The Battle of Mons was one of the earliest battles of World War I. In the months after the battle, stories spread that a supernatural presence had covered the British army, preventing it from being destroyed. Read the show notes here.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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for Info and how you can start saving today is a pico dot com, Slash OECD, local stuff. You must in history, has works Well, I'm crazy be Wilson Molly crying. So we ve been on this progress for a while and twice in that. I've got a note that has turned out to be from a college brand programme on the younger didn't know. I was on this bank asked Anne and then what way I think that it is the first time it was my friend Davis's Wayback avatar episode on the princess. You swallowed the glass piano. I never answered you hi Dave You are well, it was a comments on our blog and we were having that weird blog common problem. We had about it yet technical difficulties, please stand forever forever
time, it was Haven and Haven was probably the most enthusiastic student of history. I knew in college and was way and a military history. So I jumped the chance to ask him for some military history. Suggestions which brings us today is topic which was suggested by Hayden, and it is the angel of Mars. So the battle of mines is one of world were ones earliest battles we're really rapidly approaching. hundredth anniversary of both the start of world world, where one and of this battle itself and in the month after the battle the story. You started to spread that a supernatural presence, which was described either at Saint George or as some ghostly, archers or as angels, had covered the british army as it withdrew from battle and had completely prevent army from being destroyed by the Germans have suddenly
way to go to a story to pass up, especially since at the time this tale became enormously, inspiring and heartening to both the troops on the western front, Amber civilians at home in Britain, it's it's right at the intersection of folk lore and fiction and patriotism and propaganda, and it's a story that persisted for years and years, after the war was over. So for a little bit of background sightless eyes tell you where, in the timeline we are here, because Rover one was complicated, as there were many many factors that led to the start of a war one. But the thing that is often cited as the final tipping point and sort of the real catalyst for the actual events to unfold was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro hungarian Empire and his wife, and this took place in Sarajevo. Bosnia. On June, twenty eighth of ninety
fourteen Austria's suspected that Serbia was behind this disaster nations, though a month later, Austria declared war on Serbia, and it just a few days after that, Russia, which was one of Serbia's allies, announced that it was mobilizing its force is it a day later, Germany declared war on Russia, so is almost like a domino effect of one thing happening after another, and then Germany declared war on France on one day and Belgium. The next, so Germany got very enthusiastic about its dominoes, and their next step was to invade the neutral Belgium to get better access to targets in front That day, which was August, the fourth Britain declared war on Germany and a whole lot of more declarations of war, happened after this point over the next few weeks. But at this point in a story, Britain, for in Germany are really what's important in Germany's plan was to send an enormous army through Belgium and Indonesia.
cutting off the allies surrounding the city and winning the war in a matter of weeks. This movement of german trips through in France led to a series of battles known as the battles of the frontiers. These all take place along the western and they all started toward the end of August nineteen fourteen very early on in the war August. Twenty second in particular, was devastating for the French who lost about twenty seven thousand soldiers in a single day in the battle of loans which took place on August. Twenty third of nineteen fourteen was part of the battles of the frontiers, and in this battle, the british expeditionary forces or the bf joined the fighting and met the german army in the field of battle. For the first time of the war, the bf had a total fighting force of about seventy thousand men incontinently
at this point about half of them were at the battle of balls, Sir John French was commander in chief of the B F and the men under his command included both infantry and cavalry. This is a highly try Army and many of the men had previous combat experience from for wars in South Africa and just as a side note flew awkward to have a gardener France and the French in this one F episode of an audio podcast, but it would sound kind of silly to call him, Sir John, which I did consider doing for like a second. I suggested giving him a whacking. Tracy did not for it so we're gonna, do our best to make it clear whether we're talking about a commander in chief
French or them so the original plan, with for the bf troops to joint french forces near Charlotte Raw, where fighting from one of the other battles of the frontiers with still ongoing and together the french and british, we try to break through the german lines. The number of factors actually derailed this plan, they included a late start for the british troops and generally contentious relationship between Commander French and General Charles Laundry Zack, who was in command of the french fifth army at Charlotte LA so. Instead, the b F in the French Fifth army wound up facing the jury. From two different positions. Instead of United with the french troops in France and the british troops in Belgium in Belgium, the beehives objective was too slow or stop the advance of the german army, and to that end they establish deposition along the monks conduct canal and the canal itself was about sixty feet, wide,
and in one area it mean a sharp curve, and this formed a jetting promentory of land, which is also called a salient, and the northern part of the salient was where the german First army, which out number the british two to one, focused its attack as it trying to break through the british defences. The German started. Shelling attacking with infantry. At about nine Eu General Alexander VON Cloak of Germany. Didn't you make the greatest use of his numerical advantage. He was kind of an He wanted to break through the british lines as fast as possible, so ISA large numbers of in free and very tight formations to attack the salient, and there were a lot of really expert marksmen among the british soldiers. They were so efficient at firing in reloading that the german officers allegedly reported back that the british reusing machine guns. The british marksman inflicted huge casualties on the shoulder to shoulder german troops. The British also had a trenching device
