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Remembered Today:

Strange Occurrences on the Western Front


Rodge Dowson
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I've felt that strange feeling of being surrounded by ? at Verdun a few times. I got lost in the woods there once, and it was not a pleasant experience.

The entire battlefield of Verdun has that feel for me--that feeling that unquite souls are about.

Paul

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I stayed at Talbot House in Pop about 7 years ago. I live in Denbigh. I was based with a friend at Talbot House for a week , using it to go to the Denbigh graves in Belgium & the Somme. There is a chapel at the top of the House , reachable via a ladder. I hate heights & I hate ladders more. On the day before I was due to leave , something compelled me to take my life in my hands and climb the ladder. No one told me to go up , or said I was missing out or told me what was up there. I simply felt I had to go up. I reached the top of the ladder and infront of me was a plaque of about 60 names. Of those sixty names , two were from Denbigh. J.Penri Roberts & H.C.Hughes. Whatever made me go up there , I do not know , but seeing those two names had a bit effect on me and I believe it was they that convinced me to go up and visit them in the chapel. Of all the Tommies that passed through Toc H , and of the sixty nor so names on the plaque , two were of men I was interested in.

Spooky.

Peter Glynn (Denbigh)

Edited by Glynnpeters
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A group of us were staying at Avril William's Guesthouse in Auchonvillers and after our evening meal we decided to walk to Newfoundland Memorial Park.

I attended my first and only trip to date last year and we visited this site for a tea break.During the break Avril took a party of us into the cellar to show where the casulaty first aid had been done so close to the line with many remanants such as odd bits of shrapnel excavated and she commented that it had previously been used as a jail in 1915 with at least one of the'tenants' executed for cowardice. I asked her if anything odd had happened and she said that the previous week she had went downstairs early and was sure she had seen a young man in a greatcoat appear at the door before going away outside but nobody was outside when she checked. She claimed not to be the type easily spooked (and came across very much that way) and clearly believed some soul had returned before departing again from that cellar. The possibility of jesting with visitors must surely be recognised but it certainly made me think.

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Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding wrote about this sort of thing in his book "Many Mansions".

High Wood was never thoroughly cleared of bodies and debris after the war. A conservative estimate suggests that it holds the remains of some 8000 German and British soldiers who were killed in action there. Even today there are parts of the wood which contain live ammunition and it is there that it would be quite unsafe to walk.
The same applies to Mametz and other woods perhaps?

"We're still here" indeed, and perhaps not resting so peacefully.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My Late Father was a Korean Veteran and spent 12 years in the Military and was a Very tough "Old Sweat",however He would refuse point Blank to enter Mametz Wood or even to linger near Flat Iron Copse..i knew that he was a Tad Psychic,but he felt very very uneasy in this Area often commenting on the sense of Death and Foreboding in this Area,he would often comment on the apparent lack of Wildlife in the Area.Not even the promise of a Night free Ale at the Calypso at Longueval could Induce Him to enter the Wood.He also did not feel "Right" at the Big French Cemetery at Rancourt.

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Thanks for the site Details James,very helpful indeed,if you ever go to Mont Kemmel let me know and i will regale you with a few glasses of their very best !!!!!!!..and will show you the German Ammo Dump.

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I once read that in World War one, Hitler was asleep in a foxhole and dreamt that he was in great danger. He woke up, jumped out of the foxhole he was in and turned around to see (I think) four soldiers he was just sharing the foxhole with, get blown away by a shell.

- Chris

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Many years ago I took my parents to Verdun and had to leave after a while as she couldn't stand the atmosphere. And we were not in the woods, just in the museum and around.

I have been to Verdun many times, but I wouldn't want to do too much exploration by myself on the main hill there. On the other hand, I am regularly ploughing around the trenches of Bois le Prêtre by myself without feeling anything. However, on two occasions films of the trenches in the Bois have disappeared from my camera bag, so perhaps there is a ghostly pickpocket about.

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OK, so I’m going to be a complete sceptic here.

