(Reprinted from the “Sunderland Echo” August 16th. 1915), with additions.

 

Our Gracious Queen Mary expresses great interest in the incidents referred to in this article. The Editor received Her Majesty’s sincere thanks for sending her the account of his investigation. A letter from Windsor Castle (Sept. 3rd), closes with the words, “The Queen has read your sketch with much interest.”

***

At the Detention Hospital (All Saints’ Parish Hall), Fulwell Road, on a recent Sunday after his church service, the Rev. A. A. Boddy held an open-air meeting, assisted by members of his congregation. Sick soldiers able to sit or stand took part in the service, which also attracted a large number of those passing by.

The speaker said that during the two months that he had been attached to the British Expeditionary Force (being authorised by Headquarters as a worker among the troops) he had had opportunities of investigating the story of the vision at Mons. The evidence, though not always direct, was remarkably cumulative, and came along channels which bore a stamp of veracity. Supernatural angel forms had, he believed, been seen. There may have been more than one vision, or the vision may have contained more than one incident, or again, from different points of view, may be described differently. He was reminded of one of the prophecies that towards a great earth’s crisis which many believed to be impending “great signs shall there be from Heaven” (Luke xxi., 11). Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts ii., 17-19) quotes Joel’s prophecy which speaks of the time when “Your young men shall see Visions,” and that among the events which should precede “the great and notable day of the Lord” was the following: The Lord says, “I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke.

SHAPES IN THE SKY.

Several newspapers had derided the angel vision, but one leading paper had suddenly come round to accept the honest story of a Corporal in one of our hospitals. It was on or about August 28th, a hot night, between eight and nine, that he saw in the sky something which had startled his officer and others. Three shapes, one in the centre having what looked like outspread wings, “I shall never forget as long as I live,” he said. Only five men in my battalion are now alive. I lie awake in bed and picture it. These forms seemed above the German line facing him.

The “Daily Mail” of Aug. 13th says:-- Lance-Corporal----, who is forbidden to give his name and is at present in hospital waiting to undergo an operation, told a “Daily Mail” representative yesterday the following with regard to the Angels of Mons.

“I was with my battalion in the retreat from Mons on or about August 28th. The German cavalry were expected to make a charge, and we were waiting to fire and scatter them so as to enable the French cavalry which were on our right to make a dash forward. However, the German aeroplanes discovered our position, and we remained where we were.

“The weather was very hot and clear, and between eight and nine o’clock in the evening I was standing with a party of nine other men on duty, and some distance on either side there were parties of ten on guard. Immediately behind us half of my battalion was on the edge of a wood resting. An officer suddenly came up to us in a state of great anxiety and asked us if we had seen anything startling. He hurried away from my ten to the next party of ten. When he had got out of sight, I, who was the non-commissioned officer in charge, ordered two men to go forward out of the way of the trees in order to find out what the officer meant. The two men returned reporting that they could see no sign of any Germans. At that time we thought that the officer must be expecting a surprise attack.

A STRANGE LIGHT.

“Immediately afterwards the officer came back, and taking me and some others a few yards away showed us the sky. I could see quite plainly in mid-air a strange light which seemed to be quite distinctly outlined and was not a reflection of the moon, nor were there any clouds in the neighbourhood. The light became brighter and I could see quite distinctly three shapes, one in the centre having what looked like outspread wings. The other two were not so large, but were quite plainly distinct from the centre one. They appeared to have a long, loose, hanging garment of a golden tint, and they were about the German line facing us.

“We stood watching them for about three-quarters of an hour. All the men with me saw them, and other men came up from other groups, who also told us that they had seen the same thing. I am not a believer in such things, but I have not the slightest-doubt that we really did see what I now tell you.

“WHEN WE WERE DOG-TIRED.”

“I remember the day because it was a day of terrible anxiety for us. That morning the Munsters had a bad time on our right and so had the Scots Guards.

“We  managed to get to the wood, and there we barricaded the roads and remained in the formation I have told you. Later on the Uhlans attacked us and we drove them back with heavy loss. It was after this engagement, when we were dog-tired, that the vision appeared to us

“I shall never forget it as long as I live. I lie awake in bed and picture it all as I saw it that night. Of my battalion there are now only five men alive besides myself, and I have no hope of ever getting back to the front. I have a record of fifteen years’ good service, and I should be very sorry to make a fool of myself by telling a story merely to please anyone.”

