Thunder in the Skies


An extraordinary, newly discovered account from an ordinary Canadian on the ground in the crucial battles of the First World War.

What was it like to be a field gunner in the Great War?

Drawing on the unpublished letters and diary of field gunner Lt. Bert Sargent and his fellow soldiers, Thunder in the Skies takes the reader from enlistment in late 1914, through training camp, to the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, the Hundred Days Offensive, and home again with peace.

Posted just behind the front lines, Sargent and field gunners like him spent gruelling months supporting the infantry in the trenches. Theirs was a very different war, as dangerous or more at times as the one on the front lines. As an ordinary Canadian writing letters home to ordinary people, Sargent gives a wrenching, insightful account of a tight-knit band of soldiers swept up in some of the most important battles of the war that shaped the twentieth century.

Thunder in the Skies details the daily life of artillerymen fighting in the First World War in a way no other book has before.


Author Derek Grout…has done a remarkable job in painting a picture of the daily life of Canadian gunners in World War I…it is a very well-written, very readable book that should be on every Canadian gunner’s bookshelf.

Sheldrake’s Log

Grout’s volume is the product of considerable effort that enhances the value of an otherwise important addition to Canada’s national collection of eyewitness soldier accounts from the First World War.

Ontario History

About the Authors

Derek Grout

Posted by Dundurn Guest on October 30, 2014
Derek Grout photo

Derek Grout

Derek Grout is a historian who has written extensively on shipwrecks and scuba diving in Canada and the United States. His book, RMS Empress of Ireland, was praised on both sides of the Atlantic. He lives in Pointe Claire, Quebec.