Flatiron Copse was the name given by the army to a small woody plantation a little to the east of Mametz Wood.
This cemetery was central to my research for The Mad Game books and remains one of the locations on the Somme to which I often return. The other being Caterpillar Valley. The ground was taken by the 3rd and 7th Divisions very early (03:25) on 14 July 1916 and an advanced dressing station was established at the copse, sitting in a low spot between Mamentz Wood and the edge of Bazentin Wood (South). The story of this advance, novel and daring, although ultimately unsuccessful, did pave the way for some alternative strategy in defining the war on the Western Front.
The cemetery sits in a little valley, one of the “Happy Valleys” that soldiers liked to use to get to the front, sheltered in part from shellfire. The ridge looms up quickly to the north, and fighting was hand to hand and brutal in the extreme. I placed William here, with Watkins, in memory of the actions here. My way of offering an understanding of the battles and the true nature of this conflict.
The cemetery was begun in 1916 and it remained in use until April 1917. Two further burials were made in August 1918 and after the Armistice, more than 1,100 graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields and
from smaller cemeteries, including:-
CATERPILLAR CEMETERY, MONTAUBAN, in “Caterpillar Wood”. It contained the graves of 21 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in July 1916, and of whom 12 belonged to the 6th and 7th Gordons.
CROSS ROADS CEMETERY, BAZENTIN, near the cross-roads at the North end of Bazentin-le-Grand. Here were buried 15 soldiers from the United Kingdom and four from New Zealand, who fell in 1916-1917.
MAMETZ WOOD CEMETERY, outside the Western edge of Mametz Wood, in which 18 soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried in 1916.
QUADRANGLE CEMETERY, BAZENTIN, between Bottom Wood and Mametz Wood, named from a small rectangular copse. Here were buried, in 1916, 32 soldiers from the United Kingdom and three from Australia, of whom 22 were artillerymen.
VALLEY CEMETERY, MONTAUBAN, between the Briqueterie and Maltzhorn Farm, in which 72 soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried in August and September, 1916.
VILLA WOOD CEMETERIES No.1 and No.2, CONTALMAISON, near a small copse North of Mametz Wood. They contained the graves of 62 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in 1916.
There are now 1,572 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 420 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 36 casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and nine buried in Mametz Wood Cemetery whose graves were destroyed by shell fire.
Factual information provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.