The Angel(s) that I am about to narrate is a little different than the norm. It is also known as "the bowmen of Mons." The story describes of a phantom bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt who was summoned by a British soldier calling on Saint George. It is a spiritually inspiring tale with a common theme to the needs of every living being. The angels rescuing mankind in times of trouble. Don't we all have problems? Anyway, this story ends with the destruction of the German forces much to the favour of the British soldiers.
The Angels of Mon-The story goes like this...
During the onset of the First World War, on 22nd August 1914,the British expeditionary forces were engaged in a place called Mons, in Belgium. The battle was also known as the "Battle of the Frontiers". During this battle, the Germans who outnumbered the British soldiers were rapidly advancing. The British who were suffering major casualties had to retreat the following day. The task of beating the Germans seemed almost impossible. New recruitment drive for the British army was needed in such short time due to the heavy loss.
Contribution of Arthur Machen to this story
There was no hope at all. Some of them bidding farewell to each other by shaking hands and saying "Good-bye". One man improvised a new version of the battlesong, "Good-bye, good-bye to Tipperary," ending with "And we shan't get there". And they all went on firing steadily. The officers pointed out that such an opportunity for high-class, fancy shooting might never occur again; the Germans dropped line after line; the Tipperary humorist asked, "What price Sidney Street?" And the few machine guns did their best. But everybody knew it was of no use. The dead grey bodies lay in companies and battalions, as others came on and on and on, and they swarmed and stirred and advanced from beyond and beyond.
The Soldier who summons "St' George"
This soldier happened to know Latin and other useless things, and now, as he fired at his man in the grey advancing mass - 300 yards away , he went on firing to the end. Finally, Bill on his right had to clout him cheerfully over the head to make him stop, pointing out as he did so that the King's ammunition cost money and was not lightly to be wasted in drilling funny patterns into dead Germans. "World without end. Amen," he said with some irrelevance as he took aim and fired.
And then he remembered-he says he cannot think why or wherefore - a queer vegetarian restaurant in London where he had once or twice eaten eccentric dishes of cutlets made of lentils and nuts that pretended to be steak. On all the plates in this restaurant there was printed a figure of St. George in blue, with the motto, Adsit Anglis Sanctus Geogius - May St. George be a present help to the English.
The sound of battle drowns...
For as the Latin scholar uttered his invocation he felt something between a shudder and an electric shock pass through his body. The roar of the battle died down in his ears to a gentle murmur; instead of it, he says, he heard a great voice and a shout louder than a thunder-peal crying, "Array, array, array!"
His heart grew hot as a burning coal, it grew cold as ice within him, as it seemed to him that a tumult of voices answered to his summons. He heard, or seemed to hear, thousands shouting:
"St. George! St. George!"
"Ha! messire; ha! sweet Saint, grant us good deliverance!"
"St. George for merry England!"
"Harow! Harow! Monseigneur St. George, succour us."
"Ha! St. George! Ha! St. George! a long bow and a strong bow."
"Heaven's Knight, aid us!"
And 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 flew singing and tingling through the air towards the German hosts.
The other men in the trench were firing all the while.They had no hope; but they aimed just as if they had been shooting at Bisley. Suddenly one of them lifted up his voice in the plainest English, "Gawd help us!" he bellowed to the man next to him, "but we're blooming marvels! Look at those grey ... gentlemen, look at them! D'ye see them? They're not going down in dozens, nor in 'undreds; it's thousands, it is. Look! look! there's a regiment gone while I'm talking to ye."
"Shut it!" the other soldier bellowed, taking aim, "what are ye gassing about!"
But he gulped with astonishment even as he spoke, for, indeed, the grey men were falling by the thousands. The English could hear the guttural scream of the German officers, the crackle of their revolvers as they shot the reluctant; and still line after line crashed to the earth.
All the while the Latin-bred soldier heard the cry: "Harow! Harow! Monseigneur, dear saint, quick to our aid! St. George help us!"
"High Chevalier, defend us!"
The singing arrows fled so swift and thick that they darkened the air; the heathen horde melted from before them.
"More machine guns!" Bill yelled to Tom.
"Don't hear them," Tom yelled back. "But, thank God, anyway; they've got it in the neck."
In fact, there were ten thousand dead German soldiers left before that salient of the English army, and consequently there was no Sedan. In Germany, a country ruled by scientific principles, the Great General Staff decided that the contemptible English must have employed shells containing an unknown gas of a poisonous nature, as no wounds were discernible on the bodies of the dead German soldiers. But the man who knew what nuts tasted like when they called themselves steak knew also that St. George had brought his Agincourt Bowmen to help the English."
End of the Story. And now for the moments of Truth.
That was quite an inspirational story, or was it? Actually the writings above was mostly written by a Welsh author, Arthur Machen on 29 September 1914. It was a short story called “The Bowmen” which appeared in the London newspaper, "the Evening News". He had read about the fighting in Mons, and soon enough was inspired to write a story about it.
The only problem that Arthur Machen, (the author) didn't foresee was the effect of the story on the people. Machen had previously wrote a number of factual articles about the conflict in the same paper.
Machen's story was not however labelled as fiction and the same edition of the Evening News ran a story by a different author under the heading "Our Short Story." Additionally, Machen's story was written from a first hand perspective and was a kind of false document, a technique Machen knew well.
The unintended result was that Machen (the author) had a number of requests to provide evidence for his sources for the story soon after its publication, from readers who thought it was true, to which he responded that it was completely imaginary, as he had no desire to create a hoax.
Arthur Machen tries to explain in vain...
But the way the "news" spread was another matter.
1. A month or two afterwards, Machen received requests from the editors of parish magazines to reprint the story, which were granted. A priest, the editor of one of these magazines, subsequently wrote to Machen asking if he would allow the story to be reprinted in pamphlet form, and would he write a short preface giving authorities for the story. Machen replied that they were welcome to reprint but he could not give any authorities for the story since he had none. The priest replied that Machen must be mistaken, that the "facts" of the story must be true, and that Machen had just elaborated on a true account.
2. And soon enough, variation of the story soon began to add colour to this fiction, which was narrated as though they were authentic histories, especially one which describes how dead German soldiers had been found on the battlefield with arrow wounds.
3. In "The Bowmen" Machen's soldier saw "a long line of shapes, with a shining about them." Mr. A.P. Sinnett, writing in the Occult Review mentioned that "those who could see said they saw 'a row of shining beings' between the two armies." This led Machen to suggest that the bowmen of his story had become the Angels of Mons.
As Machen later said with regret:
"It seemed that my light fiction had been accepted by the congregation of this particular church as the solidest of facts; and it was then that it began to dawn on me that if I had failed in the art of letters, I had succeeded, unwittingly, in the art of deceit. This happened, I should think, some time in April, and the snowball of rumour that was then set rolling has been rolling ever since, growing bigger and bigger, till it is now swollen to a monstrous size."
Machen tried to set the record straight, but any attempt to lessen the impact of such an inspiring story was seen as bordering on treason by some. It just goes to prove that from time immemorial, people of the faithful type will choose to believe no matter what evidence are brought upon to the contrary. On the other hand, we also have s-c-e-p-t-i-c-s who will not stop questioning no matter what evidence is presented to them. They prefer for a scientific explanation though not all of them are scientific by nature!
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