Historians of nursing in Britain have long been fighting for a place in the history of medicine. For example, of the 718 pages of text in Roy Porter’s best-selling The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, only five are concerned with nursing, and these, inevitably, with Florence Nightingale and 19th-century hospital reform.
The First World War was a terrible experience that most soldiers were shocked by once they became active participants. How were soldiers’ able to cope with the grim realities of this war? How were they able to keep going in spite of losing close friends and comrades in one battle after another?
Over 80,000 cases of shell-shock were officially recognised by British Army personnel during the First World War. The diagnosis remains a culturally and historically resonant symbol of the First World War in Britain. Its significance has been influenced by the famous post-war memoirs of ex-servicemen who recounted their personal experiences of shell-shock.