Alan was put in charge of a six-horse limber, hauling heavy artillery pieces to just behind the line where they fired over the top of the Australian trenches. It was dangerous work. The enemy targeted horses. Supplies and weaponry could not reach the front without them.
“I rode at the head of the team, just ahead and to the side of Downy and Tarky. They could see me and it calmed them. Bodies were a problem because Downy and Tarky would not tread on them. We dragged them out of the way to pick up on the way back if we had a chance”.
The severe northern winter descended upon them, bitterly cold and exceptionally wet, and in the midst of it, on November 6, they were unexpectedly moved to the battlefront at Flers, a different sector of the Somme.
“We thought Pozières was hell, but this part of the Somme was worse still, the forgotten offensive at Flers: so much death for so little purpose”. The forward trenches were simply ditches filled with a slimy mud in which men stood, over their knees, day and night. The mud and deep shell holes were a nightmare for the drivers and horses.