Stories Of Ghosts That Have Appeared To Their Loved Ones Before They Knew They Had Died.
Many people have reported witnessing the spirits of those they love appearing to them before they were even aware of their death. Here are a few examples from the United Kingdom.
In September 1857, Captain German Wheatcroft, of the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, went out to India to join his regiment. His wife remained in England, living in Cambridge. Two months afterwards, on the night of November 14, she dreamed that she saw her husband. He looked anxious and ill, and she awoke feeling very distressed.
She then looked up and saw, in the bright moonlight, the same figure of her husband now standing by her bedside. He was in uniform, his hands pressed across his breast, his hair dishevelled, and his face very pale. In his large dark eyes, was an expression of "great excitement" and she noticed the peculiar contraction of his mouth which was habitual to him when agitated.
Mrs Wheatcroft saw her husband very distinctly, down to the smallest detail of his dress. She even noticed between his hands the white of his shirt front. He seemed to bend forward, as if in pain, and make an effort to speak, but there was no sound. He remained visible for about a minute, then disappeared.
Mrs Wheatcroft's first thought was to make sure that she was actually awake. She rubbed her eyes with the sheet and felt that the touch was real. Then, her small nephew being in the bed with her, she bent over the sleeping child and listened to his breathing. The sound was distinct. This convinced her that what she had seen was no dream, and there was no more sleep for her that night.
In the morning she described, the strange experience to her mother, saying that although she had seen no marks of blood on her husband's uniform she had the strongest feeling that he must be either killed or severely wounded. She was so convinced of this that during the next few weeks she refused all social invitations, saying that, uncertain as she was whether she was not already a widow, she would never enter a place of amusement until she received a letter from her husband - if he still lived - dated later than November 14.
In the following month of December 1857, her fears were confirmed by publication in London of the fateful telegram that she had fully anticipated. This stated that Captain German Wheatcroft had been killed in action at Lucknow - but gave the date of his death as the fifteenth of November. When Mr Wilkinson, a London solicitor who had charge of Captain Wheatcroft's affairs, met the widow, she repeated to him that she had been quite prepared for the bad news, but she felt sure that her husband's death, could not possibly have occurred on November 15, as it was during the previous night on the 14th that he had appeared to her. There must have been some mistake. She persisted in this belief, in spite of the War Office certificate later obtained by Mr Wilkinson, which repeated that the captain had been killed in action on November 15, 1857.
The solicitor, puzzled by the widow's story, called at the office of the Army agents to see if there could have been a mistake made in the certificate. But he was shown that the captain's death was mentioned in two separate despatches of the commander-in-chief, and in both these instances, the date given was the 15th, as in the first published telegram.
There the matter rested for three months. Then in March 1858, Captain Wheatcroft's family received a letter from a colleague of their son, written near Lucknow in mid-December, 1857. This officer told the family that Captain Wheatcroft had been killed at Lucknow while gallantly leading the squadron, on the afternoon of November the fourteenth. The officer said he was riding close by Wheatcroft's side and saw him fall, struck by a fragment of shell in the breast. Wheatcroft never spoke again after he was hit. He was buried at Dilkoosha, and on a wooden cross erected by a friend at the head of his grave were cut the initials "G.W." and the date of his death, "November 14, 1857".
Such was the turn of events that eventually proved the widow right, and offered at the same time the most conclusive proof of the apparition she had seen. The War Office finally corrected the date of Captain Wheatcroft's death to the fourteenth, though not until more than a year after he had appeared at his wife's bedside.
The Spirit Of A Dead Brother
The story of Captain Wheatcroft is one of the more outstanding cases affording proof of a person's apparition being seen elsewhere at, or soon after, the time of death. These appearances are not, of course, uncommon, as has been more widely recognised in later years, though cases where two or more persons together have seen such apparition are less usual. A graphic example of the dual sighting of a passing spirit is the experience, in 1785, of Captain John Cope Sherbroke and Lieutenant George Wynyard, of the 33rd Regiment.
The regiment at this time was stationed on Cape Breton Island, off Nova Scotia. The two officers, having very similar tastes and preferring study to idle pleasure, spent much of their free time together busy at their books.