am which let them reposition themselves and dig a new trend for cover in response to wear the Germans focused their selling, and thanks to all of this, the bf was able to hold the salient for six solid hours, but eventually the german assault, as they adjusted their approach. Not to be such easy targets for these marksman finally started to erode the british defence on top of that late. In the day, general laundry Zack ordered men to retreat from Sharia LAW, and this meant that the british troops, or it of being surrounded by the Germans and cut off with no means of escape, so Commander French gave the order to withdraw and they didn't just retreat. The British actually continue to fight as they fell back and in the end they did slow the Germans by a day, but that small success cost them about. Sixteen hundred british troops for the British
This defeat was crushing and demoralising as a society, the British believe their army was the best and most hard highly trained in the entire world. And yet, in their first battle in Continental Europe and almost a hundred years, they had been forced to withdraw after just a few hours news reports, Britain and the following days: characterized their army as retreating and broke in an characterized the Germans as a force. That quote, could no more be stopped. Then the waves of the sea and meanwhile the Germans, as the exact counter to how the British were feeling about the situation, were completely emboldened by their minds and elsewhere in the battles of the frontiers. So all of that probably made the idea of their having been some kind of supernatural, and perhaps godly intervention quite appealing day affects mocking. Pretty good in that situation, and we will talk a little more about that after a brief word from sponsor
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at home in Britain that an angelic figure or maybe even an entire angelic army, had covered the british withdrawal at mounds and basically save the day and some described a host of glowing heavenly archers. Others talked of more of like a wholly shield that kept the Germans from advancing, or perhaps it was Saint George Patron Saint of the british fighting forces and an army called up from the battle of asian CORE, which was the decisive British Three in a hundred years war, which we talked about it briefly and our protease up, we did so whatever the exact version, the story of the angel was really widespread and widely believed back home and among the troops people started to hold it up is evidence that God was on the side of the allies Energy use that in their sermons, and it was printed and reprinted indifferent publications as different sources picked it up on the home for
not believing in the angel became sort of unpatriotic. One account of the angel was printed on July. Thirty, first of nineteen fifteen in the London evening, News- and this is reportedly told to Phyllis Campbell who was a volunteer nurse working with the troops in France. Her source was Lancashire Fusillade, who said we all saw it. First, there was a sort of Yellow Miss Lake sort of rising before the Germans, as they came up to the top of the hill, come on like a solid wall, they did springing out of the earth just solid, no end to em. I just gave up no use fighting the whole german race thinks I it's all up with us. The next minute comes this funny cloud of light and when it clears off there's a tall man with yellow hair in golden armor on a white horse holding his sword up and
mouth open as if he was saying come on boys, are put the car Bosh on the devil's. The minute I saw it, I knew we were going to win it fair back me up as versions of this very floating around feature ghostly Bowman in Saint George, and that descriptions like the one that we just read. One p. Was printed in the all saints which was a parish magazine from Bristol, and it really cement the idea that it was angels specifically this inside of a miss marble who was reportedly retailing what she had heard from two of her friends, one of these This was not a religious man and he said his entire perspective on life had been changed by seeing the angels This version, the angels, were protectors that shielded the troops, not attackers, attacking the Germans. The printing of the all things that contains story sold out, and people clamored for more copies. Miss marbles
vision of the story was one that was picked up in one form or another again and again, but both of these sources and all of the many other purportedly first hand and second hand, accounts that circulated about a supernatural event. Having taken place at month have some problems most cable from the first example was the daughter of a novelist, Annie Writer of ghost stories herself. She had a collection of ghost stories published under a pseudonym before the war in her,
the writing. She also seems to a reprinted anything any one said the her, no matter how far fetched it was no matter how obviously faults it was, without fact checking or really considering what was said and miss marble from the second version that we ve talked about was a real person, but when the society of psychical research tried to investigate her story and get her to make her sources, she started backtracking a little bit. She said they weren't really meant that she knew tat. She had, in fact, no idea who they had been and even as her story fell apart and things that were crucial to its believe, ability were disproved, people kept accepting the story is fag papers and pamphlets that picked up her story later on just admitted her name, sort of to get rid of the whole credibility issue gather, and these are just really two examples. There were lots and lots of different versions of the story, with different people being cited as their sources. A lot of them have
similarly murky anonymity and who people were actually hearing, the story from or their dates are kind of fuzzy- or you know, it seems kind of like an urban legend. Third, fourth ham yeah, but there are so many of them they were spread so widely and believed so fully, but its tempting to that surely it must have been based in some kind of grain, of truth of what happened at the battlefield at moms, except there is little problem right, which is that they all seem to draw from a very short story, which is called the Bowman, and this was published in the London evening NEWS on September. Twenty ninth of nineteen fourteen, the absolute earliest reference in writing to a supernatural event.
