Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 19

photo courtesy the Library of Congress

Above: John holed up inside an abandoned French Renault FT 17
tank similar to these. One of these tanks is on display at the National
World War I Museum in Kansas City. Below: Joan Barkley Wells, John's
daughter, donated items from her father's collection to the museum.
photo below courtesy Steven Trout

John was active with many veteran's groups following the war. He spoke
at their conventions and helped dedicate the Liberty Memorial in
Kansas City.

in the Great War. He found the process of writing a book
almost as frightening as the war itself. It was published as
" No Hard Feelings " in 1930 but was never a financial success for its author.
Only 3,800 copies were printed. Reviewers were turned
off by John's gory accounts of carnage. Few had the money
for even a $2 book during the Depression, and no one, it
seemed, wanted to remember the war that took so many
American lives with war clouds forming again in Europe.
Ironically, those rare first editions sell for hundreds of dollars today, if you can find one.
John's story might have been forgotten had it not been
for the efforts of Steven Trout, an English professor and an
expert on World War I history. Steven learned of the book
during a visit to the National WWI Museum and Memorial in
Kansas City.
" I remember checking the internet at the time to see
whether there was any discussion of this book, " Steven
says. " There was almost nothing out there. There were a few
websites in Missouri that had to do with World War I and
they mentioned Barkley. They made an offhand reference
to this memoir. But it had nearly vanished by the time I
became interested in it. "
With considerable help from the museum and John's

daughter, he brought John's memoirs back into print in
time for the World War I centennial. The new version bears
the title John preferred: " Scarlet Fields: The Combat Memoir
of a World War I Medal of Honor Hero. "
The new volume has sold much better than the original, with all proceeds going to the National WWI Museum.
Fittingly, John's medals and all of his papers are archived
at the museum, along with a painting of him in full dress
uniform.
Late in life, John moved to the Kansas City area where
he worked tirelessly to make the Shawnee Mission, Kansas
park system a reality. He died in 1966 as the most famous
man few have ever heard of. His daughter hopes those who
discover her father's story also learn of his later work detailed in her afterward of the new edition.
" He was civic minded, " Joan says. " Especially when it
came to the parks and things. Because he felt that he was
so lucky to have grown up in Missouri in the woods and did
more or less what he wanted. "
" Scarlet Fields " is available on Amazon.com or from the
University of Kansas Press at www.tinyurl.com/yd6rvqnq.
For more information on the National WWI Museum visit
www.theworldwar.com.
FEBRUARY 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

19


http://www.Amazon.com http://www.tinyurl.com/yd6rvqnq http://www.theworldwar.com http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Rural Missouri - February 2021

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Contents
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Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Contents
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 4
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Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover3
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