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Remembered Today:

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Garron

Yeah your right, Queens Nullah is roughly under where i indicated the 15th RWF would have been, to the south of white trench.

I found that, studying maps and diagrammes is nothing like looking at the lay of the land, maps only tell so much.

Gaz

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Bernard_Lewis

Cheers Gaz. Very informative.

Bernard

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Bernard_Lewis

What started as a simple 'remembrance' post has developed into quite an informative thread. Thanks to all concerned!

Bernard

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Garron

I have my uses :lol:

If you have any other questions please ask, I will try my best to answer.

Gaz

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Hywyn

Unfortunately there was no name for the author of this letter home. ( reported in Herald Cymraeg, Caernarfon under Llanberis) He would most probably have been 14th RWF.

"This is how one local lad with the RWF in France wrote to Mr Moss Ingham.

‘ Just a few lines to let you know that I am alive and kicking after a great ordeal. We’ve been in a charge and I have come through all right although many were killed and wounded. It was 2.30 am when nearing daybreak we commenced the advance. All the Llanberis boys were wounded or killed except for Owen Owens and myself. How we escaped God only knows. You couldn’t see anything but smoke in the woods before we made our advance. We cleared about a mile of wood. There was not one tree left intact. I never saw such a thing in my whole life. They have advanced some miles beyond there now. I am in the best of health and that’s the main point. Very likely you have read about the battle of the woods by Mr Beach Thomas in the Daily Mail. I believe he was there according to his report. I understand the Kaiser wants to know what battalion took that wood because so many had failed. Well, I know."

Hywyn

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Bernard_Lewis

The contemporary photos give an idea of the tangled nature of the trees and undergrowth. A nightmare to navigate/scramble over and even worse when you're under fire.

Bernard

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swordcollector1
I think Hayes was quite a warrior yet came through the war unscathed. DSO and MC I think. From the Boer was he got a mention in despatches and the Queen's Medal with 5 clasps. He had to request permission to enter Mametz Wood after the attack had slowed but eventually got in.

Hi Bernard,

Have sent you a Private Message regarding John Higson Hayes!

John

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richards13

The wood is owned by the Comte de Thezy. It is pretty hardgoing inside much of the wood. The ground is remains badly disrupted by shell craters, and there are numerous duds littering the floor.

When I was last in the wood I noted a number of nasty looking traps laid on the floor, so be careful. The wood is also disected by numerous tall fences inside, and these can be a real pain when you know what direction you want to be going.

The best approach to the wood is probably not from the Dragon, but along the path that runs down to the woods west side from Contalmaison.

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richards13

Try looking at the wood and area on Google earth, really puts it into perspective.

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Bernard_Lewis

I understand it is the biggest wood on the Somme. Though now largely forgotten by the public at large it left an indelible mark on Welsh history - 4000+ casualties over several days of fighting.

Bernard

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geraint

Hi all. I'm fairly new to the GWF and only found this thread today. My main research topics are RWF, especially 4th TF, but also the New Army RWF regiments in which Ruthin men fought. Can I add some info here which may be of interest to you. Of the 101 men from Ruthin who died during the war, 26 died at Mametz Wood, most belonging to the 14th + 16th RWF. At least 5 were under 18. Two brothers - Harold and Fred Thomas died, and one street - Mwrog Street, lost 8 men killed within that week. This was a cataclysm for the town which, unfortunately is seldom remembered here now.

I can reiterate other postings, the Wood is a very atmospheric place to be. On my last wander there, French hunters, with shotguns and rifles provided gunfire that made my hair stand on end - not out of fear of being shot - but the aural backdrop in that particular wood. Shell craters, trenches, collapsed emplacements are numerous. The ridings or lanes refered to by the diaries and memoires are still there.

Lt Wyn Griffiths serving with 15 RWF wrote a vivid description in 'Up to Mametz'. Read it and weep!

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willy

i think Aveluy wood is the largest, and please remember that like nearly all the woods they are off limits as they are privately owned and unless permission is sought and got, you should not enter them.

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Bernard_Lewis

Hi Geraint. Interesting post. Griffith is excellent, as you say. And David Jones's 'In Parentheses' gives a memorable poetic account of the confused nature of the fighting.

Nice to see this thread still bubbling away after all this time.

Coming soon on my website: details of the attack given by J.S.Strange, DSO (awarded 1917), MC, who led his company to the northern fringe of the wood before being wounded at about 7pm, 10 July 1916.

Bernard

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Vista52

Hello All,

In post #5, Simon J said that the 2nd Middlesex were wiped out before reaching their objective (Ovilliers), something which I had believed for many years. I think it came from the impression given by Middlebrook in 1st Day of the Somme.

