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Rodge Dowson

Strange Occurrences on the Western Front

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Rodge Dowson

I would also say that anyone who spends a good deal of time researching or working on a specific WWI project such as a book title about a unit or local memorial etc. will have all sorts of strange, flooky, uncanny and unexplained events and happenings occur, mostly positive ones that proveide strokes of fortune as if the time and trouble taken was appreciated by those that we write about or research.

R.D.

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Christina Holstein

It was pretty silent at Verdun yesterday, with only a few birds cheeping but there were a couple of sounds that might explain the 'buzzing'. One was a sort of long drilling sound that I eventually recognised as a woodpecker although it was a different noise from the loud knocking that they normally make. The other was a prolonged high wine that I finally identified as a foresters' saw some distance away. I don't know where the forester was but it was far enough away for me not to recognise the sound for quite a while. Could your buzzing have been a distant saw?

Christina Holstein.

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cooper

Christina,

With reference to your explanations, I do not think it was was either unfortunately.

The sawing from the Foresters is too much of a higher pitch, the sound also fluctuates a little. The is quite distinctive.

I do not think it was the woodpecker either. My brother is a bird watcher and one one outing we observed a woodpecker at work.

The sound was a lower pitch, the only way to describe is that if we were surrounded by a 'swarm of bees', however ther were none to be seen.

Thanks,

James

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CROONAERT

I have to agree with James.

The noise was just too much "in the air" and all around.Sometimes sounding close and other times more distant.I found it strange,but not overally oppressive.

Dave.

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ianw

Sounds like this can be hard to identify and pin down. Certain areas of UK have a well known low frequency hum , the source of which cannot be identified.

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CROONAERT
Sounds like this can be hard to identify and pin down. Certain areas of UK have a well known low frequency hum , the source of which cannot be identified.

I mentioned this world-wide phenomena in an earlier posting.Some people can hear it and others can't. The latest on this,from a scientific viewpoint,is that it's something to do with magnetism.

Dave.

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Fleur
I have also walked into war cemeteries at night, noting a true calmness but also a strange sense of being welcome amongst "friends".

Am I the only one!

I have to say that on all my visits both to the Ypres Salient, the german cemetaries and to the D-Day beaches, I have always felt a feeling of calm and welcoming too.

I remember watching the sun come up over Omaha one clear Mid June morning, the beach being deserted and Myself, my partner and his freind just sitting in silence and drinking in the serene feeling of that moment. It was so odd that a place that had born witness to so much pain and suffering felt like it had forgiven history for that unspeakable moment in time.

I have to admit that, upon entering a graveyard I always acknowledge 'My Boys' and say good morning or afternoon etc.

AND .... I always excuse myself if I have to clamber over someones grave / headstone.

Perhaps I am just odd, but it something I have done since I was very, very small.

I agree that Langemark and also Vladslo have a somber feeling about them and also agree that this is more likely than not down to the Trees and the grey, grey headstones.

I am off to Ypres on the 7th of March 2003 for the night and am taking some chums for their first visit.

I think I might do some investimigating (in the best traditions of Homer J Simpson) and go sit quietly around the town and see what happens.

I am very interested in the whole psychic phenomena / rocks as recorders / general feelings recorded in this thread.

Not 100% sure that I believe in the supernatural but am open minded enough to not discount it having experienced feelings and visions on occassions that can't be explained.

Fleur

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Mark A

I have to admit to being a total skeptic where all this kind of phenomenon is concerned and with all due respect to everyone on this message board, in my humble opinion the battlefields of WW1 are an emotional place. People bring a lot of "baggage" with them (myself included) and they are as calm or as menacing as you think they are- it's all in the eye of the beholder.

However, I have one little story to relate. About ten or more years ago I used to visit the Somme quite a lot and stayed with Avril Williams as she was setting up her business out there. She told me of a relatively well known author writing a book about the pals battalions at Serre who went walking in the vicinity of Matthew/Mark/Luke and John copses. He was out very early in the morning around Nairne Street trench I think when he felt the hair on the back of his neck go up and he felt like he was being watched... and then a voice spoke very clearly into his ear "We're still here."... and he couldn't get out of the copse fast enough.

Anyway, it's a good story and once again, I feel it's quite bound up with the emotion of these places we all visit.

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David_Bluestein

Gentleman,

This may seem far-fetched but I assure every word is true. The story I will relate was experienced by someone close to me (nearly seventeen years ago), who had NO prior knowledge or interest in the Great War.

