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"The waiting was the worst. I sat for what I thought was an hour, only to look at my watch and see that less than five minutes had passed. Perhaps I didn't have to wait for the dead of my dreams to reach me. Perhaps the dream I had just had was the signal that I was about to die."
Allan McBride[3]

Shot at Dawn: World War I is a historical fiction book written for the I Am Canada series by John Wilson. It is the third book in the series. The book was first published in February 2011 and released in French the following October. It was followed by Hugh Brewster's Deadly Voyage.

Allan McBride joins the Canadian Army in order to fight in World War I beside his best friend, Ken Harrison.


"In memory of Private S/14143, Richard Symons Hay, 7th Battalion, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. Killed in action, 25th September, 1915, Battle of Loos, France"

Book description[]

"Shells were landing all along the barbed-wire entanglements in front of us, throwing up great fountains of earth, shattered wooden stakes and tangles of wire. Heavier guns were targeting the strongpoints behind us. We huddled down as low as possible in the bottom of the trench as the ground heaved and clods of earth flew through the air. The sound was a physical presence — a hammer beating constantly in my head.
Allen McBride has fought in some of WWI's bloodiest battles. He has seen his comrades, and his best friend, killed. But tonight he waits in a shed outside Amiens, accused of desertion, to discover if dawn will bring a last-minute reprieve — or execution by firing squad.

"Les obus tombaient sur la ligne de barbelés tendus devant nose tranchlées, faisant jaillir de grandes gerbes de terre, de débris de bois et de barbelés emmêlés. Ailleurs, des canons plus puissants visaient nos fortifications situées à l'arrière de notre ligne de front. On aurait dit que Dieu était en colère contre la Terre entière et avait décidé qu'aucune créature ne méritait de vivre plus longtemps. Et pourtant, au fond de notre tranchée, nous étions en sécurité tant que nous n'étion pa touchés directement. Le bruit me traversait le corps. C'était comme si un marteau tapait sans arrêt sur mon crâne.
Allan McBride a participé à des batailles parmi les plus sanglantes de la Première Guerre mondiale. Ses compagnons d'armes, dont son meilleur ami, sont morts sous ses yeux. Un soir, non loin d'Amiens, Allan attend dans une cabane. Il est accusé de désertion. À l'aube, il saura si sa peine sera communée ou s'il devra se présenter devant le peloton d'exécution.


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In August 1918, Allan McBride faces execution for desertion. He asks an officer, Paul, to write down his story for his parents.


Historical Note[]


Main article: List of Shot at Dawn characters
  • Allan McBride, a private in the 2nd Division of the Canadian Army. He has romantic ideals of the war until seeing the horrors first hand, which leads to his accidental desertion.
  • Ken Harrison, Allan's best friend whom is four years older. He becomes a lieutenant in the army, but soon becomes disillusioned with the war and later develops PTSD.


Main article: John Wilson

John Wilson is an award-winning author born in Scotland. He began writing full-time in 1991 and has since published over thirty books.[4] Wilson writes both fiction and non-fiction, including the World War I focused books, And in the Morning and Desperate Glory: The Story of WWI. Shot at Dawn is his first book for I Am Canada, followed by Graves of Ice. In the "About the Author" section, Wilson wrote how he first became interested in World War I as an adolescent. He then elaborates on Allan's experiences with the group of deserters "not [being] based on an actual incident" though that it is "plausible."



  • Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre (2012) - commended[8]
  • Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People (2012) - short-listed[9]
  • Snow Willow Award, Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice (2012) - short-listed[10]


"The publisher wishes to thank Dr. Desmond Morton, author of Marching to Armageddon, A Military History of Canada, and When Your Number's Up: The Canadian Solider in the First World War, for sharing his historical expertise, and Barbara Hehner for her careful checking of the factual details."


  • The portrait on the cover is a detail from a photograph depicting George Herbert Casey, a soldier from North Carolina who was in the 81st Division, 324 Infantry Regiment. The cover scene is a detail from William Ivor Castle's 1917 photograph 29th Infantry Battalion Advancing over "No Man's Land" through the German Barbed Wire and Heavy Fire during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.[11][12][13]
  • The character Harry Sommerfield was inspired by a real-life petty criminal, named Percy Toplis.


See also[]

External links[]