Bruce Cane began writing about military history while a curatorial assistant at Historic Fort York, Toronto. Today, he writes technical manuals by day and pursues his passion for First World War history by night. Bruce lives with his family in Brooklin, Ontario.
It Made You Think of Home
"We took our positions, five kneeling and five standing â€¦ we got the order to fire. One blank and nine live rounds â€¦ 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.
"The diary entries are annotated and expanded on by military historian Bruce Cane, whose research is thoroughly impressive. He shows great sensitivity in not pretending to omniscience, and achieves a sympathetic but thoroughly scholarly tone in his explication of the often terse diary entries."
"benefits from having extensive annotation to guide the reader through unfamiliar territory."
"...the information he (Bruce Cane) imparts is both fascinating and graciously enlightening."
"Taking a non-traditional approach to this subject, Cane introduces the reader to Deward Barnes (1888-1967), a native of Toronto who volunteered for military service with the CEF on 26 February 1916... ...Cane is to be commended for his unique presentation of Barnes's diary. Rather than simply introduce a self-contained daily memoir with no explanation, he has included annotative text where appropriate to support the entries, making the entire reading a richer and more detailed experience, especially for those readers unfamiliar with the period."
"In-depth analysis of the nuances and exact wording that Barnes usedmakes this book a fascinating study of the physical and psychological impact of war."
"The book has the potential to rival The Journal of Private Fraser as the most quoted of diaries by veterans of the CEF ... The reader is left with a profound admiration for someone who endured the eighteen months without breaking down."
"Cane has produced a very interesting account of one man's waran excellent additon to Canadian first-hand accounts of the Great War."