My friend was troubled for many months by graphic dreams and feelings attributed to a subject he had NO previous knowledge of. His descriptions of these dreams described a confused collage of trenches, train stations and poison gas. Each dream left him extremely shaken and very emotionally troubled. One in particular was very clear, he described in great detail “his” last moments as a British officer at a place called the Somme. His descriptions of rifles, equipment and his surroundings were VERY detailed and accurate. Little things he related (as a student of 20+ years of the Great War) I would never have known. “His” death, as described was one that was brutally graphic, and shocking to say the least. His parents startled by the commotion in his bedroom, attempted to wrestle him from his sleep. He subsequently broke his wrist in the melee with his father, believing he was in a death struggle for his life.

It was this event that prompted him to seek professional help. After a referral to a specialist, he was regressed by a doctor in a controlled environment. The session was tape-recorded. I have heard the tape, and have a transcript of the regression in my possession. His voice changed completely, he spoke using words and phrases that were very much out of the norm for my friend. His slow methodical descriptions of himself, and his surroundings were fascinating to say the least. The journey to his “death” was unbelievable. In brief summary: He was in command of an isolated post with a small group of men. They were in need of food, water and relief that were many days delayed. They came under a severe night attack, at which time the enemy gained entry into their position. He met his end at the point of a bayonet. His last words, which still send a chill through my spine, were: “…they are never going to find me”

I have been collecting Great War medals to casualties for over twenty years. My passion for collecting medals to these brave souls was very much influenced by this experience.

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Fleur

Blimey David!

That is a real spine tingler!

Your poor freind, fancy having such terrible dreams.

I take it that the regression ended the nightmares

Fleur

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Guest john craven

I wanted to go into Memetz wood, it was on my list of things I wanted to do.

But I could only stand an look from the Dragon, then drive off to my next item of interest.

Heard the story of Bulgles being played from within the wood from a first rate witness, and an even more sinister tale I dont want to put here.

Jonn Craven

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Martin B

I'm not given to bursts of vivid imagination and have visited the Western Front many times with only one experience of the type you ask about. In January 1998 I went to Monchy Le Preux to follow the attack of 8th Cavalry Brigade on April 11th 1917. The village appeared deserted (as many French villages often seem to be). It was cold and damp (which no doubt didn't help) and as I stood near the Church and read an account from a 37th Div Officer of the terrible effects of German artillery on both men and horses I suddenly felt very ill at ease indeed. Though it seems foolish to an extreme looking back I put my maps away and drove back to my hotel (in Ypres !) without any further stops. I'm normally the first to poo - poo 'ghosts and goolies' but if anywhere is haunted it's Monchy.

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Somme1916

I have had a long time interest in “true” ghost stories and strange happenings and have had a few long thinks about supernatural events as a result. Cut to the case, am I a believer? Yes and not because of what I’ve read but because of the things I have experienced. Mostly these occurred in the US and if anyone is interested in hearing about some of them please email me, as they do not pertain to the Great War.

I must say I really hadn’t given this much thought except an occasional comment to a friend or two that “you don’t hear much about the supernatural and WW1”. Now that I’ve read this I can think of a few moments that upon reflection seem a bit tingly.

Verdun: Of all the battlefields or historical places that I’ve visited in my 35 years Verdun is where I felt the most foreboding. Like many have expressed already it was as if the woods had eyes. I am not in a rush to go back.

I like others have had an experience pertaining to Mametz Wood. I’ve explored parts of these woods with a friends on several occasions and thought nothing of it. As a matter of fact until now I didn’t even give what happened when I took my kids in second thought.

It was a warm summer’s day and my kids and I were spending it exploring the Somme. We’d made a few stops but the day was still young and the kids were still fresh with the excitement of being on an explore with dad. As the day held a lot of promise I decided to do a quick trip into Mametz Woods and show them a bit of the trenches there. From the moment we entered the kids were all but stuck to my side and we hadn’t gotten more than 20 meters into the woods when my boy wanted to be carried. Now I didn’t think much of it, he was three and the undergrowth was a bit tall for his little legs, so I hoisted him onto my back and pushed on.

Very soon after this my daughter said she was ready to go. I coaxed her to keep going, as the trenches were neat to see and not too much further. Soon after this my son began to complain that he too wanted to go but we went on a few meters more. It was at this point my daughter began to beg for us to go and my son joined in. Out numbered and not wanting to face the continued barrage of complaints I relented and we headed out. Just as we reached the edge of the woods my son said, “I’m scared” I told him not to worry we were all but out. Once outside my daughter exclaimed “boy I’m glad that’s over” and we headed for the car. I didn’t think much of it just chalked it up to the kids being in a strange place. That is until tonight when I read this tread.

