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Capture of Mametz Wood


PhilB

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OH:-

"The 62nd brigade held Mametz Wood until relieved on the night of the 15/16th July. Heavily bombarded with shrapnel, lacrymatory, high explosive and gas shell it lost 950 officers and men in so doing."

They had arrived in the wood between dawn and 9 am on July 12th to relieve the Welshmen.

Can anyone give an estimate of the total number of casualties incurred in capturing and holding Mametz Wood, 8th - 16th July? Phil B

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(Not related to the 62nd brig) The normal quoted figre for the 38th (Welsh) division 4,000 casualties. (attacking and defending) and I know the 17th div had casualties aswell from thier attack on Quadrangle trench on July 7th.

From july 11th to 17th the 13th Northumberland fusiliers had 43 KIa and 227 wounded the 12th Northumberland fusiliers had 80 casualties of all ranks and wounded, most of them were caused by shell fire

Garron

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Well, so far, that`s 950 in 62 brigade, 4000 in 38 div & 350 in the Northumberland Fus. Phil B

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Swansea Battalion (38th (Welsh) Division) lost almost 400 men killed or wounded out of the 676 who went into the attack on 10 July. Several more were killed or wounded in the following days and at least one man died of his wounds at home several months later.

One of the Swansea Bn officers commented (1936) that capturing the wood was the hardest thing they ever did (and that included the first day of Third Ypres).

Bernard

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That's over 5000, and if you consider 1 in 3 of those as killed, that’s about 1770ish who died.

So where are they?

Flatiron holds 1572 but 1100 of those where brought in form other smaller cemeteries. So that means there where only 472 originally there.

I’ve read of ‘Mametz Wood Cemetery’ but can’t find any reference to it by CWGC.

So as usual I’m puzzled :blink:

Dave

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Not got any 'real' figures but a number of Swansea Bn lads killed in or around the wood have no known graves. Buried and not recorded or lost in the subsequent fighting I guess.

Bernard

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The wood was taken quite quickly (considering) and held in British hands for some time. Certainly, salvage parties had plenty of time to do their stuff. So it would seem that there would have been plenty of time to bury the fallen, unlike Serre or Gommecourt.

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Frank Richards (author 'Old Soldiers Never Die') arriving after the battle records that the ground was still littered with the dead of both sides and finding a place to sleep was not easy.

Contemporary photos show that the wood was in many places a dense tangle of shattered trees and foliage. Bodies might have lain undiscovered in that?

Simply, even where graves were initially marked it is not hard to understand that subsequent shelling or the loss of records might result in graves being 'lost'. And the wood was fought over again in 1918...

Bernard

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Mametz Wood is a microcosm of the Somme. Over 5000 casualties to take and hold a small wood. It raises the questions:-

1/ Would the planners consider that a good result?

2/ Did the wood have to be taken? Could it have been bypassed?

3/ Would the assaults on the wood have been planned knowing the likely cost?

Phil B

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They didn't as they failed to take the wood in the expected time alloted, so they were criticised for that.

It depends on what Generals plans they used, Haigs was to use it as springboard for the attack on Bezentine ridge, Whilst Rawlinsons was to have a frontal assault and he would have bypassed it though at great risk from being outflanked, he was also awilling to have a minor thrust into the woods, Rawlinson did not think it was important.

They used rawlinson's plan, but while taking mametz wood aswell.

Garron

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  • 3 months later...
I know the 17th div had casualties aswell from thier attack on Quadrangle trench on July 7th.

The 12th Manchesters suffered casualties of 16 officers and 529 other ranks killed, missing or wounded on the 7th July. Only 2 officers remained unwounded.

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