skip to Main Content

12 July 2014 - Mametz in Welsh Culture

Mametz Wood has become an important part of Welsh Culture today. Welsh Authors, Poets, and Artists have all taken inspiration from the battle, and the bravery of those involved. The Welsh artist Christopher Williams painted The Welsh at Mametz Wood (1919) for the then Secretary of State for War, David Lloyd George, and the poet David Jones wrote his poem In Parenthesis (1937) on his experiences at the battle.

mametz in welsh culture
Poem, The Welsh at Mametz Wood, by S.A. White B. Coy, 10th Welsh Regiment B.E.F, 1917


The Welsh at Mametz Wood

It was in the daily papers for anyone to see
How city clerks like demons fought and won a victory
The deeds performed were Glorious, all honour to their name,

Yet gallant lads from Little Wales, have helped foul huns to tame
Their sections unrecorded, their praises all unsung
But if you’ll pay attention, I’ll tell both old and young
How the valorous brave first Rhonddas faced the German shot and shell
And helped to capture Mametz Wood, tis a tale I’m proud to tell
For I am one of the Rhonnda boys, one of the gallant tenth
One of the lads who helped to lay the Germans out fuss length
Although the press don’t raise us on a pedestal of fame
We know what we accomplished we feel we played the game
To get on with my story. It was the tenth day of July
Just before old Sol had begun to rise up in the Sky
The order came, the Rognddas will drive the Germans from the wood

And in spite of deadly gunfire they made progress slow but good
At intervals, a comrade would go down with a cry of pain
Yet look! the hero tries to rise and struggle on again
Our brave heroic Colonel, while leading, first to fall
In falling cheers us onwards with words that thrilled us all
Although put out of action would not be taken aback,
Until he’d seen his gallant lads well into the attack,
Daylight was now upon us, the sun had risen high
And found the Tenth still pressing to do their bit-or-die
Yes forward was the watch word, though shot and shell fess fast
Till after fearful slaughter, we reached the wood at last
We reached that dread inferno, we stormed the gates of Hell
How anyone lived through it, is beyond my power to tell

Machine gun fire assailed us, and shells of every kind
With the smother of the burning woods – it drove us almost blind
T’was stick, it Welsh! We stick it, we surely made our name
The miners bold battalion gained everlasting fame
In mingled heaps the enemy lay gasping with our own
In very sooth, a spectacle which chilled one to the bone
The daylight wained frim darkness fell upon a fearsome sight
And as the long black hours dragged on, we prayed for morning light
The night wore on, the dawn broke, the sun appeared again
Discovering many fallen pals, some suffering fearful pain
And some had joined that noble band, whose earthly task was done
Victims in the fight for Right, Brave, Heroes every one
But still the din continued, the leaden showers still fell
Yest still the valiant Rohndda’s fought and bled in very Hell
And now we come to grips to fighting hand-to-hand
Our bayonets dipped with German blood, shed for Fatherland

By Friends who smiled approval at the Lusitania crime
And laughed with glee when nurse Cavell was murdered in her prime
Judge then of our emotions, when we caught the hated huns
Who brutally had crucified and tortured Britains Sons
Why wonder when I tell you, we all went sort of mad
But yet took pity on the Huns crying “Mercy Kamerad”!
Although we all remembered the brutal deeds they done
We deigned to show them mercy though they had shown us none
We fought as Britons always do, the only way we know
A clean fair fight, with Right as Might, no matter who the foe.
So we battered them, and shattered them, until the wood was won
The Gods of Battle aiding us, while famous deeds were done
Now what of fallen comrades, who nobly gave their all
Who fell for King and Country, and andwered their last Roll Call

O god in tender mercy, we cry from the blood-stained wood
Be kind to those now left to mourn those heroes Brave and good
Sustain the suffering wounded, help them, pain to bear
And be with those made captive, shield them with Heavenly care
My story now is ended, by which I proved to all
The miner like the city man stepped fourth at duty’s call
The lads who delved in gloomy depths have got there just the same
Right well they master tactics, right well they play the game
When led by Gallant Officers, with hearts as true steel
Who are ready, ever ready with their shoulder to the wheel
To do their best for Homeland, and forever crush the Hun
To fight for Right and Liberty, with bayonet, Bomb and gun
May luck attend the Collier Boys who rushed from Hills and vales
And have worthily up held the fame of Gallant Little Wales

Even today Mametz Wood continues to be a source of inspiration with the Welsh Poet Owen Sheers writing a poem titled Mametz (2000), which later inspired a 2014 performance by the National Welsh Theatre. Then in 2016, Iain Bell and the Welsh National Opera debuted an Opera titled In Parenthesis, based off of the poem of the same name.

Mametz Wood has shaped, and continues to shape Welsh culture today, it’s an important part of Welsh military history, which continues to inspire cultural works and historical study.

Close search
Back To Top