38th (Welsh) Memorial at Mametz Wood
THE WELSH ON THE SOMME
In the 141 days that the Battle of the Somme lasted, 27 Welsh battalions took part in the battle; 20 were line infantry battalions and 7 were the pioneer battalions of infantry divisions.

The Welsh Battalions
in the Battle of the Somme

1st July to 18th November 1916

The Battle of the Somme began on Saturday, 1st July 1916 and lasted for 141 days (four and a half months) before drawing to a close on Saturday, 18th November 1916. It was to be one of the most costly battles of the First World War with over 1.3 million French, British Empire and German casualties being sustained in the fighting.

In some ways the Battle of the Somme is a misnomer as it is really a conglomeration of a number of battles and these can be split into three phases:

Phase One – 1st to 13th July 1916

   The Battle of Albert – 1st to 13th July 1916.

Phase Two – mid-July to mid-September 1916

   The Battle of Bazentin Ridge – 14th to 17th July 1916.

   The Battle of Delville Wood – 14th July to 15th September 1916.

   The Battle of Pozières Ridge – 23rd July to 7th August 1916.

   The Battle of Guillemont – 3rd to 6th September 1916.

   The Battle of Ginchy – 9th September 1916.

Phase Three – mid-September to 18th November 1916

   The Battle of Flers-Courcelette – 15th to 22nd September 1916.

   The Battle of Morval – 25th to 28th September 1916.

   The Battle of Thiepval Ridge – 26th to 28th September 1916.

   The Battle of the Transloy Ridges – 1st October to 11th November 1916.

   The Battle o the Ancre Heights – 1st October to 11th November 1916.

   The Battle of the Ancre – 13th to 18th November 1916.

During the fighting 27 Welsh battalions took part, 20 of which were line infantry battalions and 7 were the pioneer battalions of infantry divisions. Add to this the Welshmen fighting with the other arms and services; the artillerymen, logistics soldiers, medics, etc., and one quickly realises the significant part that Welshmen played.

The Welsh line infantry battalions on the Somme

There were 20 Welsh line infantry battalions involved in the fighting during the Battle of the Somme:

1st Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers [1 RWF] was in the 22nd Brigade, 7th Division. They took part in:

   The attack south of Fricourt on 1st July 1916.

   The attack to capture Quadrangle Trench on 5th July 1916.

   The capture of Bazentin-le-Petit on 14th July 1916.

   The attack against the right side of High Wood on 20th July 1916.

   The attack against the 'Brewery' Trenches east of Delville Wood on 28th August 1916.

   The attack to recapture the 'Brewery' trenches on 2nd and 3rd September 1916.

2nd Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers [2 RWF] was in the 19th Brigade, 33rd Division. They took part in:

   The attack in High Wood on 20th July 1916.

   The attack in High Wood between 18th and 21st August 1916.

   The attack in High Wood on 26th August1916.

9th (Service) Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers [9 RWF] was in the 58th Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. They took part in:

   The attack on the first day when they were in support in the Tara-Usna Line near La Boisselle on 1st July 1916.

   The capture of La Boisselle on 2nd to 3rd July 1916.

10th (Service) Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers [10 RWF] was in the 76th Brigade, 3rd Division. They took part in:

   The attack in Delville Wood on 20th July 1916.

   The attacks on Lonely Trench on 17th and 18th August 1916.

   The attack on Serre 13th November 1916.

13th (Service) Battalion (1st North Wales), the Royal Welch Fusiliers [13 RWF] was in the 113th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack of Mametz Wood 10th July 1916.

14th (Service) Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers [14 RWF] was in the 113th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack of Mametz Wood 10th July 1916.

15th (Service) Battalion (1st London Welsh), the Royal Welch Fusiliers [15 RWF] was in the 113th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack of Mametz Wood 10th July 1916.

16th (Service) Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers [16 RWF] was in the 113th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack and capture of Mametz Wood 10th to 12th July 1916.

17th (Service) Battalion (2nd North Wales), the Royal Welch Fusiliers [17 RWF] was in the 115th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack and capture of Mametz Wood 10th to 12th July 1916.

1st Battalion, the South Wales Borderers [1 SWB] was in the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. They took part in:

   The attack north west of Bazentin-le-Petit Wood towards OG line near Pozières on 15th July, 1916 and then spent the next two days in Black Watch Alley.

   The attack against Munster Alley on 25th July 1916.

   The attack to capture the Intermediate Line north east of Bazentin-le-Petit on 25th August 1916.

   Two attacks to capture High Wood, the first on 8th September 1916 and the second on 23rd September 1916.

2nd Battalion, the South Wales Borderers [2 SWB] was in the 87th Brigade, 29th Division. They took part in:

   The attack of Y Ravine (Newfoudnland Park, Beaumont-Hamel) 1st July 1916.

10th (Service) Battalion (1st Gwent), the South Wales Borderers [10 SWB] was in the 115th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack at Mametz Wood 7th July 1916.

   The attack at Mametz Wood 10th and 11th July 1916.

11th (Service) Battalion (2nd Gwent), the South Wales Borderers [11 SWB] was in the 115th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack at Mametz Wood 7th July 1916.

   The attack at Mametz Wood 10th July 1916.

2nd Battalion, the Welch Regiment [2 WELCH] was in the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. They took part in:

   The attack north west of Bazentin-le-Petit Wood towards OG line on 15th July, 1916 and the taking of Welsh Alley the following day.

   The attack against Munster Alley on 26th July 1916.

