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Manchester 1903, young James plays in the squalid streets, never imagining it's an apprenticeship to the horror of the forthcoming war, or its consequences. Volunteering later, he is sent to France and Ireland, where he learns to hate, and to endure, but also to love. Like millions of others, he must confront and overcome appalling difficulties simply to survive. Heartache and loss will make him stronger, innocence giving way to belief that he has to fight for what is right, when not all his enemies are obvious. The war over, torment continues at home as he re-adjusts to reality, until a final dreadful confrontation.