Today we delve deep into a tale from 1914 and that evil First World War. It will be as true in detail as I can record. One must relax and try to read with no opinion as to yes or no it happened or not. After all millions of men saw a heavenly visit by a host of Angles or just one with a gold ring on her head. Some say Saint George rode through the English lines of retreating men to give them hope.Others say not George but King Henry V as Agincourt field is not far away from Mons. Did that victor against so massive odds and so few brave English troops win a victory and return to give these soldiers support as his ghost rode through the lines shouting “For England and Saint George .”
Painting depicting King Henry V giving his brave speech before 600 men fought 1500 French at Tramerco near Agincourt in France not far from Mons battle field
Many think all this is true and many like me want it so to be. So spread the tale.
Then the signed affidavit of Private Robert Cleaver of the1st Regiment The Cheshires tells a story that will stand as evidence he saw the whole thing with bands of musical angles and angels directing men into battle. This statement gave credence to the story and started a real hunt for evidence from returning troops there after that war.
The vicar of Sunderland parish Northern England one Rev. Alexander A Boddy of All Saints Church 1886-1922 was instrumental in his search for truth.
In an article in the Daily mail newspaper dated 24th August 1915 he read Private Robert Cleavers telling story the legend had formed and all England now knew of the strange tale of guardian Angels appearing to help our desperate over run troops in the battle field of mud at Mons in France.
I can quite see now how this pans out but my grandfather who survived Mons and that awful war never saw Angels at all. This caused me to look deeper and search longer and by chance fell upon a story that Robert Cleavers signed statement on oath had been a total lie. On checking this out it came to light that Private Robert Cleaver 10515 The Cheshire Regiment had never been at that battle of Mons as he was in England training and only arrived in France with the Expeditionary Force on 6th September 1914 when Mons was fought in August . Cleaver was sent back To England ill in December 1914 and saw very little action. Why had he lied under oath? Well mystery is in that only he could say why. Maybe he wanted to be famous if only if war record had been checked by that said newspaper on Mister Hazelhursts report in Daily Mail newspaper all this would never had gathered pace and may well have fizzled away. instead the months after the war was over all news was awash with stories that all prove now to be pure fabrications.
Tales of interviews by Vicars in Keswick to Vicars in London with returning injured soldiers are interesting but no names of witness seem ever to appear in that accounts.
Nor are there photographs of any of them and no trace even of Robert Cleaver after months of trying to find anything about him.
If I now tell you of a writer called Arthur Llewellyn Jones Machen from Caerleon Monmouthshire on 3rd March 1863- 1947 who among other works penned a short story that became a best selling hard back book title ‘The Bowman’ In this story published in 1914 as the war began tells of Angles appearing in the sky during a battle to aid and protect an army hammered by the enemy. It paints such a tale of spiritual hope that it became real in the minds of a generation butchered and dambed by war.Mons was a total defeat and disgrace on part of Generals in charge of that defense had only to turn and finally run in retreat. Germans had far more trained men and more guns than us. Even though we did win in the end Mons was our worse nightmare. No wonder stories exist about spiritual beings covering the British and Belgium retreat from German Cavalry advance and pinned down by infantry the loss of life great and brave men died at their posts. One man shot four times still carried on machine gunning while the mates escaped in retreat .He was so badly shot he knew he was dead in moments so carried on firing ignoring the retreat and he kept the enemy back just long enough to aid the rest.
It is now easy to see why this legend became an Urban Myth so angrily defended by so many it could not fade away but ran the course on the back of Private Robert Cleavers lie.Based on the topical mystical book of fiction named the Bowman and one best seller in 1915 Published in short story in newspaper of August 1914. It was here that Private Robert Cleaver saw the story and placed it as happening at the battle of Mons he claimed to have witnessed. He was later proved to be a fraud but too late for the urban legend not to grow and grow. As in all news it becomes real to many who will not let it go.
It accounts for the one reason why my grandfather failed to see Angels at the battle at Mons and others did. My grandfather had not read the book or any other as for the first six months he was blind after that war came home with lung lost in gas attack in the trenches of war in France. He was at Mons and many other battles in the Lancashire regiment of Queens own Bays now Kings troop Royal Horse Artillery.He returned to being a plumber on his own estates and died of heart failure in 1950.
I do not believe that God would send Angels to anyone side in a war.How could he as we are all his children so war to God is against his command and we sin each time that occurs. The men at the top that is. So now come to the climax. Yes I am sure that it was not mass hysteria nor was it real. It was bogus fiction that may never have been told if not for that book by the Welsh mystic Arthur Machen with his profits high on sales of THE BOWMAN story that started this Urban Myth .Machen was not guilty as he said from the outset it was a story of fiction. Then Robert Cleaver took it upon himself to promote the myth.
May Angels guard us all.
Yours Sir Kevin.
Thank you for reading my articles it is as much as I may do to entertain with facts to set the truth in stone
Copyright.Kevin Parr Bt 20018