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WWI Series - Paranormal - A Hundred Years Ago - October 1 - October 10

Updated on October 3, 2015

Sir Oliver Lodge

World-renowned physicist and spiritualist
World-renowned physicist and spiritualist | Source

Paranormal Belief in England

Sir Oliver Lodge (1851-1940) is a world-renowned physicist, and he is a believer of Spiritualist concepts. Prior to WWI, Sir Lodge participates in studies of communication through mediums. He receives messages from loved ones, in Spirit, which convinces him that the dead still live. He publishes his findings in 1890 in Survival of Man.

The hypothesis of surviving intelligence and personality - not only surviving but anxious and able to with difficulty to communicate - is the simplest and most straightforward and the only one that fits all the facts. (A Medium)

In September, 1913, Sir Oliver Lodge said Memory and affection are not limited to that associated with matter by which alone they can manifest themselves, here and now, and that personality does persist beyond bodily death.

On September 17, 1915 the War Office notified Sir Oliver and Lady Lodge that their son, Raymond, had been killed in action on September 14, 1915. A medium named Alfred Von Peters, two days later, speaks about a photograph of a group of officers with Raymond among them. Some days later, a complete stranger to the couple sends a photograph of the officers of the South Lancashire Regiment of which Raymond was second lieutenant.

Raymond communicating through a medium gives a complete description of the photograph. He describes himself as sitting on the ground with a fellow officer placing his hand on Raymond's shoulder. When the photograph arrives the details match with the description provided four days earlier In every detail.

However the facts are to be explained, there is no further room in my mind for doubt. Any person without invincible prejudice who had had the same experience would come to the same broad conclusion, viz. that things hitherto held impossible do actually occur. (Sir Oliver Lodge)

Religious fervor is part of trauma because prayer, especially in the company of those who believe the same, provides comfort and hope. However during WWI while the world conflict sacrificed a generation of young men, paranormal and occult are common place. The visitation of ghosts, dreams, visions, the use of mediums are acceptable without question.

Saint George

A soldier called upon Saint George and the archers came.
A soldier called upon Saint George and the archers came. | Source

The Angel of Mons

In Britain a belief in angelic intervention that saved British troops is part of the retreat from Mons. On August 22nd 1914, the British Expeditionary Force were in defensive positions along the Mons – Conde canal in Belgium. Their mission was to stop or delay the 1st German Army. The British held off the initial wave of German attacks. Then the British had to fight in withdrawal between the 23rd and 26th of August. The retreat of the BEF came as a blow to the British public. On the 30th of August the Times reported that the attacking German infantry was so strong "that they could no more be stopped than the waves of the sea."

The German advance was finally fought to a standstill on the River Marne in early September. Combat in Flanders then descended into the bloody inertia of static trench warfare. (militaryhistoryonline.com)

The British withdrawal to the River Marne is a remarkable feat. In fact, the British soldiers believe survival in that situation was not possible except for the intervention of ghostly archers. One of the British soldiers unwittingly summons the spirit of St George and, just as it seems that they can no longer hold out;

… he saw before him, beyond the trench, a long line of shapes, with a shining about them. They were like men who drew the bow, and with another shout their cloud of arrows flew singing and tingling through the air towards the German hosts.”

In the story, thousands of Germans are killed by the ghostly archers, and the attack is turned back. (militaryhistoryonline.com)

The ghostly archers could be shapes in the fog, but the British troops do escape destruction to hold their line at the River Marne. Many stories of supernatural intervention on a personal level of individual survival and on a level of battles surface. M16, the British secret service, has a long history since 1560 of an occult branch in the organization. In 1915, a population with no control over cataclysmic events find reassurance in a power greater than man.

The Round House

Every nation battling in WWI believes in supernatural intervention. Dreams and visions are seriously respected. A soldier in the trenches who sees the Angel of Death hovering over a fellow soldier is believed without question though the soldier may chose to keep the vision to himself. Austria is no exception. Austrians pray for victory in battle. They pray for the lives of their sons and husbands and brothers.

German citizens likewise pray. However rumors of German occult activities surface in the west. Shocking rumors of human sacrifice by secret societies for victory in battle become prevalent. These rumors are not true and likely part of western propaganda, yet the rumors persist.

The occult in Germany is elevated to actual study. Germany is known for secrets and secret societies which breeds fear. A place associated with a secret German occult society is called the Round House built approximately around 1900 by Frank Van Vloten. While ghostly visions of five girls walking hand-in-hand about the round house are widely circulated, nothing is ever found to substantiate the reports. Nothing is ever found that makes any difference to the outcome of the war.

The Round House

The round house built in Germany around 1900
The round house built in Germany around 1900 | Source

The Second Battle of Champagne

In the very real world of trench warfare, a new offensive began on September 25, 1915. In an attempt to take some pressure off of the embattled Russian army in the east, French and British plan to attack the Germans on a 15-mile front.

The battle began with a three day bombardment by 2500 artillery pieces. Following the artillery two French armies attack the Germans which began the Second Battle of Champagne. This battle was one of three major Anglo-French offensives to begin simultaneously on the Western Front. Not only did the allies plan to give aid to Russia but also to wear down German forces.

In the center the French advance some 3000 yards. On the second day the French break through to the German second line. The fighting continues but becomes bogged down. The second French attack, known as the Third Battle of Artois, also begins and the French capture the town of Souchez. After five days of heavy fighting they briefly capture the commanding heights of Vimy Ridge- for the third time.

German defense stiffens and additional gains by the French are bought at a high price. The battle continues into November but with no further military success. The French suffer 48,000 casualties. German losses total 30,000 men.

The third offensive as part of the grand scheme is General Sir Douglas Haig's First Army launching an attack between Lens and La Bassee Canal, the Battle of Loos. The British use gas for the first time in the war. The German line holds, and the fighting continues into October, 1915.

The Second Battle of Champagne continues with a renewed French attack against the German front line. The losses for the French to October 6 total 144,000 men; the Germans suffer 85,000 casualties.

Futile Bloodshed

The fighting along fifteen miles of trench line for less than a mile of ground east to west is terrible - bloody and futile - with 235,000 thousand casualties among the French and Germans from September 27 to October 6. No one not among those young men in the trenches can possibly imagine the horror of this fighting.

No wonder the French Army morale began to decline to later mutiny. No wonder the world's population reached out to that which can not be seen nor touched.

Page Turning WWI Fiction

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