The Norfolk Regiment was one of the first to enter combat after the declaration of the First World War. The 1st battalion was stationed in Belfast, from where they were dispatched to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. The 1st Norfolks participated at the Battle of Mons, one of the first major engagements of the war, in late August 1914. The 2nd battalion, based in India, sailed for the Middle East to fight against the Ottoman Empire in Mesopotamia (Iraq). The Norfolks had a third battalion, part of the Territorial Force, which was first deployed for home defence around eastern England, and raised three more pals battalions. Norwich, the county town, raised another three companies of Royal Engineers. Approximately 33,000 men served overseas with the Norfolks, though many more Norfolk men joined other regiments.
In the aftermath of the war and its unprecedented casualties, thousands of war memorials were built across Britain. Among the most prominent designers of memorials was Sir Edwin Lutyens, described by Historic England as "the leading English architect of his generation". Lutyens designed the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London, which became the focus for the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations; the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, the largest British war memorial anywhere in the world; and the Stone of Remembrance, which appears in all large Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries and in several of Lutyens' civic memorials, including Norwich's.