Category Archives: The Angels of Mons

Two More Representations of the Angel of Mons

There were many representations of the Angel of Mons. Some were to capitalize on the interest in the account of angelic intervention. In any case, each reinforced the belief that, indeed, St. George and other angels served the British. This also supported the hope and conviction that in the end the British, French, Russians, and Italians would defeat the Germans and their allies. I have seen an actual copy of the Paul Pardee sheet music. However, it was framed and behind glass at the Military Museum in Perrone, France. Its being a waltz, I doubt that it had lyrics. The cover to the other piece portrays the angel as a woman. I have not discovered any poems about the Angel of Mons. If you find any, please let me know. Also, please share my blogs with your friends.

Angel of Mons Valse-Cover Art

Angel of Mons Valse-Cover Art

 

Sheet Music Cover The Angel of Mons

Sheet Music Cover
The Angel of Mons

Artistic Depictions of the Angel of Mons

The Angel of Mons: one versionIn several of the blogs I have written I have accompanied the text with pictures artists had made depicting their idea of the angelic intervention. For the next several weeks I will include them as the main point of what I write about.

Now, to the picture: You can see that the picture views the angels from the perspective of the German soldiers, who appear in the foreground right. In the background is Mons ablaze. Notice the three angels: one is St. George, one, a child, and one British soldier. This comes close to corresponding to the description Arthur Machen gave in his short story, “The Bowmen.”

After that I will begin to describe a new novel I am writing, this one also about World War I and including several of the characters who play a role in The Angel of Mons: A World War I Legend. The next novel will be about the Battle of Bellicourt Tunnel. Look it up and tell me what you think about this as a battle worth describing. I invite you to suggest scenes for the novel to depict.

 

“Where’s Waldo” and “The Angel of Mons: A World War I Legend”

People who know about these events will detect the many historical mistakes in the book and enjoy the detection. Like Where’s Waldo, or playing “gotcha.” I hope others will research the characters, learning who they were, and what really happened in the early days of the war. I especially recommend three books, one, a brief, clear report on the people involved in the planning and preparation for the way, with the emphasis upon the Battle of Mons and the Battle of Le Cateau: David Lomas’ Mons, 1914.

Antony Bird’s Le Cateau is not a brief survey, but a detailed account of the battle.

Also, David Clarke’s The Angel of Mons:Phantom Soldiers and Ghostly Guardians will describe where the legend came from, other early war legends it is connected with, and how the angel legend changed during the war.

One of the benefits of writing is getting to know other writers. David Clarke and I have carried on an extensive correspondence via e-mail over the past few years. The same is true of Antony Bird. Sarah and I spent five days touring the Le Cateau and Somme battlefields last August with Tony, his brother Nicky, and five other English folk. What a benefit.

I would like readers to submit discoveries to go into a Readers’ Guide to Historical Near-Truths and Inaccuracies in The Angels of Mons. On occasion I will add examples.

Books Four and Five–The Angel of Mons

Dear Readers:

The past two weeks I have presented the topics of the first three books of the novel. Here are the final two. I will continue to write about the novel, and will begin to introduce the next novel I am planning. But more next week.

I am planning to go to Mons for the dedication of a new Mons Memorial Museum. The events will be held on April 4 and 5. I will be meeting with some officials of the city for visits, dinners, tours, and presentations while I am there. These are people I have gotten to know since my first visit in 2008. Anyone wanting to know more? I will post some links in the next few weeks. If you don’t go with me, you will at least get a taste of what is happening.

Now for the rest of the Table of Contents:

As you can see, the setting has moved from Mons, Belgium and Le Cateau, France to London, England. The final book is in Mons again, now, on the day of the Armistice, November 11, 1918. The Angel Of Mons

BOOK 4

THE ANGEL OF MONS, CONAN DOYLE,
W. B. YEATS,
AND WINSTON CHURCHILL

Chapter Thirteen: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Captain Leckie’s

Letter from beyond the Grave                                Page 159

Uncertainty Lay Heavy upon the Heart – Lily Loder-Symmons and Automatic Writing – Captain Leckie’s Handwriting – A Test – The Answer – In the Library

