Mametz

Mametz fell into German hands in the initial attack against France in 1914 and remained behind the German front line of the Somme until captured by the British 7th Division on 1 July 1916. It was in British possession until 26 March 1918 when lost to the German "Michael" offensive. The village was finally recaptured by 12th (Eastern) Division in the afternoon of 25 August 1918 during the Battle of Albert.

Maps

Map

This map shows (dark green lines) the three principal defensive systems developed by the German Army on the Somme. Mametz can be seen behind the first system, just before a bend in the front takes it north round Fricourt. In the plan for 1 July, advances made at Mametz and La Boisselle were meant to "squeeze out" Fricourt, which was considered too strong to be frontally attacked..

Map

The British advance on 1 July 1916 reached Mametz and went beyond it to the German communication trenches known as Dantzig Alley, Fritz Trench and Bunny Alley. On the left, a good advance was also made although casualties were much heavier in this area.

More detail of the fight for Mametz on 1 July 1916

Local map courtesy of Géoportail:

Mametz for battlefield tourists

Mametz today is a small, quiet rural village with no amenities for tourists other than memorials and cemeteries.

View

Standing at the position of the Shrine at Mametz cemetery, looking toward Caftet Wood (far left) and Mansel Copse (wood on slope above left of yellow field). This was a German machine gunners view on 1 July 1916, as the 2nd Gordon Highlanders advanced up the slope from the middle ground between the two woods coming directly toward the camera, and two battalions of the Devons attacked from Mansel Copse on the higher ground parallel with the road toward Albert (right), with the objective of pushing up between Fricourt and Mametz.The German front line was halfway down the slope from the camera, running broadly left-right across the picture. The clear view enjoyed by the German guns of the advance of these battalions can be readily appreciated.

View

From the same spot, turning to look west toward Fricourt. The Devons were to advance on the higher ground in parallel with the road (seen on left in from of trees on the slope) while the Gordons were to reach this spot and press on. mametz villeg, lying to the right off this picture, was to be outflanked by their movement.

View

Now looking the other way. The Shrine position is on the extreme left of the picture, halfway up where this a straight line of hedges around the village cemetery. The camera is now standing at Mansel Copse, looking toward Mametz. The Devons suffered heavy casualties from guns at the Shrine that fired across the road as they advanced off left of this picture. The 2nd Gordons advanced from right to left in the lower ground just on the far side of the road and up toward Mametz and the Shrine. Beyond them came the 1st South Staffordshire, attacking through the explosion of a mine at Bulgar Point. The Staffords broke into the village and cleared it after house to house fighting through the ruins. Beyond the Staffords and up toward the highest ground (extreme right) came the 22nd Manchesters and 2nd Queen's.

Cemetery

For the same spot looking right toward Caftet Wood, the Gordon Cemetery contains the graves of men of the 2nd Battalion who died in the attack on 1 July 1916 and is very close to their original front line.

Cemetery

And in Mansel Copse itself, men of the Devons, buried in their old front line. "The Devonshires held this trench; the Devonshires hold it still". In fact, the Devons had had to advance from a position some 250 yards behind their own front trench, so badly had it been damaged by shellfire, and many of their casualties fell before reaching it.