I was very interested to see this file shown as a random file today and downloaded it.
I'm in the middle of an email discussion with cousins in Australia about the death of an uncle of mine in the Battle of Mametz Wood, about which my father, his commanding officer, has written a well received book "Up to Mametz" It's out of print now but some libraries have it and there's an unauthorized copy of it (I own the copyright
) on line at:
So to be able to pinpoint the location of Mametz Wood and the village is interesting. I visited it about 20 years ago when I was in that part of France and you can still see traces of trenches and other features in the wood.
Here's a brief account based on my cousin's message:
My father was with the Staff HQ who were in charge of the battle and gave the order to the artillery to mount a creeping barrage. This manoeuvre meant that the artillery fired their guns over the heads of the advancing infantry in order to clear the route by destroying the enemy. The gunners had to time the firing of the guns to be in synch with the infantry's advance. Failure to do say meant that the infantry would come under the artillery fire... now called friendly fire!He is one of the thousands of Unknown Soldiers whose name is inscribed on the massive memorial at Thiepval -- also on the map and located at the attached kmz.
Communication between the Staff HQ and the artillery was by field telephone. This entailed the use of an insulated cable run over the ground between the sites. The cable was vulnerable and inevitably there was an open circuit giving rise to there being no telephone communication. When this occurred, runners were used to carry the message between the sites. This was a very dangerous job.
When communication broke down at Mametz Woods, and the Staff HQ was shelled by the enemy, killing most of the Staff. Your father was left in charge and called for runners to deliver a message to the artillery telling them to stop the shelling because it was falling on the infantry.
The first runner was killed before he got the message through, so did the second but the third, my uncle Watkyn did get the message through but was killed on his way back to his post at the Staff HQ.
Many thanks Captain Hornblower for the upload.