Mars. We're going to talk about some theories were how this story became repurchased. As fact, after another quick break that sounds grand this episode of stuff, you must have classes brass EU by W W, formerly wait. Watchers we launched a new might be to be programme as their most groundbreaking and customize programme. Ever I joined Debbie W because I was really looking for something that was going to help encourage me to make healthier eating choices. They have really done that when you joined them W W program, you will take a personal assessment. It ask questions about your eating habits in your behaviors minute scientifically matches you up with which plan is going to be the best for you, I'm on the you plan, and it has made such a big difference or me in terms of income Jim Means eat healthy foods, join W W, formerly wait. Watchers unlock your customize weight loss plan that can make losing weight easier for you had on over to Debbie Debbie dot com
That's a w w dot com to joint Debbie Debbie today, with a limited time, offer welcome. One welcome all welcome you. Do yours and marchers to the beat of any drum STAR Starbucks. We know that wellness has a lot more to do with finding your unique journey then followed The latest trends, that's why we have something for every taste, every craving every mood and every you like our new cocoanut milk latte, an almond milk honey. White, because no to journeys are the same, and what makes it right is that it's yours, Arthur Mansion was a british fantasy author. He was making his ends meet by writing for newspapers, his shorts Ray the Bowman was printed. a little over a month after the battle of moms, and it's the story of a soldier at an unspecified battle on the front. Via this battle takes place in a story on a salient as the bottle of monster said Anne.
the face of an overwhelming advance from the Germans. The character in the story remembers a prayer to Saint George that he thought on a plate at a vegetarian restaurant back home, and he says the prayer members from the plate, and this supernatural form appears along with a host of archers. I want the story to be rewritten in the modern day by Chuck. Ballenach storms deceives right of israeli. The story goes, as the soldier heard these voices he saw before him beyond the trench, a long line of shapes with a shining about them. They were like men who drew the bow and with another shout their cloud of arrows flu singing and tingling, through the air toward the german hosts and in the last line of the story, George and the Asian were who came to the rescue. This story
not labelled as fiction, but it certainly reads like fiction, but even so people started to write to mention in the newspaper to ask if it was true. Spiritualist publications wanted to reprint. The story is facts and they were trying to get the names of the sources. Kanner reminds me of the prophet, probably over hyped war of the worlds. That's exactly what I was thinking of two yeah, so this story of angels didn't spread like wildfire right away. I mean there was immediate interest, but it was not a meeting Lee established, as fact in people's minds. It took trench warfare to really do that. As the situation in the western front turn into a stalemate, and the last of the trenches went down in November of nineteen fourteen peoples. as in the Bowman's started to revive it was a story that really gave people hope became, more and more obvious to people that this is going to be a really long really deadly war and the
the other an angel had had come to help became the sort of wartime urban legend in the whole time is. This story was being reprinted in various versions, all over newspapers, pamphlets and books Arthur Match and insisted that he was one hundred percent, the only source for the story and that the story was in fact one hundred percent fiction and its demand rose for patriotic uninspiring writings. He re published a story in a book called the Bowman in August of nineteen fifteen, and he also a new preface to the story explaining that it was absolutely fictional on this box held three thousand copies in a single day, and it was eventually translated into six languages, and this popularity kicked out
big round of people trying to prove that the story was in spite of what he said completely real one. Journalists named Harold Begbie even publicly argued that match and must have had a telepathic impression from one of the dying soldiers of the apparition that he had seen and that this telepath moment must have inspired the story of the Bowman. There is also some evidence that the british government tacitly approved in this story, or at least the effects that it was having on people's mile and patriotism. So, some months after this Sure story was originally published. Letters from the fire started to come home that made reference to people. Having actually said ghost- and these are stories that all made it through the sensors who were going through censoring soldiers, letters, the british government press
There are also allowed it in the press and there's even some evidence that this was it simply tacit approval that the army and the government actually played an active part in bolstering the story. Brigadier General John Charter is wrote, either a journal entry or a letter to his wife sources site this piece of writing both ways. There was David September fifth, nineteen fourteen weeks before the publication of the Bowman, and it reads quote the story of the angel amongst going strong through the second core of how the angel of the Lord on the traditional white horse clad all in white with flaming sword- face the advancing Germans at malls and forbade their further progress. So on the surface, it seems like all this obviously predates the shirts worry that was published in the newspaper.
