Enhancing the Redemption Narrative: The 38th (Welsh) Division, Mametz Wood & the Search for Historical Truth
04 Aug

Enhancing the Redemption Narrative: The 38th (Welsh) Division, Mametz Wood & the Search for Historical Truth


Jon Williams is a former senior police investigator and hostage negotiator with a lifelong interest in
military history which he attributes to his head teacher at junior school in Monmouth-Keith Kissack,
a passionate Nelsonian who first inspired Jon’s interest in all aspects of history, but particularly the
Napoleonic Wars.
In later life Jon’s focus moved to the history of the US military, from the Civil War to the conflict in
Vietnam. Having visited the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pearl Harbour and latterly the Normandy
beaches, and with several visits to Arlington National Cemetery under his belt Jon has established a
unique collection of autographs and memorabilia relating to the United States’ highest award for
bravery, the Medal of Honor, across the various conflicts the US military has participated in since the
award was established in 1861.
In 2019, Jon became a battlefield guide, taking school parties and adult groups to the battlefields of
France, and it was at this point his interest in the First World War on the Western Front took hold.
The actions at Mametz Wood in 1916 and the role of the 38 th (Welsh) Division was one of the first
‘stands’ Jon presented under the memorial to the division that stands on the battlefield.
Inspired by his research to inform the groups he accompanied to the Western Front, in 2020, Jon
commenced a Masters course in Britain and the First World War at the University of Wolverhampton
under the tutelage of renowned historians Professor Gary Sheffield and Dr Spencer Jones. Jon was
one of the first recipients of the WFA’s Masters Study Grant which assisted him in travelling to
various museums and archives as part of his research activity and which contributed to Jon
successfully completing his MA with Merit.
Jon’s dissertation focused on the controversy that came to surround the 38 th (Welsh) Division
because of its participation in the actions at Mametz Wood in July 1916.
Using archival sources and historiographical research, Jon sought to fill the gap in the work of Colin
Hughes, whose book (based on his doctoral research in the late 1970s) “Mametz: Lloyd George’s
Welsh Army at the Battle of the Somme”, debunked much of the criticism of the division, yet, still
remains in some of the more modern historiography, by seeking to identify the reasons behind the
hostility towards ‘Lloyd George’s Welsh Army’ by sectors of the British military establishment and
Jon’s presentation is based on his research, of which Dr Spencer Jones commented:
“What more remains to be said about Mametz? As it turns out, a great deal! This was a very fine
dissertation which combined deep research with originality to provide a new interpretation of a
much-studied action.”


Zoom Link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87996010857?pwd=NzN4Vy9XQjVOREVUUzZJRE0wREVXUT09

Canton Rugby Football Club, Lawrenny Avenue, Cardiff CF11 8BR.
04 Aug 2023 19:30