More than one hundred years have passed since the end of the First World War, yet little has been written about the Newfoundland Forestry Companies—the men who answered the call to cut timber overseas in support of Newfoundland’s and the United Kingdom’s war effort. The letters of Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant John A. Barrett of the Newfoundland Forestry Companies, collected here for the first time, provide a comprehensive account of the work and life of the foresters during their time at Dunkeld and Kenmore, Perthshire, Scotland.
From the Unit’s inception and departure from Newfoundland in 1917 to its return in 1919, Barrett’s letters offer insights into the daily lives of the men, their successes and challenges, and the care extended to them by the Scottish people. The former journalist offers vivid descriptions of the Scottish countryside, camps and mill operations, the foresters’ specific jobs, local entertainment, and formal visits by wartime dignitaries.
Barrett details and enlivens a story not yet sufficiently told—and in the voice of one of the Forestry Companies’ own. His letters include tribute songs and poems, local history and lore, and a range of accounts from toil and travel to marriages and misfortunes. Significantly, his reports are given insightful context by Ursula Kelly’s illuminating text as well as by dozens of archival images. The Foresters’ Scribe foregrounds the experiences of an often-forgotten group of soldiers, and in the process, it expands the narrative of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Great War history.