Lloyd George salute site
At this location on Llandudno promenade in 1915, David Lloyd George took the salute as the 1st North Wales Brigade paraded past. He’s wearing a bowler hat in the photo of the event, below.
He was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was to become Prime Minister in 1916. Thousands of people attended the parade, which was in Lloyd George’s Parliamentary constituency, and he proclaimed that it was "One of the most magnificent spectacles I have ever seen!"
The brigade had been raised in Llandudno in 1914. Two years later, it was ordered to take part in an offensive in the Somme, France. The objective was to take Mametz Wood, an area of higher ground heavily defended by the German army. In just two days, 4,000 men were killed or wounded. It was a futile attack, since the Germans were too well entrenched. Mametz is not listed as one of the official battles of the First World War, and there were no matching battle honours.
The village of Mametz had been destroyed by shelling, so in 1920 the people of Llandudno adopted the village. Survivors of the Llandudno Brigade were among those who contributed to a Llandudno fund to help restore the village. However, veterans and descendants had to wait until 1987, on the 71st anniversary of the battle, before a proper memorial was erected on the ridge where the soldiers had run towards the hidden enemy machine guns. The people of Mametz had long since named the ground ‘Vallee des Gallois’ in honour of the Welshmen that had died there.
The heavy losses at Mametz affected Lloyd George, who commissioned a painting from Christopher Williams called ‘The Welsh at Mametz’. It has belonged to the National Museum of Wales since 1920. You can view the painting on the museum’s website here. Two other paintings by Christopher Williams, one of which depicts Lloyd George in a group, are in Royal Caernarfon Town Council's art collection.
Men who were conscripted to replace those killed at Mametz included poet Ellis Humphrey Evans of Trawsfynydd, whose bardic name was Hedd Wyn. He was killed by a German bullet at Pilckem, near Ypres, on the 31 July 1917. Two months later, he was named winner of the chair at the annual National Eisteddfod of Wales. The chairing ceremony closed with a funereal hymn, after the chair had been draped in black cloth.
With thanks to John Lawson-Reay, of the Llandudno & Colwyn Bay History Society