First World War memorial in France to be refurbished with Welsh Government help

11 / 07 / 2013
© Gary Williams

© Gary Williams

A memorial to Welsh soldiers in northern France is to be refurbished with financial support from the Welsh Government.

The Culture Minister, John Griffiths, has announced that the memorial to the men of the 38th (Welsh) Division who fought in the Battle of Mametz Wood during the First World War will be refurbished thanks to money donated by the Welsh Government to the South Wales Branch of the Western Front Association.

 John Griffiths said:

“This memorial stands in memory of the men of the 38th Welsh Division who fought at Mametz Wood during the First World War. It is difficult to imagine quite what the men who fought there went through, but we know they endured great suffering and hardship. It is very important we continue to remember them and their sacrifice.”

“This week marks the 97th anniversary of the battle, which took place over 6 days in July 1916, and I am pleased that the Welsh Government has been able to support the South Wales Branch of the Western Front Association to help refurbish this memorial.”

The memorial stands in countryside just outside the small village of Mametz in Picardy, overlooking the wood that was the objective of the battle in 1916. The battle was part of the Battle of the Somme, one of the largest battles of the war and one in which more than 1m soldiers on both sides were killed or wounded. The 38th Division suffered 4,000 men killed or wounded in the Battle of Mametz Wood alone and the memorial commemorates them and their comrades.

 John Dixon, the Chairman of the South Wales Branch of the Western Front Association, said:

“In the 26 years since the Branch raised the Memorial, it has become a well-known feature of the Somme battlefield. During those years the commemoration of the 38th (Welsh) Division has formed part of the visit to the battlefield for many people, not least Welsh school children.”

“The maintenance of the Memorial has been a Branch responsibility with any work required being carried out by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on our behalf. The support of the Welsh Government for the much needed refurbishment of the Memorial will make the site a place of pilgrimage for Welshmen from the world over for many years to come.”

The Minister added:

“Our support, together with the other money raised by the Western Front Association, will mean that the memorial will be renewed in time for the 100th anniversary of the battle in 2016. We will make further announcements about how Wales will commemorate the 100th anniversaries of the events of the First World War later this year.”