When The Hero appeared in print, in 1917, many people were shocked. Fellow-officers condemned him. They found the poem caddish, as it could destroy every mother's faith in the report of her son's death.
Sassoon made clear that the poem did not refer to anyone he had known. "But it is pathetically true. And of course, the average Englishman will hate it", he remarked - shaping a distance between the 'averages' and 'those who know better'.
Certainly Sassoon was breaking the conspiracy of silence, but many soldiers felt that those at home should be made to realize the full horror, and the ugliness, of the war as much as possible.