Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Private Alun Mabon Jones, 13th (Service) Battalion (1st North Wales), the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, died of wounds received during the Attack on Mametz Wood.
The battalion was formed at Rhyl a month after the outbreak of the Great War, and in December of the following year they were sent to France. They were in the 113th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division, which suffered severe casualties during the Battle of Albert and took some time to recover. The attack on Mametz Wood took place between the 7th and the 12th of July. On the first day over 400 men were killed before they reached the wood, having been met with fierce resistance. A full-scale attack began on the 10th, and two days later the wood had been almost cleared, but with Welsh casualties numbering around 4,000 dead or wounded.
One of the survivors, Private Emlyn Davies, wrote that the attack was suicidal: “Mown down like corn, there they lay prone and motionless…smoke and flame produced swirls of blackness almost obscuring vision of the target of greenery…a German communication trench was strewn with ghastly remnants of former travellers. Gory scenes met our gaze. Mangled corpses in khaki and field grey, dismembered bodies, severed heads and limbs.” He reported how the Welsh “battered, bludgeoned, frustrated and angry burst forward with unsurpassed ferocity and determination. In severe hand to hand encounters, they savagely flayed the bewildered enemy at bayonet point….I was one of the first to be on top of the Huns in Mametz Wood, planting bombs among them as quickly as my fingers could pull the pins out. It’s a miracle how I came out alive as my clothes were torn by bullets and shrapnel. I was hit three times and think I came out alive through not being broad. That enchanted wood was a fair hell, what with the rifle firing, bombs, mortars, high explosives. Together with the groans of the wounded and dying, and the Huns shouting for mercy and firing at every opportunity, and the Welsh cursing, blinding and strafing them. But these Welsh pilgrims would not rise again until the day of judgement. In their faith they had looked through death.”
Unlike Private Davies, Private Jones did not survive the battle and met his death on the day before the wood was taken. He lies buried in the Morlancourt British Cemetery on the Somme, his gravestone containing the words: “Tawel hun hyd adgyfodiad gwell.”
Alun, from Llandeinider in Caernarvonshire, was 34 years old and married.