What was it like at Mouquet Farm in August 1916? Charles Bean wrote in his book The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1916, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918, Volume III, pages 728 and 729:
The reader must take for granted many of the conditions – the flayed land, shell–hole bordering shell–hole, corpses of young men lying against the trench walls or in shell–holes; some – except for the dust settling on them – seeming to sleep; others torn in half; others rotting, swollen and discoloured.
Add to this terrible picture endless weariness, lack of sleep, hours of constant enemy shelling, the exertion of bringing up of food and supplies, the long muscle–wrenching carry involved in bringing out the wounded, and the endless digging to repair blown–in trenches and make new ones. Perhaps the worst job on the battlefield was that of ‘runner’. As telephone lines were destroyed, an ordinary soldier had to take his life in his hands and sprint back over this shell–torn wilderness to his headquarters:
Fifteen or twenty minutes later, emerging from between the shell bursts which shovelled in the trenches, he might, if he lived, tumble exhausted, strained almost to speechlessness, down the stairs … to deliver his message, and then quietly curl himself up in a corner like a dog.