In 1916 he was called to the army, and as his wife could do the barbering his
family remained at camp, and he was sent to the 6th Dorset regiment at Weymouth. He
shortly joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and then he was sent to the
war, almost at once they were rushed up to the front. They had slosh for miles through
mud and slime, and slide into the trench they had to fight from. The trench was full of
liquid mud, they were always wet to their waist. They were supposed to stay there 24
hours, but the Australians who were to release them, being novices in the war came up
the line making so much noise that the Germans heard the noise and began shelling the
place. The Australians could not then go up, and Alfred and the rest had to stay in the
wet for another 24 hours. When the regiment moved Alfred found that his feet were bad,
and he could not keep up with the rest, so he crawled on, falling in shell holes because he
could not tell them from level ground because of the mud. He managed to make his way
to a dugout where they were giving hot cocoa to the troops as they passed. He went in
and on making the remark that he would take off his boots, was warned not to, as his feet
would swell and he would not be able to put them back on again. He went on his way
again, he was sitting on a heap of stones by the side of the road when an old farmer
passed, thinking he might at least get a little sympathy he passed a coke to the man who
agreed it was a fine day and went on, and Alfred was once again very lonely. Fortunately
an Australian passed that way, and put him on his horse and took him the rest of the way,
where he was greeted with cheers as the men felt sure he had been killed. It was found
he was suffering from trench feet caused from the wet, he was ill for about three months.
After that he was made cook for his company, but he rarely had anything to cook, as the
rations found a difficulty to get to them, the men would steal chicken, pigs and anything
they could find to get a meal. One day he made soup from bones he had, but he had no
salt for a few days, and the soup was anything but a success. The officers got to know of
him being a barber, and he would cut their hair. This would give him more freedom than
the others because when he wanted to get away he tucked his barber kit under his arm
and went, the sentries would think he was going to cut an officers hair.
In the dreadful retreat of Mons, the men were commanded to leave everything
behind and run, one officer seeing the barber kit bag lying around command one soldier
to carry it, so Alfred’s stuff was saved.
During a retreat Alfred had been up the line with something for the troops with
his donkey “Georgy.” When he had to pass through a little town which seemed deserted,
he was interested and loitering about looking around, and taking his time, when he locked
up the street and saw a regiment of Germans marching around the corner. It did not take
him long to get away, it must have surprised Georgy the peace he had to go.
Georgy had been the battalion’s bad mule, no one could do a thing with him
without a great stick. When he was allotted to Alfred the troops were amused and looked
for trouble, but he went quietly to the mule, talked gently to her, meanwhile watching for
her feet as she would kick. He treated her like this for a few days, and then one day when
Alfred went back for his helmet, Georgy followed him like a dog, much to the surprise of
every body. (Georgy, by the way was a lady).
When the war was over, lots were cast as to which regiment would ride in the
only train, and which would walk. His regiment had to walk, but they did not mind as
they were going home. Alfred got so excited on the road, that he broke ranks and
pretended to warm his hands on a girl’s red hair, then jumped back into his place, it
caused a big laugh, and no reprimand.