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Memorials to war, battles, soldiers and related events are understood differently by different groups; the meaning also changes over time as the originators die and a new generation reuses the memorials for their own purpose. Of course often memorials lose their significance and quietly rot away or receive a 'heritage' treatment.

Within the meaning of many such memorials is an implicit acceptance of war as a means of social change. Furthermore both supporters and opponents often use the meaning attached to some such memorial to promote a political point of view.

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.