I was in Mons, Belgium in the end of March for the third time. This time I spent time with friends Sarah and I made on our last two visits. If you have been reading any of the past fifty blogs I have written, the name Mons should be familiar. And if you have read my book, The Angel of Mons: A World War I Legend, the name Dr. Malcolm Leckie would also be familiar. He is a major character in the novel. He was a real person, a medical officer for the Northumberland Fusiliers. For the novel I changed his affiliation to the Royal Fusiliers, who are the soldiers I featured. Leckie was the brother in-law of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The doctor was wounded at the Battle of Mons and died five days later, a prisoner of war. On Saturday, April 4 I went with my friend, Nick Nichols, to the cemetery in Framieres to visit Leckie’s grave.one holds only a few graves of soldiers. They are kept up by the War Graves Commission.
It was a moving experience for me. I had much to say to him in my private thoughts. He took up an entire book in the novel and an addition chapter. Beyond this, Leckie’s death held an important place in Conan Doyle’s life and belief. For on the night of Leckie’s death, he communicated with Doyle and Doyle’s wife, Jean, Leckie’s sister, through automatic writing that, though dead in body, he was still alive in spirit. This event convinced Doyle of the soul’s eternal life. If you read Chapter Thirteen, entitled “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Captain Leckie’s Letter from beyond the Grave” you will find a slightly fictionalize account of what happened on thenight of August 28, 1914 at the Doyle home. Factual accounts appear in almost every Conan Doyle biography.
Most of the military cemeteries in Belgium and France contain only the remains of soldiers. This by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, in the distinctive fashion of the military graves. However, the graveyard contains a vast number of graves of the citizens of Framieres.