The Question here is asking whether John Keegan’s interpretation of Douglas Haig is supported enough with evidence from Sources A-H. In this question I will analyze each source critically for their dates, authors, purposes, provinence and to see whether they have the sufficiency to support this interpretation. We must remember that Keegan is saying this about all of World War One. The television show “Blackadder goes Forth” is Source H.
Source A was written December 1916 by Douglas Haig. This was written after the Somme, during WW1. This means that Haig wrote this while the war was still going on, and that he could not foresee what was going to happen next. His intention was to make himself look good in front of the cabinet. This does not support Keegan’s statement, as it did not show if Haig won the war.
Source B is a poster called Your Country needs Me, from General Haig’s Private War. Here it seems that Haig’s “skill” and “efficiency” is totally based upon making people fear him. The poster shows that Haig glorified death so that he made it a good thing for people to die for him.
Source C are Haig’s own views, written June and July 1916. In the first event, again we see the heartlessness of Haig, telling everyone to lose someone. He also seems to say that the only way is to fight a War of Attrition. However, this is skillful, because it will spur the men on. In the second part, Haig cannot tell the future. He says that everything is near perfect. However in the third part, there seems to be even more exaggeration. bombardment in question strengthened German defenses. Haig had been misinformed as communication was poor along the front. This source is unreliable because there are a lot of exaggerated facts in it.
Source D is Great Battles of WW1, by Anthony Livesey, 1989.
This source tells me a lot about Haig, and is also a negative source, criticising Haig. It shows that he was too self-confident, and too optimistic. This source does make some good points about Haig’s failiure to recognise certain defeat at the Somme and Passchendaele. This source does not support Keegan’s statement.
Source E is War Memoirs of David Lloyd George, the date was after WW1. Here it shows that Lloyd George regrets sending Haig to command forces, as he calls Haig “blundering”. He also states that Haig went back on a promise because of his selfish ideals. He did not stop the attack because he could not continue the offensive, he stopped it because of poor weather conditions. This source’s evidence is that it shows that Haig was selfish. This does not support Keegan’s statement.
Source F is “Haig” by Duff Cooper. This source can be called unreliable, as the author was asked to write this by the family of Douglas Haig. For example, to say there is only one opinion of whether to give battle on the Somme was wise or foolish, is incorrect. There are many opinions, showing the author may have been biased. However, the statement that breakdown of co-operation with the French can be called correct, because Britain would be classed as a “traitor if they did not help Verdun.
Source G is Hindsight: GCSE Modern History Review by S.Warburton, April 1998. This statement is shows different opinions, such as Haig was “ultimately victorious”. The source argues, although Haig was incompetant he was one of the only suitable men for the job, because of previous experience. The source also admits that Haig made mistakes. Therefore this source does not support the statement made by Keegan.
Source H is Blackadder Goes Forth, the final episode called “Goodbyeee”. In this video one particular scene stands out, and that is when Blackadder phones Haig up to leave the Battlefield. During this phonecall, Haig is seen to be wiping off plastic soldiers off a battlemap and binning them, then replacing them with new ones. This shows that Haig was truly fighting a War of Attrition, and didn’t care about his soldiers. Therefore, this source does not support the statement written by Keegan.
In conclusion, by analysing the sources, I can deduce that there is not enough evidence of a high enough standard to support the conclusion made by John Keegan. All sources seem to be flawed in one way or another.