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change of mind

No sooner was the Peace Day over that the media started to call for a permanent version of the wood and plaster Cenotaph. A letter in The Times said: ‘The Cenotaph in Whitehall is so simple and dignified that it would be a pity to consider it merely as an ephemeral structure’. The paper commented: The new Cenotaph erected in Whitehall to the memory of "the glorious dead" was the centre of what was perhaps the most moving portion of Saturday's triumphal ceremony. The Cenotaph… is only a temporary structure made to look like stone; but Sir Edwin Lutyens's design is so grave, severe and beautiful that one might well wish it were indeed of stone and permanent.

Public enthusiasm for the hurriedly prepared design offered the government a ready solution to a potential problem - defining a programme and selecting a design for a permanent memorial. ‘Time passed’, enthused The Times, ‘and the plain fact emerged and grew stronger every hour that the Cenotaph was what the people wanted, and that they wanted to have the wood and plaster original replaced by an identical memorial in lasting stone. It was a mass-feeling too deep to express itself more fitly than by piles of fresh flowers which loving hands placed on the Cenotaph day by day. Thus it was decided, by the human sentiment of millions, that the Cenotaph should be as it is now, and speaking as the designer, I would wish for no greater honour, no more complete and lasting satisfaction’.

Westminster City Council was not enthusiastic about a permanent memorial in the middle of six lanes of heavy traffic and thought that a better location would be Parliament Square. Some thought the Mall would be a suitable place. But it was argued by some that: ‘The spot on which it stands is now consecrated to the Memory of all those, whether belonging to the Empire or our Allies, who fell in the Great War, and it will thus be remembered for all time the spot containing the Memorial to the 'Glorious Dead' which was saluted by the representatives of the troops of the Empire and of our Allies on the day when Peace in the Greatest War in the World's history was celebrated in London'. A motion in the Commons that Parliament Square was more suitable was defeated, and the Cenotaph was left to stand where it now is in Whitehall.

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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.