I’ve been to Ypres/Somme area a few times now, and felt absolutely nothing. I’ve been in woods (High Wood), deserted villages (Beaumont Hamel), Newfoundland Park, Thiepval, Vimy, countless cemeteries, all over in fact, and I have to admit I have actually felt disappointed that I haven’t felt anything – not a sense of euphoric well-being nor one of dread, no voices, no visions…

Going into those concrete dugouts by Ypres Canal (of John McCrae fame), used to shelter the wounded, I walked into some scaffolding the locals had stored there and hurt my leg quite badly. I thought to myself that it was a bit ironic that I should be feeling pain somewhere where so many people had done so before, and hoped/wished? that may be I’d feel/sense/see/hear something ‘otherworldly’ as a result. And do you know what I experienced? Absolutely nothing – other that a sore leg. I even took a photo as I left, and do you know what was in the picture when I got it developed? The inside of a concrete dugout with scaffolding in!

Only once have I felt a feeling of dread and of being watched by a malignant presence in a wood, my girlfriend felt it too and we left in a hurry. The thought of it still gives me the creeps. And that was in a wood a few miles from Canterbury. I’ve also felt that sense of timeless well-being people describe, and being in the presence of some friendly force – but then haven’t we all on some late summer afternoon with a few good beers inside us.

It’s not that I don’t want to believe, it’s just that I think I have to agree with what someone earlier in this discussion said – we take out baggage with us, and coincidences happen. We’re desperate to ‘feel’ something, so we ‘feel’ it. There’s also a more spiritual question here. If the ghosts/spirits/energy, call it what you will, of the people who were killed there are still there, what does that say about any God/afterlife that has condemned these people to live out the horror of their deaths over and over again for the last 90 years? And if it is this ‘stone tape’ theory, then every inch of Europe has had some battle fought on it at some point – we’d never get a wink of sleep!

Saying all this though, I have heard things I can’t explain in my old room at college – once used as offices for the Air Ministry during WW2 – I put the story on another thread for what it’s worth.

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I'm neither a sceptic nor a believer. It could be down to individual sensitivity to such things which is why some have experiences and others don't. All I can say is that I have never had any supernatural experiences on the Western Front or anywhere else for that matter.

However........

I used to have Shetland Sheepdogs. Those little creatures need a lot of exercise and used to get at least two good 'rabbity' walks a day. One day I took them out as normal; the pair of them were doing their usual trick of running backwards and forwards both exploring ahead and 'rounding me up' at the same time. Suddenly I found myself in front of them and looking round I saw that they had both stopped and, as far as I could tell, were both looking straight into space at a point about 5 yards in front of me. They were not looking into the distance and when I say 'stopped' I mean they were rigid - and the guard hairs on their backs were standing up. Totally focussed. Wary, but not intimidated. They held that stance for perhaps 5 seconds or so and then, just as abruptly, resumed their previous behaviour. It never happened again and in over 35 years of having dogs I have never come across such behaviour on any other occasion.

I neither saw nor sensed anything, but those dogs did - no two ways about it. I love to know just what it was that they could see in front of me that I couldn't.

Andy.

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I have 2 stories, not connected with WW1, but here goes........

In my younger days I used to ride a mo'bike. One Friday when going to my mum and dads for the weekend there had been a heavy snowfall. The path up to my mum and dads house was very steep and due to the heavy snow I couldnt ride up it. So I got off the bike and put her in first and slipped the clutch and sort of pushed her up the slope. As I neared the top of the slope, the bloke who lived in the house opposite, came out of his door and down his path and straight past me, without even speaking. Anyway, I got the bike in the shed and went about things. Later that evening when my mum got home and we were having tea. I said something like 'old so and so is a miserable old ******, didnt even speak to me today'.............my mums reply was, 'well he would be, he died last night'.

The second story relates to last year when we were living at RAF Uxbridge, one night I was walking my Labrador past the entrance to the 11 Group Bunker, a route we had walked countless times both before and after the incident. The night in question we walked past the entrance when the dog walked to the entrance and suddenly went down on its haunches and started wimpering, and growling at the entrance. I could see nothing there, but the dog was clearly 'engaging something' and was not impressed. I could not call (a very well trained dog) away, and had to put him on the lead and drag him away About a week later I mentioned this to the curator who told me a story of a WAAF who had been accidently shot in the entrance during WW2 and died as a result.

Just thought you might like to know...........

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Few funny ones this week ...

