Interesting Article re the Battle of Mons and the Angel

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Re: Interesting Article re the Battle of Mons and the Angel

Post by zerdini on Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:11 am

In November 2006 "Two Worlds" published the following article:

The Angels of Mons are supposedly a group of angels who protected members of the British army in the Battle of Mons at the outset of World War I. They are now generally believed to have been fictitious and developed through a combination of a patriotic short story by Arthur Machen, a London journalist, rumours and urban legend, some actual visions seen after the battle and also possibly deliberately seeded propaganda.

On August 22-23 1914, the first major engagement of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War occurred at the Battle of Mons. Advancing German forces were thrown back by heavily outnumbered British troops, who also suffering casualties and being outflanked were forced into rapid retreat the next day.

On April 24, 1915, an account was published in the British Spiritualist magazine telling of visions of a supernatural force that miraculously intervened to help the British at the decisive moment of the battle. This rapidly resulted in a flurry of similar accounts and the spread of wild rumours. Descriptions of this force varied from it being medieval longbow men alongside Saint George, to a strange luminous cloud, though eventually the most popular version came to be angelic warriors. Similar tales of such battlefield visions occurred in medieval and ancient warfare. However there are strong similarities between many of these accounts and Arthur Machen's short story The Bowmen first published six months earlier on September 29, 1914 in the London newspaper, the Evening News.

Machen was a journalist on the paper and although he was a well known author of supernatural stories there was no indication that Machen's story was fiction when it was originally published, and as it was written from a first hand perspective it was a kind of ‘false document’ a technique Machen knew well. The story described bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt summoned by a soldier calling on Saint George, destroying a German host. The unintended result was that Machen had a number of requests to provide evidence for his sources quite soon after publication, to which he responded it was completely imaginary, as he had no desire to create a hoax.

It was not until May 1915 that a full blown controversy was erupting with the angels being used of proof of the action of divine providence on the side of the Allies in sermons across Britain. Machen, bemused by all this attempted to end the rumours by republishing the story in August in book form with a long preface stating the rumours were false and originated in his story. It became a bestseller and merely resulted in a vast series of other publications claiming to provide evidence proving the Angels existence.

However, all these reports confirming sightings of supernatural activity were at best second-hand and some of them even quoted soldiers who were not at Mons. A careful investigation by the Society for Psychical Research in 1915 said of the first-hand testimony, "we have received none at all, and of testimony at second-hand we have none that would justify us in assuming the occurrence of any supernormal phenomenon." The SPR went on to say the stories relating to battlefield "visions" which circulated during the spring and summer of 1915, "prove on investigation to be founded on mere rumour, and cannot be traced to any authoritative source."

Friedrich Herzenwirth, a director of the German espionage system, published his memoirs in February, 1930, and writes that the Angels of Mons were motion pictures, projected by German flyers on the clouds to make the English troops believe that even God was on the German side.

Note by Zerdini:
Gordon Higginson's mother called her child, Gordon Mons Higginson. He was born in November 1918.

zerdini


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Re: Interesting Article re the Battle of Mons and the Angel

Post by Admin on Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:47 pm

Thanks Z and therefore one of the earlest urban myths because so many have, over time, come to accept it as reality.
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