   The attack on 19th August 1916 to capture Quadrangle Trench.

9th (Service) Battalion, the Welch Regiment [9 WELCH] was in the 58th Brigade 19th (Western) Division. They took part in:

   The attack on La Boisselle 2nd July 1916.

   The attack on Bailiff Wood 7th July 1916.

   The attack at Stuff Redoubt 26th October 1916.

   The attack at Donnet Post 30th October 1916.

   The attack at Bulgar Trench 2nd November 1916.

   The attack at Leipzig Redoubt 5th November 1916.

   The attack at Stuff Redoubt/Stuff Trench 13th November 1916.

10th (Service) Battalion (1st Rhondda), the Welch Regiment [10 WELCH] was in the 114th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack of Mametz Wood 10th July 1916.

13th (Service) Battalion (2nd Rhondda), the Welch Regiment [13 WELCH] was in the 114th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack of Mametz Wood 10th July 1916.

14th (Service) Battalion (Swansea), the Welch Regiment [15 WELCH] was in the 114th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack of Mametz Wood 10th July 1916.

15th (Service) Battalion (Carmarthenshire County Committee), the Welch Regiment [15 WELCH] was in the 114th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack of Mametz Wood 10th July 1916.

16th (Service) Battalion (Cardiff City), the Welch Regiment [16 WELCH] was in the 115th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. They took part in:

   The attack at Mametz Wood 7th July 1916.

   The attack at Mametz Wood 10th July 1916.

The Welsh pioneer battalions on the Somme

There were 7 Welsh pioneer battalions involved in the Battle of the Somme:

1/4th (Denbighshire) Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers [1/4th RWF] was the pioneer battalion in the 47th (2nd London) Division. They carried out work in support of the battle in:

   Fricourt-Mametz-Bazentin area late August to late September 1916.

   Eaucourt-l'Abbaye between 2nd and 9th October1916.

5th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers), the South Wales Borderers [5 SWB] was the pioneer battalion of the 19th (Western) Division. They carried out work in support of the battle in:

   La Boisselle between 2nd and 17th July 1916.

   High Wood area 20th and 21st July 1916.

   Intermediate Line (detached to the 57th Brigade) late July.

   Hebuterne — Sailly area 10th to 16th October 1916.

   Albert-Aveluy, Thiepval, Mouquet Farm sectors late October 1916.

   Grandcourt sector November 1916.

6th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers), the South Wales Borderers [6 SWB] was the pioneer battalion of the 25th Division. They carried out work in support of the battle in:

   Leipzig Salient 4th to 7th July 1916.

   Ovillers and La Boisselle area 10th to 21st July 1916.

   Mailly-Maillet late July 1916.

   Aveluy sector late August 1916.

   Aveluy sector late September 1916.

   In support of the Stuff Redoubt and Regina Trench operations in October 1916.

1/6th (Glamorgan) Battalion, the Welch Regiment [1/6th WELCH] was the pioneer battalion of the 1st Division. They carried out work in support of the battle in:

   Albert/Contalmaison area between 12th to 19th July 1916.

   In front line North of Bazentin-le-Petit Wood between 20th to 26th July 1916.

   Albert area late July to mid-August 1916.

   Contalmaison area and High Wood sector mid-August to mid-September 1916.

   High Wood and Martinpuich area 20th to 28th September 1916 and again mi to late November 1916.

19th (Service) Battalion (Glamorgan Pioneers), the Welch Regiment [19 WELCH] was the pioneer battalion of the 38th (Welsh) Division. They carried out work in support of the battle in:

   Carnoy/Montauban area and works in front of Mametz Wood 6th to 8th July 1916.

   Meaulte 12th July1916.

   Hebuterne sector mid to late July 1916.

They also took part in:

   The attack of Mametz Wood 11th July 1916.

1/1st Battalion, the Monmouthshire Regiment [1/1st MONMOUTH] was the pioneer battalion in the 46th (North Midland) Division. They carried out work in support of the battle in:

   In support of the attack of Gommecourt Salient on 1st July 1916.

1/2nd Battalion, the Monmouthshire Regiment [1/2nd MONMOUTH] was the pioneer battalion of the 29th Division. They carried out work in support of the battle in:

   Support of the attack at Beaumont-Hamel on 1st July 1916.

   In the front line and communication trenches from the Redan sector to Ancre River throughout July 1916.

   Ginchy-Lesboeufs-Flers area October/November 1916.

The Welsh battalions involved in the First Day

On Saturday, 1st July 1916 approximately 100,000 British soldiers went over the top at 07:30hrs along a 25 kilometre (15½ mile) stretch of the Western Front to assault the German positions. Of that 100,000 some 60% became casualties: 19,240 killed, 35,493 wounded, 2,152 Missing and 585 were POWs . It was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army.

There were two Welsh battalions involved in the fighting on 1st July 1916:

   1 RWF was at the bend in the frontline in the vicinity of Fricourt and Mametz as part of the 7th Division.

   2 SWB was at Beaumont Hamel as part of the 29th Division.

Five other Welsh battalions were in division's involved in the first day, but not in the forefront of the assault:

   9 RWF, 9 WELCH and 5 SWB all played a waiting game in front of La Boisselle in the 19th (Western) Division, which was the III Corps reserve.

   1/2nd MONMOUTH was the 29th Division's pioneers at Beaumont Hamel.

   1/1st MONMOUTH was the 46th (North Midland) Division's pioneers at Gommecourt.

The Welsh on the Somme