“We took our positions, five kneeling and five standing … we got the order to fire. One blank and nine live rounds… I did not have the blank.”
That is the voice of Deward Barnes, an unwilling but dutiful member of the firing squad that shot Harold Lodge, one of 25 Canadians executed during the First World War. In this diary we hear something that is otherwise gone forever: the authentic voice of the First World War soldier, Everyman in khaki. Fully annontated so that everyone today can understand the nuance of each entry, the Barnes diary takes us into the trenches and the firing lines of the Western Front like no other first-hand Canadian account of that terrible war can. Like any trained infantryman, Deward could tell the kick of a live round from a blank one, and that kick he bestows on us with each turn of the page.