This striking memorial commemorates the men of the 38th (Welsh) Division Memorial who fought on the Somme and, although it is not an official war memorial, it has become the focus of Welsh remembrance and reflection on the Western Front. The Division`s badge is shown below.
The fire-spitting dragon faces Mametz Wood and in particular the area of the Hammerhead, a notorious German strongpoint that the Welsh Division attacked on the morning of 7 July, one week after the offensive opened and the British Army suffered its darkest day with an estimated 60,000 men either killed, wounded or missing.
Please bear in mind that all images on this website are Copyright. They are not free to use and have been embedded with a digital watermark. The black & white photographs from the Imperial War Museum`s collection have been used courtesy of its `Share & Reuse` policy and are also subject to copyright restrictions.
Two British divisions, the 17th (Northern) and a Brigade from the 38th (Welsh) went `Over the top` on 7th July and attempted a pincer movement to wrest control of the Hammerhead from the Prussian Guard. As the attackers moved across the open ground they were cut to pieces by machine-gun fire and, try as they might, were unable to reach the wood let alone capture it.
Three days later, just before dawn, the divisions were ordered in again with the Welsh thrusting straight towards the centre. Despite a hail of German small-arms fire the attackers reached the perimeter of the wood and were steadily reinforced. Two days of bitter and increasingly desperate fighting followed and by the time the Germans withdrew the Welsh had suffered around 4,000 men either killed or wounded.
Created by David Peterson, the winged Dragon on this magnificent memorial directs its wrath towards the German lines and grasps a length of the enemy`s barbed wire in its claws with impunity to emphasise that it is unstoppable. In the above image, a Highlander surveys the scene after the battle. Mametz Wood is on the left and the present-day memorial is located roughly in the centre of the valley, on the hillside in the far distance.
Above Right: German troops loading a field artillery gun, probably at Mametz Wood on the Somme. The other Imperial War Museum images below show how the area looked in July 1916 and beyond. The war poet Siegfried Sassoon, of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, recorded in his memoirs that he had made a single handed attack on the enemy trenches in Mametz on 4 July 1916.
Flat Iron Copse CWGC Cemetery
Flatiron Copse was the name given by the British Army to a small plantation a little to the east of Mametz Wood. The ground was taken by the 3rd and 7th Divisions on 14 July 1916 and an advanced dressing station was established at the copse. Burials on the site began later that month and it remained in use as a cemetery until April 1917. Two further burials were made in August 1918 and after the Armistice, more than 1,100 graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields and from several smaller cemeteries including Caterpillar Cemetery and Montauban in Caterpillar Wood, and Mametz Wood Cemetery which lay outside the Western edge of the wood, in which 18 soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried in 1916.
Almost all the concentrated graves at Flat Iron Copse are those of men who died in the summer and autumn of 1916. There are now 1,572 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. Of these, 420 are unidentified but there are special memorials to 36 casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and nine buried in Mametz Wood Cemetery whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
French WW1 Memorial, Mametz Village
This memorial honouring the French troops from Mametz who died in the Great War stands in a prominent position in the village.