The Prime Minister, Lloyd George, heard that the French were planning celebrations of the signing of the peace treaty on July 14, Bastille Day, in Paris. Allied troops would march past a great catafalque, erected next to the Arc de Triomphe, which they would salute in honour of the dead. Impressed by the idea, Lloyd George decided that Britain should have a similar focus for its Victory Day. Edwin Lutyens, an architect, was asked to come up with a design for a suitable structure and within hours had produced a set of full-size working drawings of a ‘cenotaph’ rather than a catafalque, which would have 'inappropriate Catholic overtones'; plans for the London Victory Parade and associated Peace Day celebrations went ahead.

Shortly after its unveiling 15,000 Allied soldiers, together with the allied leaders marched past the Cenotaph in silence, saluting the 'dead'. In the days that followed the public laid flowers at the base of the Cenotaph, and discussion began in the press and Parliament about keeping it as a permanent memorial.

The Manchester Guardian published a highly poetic account of the celebrations and claimed that in the Cenotaph's vicinity 'a light was shining in the daylight like a light on an altar'. At first it appeared 'a tiny object in the distance, but as the procession went on with all its separate associations of great deeds done and of those who had died in doing them, it loomed larger and larger in people's minds.'

The report in the Morning Post was positively mystical: Near the memorial there were moments of silence when the dead seemed very near, when one almost heard the passage of countless wings - were not the fallen gathering in their hosts to receive their comrades' salute and take their share in the triumph they had died to win?

The Times judged that 'no feature of the Victory March in London made a deeper or worthier impression than the Cenotaph . . .'

Despite such enthusiastic reporting it was not altogether clear what the point of the Peace Day had been. People in Britain had already 'celebrated' what most perceived to be the end of the war the previous November. Doubts about the future and what the war had been about grew.          | change of mind >

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It gradually became obvious to some doctors that that some men at the front were suffering from non-physical injuries from what became know as shell-shock.

Some doctors argued that the only cure for shell-shock was a complete rest away from the fighting. Officer were likely to be sent back home to recuperate but the army was less sympathetic to ordinary soldiers with shell-shock. Some senior officers took the view that these men were cowards who were trying to get out of fighting.

Between 1914 and 1918 the British Army identified 80,000 men (2% of those who saw active service) as suffering from shell-shock. many more soldiers with these symptoms were classified as 'malingerers' and sent back to the front-line. Some these committed suicide; some broke down under the pressure and refused to obey the orders, some deserted. Sometimes soldiers who disobeyed orders were shot on the spot, some were court-martialled. 304 British soldiers were executed.