WWI Battle of Mons Where Soldiers Claimed Divine Intervention
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WWI Battle of Mons Where Soldiers Claimed Divine Intervention


[MUSIC PLAYING] Throughout history, people
have reported the presence of divine defenders, angels
protecting them or fighting for them in the
middle of battle. One of the most famous examples
of this potential intervention is in the Battle of Mons between
the British and German forces during World War I. On August 23, 1914, the British
army, with support from France, attacked the German army which
had just declared war on them a few weeks before. Hopes were high that
the fresh British troops would prevail, especially
with help from the French. The Battle of Mons
with the last in four skirmishes that
were referred to as the Battles of the Frontiers. The initial three
altercations were the towns of Lorraine,
Ardennnes, and Charleroi. They all involved the assistance
of French military forces which were under the
command of General Joseph Joffre at the time. As the forces met,
it became clear that the German military
was much larger. And when the French
forces retreated, the British forces were
vulnerable to attack. Over 35,000 British
troops were involved, and over 1,600 perished. On September 29, 1914, a writer
for the London Evening News, Arthur Machen,
wrote a short story based on accounts that suggested
angelic aid during the battle allowed for a safe retreat. This story caught
the imagination of the English people overnight. Even though the story was
empirically a fictional account which was deeply
inspired by the battle, the public believed
that the tale was true. And the legend was born. Word of Machen’s
story spread fast. And soon publishers were asking
to speak with his sources. No matter how much
Machen objected to the truth of this
story, the public continued to believe
in its accuracy. After the events occurred,
three surviving soldiers were interviewed by a
chaplain near Keswick. Each soldier gave
a similar story. The German army was advancing,
and there was no hope. Yet seemingly by
the will of God, the Germans turned
around and did not crush the British troops,
allowing them to retreat. In 1915, as the story
grew, many soldiers added to the various descriptive
mythic accounts of the angels that they witnessed
on the battlefield. However, the witness
testimony that describe the
intervention as angels came only after Machen’s
story was put to print. At the time, German
prisoners of war suggested it was because the
German troops thought they saw English reinforcements coming. In the end, the Society
for Psychical Research concluded there was no
verifiable firsthand account of angels appearing. The involvement of Brigadier
General John Charteris may give a clue about the
promotion of the story. Its real purpose might
have been to boost morale. Charteris added to the
account with his own letters as evidence. For a long time, this is one
of the main examples validating the soldier’s accounts. However, it was later
determined that he had falsified the dates of his
letters to validate the myth. In reality, it would have been
hard to take witness accounts, if they actually
were sincere, at face value, as the troops
on the battlefield had not slept in many days,
which could have distorted their vision. Sleep deprivation is known
to have varying effects on the human body. It’s not unreasonable to think
that it could have induced visions of angelic salvation. Further, the accounts,
even as given, vary greatly in regards to
the appearance and actions of the supposedly
otherworldly beings. Is it possible
that their accounts were less to do with angelic aid
and more to do with exhaustion or wartime hysteria? There are reports
from German soldiers who were captured as
prisoners of war that seem to attest to the
presence of phantom archers attacking them,
which they assumed were British reinforcements. This could suggest
some truth to the tale, as those prisoners
would have nothing to gain by feeding
into the legend. Indeed, there were
mythical stories on both sides of the Great War. The German soldiers loved to
talk of a giant dog engineered by the German army to hate the
British that reportedly carried off their bodies
on the battlefield. No evidence has ever
been discovered. But the lore surrounding
this dog is omnipresent. It’s not uncommon for there
to be supernatural reports of interventions in
battles, regardless of your political
affiliation or nationality. There are accounts of such aid
in tales from the Revolutionary War and conflicts from
the American West. So were the stories
of the angels at the Battle of Mons a series
of fictionalized accounts for self-promotion
or propaganda, or is it possible that
there were celestial beings present in 1914? We may never know the truth. But the angels of Mons
make for a great story. If you like this
video, subscribe to more Weird History. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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