Clarence Percy Ahier died in 1972. He is buried in a shared unmarked grave in a St Helier suburb. He and his wife had no children. He just disappeared from the world, a plasterer who lived a life and left it without fuss. Amen. But Clarence wrote an illicit diary while he served King and Country from 1915-1919 and in the hands of Ian Ronayne it is turned into a very useful introduction to the Great War.

While at times I would prefer a bit more Clarence and little less Ian, I can see where this book is pitched at and on that basis it makes for an excellent read. I would suggest to the publisher there is scope for an alternative edition with more of the diary for a reader with deeper knowledge of the war, but leaving that aside the author’s descriptions and analysis are excellent and his final notes were deeply moving and really hit me in the heart fair and square and I thank him!

Clarence Ahier was another one of those anonymous top blokes we will come to cherish. Read his words and petition Pen & Sword to give you more. As with all his magical victorious generation Clarence has turned to dust. But like all gunners he is everywhere – Ubique – and very special. His diary was meant to be found and thanks to the efforts of the historians of Jersey and to Ian Ronayne he will be with us for a very long time. So, while this book more than sets the scene, let us have more from his diary please.

Mark Barnes

An Artilleryman’s Experience from  the Somme to the Subcontinent
By Ian RoNayne
Published in hardback by Pen & Sword Military £19.99
ISBN: 978 1 84884 608 1

Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.