Chapter Fourteen: W. B. Yeats, Arthur Machen’s “The Bowmen”,
and the Battle of Le Cateau          Page 174

A Heavenly Army Arose to Save Them – Yeats in Mackerson’s Pub – Yeats, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Angels of the Dark Cloud – Africanus Comes to his Aid – Arthur Machen’s “The Bowmen”

Chapter Fifteen: Yeats Meets Conan Doyle                                                     Page 192

Yeats Worried – A Page Torn from a Doctor’s Prescription Pad

Chapter Sixteen: The Angel of Mons,Winston Churchill
And his Aunt, Lady Janey Campbell       Page 196

Lady Campbell’s Note – Tea – On the Way back to his Office

Chapter Seventeen: First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill Meets
with Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes  Page 204

Churchill has Much to Tell Doyle and Holmes – Assignments – A Private Matter – Holmes and Churchill Alone – Word of the Angels will Spread – Ready to Depart

BOOK 5

THE LAST BRITISH SOLDIER KILLED

Chapter Eighteen: Tommy Atkins: Angel of Memory, Grief, and Tears   Page 217

Before All the Falderal – In the Nuns’ Woods North – Quiet as a Sunday Morn – Not the Last of the Ruffians and Victors – Marching Northwest into Belgium – Tommy Atkins, His Ascension – Tommy Atkins: Angel of Grief, Memory, and Tears – Dear Reader

 

 

 

Let me know what this all brings to mind for you.

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents for Books Two and Three

The Angel of Mons: A World War I Legend features a Table of Contents that is reminiscent of a form found in older books. You may recall seeing such tables of contents in old novels, histories, and books on a variety topics. The idea here is to introduce the many parts of the novel with a title that is instructive and entertaining. The reader gets a “preview of coming attractions” by reading the table of contents. The novel is divided into five books, seventeen chapters, and 123 sections. The table of contents occupies four pages! An oddity, for certain.

                                                                    BOOK 2

                      DR. MALCOLM LECKIE AND NURSE’S AIDE PHYLLIS CAMPBELL

 Chapter Eight: The Engagement                                                                        Page 100

Captain Malcolm Leckie and his Fiancée, Phyllis Campbell

Chapter Nine: Malcolm Leckie, Prisoner of War                                         Page 109

After Surgery – Another Meeting – “You Saw Them?” “Yes. Clouds Turned to Golden Angels.” – In Parting

Chapter Ten: Greetings and Farewell                                                               Page 115

Malcolm Leckie, Wounded, Returned to British Care – Phyllis Campbell, Nurses’ Aide, Voluntary Aid Detachment, and the Hospital Enquiry Sheets – The Angel of Mons: St. George, Intercessor and Salvation

                                                                   BOOK 3

                               ANGELS AT LE CATEAU AND THE VICKERS TEAMS

Chapter Eleven: The Quarry, St. George, and the Angels of the Golden Mist of Salvation                                                                                        Page 121

Without Pity or Remorse – A Lovely Place. A Deadly March – All that Remained was to Wave the White Flag – The Quarry – To the Bottom – The Problem of Manhandling the Gun to the Quarry Floor – Ziggy and Carmichael down the Wall – Valley of the Shadow of Death – What Tommy Atkins Saw – Tommy Atkins’ Second Encounter with the Divine – The Ascent out of the Pit – Let Death Rest from Toil

Chapter Twelve: St. George and the Angels of the Dark Cloud           Page 136

On this Vast Plain – Two Tethered Bosch Balloons – The Enemy Arrives – The Air Was Still – The Germans Came up to Us – “Angels Saved us Before. Why not Now?” – Herr Lieutenant Sardonic – A Front Row View – The Sky of Three Suns – The Rocks Arise as Soldiers – St. George! In the Flesh! – “Shoot an Angel of God?” – The Onslaught Halted – As Swiftly as they had Come – Souvenirs

Do the titles give you a sense of what each chapter and section will contain? Let me know. Comment. Share with friends.

This is the forty-seventh blog I have written, most about The Angel of Mons. Collectively, they give a detailed and inside look at the book—a study guide?

