In the front line he witnesses a shelling and the deaths of several men; he also sees a Private killed by a German sniper.
After returning from the front line Barton admits that he feels that the war is changing him because he is unable to feel emotion for every soldier killed due to the sheer numbers killed each day.
In Part Two, the group that Hilliard and Barton are in, B Company, is travelling to the front line at Feuvry.
There are not enough horses so David walks alongside for the duration of the journey.
It is when Hilliard returns home that he has trouble sleeping.
This is not because of his memories of war, but from being at home, a place which he greatly dislikes.During the military advance, Barton and Hilliard lose track of each other's positions.Hilliard is injured by a shell and is forced to hide in a hole by several dead bodies. His leg is amputated in France and at first he is too ill to return to England.John gets a letter stating that his sister Beth is to marry the lawyer Henry Partington which causes John to become angry at those back home.Hilliard and Barton are sent on a reconnaissance mission which requires the men to spy on the enemy trenches.He writes a letter home describing what a terrible place Feuvry is; the town has few buildings left intact after being shelled and occupied by the Germans in 1914.When they arrive at their billets the Officers are informed that a soldier called Harris won't come out of the cellar.The opening pages of the novel concern his brief period of sick leave back in England where his sister Beth, mother Constance and father are blind to the horror of the trenches.John finds it hard to adapt to life back in England and is happy to return to the war; especially after the new distance between him and his sister, to whom he was previously close.The novel was first published by Hamish Hamilton in 1971 and then by Penguin Books in 1974.The novel begins with the protagonist of the novel 'John Hilliard' in a military hospital, recovering from a wound he received; he briefly speaks to Crawford, a doctor, whom he knows from childhood and greatly dislikes.