In a topic last year started by Harry and dealing with Lt Col Sandys, I posted the War Diary for 1st July, 1916. It says approx 200 men managed to get into the German 1st and 2nd lines before they were overwhelmed. They had started that morning with 23 officers and 650 men. That evening 1 Officer and 50 men answered roll-call.

Paul

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Bernard_Lewis

Not sure about Aveluy Wood being the biggest. Not arguing though, just don't know! That wood was known to the Swansea Battalion too; 10 May 1918 'C' company was shelled by its own artillery while supporting an attack on it by the 15th Welsh. Twelve dead and over 30 wounded from the Swansea Battalion alone.

Thanks for thre link, Kev; I do have a copy of the book too.

Bernard

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Simmo

Is it true that on the night of 1/2nd July Mametz Wood was found to be undefended and could have been captured?

Simmo.

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Ozzie

Drill rows in the wheat and a startled deer

post-6083-1202641003.jpg

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1st east yorks

Hello,

As people have started posting images of Mametz wood i thought i would add this picture,especially for those who were discussing the Queens nullah earlier on in the post.The nullah is at the bottom of the hill and Mametz wood can be seen menacingly in the rear.

Anthony.

post-28024-1202647054.jpg

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Bernard_Lewis

Great snaps.

Not sure about 'unmanned'; the wood itself represented a considerable obstacle to any advance. The RIR sent some men in on a reconnaisance patrol on the 3/4 July (at night) and didn't find many Germans. At that time Welsh units were (I think) still approaching the wood and not in a position to attack. The German front line also allowed easy reinforcement of the wood so even a surpise attack would find the defence increasing quickly (I have seen a report of 10 July 1916 that refers to dozens of the enemy entering the wood while the attack was in progress..

Bernard

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geraint

Ozzy - good pictures - but I can't see a deer, let alone a startled one! Maybe the dragon's had it for lunch!

That shot was taken right at the wood's edge where the preliminary German front trench would have been, and the wheat field being the killing ground where the 16th + 14th RWF met their end. They would have come from over the horizon, down the field and the hedge, past the dragon and onto the flat wheatfield. It wasn't as much "unmanned", by the Germans, more like hidden and unseen. I think that Sassoon might have given a slightly misleading account which reflects the uncertainties of a fluxing front in early July 1916.

I've walked over this ground often, and the German front line can be fairly easily recognised by what is now a fairly low depression immediately on the perimiter between wood and field. Continuous ploughing over 90 years has filled in this trench. However,just rubbing my boot against the leaf mulch last time there revealed two rifle (or machine gun?) cartridges. The trees were allowed to regrow in the old pattern prior to the battle, and from my conversation with a farmer there, apart for casualty clearance, ordnance removal and basic military withdrawal in 1918, no real attempt were made by the owners to repair the wood. Shell-holes, trenches, emplacements within were not systematically filled, removed and levelled, rather all allowed to be reconquered by nature and the trees. I guess that this is why it has such an atmospheric feel to the place.

Hwyl

Geraint

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Ozzie

While my mates were waking up, and looking at the Dragon, I took off for the woods. Being a country girl, I knew to follow the drill rows and not trample the crops. What I did not know was that this was a privately owned wood. Oops. Shall be aware of that if I ever get over there agian.

So here is me, going bush, while my mates have a quiet laugh up on the hill, at my obsession with woods. The sun is rising, all is quiet, when two ears pop up out of the wheat. Calf, I think... no, .......no mumma cow around, then to my delight, a deer leaps to its feet and bounds away. I continue into the wood, where the carpet of blackberries hide their secrets. Every hollow, every rise, every track, holds its own secrets.

On arriving back at the dragon, one certain 'mate' asks me, "Did you know there are still wild boar in the woods of France?"

I do not like wild boar, wild pigs; in fact I have had nightmares since a child about them. It showed my ignorance of another country in that, although I knew it was not hunting season, I had not taken into consideration the dangers that may be present, the fact that the woods were private, not public, and that emotion can lead you into dangerous territory.

Ssshh, I still have the poppy that my mates, while I was in the woods, pressed for me in a book, on that morning, at the Dragon. I found it again when I got home.

Thank you for the info, it helps explain what we saw.

Cheers

Kim

And I only saw one squirrel, going very fast across a road.

Next time.

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geraint

Bernard; and all who care for Mametz Wood, and the slaughter of the Welsh, I feel it in my bones as the battalions begin their march to those positions! I'll be there on the 10nth.

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