My partner didnt like Trones Wood etc (as you wouldnt) but driving past high Wood she was overwhelmed with nausea which didnt pass for almost 2 hours. Went very quiet, bless her ...

Trones Wood itself was completely & utterly devoid of birdsong too - not one single peep from the fluffy ones (I was listening intently). Made it even more atmospheric by the fact that thick fog engulfed the area as we drove up to it. Fansastic!!

Were looking around the 1st July jump off lines near Ocean Villas (the sunken road that they tunnelled into) late afternoon & all of the group saw three murky grey figures standing on the edge of a field, kind of moving around as if trying to keep warm. Very distinctive shapes indeed. Kept my eyes on the tree line etc as we moved to explore & there wasnt anyone there!

It all adds to the flavour I think!!

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I went to Gwalia and met my great uncle, Percy Lilly, he keeps me there. despite the fact he died in 1917, I felt him without a doubt!! He made his presence known, through the farmer who lives there now, thats why i go!!

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  • 5 months later...

Hi to all,

My name is Mark and have only just found this thread on strange occurances on The Western Front,which i have read with much interest,especially the bit about the strange occurance at Avril Williams guest house at Auchonvillers. A couple of years ago myself and a couple of friends went on our first tour of the Somme on a coach and one of the items on the itinary was to visit Auchonvillers and Avril Williams,where we were given the tour of the trench and the cellar and a talk on what what part her home played in the Battle Of The Somme. Well being on a coach trip it takes a while for everyone to explore everything and i found myself alone in the cellar. I was standing with my right side facing the entrance and there was a stretcher in front of me but to the right of the door way. Suddenly i went very cold and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and i was aware of something or someone behind me and the word WATER being said over and over again. Stangely enough i didn't feel afraid ,perhaps this was because i knew that this place was used as a dressing station and was there to help the soldiers. I turned round and of course there was nothing there,but it did make me think though,was it my imagination,the hype of the first time of being on the Somme where a relative saw action as an ambulance driver and talked of Auchonvillers in his letters home...........who knows!!!!!! As i walked back up the stairs into the day light,a peace and calm seemed to envelop me . Didn't mention exactly what happened to my friends,but said it felt very strange down there on my own and left it at that.

Well i just thought i would share the above and add it it to the thread.

Mark.

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Guest James burns niece
I am very interested to hear in confidence, from anyone who has modern- day (Post 1918) personal first hand stories of strange sittings or experiences and feelings when they have visited WWI & WWII battlefields, airfields or military bases. I hope to gather and cross reference such stories and articles into a database archive.

Thanks

Rodge D. (The Archivist)

Hello,

My story is not so much spooky but more goose-pimply.

My great Uncle James Burns, Lance Corporal 10728 Ist Salford Pals.

Killed on the Somme 1st July 1916.

My Husband Son and I visited Thiepval , we were the first of his family to visit to pay our respects and with the hought of .hoping he knows just how much his Parents and sisters and their families Never forgot him, we decided to be at the at the stand point where he would have been on the fateful morning.

My husband left me alone for a little while shortly before 7,30 to have a moment alone with my thoughts.

Here is were I had my thingy (not sure what to call this moment) I was thinking to myself .James I hope you know we are here to say hello and how lovely it would be to have a sign of some kind.......... feel silly sharing that but here goes .at exactly 7,29 my small son aged7 years along with my hubby John came along the road shouting Mummy look what we found ................. it was an unexploded shell from 1916-18.In our total Naivity we put the shell in the boot of our car and drove to the memorial ceremony via a rather bumpy road.................. we met a soldier nearby who after moving my son and I and carefully moving a good distance from the car told my husband to put the shell by the side of the road awaiting a collection team........

To this day I belive that James did indeed know we were there and put a safe arm around my hubby & son that morning...................... can Imagine he was a little embaressed chatting to his "Pals " later admitting the fools with the shell were in fact his family !!!!

I believe he was answering my call, send me a sign you know we are here .....

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Thiepval wood is the only place I have "felt" anything.

It was about 10 years ago we had a stroll inside (I know it was private and we shouldn't have been there, but we didn't touch anything or wander from the tractor marks). I got that hairs on the back of the neck thing and got the distinct feeling we were being watched. The feeling grew more menacing the further we walked and I felt quite afraid. I suggested we leave and my husband quickly agreed, telling me later that he felt the same way, that we weren't welcome. I have never been back in.