NURSE’S STATEMENT.

The circumstances under which this story reached the notice of “The Daily Mail” are important. Miss C. M. Wilson, the lady superintendent of the hospital at which the lance-corporal now is, was surprised on Friday last when in conversation he told her that he was going over again in his mind what happened during the great retreat.

“I have known him for some time in hospital, and he is not at all imaginative or highly strung. He is a decent, plain-speaking fellow, and a married man with a family. So satisfied am I of the value of his story to those who are discussing the vision of the Angels, that I wish his words to be made public just as they were uttered without the slightest idea that he was dealing with a topic which now excites newspaper discussion. I am certain that he never thought of making a statement to the newspapers, and I am personally convinced that the vision was actually seen by this man.”

Mr. Boddy went on to give three items from his experiences in working among the troops in France. Some soldiers from the trenches were making tidy the graves of their comrades when he entered into conversation with them. One of the 3rd Canadians (whose name and number were given to the speaker) said that after the second battle of Ypres, when their battalion was retiring through the communication trenches towards their rest camp, they passed in the trenches a West Riding regiment, probably the 1st or 2nd Battalion. They had to stand for some time, and one of the West Riding men was telling those near him that he had seen on some occasion a very wonderful sight in the air. It seemed at first to be like a ball of fire. Then it took the form of an angel with outstretched wings, between the British first line and that of the enemy. “We were standing,” continued the rev. speaker, “near the graves of some 1,700 to 1,800 of our departed heroes, and this Canadian soldier, who was recovering from wounds, said ‘Why shouldn’t these things happen to-day? I believe we are better now than in Old Testament times, when they often saw the angels. There’s more reason for them appearing now.’”

SOMETHING SUPERNATURAL.

The speaker (A. A. B.) then said: “I will tell you of another soldier-friend of the 1st Battalion West Riding Regiment (I have his name and number). He was in the awful retreat from Mons, and what he told me happened, he believed, on the second day of the retreat. “We were hard pressed,” he said, “and were making for a ruined barn or something of that kind when I heard a comrade in the ranks speaking excitedly. I didn’t know him, and I didn’t hear all details, as we soon were separated. But this man couldn’t get away from one thing—it was that he had seen in the sky something quite ‘above nature,’ something supernatural. His manner and tone and reiterance impressed my informant so much that he could never forget it. This private of the 1st West Ridings was one of the reduced remnant of the first British Expeditionary Force. He had been wounded, and was convalescent when I had this talk with him in one of the huts of a great camp in France. This is a little bit of confirmatory evidence, though indirect.”

FURTHER CONFIRMATION.

He then went on to tell of a third opportunity he had had of receiving confirmation of the Mons vision. He knew his lady informant as one of undoubted integrity, a worker among our soldiers at an important base. She was a Scottish lady of very good position. The brother of a lady friend of hers had given up his home to convalescent soldiers, and in the brother’s rest-home her friend (who spoke afterwards to her about it) heard from the lips of a survivor of the retreat from Mons this story: He saw at a critical moment an angel with outstretched wings –like a luminous cloud between the advancing Germans and themselves. The Germans could not advance to destroy them. This lady (her name and address were given by the Scottish friend to the speaker) was subsequently speaking of this incident in the presence of some officers, and was rather incredulous. A colonel looked up and said, “Young lady, the thing happened. You need not be incredulous, I saw it myself.”

***

The Editor of “Confidence” has no doubt that angel forms are being seen on the Battlefield.

At such a time the spiritual eyes of many are opened to see what we are ordinarily quite blind to. (See the letter on page 165)

Why is it so difficult to obtain first-hand evidence of the appearance of the angels at Mons? The reasons are at least two-fold:

1st—Military Reasons. Most men and officers shrink somewhat from allowing their names, rank, etc.. to appear in print in such a connection. (The Writer would be thankful to any soldier or officer who can bear first-hand testimony to the Vision if he would write a line to him.—Rev. A. A. Boddy, All Saint’s Vicarage, Sunderland.)

2nd—Reasons of Reverence. Those who have had so awe-inspiring an experience often shrink from exposing their inmost feelings to the criticisms of an unbelieving public in a secular paper. But their evidence is needed just now.

***

FURTHER CONFIRMATION.

