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The Incompetence Of British Leaders Essay

3911 words - 16 pages

How far do your sources support or contradict the interpretation that British generals like Haig were incompetent leaders?

World War 1 began in the month of July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. During the war years, there were numerous battles that occurred in various countries in Europe. Some of the battles included the Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Somme and the Battle of Mons. General Douglas Haig was the Commander In Chief of the British army in the Western front. The Battle of the Somme took place between 1st July and 18th November 1916 on either side of the river Somme in France. The battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of WW1 which saw the British ...view middle of the document...

The source supports the idea that British soldiers were wilfully and wickedly butchered by their leaders who put them on the front line. Source B1 also supports the interpretation as it is an extract taken form a history book written by a historian. Since the source is from a history book titled “British Butchers and Bunglers of World War One”, it automatically connotes that the book will only contain negativity as a “butcher” and “bungler” suggest that Haig is a useless murderer. Also, the information must have been checked and certified to be correct; as the book is a source of information and facts. The author of the book is a military historian: which means that he has plenty of strong and researched knowledge on the matter: making the source reliable. Likewise, as he is a military historian, he specialises in wars so the information given will be very specific to the matter and means that he knows everything that there is to know about the battle of the Somme, thus making his interpretation very reliable. However, source B1 does not support the negative interpretation of British Generals because it implies that the Generals may not have been entirely responsible for their actions. This is evident as the source says that the generals were a “product of a system which obstructed enterprise”: thus meaning that they did not make all the decisions.
This is also evident in source B16 where it states that Haig was a “product of his time, upbringing, education and training”: meaning that it was not the Generals that were incompetent, but the entire British training and military system that was useless. Therefore, source B1 does not completely support the interpretation as British Generals were not incompetent as they were only doing as they were taught and knew. This was also proven to be true in the Crimean and the Boer war where Britain saw no necessary need for change as a result for their successes in these wars previously. Likewise, source B1 does not support the interpretation for it was written by a military historian who researched the war from a soldiers’ viewpoint; thus making the source a less interpretation as it is from a soldier’s perspective that fought in the war: so his opinion is bound to be negative. It is clear that most British soldiers will agree that British Generals were incompetent leaders as they were directly affected by their Generals’ decisions. Similarly, the source is only one man’s opinion that does not show a well rounded holistic view of the war; ultimately making the source quite unreliable.

Source B2 supports the interpretation that British Generals like Haig were incompetent leaders to a degree. The source tells us that Haig was so useless that he was incapable of keeping his soldiers alive for more than six hours during the battle of the Somme; meaning that the battle was already lost before it even began. The source also states that Haig deserved a ruthless death (“hung, drawn and quartered”) for his...

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