Most of the cemeteries I feel are peaceful places and I have felt okay in most of them even when darkness is falling but Mill road is another place I don't feel welcome and don't go to. As soon as I start walking up the path to it, I get a heavy feeling of gloom and a knot in my stomach like you do when you are nervous.

Probably just related to what went on in the area I know but not a nice feeling.

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Roger - About 5 Years ago,Myself and my Mum and Dad went to visit Her Brother Charlies Grave at Becklingen War Cemetery in Germany.After paying our respects we made our way to the site of the Infamous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp,the Weather was very overcast and there was a Heavy Drizzle.My Dad had especially purchased a new Video Camera to record our cemetery visit,the said camera was slung under Dads shoulder while we visited Belsen.On return to our Hotel that Night we viewed the Footage that we had both taken earlier in the Day,the Cemetery Material came out fine,however we were surprised to see that the camera had somehow become active whilst we were in the Camp confines,and had recorded some fairly disjointed movie footage of the Camp,along with the sound of voices and Studded Boots walking on concrete or Stone Flagstones,i hasten to add that there were not any other People visiting the camp at the time whilst we were there.Mums Brother had taken part in liberating the Camp,but was sadly KIA a few Days later.I have no explanation for what had happened,i had the Camera checked out,and it was all in order.I can offer no explanation for this occurrence. :blink:

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I am very interested to hear in confidence, from anyone who has modern- day (Post 1918) personal first hand stories of strange sittings or experiences and feelings when they have visited WWI & WWII battlefields, airfields or military bases. I hope to gather and cross reference such stories and articles into a database archive.

Thanks

Rodge D. (The Archivist)

Just reading through old threads and I came across yours. I visited the Somme and Ypres this weekend. I have never been before. We visited a German cemetary. The name at the moment escapes me. (It is the one where 24,000 German soldiers were "dumped" and which was tidied up for Hitler's visit when he came to power. Walking around there gave me the goosebumps. Having been around numerous CWG sites, this was oppressive. However, our spookiest moment was at Viamertinghe Cemetary. We were holding a small private remembrance service there. One of our number (a nice Australian lad) glanced up to the sky. He saw an unusual formation of airoplane slip stream cloud and took a photo. The lines in the sky resembled a soldier. It looked awfully like the memorial at Vancouver Corner. We were all spooked by it.

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I watched MOST HAUNTED,on T.V. a few Nights ago - The Team were visiting Peterborough City Museum,which was a very old building.Derek Acorah and another lesser known Medium Immediatley picked up on an Energy which seemed to be in place on a Staircase,Acorah,s Spirit Guide gave Him the Description of an Australian Soldier,and then the Name THOMAS HUNTER.I checked this Name on the CWWGC Data Base,and indeed this Soldier Had D.O.W. and was Buried in Peterborough Town Cemetery,and the Museum Building HAD been a Hospital during WW1.Further contact with the spirit of the Deceased Sgt revealed that His Eathbound Spirit was desperatley trying to return to Co.Durham,where it turns out was His place of Birth and upbringing.The Mediums were 100% on Target.As a rule i tend not to watch this programme as it invariably degenerates into a bunch of Team Members screaming themselves Hoarse at imaginary Ghosts.

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ThomasHunterPeterboroughCathedral.jpg

This is Thomas Hunter's Memorial Plaque in Peterborough Cathedral

Chris

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Thankyou for the Picture of the Memorial..Regards PBI

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This response might be controversial, but my personal interest in WW1 stems from the fact that I am convinced that I was there!! The 3rd Battle of Ypres. No detail of other battle in any war affects me in the same way.

Unlike some people I have read about, there are no dreams, flashbacks etc., it's just a feeling.

One day I will go to the battlefield, sit in a quiet corner, and know, because my earlier body must still be there.

Gordon

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Gordon

Despite my cyncial responses about the abilities of the psychic giving information already available on the internet, I agree with you. On my first trip to one one specific area of the Somme I had an overwhelming feeling of dejavu. I have no doubt at all that I am part of something that happened there and it keeps pulling me back. I know a few people who say they have a feeling of 'belonging' there.

Mick

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