The Battle of Mametz Wood

16 May 2016

Battle of the Somme

A public event remembering the centenary of one of the bloodiest battles fought by Welsh soldiers during World War 1 will take place at Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday 21 May.

Mametz Wood, Poetry and Song, organised by Cardiff University in collaboration with Welsh National Opera, will commemorate the battle through an exploration of WW1 conflict and creativity.

The event will include talks from University experts, a chance to hear from Iain Bell, composer of Welsh National Opera’s newly-commissioned opera In Parenthesis, and a recital of little-known wartime songs.

Leading researchers from the University’s Schools of Music, Welsh, and History, Archaeology & Religion will investigate Welsh responses to the Great War, with talks examining the Welsh experience of the Battle of Mametz Wood, the poetry and songs it inspired, as well as issues of memory and pacifism:

  • Mametz Wood in Memory and History (Dr Toby Thacker)
  • Sospan Fach and the Trenches (Professor Sioned Davies)
  • Opposition to the Great War in Wales (PhD student Aled Eirug)
  • Welsh-language poetry of Grangetown in WW1 (Dr Dylan Foster Evans)
  • Musical Campaigns of Welsh Composers Ivor Novello and Clara Novello Davies during WW1 (Dr Rachelle Barlow)

The day will end with a recital of wartime songs written by Ivor Novello, Clara Novello Davies and others, performed by mezzo-soprano Siân Cameron.

This event is the first in a series exploring representations of the Great War in history, music, literature and visual cultures. Commemorating World War 1: Conflict and Creativity is organised by Cardiff University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Opera and Drama (CIRO) and funded by a Cultural Engagement Fellowship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Future events will include a public workshop #MappingGrangetown (4 June), a series of lunchtime lectures at National Museum Cardiff, an international symposium on artistic creation during WW1 (11-12 November), and a screening of silent 1916 film The Battle of the Somme with live accompaniment by Cardiff University Symphony Orchestra on Remembrance Sunday (13 November).

Dr Rachelle Barlow, Cultural Engagement Fellow at Cardiff University School of Music, said: “This series is an excellent opportunity for us to engage new audiences with our research and form a distinctive part of continuing UK-wide commemoration of the First World War.

“The commemoration of war in literature and the arts is such a diverse topic and throws up many interesting questions: Who shapes narratives of history? How are they interpreted by different audiences? Is memory of WW1 in Wales different from that in other parts of the UK? How is the response in the UK different to that in parts of continental Europe? We’re looking forward to exploring the answers to these questions and many more throughout our series.”

Mametz Wood, Poetry and Song is free to attend but places are limited. Tickets can be booked via