William St Clair is perhaps the only soldier to have left a continuous account of his experiences day by day from the moment of joining up in 1914, through the years of horror in the trenches, to the march into Germany in 1919 and the long aftermath of trying to make sense of what had happened. A private in the medical corps, St Clair wrote daily letters, sometimes more, to his future wife Jane. Often scribbled under fire, and sent in the green envelopes that were exempt from censorship, they tell of the famous battles of Loos, the Somme, and Passchendaele, as they happened, with excruciating vividness. They speak too of aspirations, of conversations, of literature, and of love.
Published for the first time, these raw, truthful, and deeply moving. letters give us what we have not properly had before, the voice of an ordinary soldier who is also a wonderful writer. The book takes its title from the village of St Julien in Flanders, where, in a captured German pill box, the mind of young soldier was transformed, an event that he later turned into an award-winning play.