However, this little snippet is mixed in with descriptions of events that definitely happened much much later than the Bowman's publication. The copy of this piece of writing that survives the day is also from a collection of things that were compiled and edited by his wife, the sinners, not an original document that can be authenticated and and examine. So she basically said I got this letter dated this or I found this peace writing dated the state, and it said this so in addition to that, we're not really sure how much eating his wife did the brigadier general with the baby s chief intelligence officer and the spread of information, and this information was part of his job, so its entire within the realm of possibility that he fudged the date on this document on purpose, to add more authenticity,
this story and to try to establish a reference in plant that predated the Bowman's original publication, and we know that charter is have this sort of maneuver in him. Already, he put disinformation to use during the war he's the one who started the rumour of the german corpse factory. Were the Germans were purportedly boiling the bodies of the dead down into animal feed or munitions, so he was adept at sort of seeding stories spreading concepts that were patently false there. This story continued to be told in re, told and re embellish long after world war. One was over in the thirties, papers in London and New York printed. This version of the story that cited a german officer who claimed that the British had projected
image of an angel onto large screens to kind of deter the german advance, which look bad, not happen, but definitely did not half it's a lot of time it'll work up for in the battle on the fly, and then Tupac showed up the thieves, like so completely crazy to claim. Buy it now a days, I think you could almost cleaver people. Maybe there had, at this point
The idea of really tall or not only more quickly, no source, that predates much story has ever been verified and, in the end, it really seems to have drawn from a combination of religious faith, hope patriotism. A tradition of british folk lore stories of Saint George coming to the aid of troops, go all the way back to the first received death. So it really seems like matters short story, got picked up and then folded back around in people's minds is a real event that had happened will fulfil the psychological need of the entire country, absolutely rumour one, especially as as people who had thought that it was going to be a fast war that would be over quickly when it became clear that it was gonna, be long. Slow, bloody trench warfare experience that, like that there was definitely huge need for people to
something positive to believe in yet easy to see. The appeal I mean there's a neat there with that. I need you to read the listener. Mailing, that's a good play only then this is from Arthur and artists, as thank you episode of the treaty of white hanging as a package, wonder I e a key of european descent. I've always been proud that our country was formed by compromise rather than conquest and ongoing work of the white. Any tribunal has been instrumental in attempting to heal some of the wounds of our colonial history. I was disappointed that more time is not given over to land wars that followed the signing of the treaty and the intensification of you peons settlement and able to Roma doubly so because new in New Zealand history, celibacy school has traditionally forgotten about this crucial period and our nations history, and rather has preferred to highlight the more palatable aspects of the tree of Whiting. U story between
in forty five and eighteen. Seventy two there were a series of conflict rebellions and guerrilla war waged between them It is a colonial administration, a number of ie or tribes of Mary. The most intense fighting took place in the North island region of tar anarchy in eighteen. Sixty and again when the government invaded teriyaki in eighteen sixty three, the first teriyaki war. seen. Eighty sparked was marked by a dispute, overload the legitimacy of a land sale of a two hundred forty hectare block of land and was instigated by Governor Thomas Brown, who was eager to suppress Anti settler chiefs, who belonged to the a king, Tonga or Mallory King Movement, a confederation of tribes, who opposed land sales and who held to the merry translation of that of the treaty. The first battle was between five hundred government troops comprised a professional soldiers, local militia forces,
on tears and eighty maori warriors led by wearing Kinney. I looked for pronunciations of all of these words the names and I could not find audio pronunciations for all them. So I apologise if I say any of these wrong: the Mary had constructed a temporary, disposable, fort or path in a strategic position commanding road access to the disputed land, despite a full day of bombardment by two hundred how its around and small arms fire me. we suffered no casualties and abandoned the part that night, having approved to other EU in the area that the colonial forces were the aggressors and the conflict we king, he was able to call on other tribes for assistance and the were expanded to involve thirty, five hundred british and New Zealand troops and sixteen hundred maori fighters for the turnkey iii and the wider Kaintucky movement, which was based in. Why cut open heads influence throughout the country. The first battles that the tone for the rest of the war with the colonial for seeking to besieged
sportive occasions and engaged the merry and traditional war of sat battles, while the Mary would construct ingenious, cheap PA from word wooden flax lined with trench systems, shooting positions that allowed defenders to fire under the forts walls and artillery bunkers all designed to withstand artillery fire and musket for a short time and then be abandoned in this way. The Mallory were able to resist the colonial forces for a year and the first stage in the war ended in something of a draw with the merry win. as symbolic victory, by having refused to submit to british rule how where this only lead three brutal invasion of the Wye Kyoto and turn Aki regions and nineteen sixty three over fourteen thousand imperial troops engaged in a six year campaign of land.
