"Remembering July 1916"
The Welsh at Mametz Wood

Photo Copyright © Tom Morgan, October, 1997

On 7 July 1916, seven days into the battle of the Somme, the men of the 38th (Welsh) Division (known as Lloyd George's Welsh Army) were directed to capture the formidable Mametz Wood, advancing suicidally uphill over open ground against sweeping machine gun and intense artillery fire.

The attacks, ending on 12 July in the clearance of the wood, saw vicious hand-to-hand fighting and innumerable acts of courage -and over 4000 Welsh deaths and casualties.

The Mametz memorial was erected 11 years ago in the form of a Welsh dragon challenging the wood. It is currently in excellent condition following recent refurbishment by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Members of the Western Front Association, who erected the monument after a public appeal, are nevertheless concerned that funds available will be insufficient for its long-term maintenance.

An appeal has been launched by the South Wales Branch of the WFA for funds to maintain the "Welsh" memorial at Mametz Wood on the Somme battlefield. They are therefore appealing to businesses, societies, clubs, public bodies and the general public for donations.

The Treasurer, Peter Gorman, of Plot 56, Butterfly Close, Earlswood, Nantycoed, Church Village, Pontypridd, CF38 1AZ (01443 202149) will welcome enquiries or donations (payable to W.F.A. Mametz Memorial). Also, members of the W.F.A. will be delighted to speak to societies, schools, etc., on this or any other aspect of the Western Front, 1914-1918.

The Memorial Today
The appeal for funds has prompted donations which the South Wales Branch of the WFA is using to keep the memorial in first class condition. In the early part of 2000 the Branch formulated plans to add two new features to the site and these were completed by July 2000 in time for the anniversary of the Battle. These new features are in the form of new steps for easier access up to the memorial, and a multi-lingual information plaque which gives a summary of the battle in English, Welsh and French. These are the result of the donations made to the fund which was set up by the Branch for the foreseeable future. The memorial is an important landmark and continues to attract a lot of visitors. Now that the history of the Great War is a school subject many schoolchildren are visiting the site to learn about the Battle. The fund is still continuing to grow and donations and ideas for new features are always welcome - please contact the Branch Secretary, Terry Powell.

For an email link to the contributor of this article, email Terry Powell

Copyright © Terry Powell, August, 1998.

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