Service in World War One was an incredibly traumatic experience. 10% of officers and 4% of soldiers were diagnosed with “nervous and mental shock,” and the British army treated over 80,000 cases of shell shock.
Shell shock was a vague term given to the physical and mental reaction of some people to the mental trauma they suffered in war, and was poorly understood at the time. Other soldiers and support staff suffered from less obvious symptoms of trauma, which manifested in more subtle ways.
Artists who served during the war were influenced by the trauma they suffered. This can be seen in their works – from poems detailing their experiences to autobiographies where the process of writing helped them cope with their trauma.