent
weapons. Source B also shows that he is uncaring and wastes the lives of
his men. He doesn’t mention what the soldiers think about the war, and it
just says about the commanders. He also says that it was a ‘very successful
attack’, even though 20,000 died in one day, which isn’t very successful.

If he cared then he would have sounded more upset. In source C, Haig sent
soldiers out to attack the Germans even though the barbed wire ‘was so
thick that daylight could barely be seen through it.’ If Haig did care
about them then he wouldn’t have let then go out. He was just wasting their
lives. Source D suggests that Haig cares more about his alcohol than his
soldiers because Blackadder says ‘Haig is about to make yet another giant
effort to move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin.’ He would
probably be happy if his drinks cabinet got to Berlin and his soldiers
didn’t, which shows a sign of not caring. Source E shows that Haig would
have just sat down and ordered the troops about, but if he really cared
then he would have got onto the battlefield and helped the soldiers whether
they win or lose. Source F shows that Haig had bad strategies and that he
has a bad personality. If he cared then he would have made up some better
strategies and wouldn’t have wasted people’s lives. Source J shows that
Haig doesn’t listen to people’s advice even though he knew it was probably
right. Lloyd George said to Haig that the soldiers will never be able to
stand miles of barbed wire and machine guns, and Haig knew that too but
still sent the soldiers over the top. That shows signs that he is uncaring
and wastes the lives of his men.