A Red Cross Nursing Sister writes:--

August 22nd, 1915

To the Rev. A. A. Boddy.

Dear Sir,

Having read your letter in to-day’s “Observer” I thought you might like to hear that several wounded soldiers, whom I have nursed recently in a Red Cross Hospital, told me that they had seen the angels at Mons.

One of them who had been out at the front from the very beginning of the War told me that he had seen three angels when he was on sentry duty, and that he had called his officer and several men of his company to the apparition, and they all saw it also. Another soldier who was in the same ward at that time said he had also seen them.

All the men who spoke of this matter to me were steady and reliable, and I never doubted their word for a moment.

I must ask you to treat this letter as strictly confidential, and I must beg you not to give my name or address to anyone desiring information.

Believe me,

Yours sincerely,

(Sister)----------------------

Miss Mary Elliott, writing from Surrey, says:--“One of my sisters when visiting some of the wounded soldiers at Eastbourne last June, was told by one of them that he saw the Vision plainly, and he will never forget it.”

***

ANOTHER TESTIMONY.

The Editor of “Confidence” had for some time in his possession a letter written by a wounded soldier, then in a Glasgow Hospital. In it he says:--

“We were lying at Ypres with the ‘Camerons,’ and one night I happened to hear one of the chaps talking of the retreat from Mons. He said that only for one thing the left wing of the British forces would have been smashed up. The wing in question was being pursued by German cavalry, and things were looking their blackest when a strange vision appeared in the form of a host of angels. He said that for a time no description of the scene was possible, as the Germans’ horses, in a mass of confusion, were rushing hither and thither in their terror. Meanwhile the British officers took advantage of the situation and commenced at once making earthworks and breastworks, thus enabling them to hold the ground till reinforcements arrived.” [This letter was written to Bro. A. Blackburn, I, Ada Street, Keighley, Yorkshire, who will give the man’s address, etc.]

DIRECT TESTIMONY FROM BLACKHEATH.

Mrs. Annie L. Daw writes:--

The following account I had first-hand from a wounded sergeant. I saw him at Hampstead in June resting on a bench, and I asked him if he had been at the Front, and give as nearly as I can his own words:--

“I was through the Boer and Egyptian wars and came through unhurt, but they had me this time. I was in France from August last year, where I lost a leg and had my right arm shattered” (it was bandaged and he was out-patient at a hospital). I asked him, Could he tell me anything of the vision I had heard of? “Yes, madam,” he replied, “I saw it myself. We were all praying. No one out there would have thought of missing prayer night and morning…When the Germans advanced it seemed to us as if the heavens opened, and in a blaze of light we saw hosts of angels. I saw some with trumpets to their lips. If you had been there you would have seen all our men gazing at the sky. We felt God had sent to help us.” I said, “What of the Germans?” He replied, “We saw them shrink back, drop their rifles, fall on the ground, and cover their faces. I saw this with my own eyes. They could not advance, and we were saved.”

The young man was well educated and was most certainly an earnest Christian. I only regret an interruption in our conversation prevented my getting his name and address.

A FLAMING SWORD.

Going on to a friend living near and telling her this story, she said: “My nephew (an officer), forty years old, was home on fifty-six hours’ leave last week. Seeing him, I asked him how it was the Germans did not push through at Mons. He is a very reserved, silent man, and merely said, ‘They could not, because of the flaming sword.” She heard a nurse ask a wounded German officer the same question, and his reply was: “An angel with a flaming sword stood barring our way.”**

Mrs. Daw has since written to A. A. B. confirming this account. The conversation had, unfortunately, been interrupted by a woman who wished to ask the Sergeant about allowances. She regrets greatly she did not get his name and regiment.

***

We have now referred to the following who saw angels during the retreat:--

  1. The Corporal in hospital, verified by Nurse, Miss C. M. Wilson, as reported in the “Daily Mail,” August 13th, 1915.
  1. The statement of the Private of the West Riding Regiment (Ypres). Verified in France to A. A. B., by Private D. E. Giles (9217), of the 3rd Canadian Regiment.
  1. Evidence given in France to A. A. B. by Pte. C. H. Owen (10704), 1st Batt., West Ridings, as to hearing of something supernatural in the sky (second day of retreat).
  1. Evidence of Nursing Sister------------------, written to A. A. B., as to three men in Red Cross Hospital. (Name and address not to be passed on.)
  1. The statement of the Scottish lady Worker, made in France, to A. A. B. (name and address not to be passed on).
  1. Evidence of Private G. Hamilton (2196), 9th Argyle and Sutherland, as to the story told by one of the Camerons (at Ypres).
  1. Statement of Miss M. Elliott, Payne’s Hill, Cranleigh, Surrey, as to soldier at Eastbourne. (Written to A. A. B.)
  1. Evidence of Mrs. Annie L. Daw, 22, Wemyss Road, Blackheath, as to statement of a Sergeant.

