Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source2
Extract from General Haig's war diaries, June 1915
(Catalogue ref: WO 256/4)
  • General Haig was a senior commander in the British Army at the time he wrote this diary. About six months later, he was put in total command of British forces.
  • Haig served with distinction in battles at Mons in 1914 and Ypres in 1915. Most historians believe he was an able and well-organised military commander. Haig's reputation was badly damaged by the terrible losses suffered by the British on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. However, his complete record over the course of the whole war was comparatively good.
  • In this extract we get a sense of the daily routine of the senior commanding officer. Here he has a meeting with other senior officers and expresses his concern over sanitation in the trenches.
  • British commanders generally took good care of their men. The soldiers were well fed. They were stationed in the firing line for as short a period as possible. Great care was also taken to provide washing and toilet facilities, in order to prevent the outbreak and spread of disease. This was not always possible in wet conditions in the front line trenches.
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