8th July 1916 Saturday
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Douglas throughout the mayhem managed to get some time away from the chaos to survey the scene for himself and gives us a fascinating eye-witness account of part of the battle. It is important to note that his use of phrases like “It was a wonderful, never to be forgotten sight” is meant to convey the enormity of what was taking place rather than any glorification of scenes that he witnessed.
“Father Brown our popular R.C. Padre came up next day (8th) and he and I went over every piece of ground where fighting took place on Monday. We saw our old trenches and the German front line trench. The harm wrought was terrific. The whole countryside was scarred with shell-holes, Large and small. ‘No Man’s Land’ was full of craters and the German trenches were battered to pieces. The stench was awful and the craters were full of blood-stained water. There were still many German dead lying about- a pitiful sight. We got a splendid view of the valley before us as it was a clear sunny day, and saw the villages of *Mametz and Fricourt which were just names of smashed bricks. Our guns were shelling Mametz Wood heavily and the Germans were putting a few ‘crumps’ into Fricourt. It was a wonderful, never to be forgotten sight. Two of the Welsh Division Battalions – Cardiff City and the 10th S.W.B (South Wales Borderers)- attacked Mametz Wood during the day and got badly cut up. Two of our ambulance stretcher bearers were killed. Our men had to carry wounded four miles over shell holes and with mud up to their knees in places.”
*The village of Mametz in the Somme Valley is not to be confused with Mametz in the Pas de Calais where Douglas met Gwilym Lloyd George on 20th December 1915. Read about that meeting here.
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