***

Thus we have Evidence by a Colonel, a Sergeant, a Lance-Corporal, and at least eight Privates in various Regiments. We surely may believe in the face of so much testimony, even though it is not always direct, that something very wonderful was seen in that retreat from Mons. We believe that God’s angels were indeed visible to some whose eyes were opened.

 

*The Editor of “Confidence” does not print a well-known version of the “Mons Angels” here, because one whose name (M.) appeared as verifying it has since written to the “Church of Ireland Gazette” to say it was a mistake to use her name at all, as neither she nor her friends knew or met the officers who are there said to have seen the angels at Mons. Nor does he quote the statement of Private Cleaver, who did not go to the front until a later date.

 

**From “The Record” (Sept. 2nd. 1915).

 

From: Confidence, Vol. VIII, No. 9, September 1915, pag. 165-168, Sunderland, England

 

 

 

Mdle. Helene Biolley, of the Ruban Bleu, Le Havre, is a well-known Christian worker who is in the Pentecostal Blessing. She wrote a few days ago to us, and in her letter were words to this effect:--“ I know a Miss Gay of the Y.W.C.A., who was in Berlin in August-September, 1914. She told me that Uhlans having been censured for not taking prisoners the English at Mons, gave a strange explanation. Their horses had suddenly and strangely refused to go forward. They swerved aside and fled, and no tugging at the bridles could stop them.” (They saw something which was invisible to their riders.) Miss Gay saw and heard these Uhlans. It is certain that something supernatural made them flee. “Is it not a proof that, had we all been real children of God, the enemies would have dispersed by supernatural divine power?”

 

From: Angels of Mons – Soldier’s Testimony at a Preston Church.

 

Confidence, Vol. IX, No. 3, March 1916, pag. 48, Sunderland, England

 

 

 

MlSS FLORENCE JAY’S STORY OF A UHLAN OFFICER.

 

The Editor of “Confidence” was three times in France during the War, and always was ready to take down any evidence bearing on the subject of the Angels at Mons. Passing through Havre he had a few hours at night before sailing for England. He visited his dear old friend, Mdle. Biollet, who has the successful and well-patronised French restaurant, “Au Ruban Bleu.” Whilst partaking of some supper in the company of a crowd of French folk, he was told that one of the company would be willing to guide him, late as it was, to the hostel kept by Miss Florence Jay in the Rue Fontenelle. This was the account he wrote:--

“Through the wet, dark streets, then up four flights of stone steps, and we rang the bell and were shown in and introduced to Miss Florence Jay.

“‘I understand, Miss Jay,’ I said, ‘you were living in Berlin when the war broke out, and for a month or two after? You had many friends among the German officers, including one Lieutenant Pretorius, of the Uhlans?‘

‘‘’ Yes,’ she replied, ‘I had a hostel for English ladies in Berlin. I think I know what you want. I met him, I think, in the early days of September, 1914. ‘Lieutenant Pretorius,’ I said, ‘whatever are you doing here? I thought that you were fighting my countrymen in Belgium?’

‘“Well, Miss Jay,’ he rejoined, ‘I am in disgrace. I have been sent home by a military Court of Inquiry concerning something which happened to my squadron at Mons. We charged your people, but when our horses reached a certain point they always stampeded, swerved, and turned back, though we spurred and hit them. We were charging full on the British, and we were suddenly stopped. It was almost like going full speed and being pulled up sharp at a precipice, but there was no precipice there--nothing at all, only our horses swerved round and fled, and we could do nothing. I thought it was some kind of magic or devilry on the part of your soldiers.’”

It was not devilry, but, we believe, Angel helpers who defended these “Contemptibles” in their hour of danger.

 

From: On the Side of the Angels.

 

Confidence, Vol. XII, No. 2, April-June 1919, pag. 22, Sunderland, England

 

 

 

Index