It’s 1915. WW1 has been raging for six months. Twenty-three year old miner Joe Mathieson lives in a small community on the east coast of Fife, Scotland. His life is joyless, his future bleak. Unlike his older brother, Fred, who enlisted in the army at the beginning of the war, Joe is apathetic to the world around him and has no interest in being part of the stream of young men joining the armed forces.
But when Joe uncovers a secret his fifteen-year old brother, Walter, has kept from the family, he sets off on a quest that leads him into the horrors of WW1 in France. Assigned to stretcher-bearer duties, Joe is surprised he finds the up-to-the-minute medical innovations and treatments fascinating. On hospital trains and the battlefields of the Somme, Joe uses his newfound skills to ease the extraordinary suffering of ordinary men, while being left to deal with the consequences of Walter’s secret.
In the midst of this destructive chaos, even as the world around him darkens, Joe discovers sustaining friendships and love that opens him to a fresh belief in life and in himself.