Introduction to an Old-Fashion Table of Contents

 

The Angel of Mons: A World War I Legend features a Table of Contents that is reminiscent of a form found in older books. You may recall seeing such tables of contents in old novels, histories, and books on a variety topics. The idea here is to introduce the many parts of the novel with a title that is instructive and entertaining. The reader gets a “preview of coming attractions” by reading the table of contents. The novel is divided into five books, seventeen chapters, and 123 sections. The table of contents occupies four pages! An oddity, for certain. I will here present Book One’s titles. Next week I will present Books Two and Three, the fourth and fifth in two weeks. Do the titles give you a sense of what each chapter and section will contain?St.George-cover

                                                                             BOOK 1

                                             THE ANGEL ST. GEORGE FROM THE CLOUD

Chapter One: The Sun Gaily Passed                                Page 3

Dusk: The End of the First Day’s Battle – Across the Canal — The Judgment – A Bullet       Found Lieutenant Dease

Chapter Two: War will Call Us Soon                             Page 9

Training – The Lectures – Who will be the Top Vickers Teams? – In the Workshop – In the Common Room – Interlude: “The Laughing Husband” and Lord Gooseberry Tart – Gunners Godley and Sanders Report to the Section Leader – On the Firing Range and Fields at Hythe and Grantham – Knackers Hauled a Dozen Dead Horses – The Tournament – Lt. Colonel Norman R. McMahon Congratulates the Winners –Passing out Parade – The Ruffians and Victors Plan their Tableau – Celebration — Next Day, At the Manufactory – Comments, Congratulations, Salutations, and Wishes for Success

Chapter Three: To Mons                                                 Page 34

These Vickers Machine Gun Squads Went on Ahead – Unloading the Limbers – Our Ladies – The Briefing – “Mons Shares St. George with You British”

Chapter Four: The Priest’s Sermon: St. George and MonsPage 43

“God and Monseigneurs Saint Georges” – “The Golden Arrows of God

Chapter Five: The Angel St. George of Mons              Page 49

Preparation – Sunday Morning – By Tonight We Will be Victorious – The Cloud of Dust – Where the Canal Makes a Sharp Turn – On the Slag Heaps –Tommy Atkins’ First Death – At the Victors: St. George and his Horde of Angels Descends

Chapter Six: Across the Canal the Germans Saw The Phenomenon in the Heavens                                                        Page 66

And So They Saw – From Drunk with Gladness to Sober with Grief – Lieutenant Maurice Deasy’s Ascent and Transfiguration – Even German Officers and Staff in the Field Saw the Angel –They Fought through the Hours to the End of Day: The Retirement – Escape into the Twilight and the Night – That Night the British Generals Marched the Exhausted BEF Thirty-two Miles

Chapter Seven: Jeanne d’Arc and the Road Through                       Page 75

Ahead Lay the Certainty – The Locale – From the Distance Came the Barking of Dogs and Lantern Light – Mongo Black Disappeared into the Gloom, The Victors Following — The Road where No Road Was – The Cyclists – Goullet Goes Forward – The Return – Captain Ashburner’s Conversion – Report to General Smith-Dorrien: A Pawn Offers Itself for Sacrifice – After Prolonged Silence – The Generals’ Meeting – General Smith-Dorrien’s Dream – The General’s Determination – The Ride Back – Protecting the Secret

 Do the titles give you a sense of what each chapter and section will contain? Let me know. Comment. Share with friends.

This is the forty-seventh blog I have written. Most are about The Angel of Mons. Collectively, they give a detailed and inside look at the book—a study guide?

