World War One

1. When answering this question we must first consider many things. First of all I will analyse source A. It is a secondary source which means that lots of sources have been available to the writer before he wrote it, so he could of taken them all into account. The passage is also not likely to be biased because there was no need for it to be because the war was at stalemate anyway and British troops suffered heavy losses and the country knew that. Another reason for it not to be biased was that it was for educational use. Source A could also been a one off meaning that it could of been the only time that Britain’s offences failed. We however know that it was not. This photo has limitations because it just depicts the battle of the Somme and. not the whole war.

Source b is a primary source. The first question we must ask is, Is it staged? To answer this we must then think what is the purpose of this photo. If it was staged then the purpose probably would have been to make the English people think that they were doing well, so that morale stayed high and so that people kept joining the army. Also this photo is just one example so this too could of been a one off because not all artillery bombardments were successful, like the one where England tried to cut the Germans barb wire by using ball bearings. This in fact tangled the wire even more. Just because source B was taken by someone who had seen the effect of artillery bombardment does not make it more reliable than source A. There is actually more reason for source B to be staged or biased than there is for source A.

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2. There are reasons both for and against whether source C gives an accurate impression of how soldiers viewed their commanders. One reason why it could give an accurate impression is that it was written by an infantry officer who was there. This infantry officers opinion also fits in with the opinions of others who were in the war, such as Wilfred Owen the great war poet. Reasons why this poem could not give an accurate impression of soldiers views of their commanders are that it could be exaggerated because it is poem. It is also his opinion which means that others might not of shared that opinion. We also must consider the fact that Sassoon wrote a letter to the Times, heavily criticising the war. For this he was put into a mental hospital as a victim of shellshock. He later withdrew his comments putting it down to a nervous breakdown. This experience could have left him bitter.

I do not think this gives an inaccurate impression of how soldiers viewed their officers, however other evidence would need to be used before judgement.

3. Source D refers to Haig as being over confident in his tactics so he kept sending men over the top. It is from a book about the great battles of world war one. This means that statistics could have been used to write some of the book. The death tally for the battle of the Somme was very high but Haig controlled the whole of the western front, meaning that the battle of the Somme could have had much higher death tallies than other battles, leading the two interpretations of Haig to be different. His section could have done well but the other sections could have done badly and because all the deaths were added together this could have made him look bad.

Source E was from a biography all about Haig where the purpose might have been to glorify his life. This source doesn’t talk about Haig as a person, just about his tactics as a commander. Also as this book was all about Haig then more sources would have been considered when writing it. Sources from friends and family could also have been used, such as diaries and letters. A reason why the sources are different could have been that because the family might have given sources then they would want him to be made to look good.

4. You cannot learn much about combat on the western front from source E. Its purpose is purely to sell cigarettes. It made people want to buy them because people wanted to follow what the “brave” soldiers did. This source is also not accurate. No one would stand up and look up over the top of the trench because they would have been shot. Also trenches were at least 6ft deep whereas in the advert it comes up to about waist height. The date is most important in this source because in 1915 the attitude to war was still good and people were happy to join the army and fight. This is why they used some soldiers with very heroic poses on their advert, because people were excited about war. After the battle of the Somme, this advert would have been useless because the battle completely changed peoples attitude towards the war.

5. It would seem that going to the battlefields is a very strong source of evidence. It is but there are also weaknesses. One of the strong points is the fact that you are actually there, meaning that there is lots of evidence available, such as the trenches and bomb craters. This also means that you can make your own opinions on the war. Another thing that helps give a good interpretation of the was is that you can tell the geography of the land , such as distances between trenches.

One of the weaknesses is that you can’t tell what it felt like to actually be in the war, obviously because there is no war going on. Also the war was 80 years ago meaning that there could have been lots of change to the land. On the other hand there could not have been, so you don’t know how much change has occurred.

If you wanted to know about the effect of a bomb or the range of fire between the two sides then going to the battlefields is good, but if you wanted to know what it felt like to be in a trench, about to go over the top, then it wouldn’t be very good. There are also limitations because the battlefields we went to stretched only 18 miles compared to the 450 miles of the western front.

6. There were several reasons why the war lasted so long some of these reasons were that there was a stalemate because of all the new technology mixed with old tactics. Also both sides tactics were very defensive with things such as barbed wire, trenches and sand bags etc. Now I will consider what the sources tell us about why the war lasted so long. First of all no source is evidence is completely useless, it all tells us something about the war, however small