Source A is a piece of writing by Haig suggesting that the nations will have to bear heavy losses in order to obtain victory. It is quite possible that this was an attempt to justify the attack he was about to commit so many of his men to. Haig writes that no matter how much equipment and training the army has it will still suffer losses.
This cannot however be taken to mean that Haig did not believe in giving his troops every advantage of arms and numerical superiority.It is quite possible that after the experience of the French army at Verdun, Haig knew there would be high casualty figures. Therefore source A is probably designed to cover himself in the political side of things, as it is so ambiguous as to be able to mean several things at once. He held a very senior rank and to get there would require political as well as military skills, this piece can be shown as saying that Haig wants to give his men every advantage to crush the enemy, but in addition to this there is the clear message that to do so will inevitably cost lives.Source B on the other hand is a piece he wrote on the day before, and on the day that the attack at the Somme was launched.
It is his report upon the battle, the first part is intended to boost the confidence, or to convey the air of confidence that there was about the attack, “the barbed wire has never been so well cut nor the artillery preparation so thorough”.This would give anybody who read the piece, or who spoke to Haig on the day great optimism, it is possibly a piece of propaganda by Haig to keep the men’s spirits up, there is an old saying that if you think you’re going to lose you will do (war leaders have been doing this for hundreds of years in various forms, on of the earliest recorded instances was Kenneth MacAlpine who had one of his men dress up as an angel to convince his men God was on his side, his force went on to defeat a vastly superior Pict force around the year 500AD).There is however also a second argument to consider, that Haig was fed false, or very poor information.
As source E clearly points out, the commanders spent their time a very long way away from the front, and very rarely visited it. It is rather unlikely that Haig saw what he wrote of for himself, and as for the several soldiers he spoke to, they would have been brainwashed by Haig’s own propaganda, and even if they weren’t, they would not have dared to tell him that the attack would be disastrous in case they were charged with insubordination or cowardice, either of which they could be shot for.Our troops are in wonderful spirits and full of confidence” he writes, the fact is that most troops were unaware of the extent to which the Germans and their lines had survived.
Those who were aware were either to afraid to speak out, or felt that they owed the men serving under them this time of happiness before marching into the hell that awaited them (this strange guilt complex is shown in Sebastian Faulks’ book “Birdsong”). Source B can be taken to mean one of three things as well, firstly that Haig genuinely did believe what he wrote, and threw his men’s lives away due to poor intelligence.Secondly that the piece was written to save his political hide and that he knew his men didn’t have a chance. Or thirdly that he believed the attack would succeed but at very heavy costs, and that he was simply doing his best to keep spirits up (his own included). Source A states that Haig knew that no matter how many men there are, however well trained, however well supported by artillery, lives would be lost in large quantities, “the nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists”.The two sources then combine to show that Haig was fully aware that his men would suffer heavy casualties, however source A suggests that he will give them every advantage he can to help them win. Source B goes on to mention that the men were in good spirits. There is the distinct possibility that Haig wanted to keep the men happy.
Therefore I believe that source A can be taken to show that although he knew heavy casualties would be sustained, as sources A and B show when put together, he still cared enough to keep the men happy and to try and give them every advantage.