Vincent Barnes Releases An Author’s Memories of War: What Was That War All About, Anyway?

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War is a special kind of hell on Earth. It turns the world upside-down. It turns civilization on its ear, pitting man against man, nation against nation, good against evil. There is only one acceptable rationalization for war – and that is to use war and its deadly outcomes to create a lasting peace.

Vincent Joseph Barnes has tasted the foul sting of war. He was a member of the Fourth Armoured Brigade of the Canadian Army Fourth Division, on the beaches of Normandy in the Second World War. Barnes and his comrades weren’t on the front lines – they were the secondary unit, the soldiers that stormed the beaches in reinforcement of the front-line troops, the guys who arrived just in advance of the burial brigade.

Barnes enlisted to join the war effort, leaving his wife Lillian behind in Canada. He and his fellow Fourth Brigade soldiers engaged the Nazi enemy at Caen and Falaise and then through Belgium, into Holland, and then into Germany just a month before the German surrender. He returned home victorious, but also to a form of personal tragedy – his wife had become something of a stranger to him, having taken up with another man during her husband’s absence. For Barnes, that was the tragic, personal consequence of a tragic, horrific war – but as he himself observes, he was no angel either during his time overseas. They agreed to stay together.

Nowadays, in his later years, Barnes is a writer and author and he has taken his wartime memories – some sorrowful, some frivolous, all very real – and used those memories as source material for his latest book, What Was That War All About, Anyway? The book is a personal recounting – much of it strictly from memory – of Barnes’ wartime experiences. There is mirth at work here because humour can be found in almost any human interaction, even in war when the shells are dropping all around. There is sadness and reflection here, too, because they are unavoidable, a certain by-product of war and the killing of your fellow man.

What Was That War All About, Anyway? is one man’s wartime story. It is a deeply felt work, the author casting his mind back in time to a period when the world was in flames, the Allies and the Hitler-led Nazis battling for territory, control and dominance. Barnes‘ memories are vivid and stark, his story-telling astute and entertaining, and his writing remains, as always, crisp and inviting. This is a book for those who were there in Europe in the 1940s lived through it – this is also a book for those younger readers with an historical interest, who want to develop a sense of perspective and understanding.


Vincent Joseph Barnes is an author based in Ontario. He has written eight books, many in collaboration with his wife Dianne. His most recent work is The River Otonabee of My Boyhood.

What Was That War All About, Anyway?
by Vincent Joseph Barnes

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