One of the main things about studying sources is interpretation. They way you view a source can very much depend on your own beliefs, or that of others and therefore it is very hard to find a completely true source. Source A in my opinion is more a realistic part of writing from Haig, it does not actually show that he is uncaring, yet to me shows a side of honesty and truthfulness. However, to people that do not view Haig politely, this source could be seen as untactful, insensitive and pessimistic as it comments on the nation losing men when it should really be a moral booster. In my opinion Haig is being honest, he realises that in any war men are lost and he merely states his predictions. There is no actual sign of him being insensitive.
Source B as we know now is false and does not represent the truth of the battle in any respective. Yet, Haig was only going by what he heard from intelligence, and he honestly believed the offensive to be effective, he would not have known that so many people died until days later and the sources are written before and on the day of the battle. Haig was only going by intelligence, yet he should have known his tactics were not very efficient, and therefore an heir of ignorance about him tends to shine. Yet, he didn’t know what happened and therefore could not be blamed for his ignorance. Many people against Haig would call him an incompetent General for not knowing what was happening, however in a war to such large scale it would be very difficult by anyone’s standards!
In Source C it does not show Haig in a very nice light, as an ex-soldier tells of Haigs incompetent plans. He believes that “any Tommy” could have told Haig that his tactics are useless. And therefore it shows Haig as being a poor general. The problem is Haig genuinely believed that his plans were safe, and he was wrong another sign of ignorance. Throughout the war his “persistence” was not a public favourite as he made many mistakes. On the other side of the coin though, what could he do? He had been told by supporting generals that his plans were “brilliant” and therefore why would he change them? The problem with the source is however, is that it was written years after the battle, and therefore “stories” can change into tales. People against Haig would quickly take this source into context and be able to accuse Haig of many things, however his side has to be taken into perspective and the fact that he was told nothing about his possible failure has something to do with a lot more people than the General himself.
Source D takes a more comical look at Haig and his “leadership” however was very much public opinion of the general at the time. Haig is portrayed as being incapable and the source was made before revisionist times and therefore is very much against Douglas Haig. However due to the source being made for comical purposes only it cannot be taken completely seriously, however many people very much against Haig would state the fact that in “Blackadder” he is constantly mocked for his choices made in the war. Although, it cannot be taken 100% seriously.
The same could be said for Source E however it was written in 1917, during the war and therefore demonstrates that even then many people were against Haig and his was of leadership. The Source suggests that the General’s should be on the frontline, however that suggestion is ludicrous, yet many people still believed it. In my opinion the source is slightly harsh, yet its purpose is against Haig and therefore shows him in a bad light, as does Source D. It is rather biased and therefore is not entirely credible because once again it was made for a comical purpose.
Source F was written by a noted historian by the name of Laffin, however he was very much against Haig and his writing is against Haig in every way. He suggests Haig as being a “donkey” and committing “criminal negligence.” In my view this is not true, however he is very much against Haig and shows him to be ignorant and incompetent. The source is very biased as well, and therefore only shows one side of the story. It once again shows Haig to be uncaring, yet I do not believe what Laffin is saying, and see it to be an exaggeration.
Source G, is very much a neutral source it does not suggest Haig was a brilliant general, however does state that he boosted moral to the Western Front, and that he had a lot of confidence. The source shows Haig to be both good and bad at his job, by saying that although his offensive was far from successful, there was no mutiny and the moral was boosted for the soldiers. It shows that Haig was not sacrificing his soldiers but showing a confidence and perseverance like no other. It reflects the fact that Haig’s tactics are not exactly brilliant, however he made the best of what he was told by intelligence.
Source H is very interesting as a general that fought in both World Wars, and therefore a man of great experience wrote it. He states that Haig was very good Leader and this source suggests that Haig on average was a very good leader with much confidence. He was an “architect” of the allied victory and therefore a major piece of the puzzle. The source clearly portrays Haig to be a brilliant general and shows no hint of him being uncaring. Like many of the earlier source do. However, it was written by a general who may have high opinions of any general?
Source I, at the time Lloyd George believe Haig to be a great general and an excellent man for the job, however in Source J he has a very different opinion in his war memoirs. He believed Haig to be incompetent and his offensive to be a “failure.” When George had time to reflect on Haig and the way he led, he made almost a U-turn in his opinions and thought that Haig was very much a different man than what he once believed, and therefore this reflects Haig in a bad light, and shows that maybe he did sacrifice his men for his own benefits.
Source can always be interpreted differently and therefore no one opinion can be formed. Every person has different views on Haig and the way he acted. Some sources are very biased against Haig and clearly believe him to be insensitive, and a slaughterer. Others seem to think that he was a brilliant General and his perseverance was a main point of the allied victory. Interpretation is very important, and in general I think Haig didn’t do too much wrong. However I do realise that his offensive at the Somme was a disaster, yet he only went on his intelligence and what people told him and therefore the deaths cannot be blamed on one man. Haig is seen in many different lights, and many believe him to be very different than what he was. The sources show all different view point of Douglas Haig, and therefore show a complete picture of him. He was neither a good or bad General, but a mixture of both with good and bad points in his character. Just like every other human being.