Clearing of battlefields where soldiers lost lives nearing completion


Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A FIVE-YEAR project to maintain and clear historic French battlefields where thousands of Welsh soldiers lost their lives in World War One is nearing completion.

Cadets from Rossett Platoon and Clwyd and Gwynedd Army Cadet Force have now largely completed the project on First World War battlefields.

The platoon has been travelling annually to the Somme in northern France since 2006.

In 2009 they began clearing the perimeter of the Lochnagar Crater, which was created by a massive underground detonation heralding the start of the attack on the morning of the July 1, 1916.

The crater lies only a few hundred metres from the Albert to Baupamme Road, which served as the axis of advance for the Somme Offensive.

The Mametz Memorial, also located on the Somme, commemorates the men of the 38th (Welsh Division) who fought through Mametz Wood between July 7 and July 11, 1916.

During the engagement, the division lost 4,000 men killed and injured.

The memorial sits on sloping ground down which the Welshmen advanced, through machine gun fire, towards the German held woods.

A statue of a Welsh Dragon, clutching barbed wire, now stands on a stone plinth facing what were the enemy lines.

But the Dragon’s eye view had become obscured by young trees.

Over the course of three years the cadets have restored the view to reveal the Dragon and improve the battlefield vista for future visitors.

The cadets also refurbished the bench sitting next to the memorial.

Captain Mervyn Jones, platoon commander, said: “I am extremely proud of the cadets. It was a huge challenge for them to take on. They have overcome vicious thorns, blazing sun, hail and rain and put in many hours of hard, physical labour.

“Their achievement is a fitting tribute to honour the thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice in this relatively small area.”

See full story in the Leader

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