Blessed with a fine review

Sarah and I had the benefit of touring with Nick and Tony Bird and five other English folks to Le Cateau and the Somme battlefields in August. Nick graced the novel with this review.
posed picture soldiers nimy

Jerred Metz has written an original book on 1914, one that skillfully fuses history and fiction, imaginary characters and historical figures (like Churchill and Conan Doyle and W.B Yeats), with – at the core – a spiritual fantasy. That he succeeds is because at heart Metz is a meticulous historian who has done his research. His description of Mons and the Retreat, of Le Cateau and Nimy, of real characters like Dease and Godley, who both won the VC holding the bridge at Mons, and General Smith-Dorrien and FM French, ring true because they are true. Metz, although an American who has never visited Britain, seems to have an uncanny sense of Tommy Atkins’ character; and his surly but dogged cussedness. And he has a felicitous turn of phrase: of the lull before the storm of Mons he writes – ‘Thus ended the busman’s holiday before the busman’s hell.’ Metz knows the ground, he has walked from Mons to Le Cateau, he knows the soldiers and their generals, and he knows the weaponry. All this is reassuring, because novels and histories where there is the slightest confusion between a Parados and a Parapet, between VD and a VAD, tend to lose the reader’s confidence.

But above all the book must stand or fall on the credibility of its central theme – that of the appearance during the crucial point of battle of the Angel of Mons, and of the secret order, The Brotherhood of God and Monseigneur Saint Georges. Around this vision, and this mystical order, Metz weaves his story. And it is a tribute to his skill that he engages our belief, or wish to believe, in the miraculous moment that inspired and saved the BEF. Metz begins by quoting Harold Begbie who wrote in On the Side of the Angels (1915) – Long after the war is over, and the facts of it have been recorded in histories, one of the most widely known events will be the appearance of St. George and angel-warriors fighting in defence of the British (at) Mons.

The event may have originated in a short story by Arthur Machen (‘The Bowmen’) in the London Evening News but Metz makes of the vision something more – something real that connect Mons and Britain, their joint patron saint, St George. And he skirts round the actual genesis of the Angel by an ingenious plot involving the satanist Aleister Crowley, Yeats, G.B.Shaw and Machan.

At its crux perhaps is what a central character Captain Henri Lambert of the Belgian army points out to Dease and Godley: ‘There is eternal warfare between the forces of good and evil for the hearts of men, for souls. Satan never rests [but] each time the good Saint George came to our salvation. Prayer, penitence, blood, and death. Each time he redeemed us…know that tomorrow you and your squads will be initiated…St. George chose you.’

Towards the end of the book an angel appears in battle and has to be fought… there is mysticism here, and symbolism, and a spiritual thread but I would not wish to reveal the plot or assume to preach as to its meaning, which readers will deduce for themselves. Quibbles concerning minor solecisms (like ‘Sir’ Winston Churchill before he was knighted and some rather precise language for the normally foul-mouthed and inarticulate Tommy) this is a wholly different book on 1914 than the plethora of historical debates recently published, and one which will appeal to anyone with a mystical mien, or an open mind.

Metz has recognized that soldiers in desperate situations will clutch at any straw or semblance of hope that might deliver them from the imminence of death. It might be the arrival of Russians with snow on their boots, it might be the Seventh Cavalry, or it might be the Angel of Mons. There are no atheists in foxholes. And for Metz, as for the soldier in his foxhole (to use a phrase from a later war), the semblance of a thing is as real as the thing itself.

Christmas Truce, 1914

This Christmas is the one hundredth anniversary of the Christmas Truce. The story is touching and sad. As the name implies, a truce between the British and Germans took place on Christmas Eve, 1914. Amazingly, the truce took place all along the four hundred mile long line of trenches. An article in The Wall Street Journal claims that this night’s truce is unique in the history of warfare. There are many accounts of the events. Now there are three books and a wonderful, moving song.

I was so moved by the song when I heard it long ago, I knew I would include the event in The Angel of Mons. In the final chapter, “Tommy Atkins,

Angel of Memory, Grief, and Tears” I inserted this tale.

 

Whenever I fought at a moment of need, one of the Ruffians or Victors would appear. Gabriel Jessop or Carrew Nancarew might help me repair the gun, hand me a part. Catchpole and Palmer might march along to the trenches, full kit, singing a London stage ditty, its verses replaced with ribald lyrics to lighten my heart, make me blush. “How’s old Vicki holding up? Had to piss in the canister to keep her cool when there is no water about?” Catchpole might ask.

 

“You uncouth old fool. Besides, I am Gunner One now. Not my task.”