Compensation, forcing both rebel and loyalist Mary from their lambs and clearing the captured territory for white settlement and an effort to punish and dominate the Mari people. Roughly sixteen thousand square kilometers was taken or nearly six percent of New Zealand, total landmass and over a thousand Mary were killed and many more forcibly relocated Fine, the white hanging tribunal would find that this was an illegal war of aggression instigated by the crown and award the affected areas. Settlement package worth over a hundred and forty one million New Zealand dollars a large sum. But considering that the confiscated land is worth, they were two billion dollars. Today the crown got off lightly razor Since in New Zealand, they continue to be strained by the events of our colonial past. Mary continue to grapple with the legacy of colonialism and suffer from poverty for health on outcomes and a sort of link low grade racism that many
New islanders perpetuate almost unconsciously a popular strain of political rap rhetoric employed by our conservative right wing. Politicians won't pride, periodically call for the white hanging tribunal to be wound up and quote fair and final settlements me to marry. You we'd never mind that entire towns and cities and thousands of acres of profitable farmland owned by white New Zealanders, only exists today because of the widespread land compensate confiscation perpetuated by their ancestors. The e who receives tribunals settlements have mostly use these funds to invest in businesses such as fisheries, forestry and real estate, and use the proceeds from these businesses to provide scholarships and investment. Mary economic growth and welfare. However, the ongoing over representation of Mary in poverty and crime statistics continues. I hit it, gives you a bleak picture of the heritage of the treaty of nice hanging was certainly a landmark document, and I am very proud that our country was founded in a spirit of compromise. I often say that New Zealand doesn't have a constitution as much
Ongoing argument, and certainly the legacy of that spirit of cooperation, has had a profound impact on our history, culture and national character. But it would be remiss to neglect to mention the way the We colonial government broke faith with the merry and the ongoing impacts that this history has today. Thanks again for an enjoyable and inform it upon cast yours sincerely Arthur he wrote to us from New Zealand. Thank you very much of Arthur. We ve had one other listener mail about the tree, Whiting episode, and it was actually kind of a difficult decision to figure out where to end that pod cast his. We alluded to the fact in the pond cast, but to try to talk about what Next, we would be to talk about the entire history of New Zealand, the Heavens awhile swollen, like we'll talk about a hundred years war about something that had reverberations Verbenas centuries. And will also. We also get a lot of really well meaning letters from people who say: can you do an episode?
and be history of a place. No. We cannot you an episode on the history of a nation yeah. I kind of what people do examine their perception of like who has a worthwhile history to talk about when they make requests like that. Will. All history is worthwhile to talk about, but you can't take a chunk that big and really get no something worthwhile out of it. Now is too broad. We cannot gloss over the entire history of a nation and one episode and without was thorough, trying to figure out where to the treaty avoid hanging episode without feeling like we were like glossing over huge parts of things was, was difficult because definitely to try to talk about the effects that the treaty.
You would have to talk about many many many many many other events that are all worth having their own podcast on around so far will shrink about history, everything kind of effects, things that come after it yeah now. So in this case it was the thing that founded a nation, so it definitely really effective right. So I thank you so much to Arthur into the other people who have written about other events that happen after this, they are all things that are definitely like: they could weren't their own episodes and, as the world is very big, I cannot say when we will get a return to New Zealand history, but there is no others have sought out the certainly not for lack of desire to use new. If you would like to write to us with more new real in history or some stuff about the older one or whatever you like, you, can we read history pod cast at house of works, dot, com or Facebook as Facebook, dot com, splash, Miss than history Twitter is, MR history are tumblr, is missed in history that tumblr com and are often
First, a centrist accomplish missed in history. If you like to learn more about how some new ideas that could explain The story of an angel became too entranced in the british consciousness. He can come to our parents, the website that house for Stockholm put the word urban legends in the search bar and you will find how urban legends work you can also come to our website, which is miss than history, got com to find shouts and archives of all. The other sounds lots of other fascinating stuff, so you can visit us that has to work sarcoma, MR history, dot com, more or less and thousands of other topic, because it has dot com. by her Mars, the newest resort destination in the just a short
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