Marking the Centenary of the Battle of Mametz Wood 1916 with previously unpublished material

Today will see national interest in the hundredth anniversary of the Battle for Mametz Wood on the Somme which began on the 7th of July, 1916, and a new work containing previously unpublished personal accounts from both sides will aim to give hitherto unseen balance to the conflict.

'The Welsh at Mametz Wood, The Somme 1916' by Jonathan Hicks is a brand new interpretation of the First World War battle for Mametz Wood, telling the story of those terrible days from the viewpoint of soldiers who were actually there.

Using material from his extensive research, as well as sources translated from the original Welsh and the memories left behind by German survivors - many unpublished in English before – Jonathan Hicks gives a fresh insight into the battle.

Drawing extensively on survivors' accounts and original photographs, the author allows the soldiers to speak for themselves to tell the full story of those dark days. In the words of one soldier: 'Hell cannot be much worse.'

The 38th (Welsh) Division began the attack on Mametz Wood on the 7th of July 1916 – the second week of the Battle of the Somme. The division was a citizen force composed of miners from the Rhondda, farmers from Caernarfon and Anglesey, coal trimmers from the docks at Barry and Cardiff, bank workers from Swansea and men from a whole host of other backgrounds and occupations from the counties of Wales.

'All hell broke loose as machine guns opened up on us from the front and from the flank. We stood no chance and the boys were everywhere falling, but we kept moving forward,' wrote Private Albert Evans, 16th (Cardiff City) Battalion of The Welsh Regiment.

When it was over, Field Marshal Haig did not consider the performance of the 38th (Welsh) Division at Mametz Wood to be a success, but the fact remains that after days of ferocious hand-to-hand fighting with an enemy from the most effective army in Europe at that time, and terrible loss of life, the division finally succeeded in capturing the largest wood on the Somme.

There were some 4,000 British casualties during the battle.

The book's publication follows the opening of the new 'War's Hell' exhibition at the National Museum in Cardiff which is an exhibition of paintings, poetry and artefacts associated with the Welsh soldiers at Mametz Wood.

Dr Jonathan Hicks is an award-winning military historian and novelist, and his meticulous research provides new insight into this famous battle. He has previously won the Victorian Military Society's top award for his work on the Anglo-Zulu War and in 2010 he was awarded the Western Front Association Shield for his work on Barry and the Great War.

Jonathan is also a member of the First World War Programme Board which advises the Welsh Government on the centenary commemorations.

He has previously written novels on the battle at Mametz Wood, including 'The Dead of Mametz' and 'Demons Walk Among Us'.

He has dedicated his book to the fallen and writes:

'I dedicate this book to the men who fought there in the second week of July 1916, those who died and who were buried in France, and those who are still missing with no known grave.'