 

Or at night under the glory and glare of tracer bullets, looking across No Man’s Land at the Somme. At the Christmas Truce, December 24, 1914, the Victors and Ruffians, all eleven killed, filed onto the field, made up a proper football squad, played against a German team. For all I knew, the Germans might also have been departed dead playing.

 

The Victors broke out a case of brandy, the Ruffians, wine. We drank with the Germans, toasted St. George. The Germans raised their glasses to St. Michael. Our hearts begged the saints to signal that we would not fire another shot, the war over, the peace to hold forever, all to return to homes and families. We ate sausage spread with dark mustard spread on rye bread, pickles, and roasted potatoes. We served up plum pudding with hard sauce and mince pies. That night my angel brothers reverently carried the dead and tenderly moved the wounded to aid stations.

 

I awoke next morning to gunfire and bombardment. My heart, filled with joy and hope the night before–last night a heavenly miracle–shriveled to a walnut-hard center of grief and regret.

***

I encourage you to read more ab

An Object has the Force of a Character: Nimy Bridge

Nimy Bridge over the Mons-Conde Canal

Nimy Bridge over the Mons-Conde Canal

Sometimes a place or an object can have the force of a character in a novel or story. Consider novels whose title is the name of a place. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, the Malabar Hills in F.M. Forester’s A Passage to India. Sites in Dublin in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

So it is that Nimy Bridge, that crosses the Mons-Conde Canal, and the canal itself, almost has the role of a character in The Angel of Mons. The bridge was the place of greatest vulnerability and, at the same time, the point in greatest need of defense by the British on the first day of battle. It was understood that the Germans would at some time in the long day’s battle breech the defense of Nimy Bridge, and make its way into the city of Mons. The longer the bridge could be held, the better would be the prospects of an orderly retreat for the BEF who fought that day.posed picture soldiers nimy

It was the task of the Royal Fusiliers, Company “A”, to hold the bridge. The machine gunners and the musketry fought courageously that day. The first two Victoria Crosses awarded in the war went to two soldiers who manned the machine guns—Lieutenant Maurice Dease and Private Sidney Godley. This was the first and the only day that Dease fought. Godley, holding the gun on his own, was taken prisoner by the Germans and spend all the rest of the war in a POW camp.

At the foot of the Nimy Bridge is a memorial plaque commemorating their brave defense and its importance to the battle.

 

The bridge is the first point battlefield tours visit because of its importance. On the one hundredth anniversary f the battle on August 23, 1014 commemorative exercises began there.

What places strike you as being of great significance in novels, stories, poems, or plays and rise to the standing of characters?

Behind the Scenes

There are many behind the scenes matters that go into a novel. One such is that I decided to give many of the characters the names of dear friends. I received an e-mail from one. He wrote: Jerred, I am getting close.  Great read.  I’ve really enjoyed it and will be sorry when I am done.  I like your changes. (He had read an earlier draft.) The only thing I would quibble with is that dashing, heroic, charismatic young Kendall Haydon died so soon.   I would have liked to have seen him having brandy and a pipe with Holmes and Doyle, et. al. in the parlor.  Ah well.  The best always die young.

Kendall Haydon is a character in a Chapter Eleven: The Quarry, St. George, and the Angels of the Golden Mist of Salvation and the section entitled “The Valley of the Shadow of Death.”

The Kendall Haydon in real life is known to one and all as Duke Haydon. For many years he wrote a newspaper column under the name of Uncle Duke. That’s what I call him.

I wrote back: Duke, I read your e-mail, and laughed heartily. You are right. He should have had a brighter future. Now that you mention it, I am getting ready to write another WWI novel, this time with the Americans fighting their way through the Hindenburg Line. It wouldn’t hurt to have a soldier named Kendall Haydon as part of the story. And I am definitely planning to have Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes in it. In fact, Doyle was sent as a correspondent, as I have him assigned by Churchill in their meeting. He wrote a lot about the war. It will be part of the reading I do in preparation for the book. Also, I had Holmes go off to Europe as a spy. There is also a Doyle novel in which he has Holmes do this. I need to read that novel, too. You are welcome to join me in reading this material. So Haydon will be in the book. Good idea of yours.

Consider this also as an announcement of  the subject of my next novel. Give me a few years and it will be done.