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Jim Maultsaid was born in Pennsylvania in 1893 to Irish parents who returned to Donegal. Although he left school at 13 he was naturally gifted at both writing and drawing. Despite being an American citizen he joined the British Army in 1914. He was badly wounded on the First Day of the Somme (1 July 1916). Unfit for further active duty, he was commissioned in 1917 and worked with the Chinese Labour Corps until early 1920.

In the post-years he expanded the notes and sketches made in France into these unique Diaries.