Mametz Wood Memorial Project


Mametz Wood Memorial Project


Mametz Wood was the objective of the 38th (Welsh) Division during the First Battle of the Somme. The attack occurred in a northerly direction over a ridge, focussing on the German positions in the wood, between 7 July and 12 July 1916. On the 7 July, the men were halted by machine gun fire before they reached the wood. Further attacks by the 17th Division on 8 July failed to improve the position. Infuriated by what he saw as a distinct lack of “push” Sir Douglas Haig and Lt-General Henry Rawlinson visited the HQ of the Welsh Division to make their displeasure known. Major General Ivor Philipps, officer commanding the Welsh Division, was subsequently relieved of his command. Haig passed control of the Division to Major General Herbert Watts, commander of the 7th Division and told him to use it “as he saw fit”. Watts planned a full-scale attack for the 9 July but organising the attacking formations took some time and the attack was subsequently postponed until 10 July 1916. The operational order was blunt, stating that the Division would attack the wood with the aim of “capturing the whole of it”. The 10 July attack was on a larger scale than had been attempted earlier. Despite heavy casualties the fringe of the wood was soon reached and some bayonet fighting took place before the wood was entered and a number of German machine guns silenced. Fighting in the wood was fierce with the Germans giving ground stubbornly. The 14th (Swansea) (Service) Battalion, the Welsh Regiment, went into the attack with 676 men and after a day of hard fighting had lost almost 400 men killed or wounded beforebeing relieved. Other battalions suffered similar losses. However, by 12 July the wood was effectively cleared of the enemy. The Welsh Division had lost about 4,000 men killed or wounded in this searing engagement. It would not be used in a massed attack again until 31 July 1917. It was at Mametz that the war poet Siegfried Sassoon, of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, made a single handed attack on the enemy trenches on 4 July 1916, as recorded in his memoirs. The Welsh poet Owen Sheers wrote a poem in 2005 to commemorate the battle in his Skirrid Hill collection:

“This morning, twenty men buried in one long grave,
a broken mosaic of bone linked arm in arm,
their skeletons paused mid dance-macabre”

A vivid description of the fighting in Mametz Wood may be found in “In Parenthesis”, a modernist long poem written by British poet and visual artist David Jones, who took part in the battle. The wood still stands today, surrounded by farmland. Overgrown shell craters and trenches can still be made out. There is a memorial to the 38th Division nearby on a rough single lane road. This can be reached from the village of Mametz on the D64 road. The memorial takes the form of a red Welsh Dragon, facing the Wood and tearing at barbed wire, on top of a three-metre plinth. The memorial was constructed by the South Wales  Branch of the Western Front Association following a public funding-raising appeal. The dragon which tops the memorial was made by Welsh sculptor/blacksmith David Petersen.

The Firing Line Museum of the Welsh Soldier, Cardiff Castle, approached Petersens Design to assist with the creation of a new exhibition for their temporary exhibition space. They were keen to get some form of artefact connected to the memorial as part of the exhibition. It became apparent, however, that the sculpture did not have any models of the sculpture and the only preliminary drawings had already been sold. We therefore decided that we would attempt to make a scale model of the memorial. This meant a trip to the memorial itself. With the help of Tom Edgar, a model maker, we took measurements, made drawings and photographs and digitally scanned the memorial.

These measurements, scans and photographs were used to generate data so that the main parts of the memorial model using a 3D printer supplied by Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff School of Art and Design. Tom took these parts and pieced them together, along with hand made elements that the 3D printer found too delicate to produce, such as the wings and tail, to create the model which was then painted to match the memorial. The base was made from MDF with large format printed vinyl faces.

We then produced the graphic elements of the exhibition which was on display in the museum for a number of months.

John Burn – 3D Printing Advertising

John Burn – Design – adverts to push their 3D Printing technology as part of a strategic marketing campaign using industry specific publications.

John Burn – Exhibition Display

John Burn – unique in that not only does it have one of the most comprehensive stocks of Epoxies and Polyurethane Resins, tooling and modelling boards but it also stocks a wide range of consumables and ancillaries to complement these products. Design – a pop up display system along with roll ups and various items for the stand at TCT Live, including live size office window with panoramic view of London to highlight the suitability of the latest 3D printing technology for small office use. Commissioning – macro photography. Art Direction.