On the evening of October 15, 1785, between eight and nine o'clock they were sitting in Wynyard's apartment, to which they had retired from the mess to continue their studies. The apartment consisted of a sitting room and a bedroom and was entered by a door from the passage, with a door in the sitting room giving access through to the bedroom. There was no other means of entrance to, or exit from, the bedroom, the window of which was fastened against the icy weather.
Sherbroke, happening to glance up from his book to the passage door, saw a tall youth aged about twenty, pale and very emaciated, standing beside it. Surprised, he turned to Wynyard, who was seated near him and drew his friend's attention to their strange visitor who was dressed in light indoor clothes in contrast to the heavy garments which they themselves wore against the severe weather. Wynyard turned his eyes to the youth, and his shocked reaction to what he saw astonished his colleague.
"I have heard of a man's being as pale as death," Sherbroke said afterwards, "but I never saw a living face assume the appearance of a corpse, except Wynyard's at that moment."
As they both looked intently and silently at the figure before them, for Wynyard seemed incapable of speech, which also silenced Sherbroke, the pale youth moved slowly across to the bedroom. As he passed the two men, he cast his eyes with an expression of melancholy affection on the petrified Wynyard.
Wynyard, struggling to recover himself, seized Sherbroke's arm and muttered almost inaudibly, "Great God - my brother!" "Your brother?" repeated Sherbroke. "What can you mean? There must be some deception - follow me!" Taking his friend by the arm he led him into the bedroom, which the youth had entered. It was quite empty. As they looked around, baffled, another officer coming in joined in the search, but the mysterious youth had vanished, though there was no possible way out of the bedroom other than by the communicating door.
Wynyard was convinced that what he had seen was the spirit of his younger brother, John Otway Wynyard, a lieutenant in the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards, who had come to some harm. Sherbroke, however, firmly believed that some trick had been played on them, though he could not guess how. At the suggestion of the officer who had joined them, they took a note of the day and hour at which the strange incident had occurred, and agreed not to mention it to the others in the mess.
But, much as his friend tried to persuade him that the "apparition" must have been a skilful illusion engineered by some of their colleagues, Wynyard remained full of fears for the safety of his brother. His worried state eventually roused the curiosity of the other officers, so that he was finally obliged to confess to them all that had happened. This brought everyone to a fever of suspense, and they waited impatiently for letters from England - in particular, letters for Wynyard - which might have give an answer to the mystery.
The next ships to arrive at Cape Breton Island had all left England before the day of the apparition's appearance. The letters which they carried, therefore, could not be expected to give a clue to the event. But at last, on June 6 1786, nearly eight months after the inexplicable incident, the long wished for ship arrived. The mail was distributed in the messroom at suppertime. All the officers except Wynyard had letters, which they read avidly but found no mention of Wynyard's family. They then examined the several newspapers which had been brought, but these contained no mention of any death, or of any other circumstances connected with Wynyard's family which could account for the "ghost".
There remained a solitary letter for Sherbroke. The mess watched in silence as he broke the seal and glanced at its contents. He looked up, beckoned to Wynyard, and they left the room together.
The other officers now waited tensely for their return certain that Sherbroke's letter must contain the long-expected news. After about an hour Sherbrooke re-joined them, obviously full of emotion. He drew near to the fireplace, and, leaning his head against the high mantelpiece, said in a low voice to the man nearest to his, "Wynyard's brother is no more ..."
The first line of Sherbroke's letter was, "Dear John, break to your friend Wynyard the death of his favourite brother." John Otway Wynyard, the letter disclosed, had died on the day, and the hour, on which the two friends had seen his spirit pass through the apartment.
In spite of this corroboration of the testimony of his own eyes, Captain Sherbroke found it extremely difficult to accept that he had in fact seen a ghost. Some years later, having returned to England, he was walking with two companions in Piccadilly, when on the opposite side of the road he saw, to his excitement, a man passing who bore a striking resemblance to the figure which he and Wynyard had seen. He immediately pointed out the man to his companions, who knew of the incident on Cape Breton Island, and hurriedly crossed over and spoke to the man. The man listened to his urgent questions and answered them understandingly. It transpired that he was another brother of the dead youth and had never been out of the country.
