Cambridge’s war memorial is perhaps more unfortunate than some. For a start, it’s a foot shorter than intended, as the good people of Cambridge did not contribute enough money to raise the happy young man a little higher above their mere mortal selves below.

In 1922 when the memorial was erected in the middle of the road, its location at the junction of the road leading from the station and one of the main roads into the city clearly added to the symbolism. The growth of motor traffic since those quieter days has led to frequent calls to have it moved.

The figure is of a clearly happy young soldier. He just got off the train and strides purposefully home - into the heart of the city. There is no hint in the expression on his clean-cut face of the horrors that he might have seen.

Cambridge war memorial

His rifle resting so lightly on his shoulder is a proud and faithful tool – no anxiety here that discontented soldiers might turn their rifles to revolutionary uses, as many feared.

The burghers of Cambridge were glad that the war was over and sure that it was a good war - the young man and all the other soldiers like him have after all brought us victory. The laurel wreath hanging from his rifle is the prize he is bringing home. Peace from the barrel of a gun!

Unlike most war memorials which dwell on the ‘sacrifice’ of the dead, this is a memorial that makes no distinction between the living and the dead: it is ‘To the men of Cambridgeshire…..who served in the Great War’.

The memorial was unfortunate in one other respect.