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Lord Thomas highlights Welsh role in WWI

Lord Thomas of Gresford
Lord Thomas of Gresford

Lib Dem Peer, Lord Thomas of Gresford will use today’s debate on the First World War to raise the important role that Wales played in the conflict.

As part of his speech, Lord Thomas will discuss the role played by Welsh soldiers in the struggle to take Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme.

The debate comes ahead of Armed Forces Day on Saturday 28 June.

Lord Thomas is expected to say:

“Following the deadly struggle of the 38th Welsh Division to take Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, some in Wales called for the cancellation of the National Eisteddfod at Aberystwyth due to be held in the following August.

 “In the early hours of the morning of the 9th July, 1916, the 16th Royal Welsh Fusiliers were in position in the sunken road before Mametz Wood, singing snatches of songs. Their Colonel Col Ronald Carden came to lead the attack.

 “Waves of the 14th (Caernarfon and Anglesey) RWF and the 15th (London Welsh) RWF followed, breaking through a hail of bullets and bombs in which it seemed impossible for men to live. The Swansea, Rhondda and Carmarthen battalions of the Welsh Regiment went through the centre of the German lines. One of them said that the wood rang with the noise of rifle and bomb and the cries of men, shouting their battle cry, “Stick to it Welsh”.

 “On the following day, Mametz wood was finally taken with devastating losses. The 38th Division suffered 8,000 losses. The 13th Rhondda Battalion of the Welsh Regiment went in over a thousand strong. 135 answered their names at the first roll call afterwards.”