There is, on record, another version of this encounter. A surviving colleague of Wynyard and Sherbroke - the officer who joined them in the apartment minutes after the appearance of the apparition - said in later years that he believed the man Sherbroke approached in Piccadilly was not a brother of the dead man, but someone noted for having a strong likeness to him, and dressing like him. The outcome, however, was the same: Sherbroke must have been convinced at last that he had, unquestionably, seen a ghost.
An Elderly Couple Return To Their Happy Place
In some cases, corroboration of an apparition seen near to the time of death has come from an independent party unaccompanied by a member of the family. An example is the following incident told by Richard South.
"During World War I, my cousins, Madge and Jean Telfer were living with their mother at a house in Hornsey, North London. Jean was engaged to a soldier who was away fighting in France and had been corresponding with him, but because of his unit being moved about at the front, his letters were very often a long time catching up with him.
"Then came a time when he was lucky enough to get leave, and of course, on his arrival in London, he came straight away to visit Jean. On arriving at the house he was shown into the front room by the maid, who said that Jean was out but would not be long. He was seated there when Jean's mother appeared in the doorway. She did not speak, which he thought was rather strange, but simply smiled at him, then turned and left the room.
"When Jean arrived home he mentioned having seen her mother and remarked how odd it was that she had merely smiled at him without speaking, for he was certainly no stranger in the house. He asked if anything was wrong. Jean then told him that her mother had died three weeks before. Madge, the younger daughter, had found her one morning on taking her a cup of tea. She was sitting up in bed, dead, having choked to death with asthma.
"Later, when all three were talking things over, Madge admitted that she also had seen the apparition of her mother, several times, but had not said anything for fear of it being thought she was going out of her mind. She was very relieved to find out that others could see the apparition of her mother beside herself.
"Jean's young man stayed for about a week at the house, and he saw the woman's apparition on three more occasions. The last time was as he was putting on his tie when he caught a view of her in the mirror. She was standing in the doorway of the bedroom and again smiling at him.
"Eventually her spirit did seem to find rest."
A further unusual and poignant example of the lingering ghost is the experience in the 1920s of Mr and Mrs Frank Davies. There seemed nothing unusual about the furnished flat in Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, which Mr and Mrs Davies went to view one day. Reasonably decorated and comfortably furnished, it looked ideal for their purpose, and they decided to rent it. Immediately they moved in, however, it became clear there was something strange about the place.
The morning after their first night there, on coming into the parlour the couple found that the two big armchairs in the room had both been moved closer to the fire. Puzzled, they moved the chairs back to their former positions. But the next morning when they entered the parlour the chairs had again been moved closer to the fire, and this odd behaviour of the furniture went on for several days. The couple noticed, too, that newspapers and a book were in a different place to where they had been left the previous night.
This strange movement of the furniture so worried his wife that Frank Davies promised her the next night he would stay up and keep vigil. They both went off to their bedroom as usual, but when his wife was in bed Davies returned to the parlour. He found to his astonishment that the chairs had already been moved beside the fire, and sitting in one was an old man reading a newspaper, while in the other was an old woman resting with her hands folded on a book in her lap. Neither of the figures seemed to heed him.
He returned immediately to his wife and told her what he had seen. Both then went to the parlour, but the apparitions had vanished - though the chairs remained where they had been moved.
The following morning Millie and Frank Davies made inquiries in the neighbourhood. They discovered that the previous occupants of the flat had been an elderly couple who were very close to each other. The old man had died suddenly, and his wife had not lived long afterwards; she was found, one day, dead in her chair by the fire.
It seemed to the Davies' that the spirits of the old couple were returning each night to be together where they had been happiest. From that day onward they made a practice of themselves moving the armchairs closer to the fire before they went to bed and leaving magazines, newspapers and books handy beside them. They then, on one or two occasions, peeped in to catch a glimpse of their ghostly visitors, but never saw them. The old couple apparently ceased to visit the flat, probably because they knew they had been discovered when the chairs were moved in readiness by the fire for them. When eventually the Davies' stopped repositioning the chairs at night they were never moved again. Marine Ghost Demands Justice: The Restless Spirit Of A Young Man Who Wanted The Truth To Be Known.