Angels of Mons

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Angels of Mons

A story by British author Arthur Machen, first published in the London Evening News for September 14, 1915, on the apparition of phantom English bowmen from the field of Agincourt during the terrible retreat from Mons in World War I. The story quoted the testimony of an officer as follows:

"On the night of the 27th I was riding along the column with two other officers. As we rode along I became conscious of the fact that in the fields on both sides of the road along which we were marching I could see a very large body of horsemen. The other two officers had stopped talking. At last one of them asked me if I saw anything in the fields. I told them what I had seen. The third officer confessed that he, too, had been watching these horsemen for the past twenty minutes. So convinced were we that they were really cavalry, that at the next halt one of the officers took a party of men out to reconnoitre and found no one there. The night then grew darker and we saw no more."

Confirmations poured in. Similar visions of phantom armies were related from different battle fronts. Books were written on the occurrence. Harold Begbie, in On the Side of the Angels (1915), quoted testimonies of soldiers. A dying prisoner spoke of the reluctance of the Germans to attack the English lines "because of the thousands of troops behind us." Machen continued to reiterate that the story was complete fiction. A claim in 1930 added another feature to the story. Friedrich Herzenwirth, a director of the German espionage system, published his memoirs in February 1930 and declared that the Angels of Mons were motion pictures, projected by German flyers on the clouds to make the English troops believe that even God was on the German side. No firm evidence has been produced to support this explanation.


Machen, Arthur. The Angel of Mons: The Bowmen and Other Legends of the War. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1915.

Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Hoaxes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.