Ghostly Tales from Ghostly Wars.
December 23, 2013
Nicole Broadbent Nelson had called the meeting of her book club, The Page-Turners and More, to order. She was a shy woman and a little uncomfortable. “Thirty years ago this week, some of our mothers sat in this very room, which I inherited,” she gave a little laugh, “and discussed the tales of The Bowmen, or Angels of Mons. Last month we read that story again. Shortly after our meeting, I got a call from one of our members telling me of similar stories she had run across. I said, ‘This is great. Why don’t you contact some of our other members and each of you pick a favorite of these stories to report on at our next meeting? I will fix the food.’ We agreed that this was fair and would not be too much work on any one member.”
Four women there were daughters of the original group, The Page-Turners. They had added four newer members.
Nicole continued: “The Bowmen were otherworldly archers that intervened in the Battle of Mons, as you remember. Who wants to go first with the new stories?”
Lindy Brown Turner raised her hand. “I’ll go. I decided to just read my story if you don’t mind. It is about the Ghosts of Cadbury Hill.” After a short period of excited mumbling from the group, Lindy proceeded. “Cadbury Hill is in the west country of England and is the home of an overgrown castle, Cadbury Castle. In the 1930s, a woman who wished her identity to never be known, a very respectable school teacher, was driving near Cadbury Hill at night. She and her companion saw lights parading down from the hill. They slowed the vehicle for a better view. They discovered that the lights were lit torches fastened to lances, and the ghostly bearers of the torches were on ghostly horses. They seemed to be warriors from ancient times, and they were led by a larger ghostly warrior, also on horseback. When these warriors had ridden to the base of the hill, they vanished into thin air. Somerset County of England is known for its fairies and phantoms. Legend has it that King Arthur rests with his soldiers at Cadbury Hill, waiting for England to request his services once again. Archaeologists agree that the old fortress could have housed a chieftain in the sixth century—the time of Arthur’s skirmishes with the Saxons.”
There was a ripple of “oohs and “aahs” throughout the small assembly, then, Holly Fegley Ferguson began her story. “This event occurred in England, also—Edgehill. There was a civil war between the forces of Charles I and the forces of Robert Devereaux, a Parliamentarian in the 1640s. The skirmishes often ended in stalemates, with both sides retreating after loud and clamorous fighting. Rolling, booming drumbeats ushered in their noisy battles. Two months after the last battle there, people traveling through the area also heard loud drumbeats. They then saw the soldiers in the air above the battlefield. The army on one side carried the king’s flag. The army on the other side carried the flag of Parliament. The sound of the drums, the clattering of the swords and weapons, the cries of the soldiers and the visions of armies continued until three in the morning. Disbelieving authorities came the following night and witnessed and heard the same battle of ethereals in the air. King Charles I sent officers to Edgehill to put a stop to the rumors of the aerial battles. His own officers saw the ghostly soldiers and some even recognized personal friends among them, who had been killed. These witnesses signed sworn documents.
Again, a ripple of “oohs” and “aahs.”
“The next bizarre event,” stated Holly Holman, “involved the Soldier of Gallipoli—a phantom. Leon Weeks, an archaeologist from America, came to the Gallipoli Peninsula of Turkey and set up a camp in a remote area in the early 1950s. His goal? To find artifacts of the Allied Campaign of 1915-16. As Weeks was having a coffee and cigarette one night, he squinted to see a man clambering down a rocky hill, leading a donkey. Slung over the back of the donkey was a limp human form. Weeks tried to catch up to them—it was too rocky—and they disappeared. He saw them again the next night and got close enough to see that the man leading the donkey was in uniform, and he also saw the highly polished boots of the body slung across the donkey. Their visits appeared nightly, until Weeks had to leave the area. In the late 1960s, Weeks caught sight of a stamp in a friends stamp collection. It depicted the ghostly visitors he had seen in Gallipoli: English private John Simpson Kirkpatrick was a stretcher-bearer during the Gallipoli Campaign. He and his donkey had saved hundreds of soldiers until he was killed himself. He was buried there, among the rocks.”
“A car accident contributed to another story.” Judy Pritchett Anderson started her bizarre tale. “Miss E. F. Smith ran her car in the ditch at night near Letham, Scotland. It was two a. m. on January 2, 1950. She had no choice but to get out and walk, taking her little dog with her. She noticed the dog getting very agitated, barking, as she came upon an incredible scene. Ghostly human figures carrying torches walked in circles in a field. They seemed to walk up to an imaginary line and go no further, like they had encountered an invisible wall. The Society for Psychical Research in investigated her story thoroughly, when they got wind of it. They learned that a loch had once been right at the space where the invisible barrier had been. The loch had disappeared with time. The Society speculated that Miss Smith may have seen a replay of the Picts retrieving their dead and wounded from the banks of the loch after the battle they won over the Northumbrians, 685 A.D. The figures Miss Smith described were dressed in tights and short tunics.
When the women were through “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing,” they looked about for Nicole Broadbent Nelson to give the signal to go to the refreshment table.
One of the newest members, Christine Clotworthy, raised her hand. “How about one more?” She asked as the women turned toward her. No one had been expecting another story. This was a kind of ad lib, but it was the kind of ad lib they relished. “I will keep it short.” Christine noticed that some of the members were beginning to look like ravenous wolves. It was difficult not to laugh. “This one came right off of the wires of Reuters when it happened. There is an antiaircraft gun rusting away on a beach at Hollandia on the northern coast of New Guinea. It is a relic of the Allied invasion of 1944 and was used by the Japanese to fend off attacks. In 1956, the island natives contacted members of the Japanese War Graves Commission demanding an exorcism. They wanted the antiaircraft gun exorcised, by Buddhist priests, if possible. It seems that every night at midnight weary, ghostly Japanese soldiers in brownish, oxidizing helmets arose and manned the gun. After the war there were many tales, some investigated by the BBC, of spectral patrols and haunted buildings in Corregidor, Malaysia and other areas that were battlegrounds for grim warfare.”
After one more round of “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing” the members of The Page-Turners and More headed for the refreshment table—food for thoughts and food for thinking them.
Please click the book cover image to read more about Sara Marie Hogg and her novels.