In Where the Hell Are the Guns? , author George Blackburn returns to the early years of the Second World War. This volume -- which completes Blackburn's award-winning trilogy, extending its coverage to the entire war -- brings wartime Canada and England to life in captivating, often comic, detail. With the skill of a novelist and the instincts of a seasoned reporter, this gifted storyteller traces the evolution of Canada's 4th Field Regiment from a motley assortment of ill-equipped recruits to the cream of the Allied artillery, more than ready to distinguish itself in the maelstrom of the battle for Normandy.
The Second World War comes to a generation of Canadians one sunny September weekend in 1939. It is a Canada woefully unprepared for conflict, and 4th Field Regiment is rapidly assembled from a grab-bag of volunteers from all walks of life -- many of them mavericks and misfits from a depression-ravaged land. The regiment passes its first year in Canada in makeshift accommodation, including hastily converted stables and pigsties in the exhibition grounds of Ottawa and Toronto. For the first few months the soldiers must wear incomplete and moth-eaten uniforms from the Great War, and their early training is conducted using obsolete equipment or no equipment at all. One year into the war, the regiment arrives in England without weapons or vehicles, and a month later, with Britain moving toward the greatest crisis in her history, the regiment is finally equipped with guns -- French ones with wooden wheels, dating from 1898.
From these inauspicious beginnings, the regiment slowly evolves -- with mishap and occasionally mayhem along the way -- into a proud and polished regiment, which in 1942 is declared "the best field regiment in Britain." By the time the Allied troops land on the beaches in Normandy, the boys of 4th Field are more than ready to go to war.