Another episode I’d like to relate happened to me while visiting the area around the village of Beaumont Hamel in late Aug 02. I was out alone traipsing around the Somme and I’d ventured back to the small and rarely visited cemeteries in the area behind the town. The day was beautiful, with scattered clouds filling a azure blue sky, the wheat was fully ripe and there was a nice breeze blowing causing it to rustle. As I sat on the wall of New Munich Trench Cemetery gazing out toward Thiepval and the Newfoundland Park. A feeling of pure peace and contentment filled me as if instead of being alone I was amongst friends. Whether influenced by those who’d gone before us or not it was as close to a perfect day as you could hope for.

With all that said does anyone know of any books in English that cover “true” WW1 ghost stories? I’d love to add some to my library.

Cheers,

Jon

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Guest t_morris

Twice this week I walked straight up to headstones that bore my name!! That is - I walked straight to them, without first looking at any other headstones. Once at Thiepval, at the rear right of the memorial(T Morris) and once at a cemetary near Pozieres (A Morris). Both times I had not looked up any names in the cemetary registers, nor had any previous knowledge of either soldier or cemetary. I am most definitely not a superstitious man, but sometimes you just have to wonder.

I haven't visited Mametz, but I did go into Trones and Bernafay woods, and must say I felt the atmsophere to be completely free of any unpleasant "vibes" in fact they seemed more welcoming than many with none of the history of these places.

Tony Morris

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Myrtle

Tony

I can not resist mentioning that if you are ever at Bois Des Angles British Cemetery you will no doubt come across the headstone E.T. Morris.

Myrtle

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Terry Carter

Last weekend I was with a party from Birmingham visiting the Somme. We parked the coach in the car park of the Delville Wood visitors centre. Some of the party walked around the wood and the South African museum. A few of us walked over to Delville Wood Cemetery.

We knew that a Birmingham VC was buried there (Sgt A Gill, 1st KRRC), but not whereabouts. We walked into the cemetery and I told a mate to look in the cemetery index to find where Sgt Gill was buried. However I sent him the wrong way towards the back end of the cemetery. Once I realised my mistake we stopped walking and I called him back.

Without knowing, we had stopped next to Sgt Gill's headstone. What a strange coincidence.

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Rodge Dowson

Most recently I have been told of some very strange occurances in the area surrounding Grand Ravine Cemetery, Havrincourt does this strike a note with anyone?

Thanks

Rodge

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ianw

Archivist,

Appreciate that you are trying to prompt a response uncoloured by the info you have but we all love a good spooky story- pinches of salt not withstanding - so what may be happening at Havrincourt ?

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uncle bill

Being a relative newcomer I missed this thread. I've been in a fair few Somme woods and have never felt anything particular. Two weeks ago, however, I went into the fringes of Authuille Wood and clambered along a bramble covered trench line. I felt something in there that I can't put my finger on but I just had to get out, I felt very unwelcome.

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ianw

Interesting that another wood features in the last post. I suppose these are naturally claustrophobic places and additionally they stand outside the open areas of land we visit , in that they are often uncleared and still obviously raw and scarred.

Certainly special places and perhaps they hold an essence of the Great War that is just too rich for some of us with knowledge of the events which took place in them.

Mametz gives me chills but is it the wood or the result of reading "Up to Mametz" and other writings about it ? My rationalist side says the latter - but then who really knows !

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Rodge Dowson

Two seperate people on two different occasions have seen something representing an image of a figure, there is a lot of detail in one account, I can't say too much as I have agreed to keep things confidential for the time being. There has also been more tangible evidence linking to an image seen of what seems to be a soldier wearing a gas mask round his neck. I will update when I get the go ahead from the sources involved. I really do not want to give more away as I would hope to get other independent reports to reference against without providing all the information that may predudice or comprimise these accounts.

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Peter Beckett

Rodge,

about 5 years ago I visited Anzac Cove, Greens Gully, Shrapnel Gulley and Lone Pine with my wife Sandra and the day was hot (35 C) clear and we both felt something about the place that we felt but could define except as a funny feeling but not sure if a WW1 feeling as both of us had no-one who was there but we also know that people have been fighting and dying on that piece of land at least since 400 BC

Peter

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Guest lesley

In the most recent copy of Stand To there is a story entitled "a strange happening in France" in which a reluctant partner visits a cemetery and finds details of a relative she never new existed!

A lovely story.

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Dragon

I wondered whether anyone has investigated or written about local people's views on this theme? For example, has anyone recorded local people's accounts and experiences?

Gwyn

Edited by Dragon

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ianw

Gwyn,

I was most interested to read your posting about your photos at Gommecourt.

I am sure I am not alone in being fascinated by the what these photos might show.

I hope I am rational too but would be very interested in seeing them. The thousands of hits on this string over the months illustrate the massive interest in this subject.

Similarly Archivists's intriguing comments about Havrincourt demand we are eventually told more !

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