Saturday 22 January 2011


How I wish my son hadn't read the news on the internet at college yesterday. Then I may never have heard about the theft of Wilfred Owen's medal and matchbox from his family's home. How anyone could be that callous is beyond me.
These precious relics are a memorial to the great World War 1 poet, who sacrificed his life for his country. The matchbox was his constant companion throughout the war. It was with him when he was killed while attempting to cross the Sambre Canal in 1918.
These aren't a few petty items snatched to make a quick pound or two up some dark alley. They are National Treasures, stolen from us all. This is sacrilege. Cultural rape.
I was in tears through most of the night. I couldn't sleep, couldn't get it out of my mind. It was devastating.
This probably seems a gross overreaction to an item on a news bulletin. Things like this, and much worse, happen every day. But I have a poignant connection to WW1. (If you are a staunch disbeliever of anything supernatural, then feel free to skip the remainder of this post.)

A few years ago, I began having nightmares of harrowing battle scenes. It reached a point where I dreaded falling asleep. Then the sightings began. I'd often catch a glimpse of a young man in khaki uniform out of the corner of my eye. His 'visits' became increasingly frequent, causing a sudden drop in temperature to the extent that I could see my breath. Electrical equipment was also affected by his presence. Lights in the house would flicker and dim as he passed.
It wasn't long before another member of my family, a child, began to see him outside the house. He described 'the brown man who walks really fast down the path to the front door', but of course no one ever arrived.
I felt quite ill-at-ease and had the distinct impression that I was being constantly shadowed, that he was anxious to say something. So I tried meditating. Communication was instantaneous and exceptionally clear.
He told me his name was William Barnsley Allen (Billie to his family and friends). He was born on 8th June 1892 in Sheffield, but his home was 6 Victoria Avenue, Scarborough. He was educated at St. Cuthbert's College, Worksop and entered medical school in 1908, graduating in 1914.
However, his career was cut short by the outbreak of the Great War.He enlisted, joining the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was sent to France in 1915. (I will relay an account of his experiences on the Front Line, and of his death in his own words in my next post.)
He also gave me a mental impression of his final resting place, a gravestone low and wide as if lying on its side. The name 'Earnley', and the date 27th August 1933 also seemed significant.
I thoroughly researched all the information received. Everything checked out. He was a genuine contact from beyond the grave.

I now visit his grave in the tiny churchyard at Earnley every Remembrance Sunday as a token of my deep respect for this man who suffered so much. Exactly how much will become clear in post 4.
I honestly believe Billie is trying to make us aware of the horrors and futility of war, and to show us how deeply it can affect even those who are 'lucky' enough to survive.

Perhaps it's time the world listened!


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