11 July 1987 - Memorial
On 11th July 1987 following a fundraising campaign, and construction period, the Mametz Wood memorial was unveiled. Designed by Welsh sculptor David Peterson, the memorial features a Welsh Dragon ripping through barbed wire facing in the direction of Mametz Wood. The memorial lies just north of the Village of Mametz, and can be reached by following the Chemin des Gallois or, in English, the Welshman’s Path.
The Memorial was transported from Wales across to France where it was unveiled in a formal ceremony with members of the British Military present, as Lieutenant General James Swift OBE recalls:
In July 2016, I was lucky enough to lead the Regiment at a ceremony to unveil the newly renovated memorial to the battle at Mametz Wood. As you can see from the photographs, it is an imposing monument overlooking the battlefield. I was accompanied by my wife and primary school age sons and they were as moved by the whole experience as I was. Along with the memories of the battle field, the role the cadets had played in clearing the site, and the ceremony itself, which others can no doubt cover better than me, I recall two issues in particular: the heat and how important the monument is to the locals.
It was a scorching hot day. So hot that the polish was burnt off my boots and the leather cracked beyond repair. The cadets lining the path to the monument were allowed to sit down and drink water. I was in a dark blue frock coat which seemed to absorb the heat, but at least I had a seat. However, the Colour Party, resplendent in the scarlets and bear skins, stood proudly to attention throughout without complaint.
After the ceremony we retired to the new village hall for vin d’honeur. Here I chatted with many of the locals and quickly learnt that not only were they grateful for the valour and sacrifice of the battle itself, but they were hugely grateful of the memorial too. Their village had been in steep decline. Shops were closed, there was little or no employment, and public places like the village hall were run down and little used. Then the memorial was commissioned and tourists started to visit. This brought so much income that the village now has hotels, shops, jobs and, through European funding, a sparkling village hall. It is vibrant, has a purpose to go with its soul, and the people are doubly grateful of Mametz Wood.