Did Billy Butlin hold back to play the Last Post for ghostly soldiers?

7 02 2012

Rudely awoken at 3.15 am by a shrieking smoke alarm just outside our bedroom door.  It took a few ear piercing screeches for me to shake myself out of a deep slumber but Mike was oblivious, until I leapt out of bed and started fanning the alarm with a shirt grabbed from the linen basket.  I crawled back to bed and sleepily grabbed my dowser from its place on my sidelocker, ready to go as they say!  Sure enough, a spirit man by the name of Constantine smoking a cigar was standing by my bed ready to introduce the others…Mike sniffed the air as he too smelt the tobacco smoke…and my dowser picked up first one, then two, then three spirits and whirled them over to the other side.  It must have been the coldest night of the year and my bare arm was soon freezing as 5 minutes had passed and a total of 35 passed through.   I knew though that for the smoke alarm to be activated it meant there were a lot more souls queueing up in the ether, so it wasn’t surprising when the next wave flew in….

Mike was being a good sport and fanning the alarm every time another bunch came in…and he even grabbed a piece of paper and pencil and scribbled the visions and words down that I was shouting back to him.  The first things I said were ‘brigade of guards, Crimean war…choggy wollah…fuzzy wuzzies… Charge!‘ (I saw natives as well as soldiers being killed) and then I saw a long table covered in silver, such as in an officers mess. (He explained that a ‘choggy wollah’ describes a native who carried supplies for the army and however wrong it appears to us tody, a ‘fuzzy wuzzy’ was what the Victorians called the natives they were fighting.)

Wow!” he exclaimed…”The chap whose coming to see me in the morning (ie in 6 hours time) is particularly interested in military history…how weird is that?” He was even more amazed when the next regiment I mentioned was the very one that he and his ex-military pal had been in when they met 30 years ago!  The visions and impressions continued to pour in as I clung to my swirling dowser: Expressions like ‘down the pan’….’Omdurman’ (another battle of 1898) ..‘Eggs being cooked out in the field’…’Pea soup’…(being unable to see through the smoke of war)…‘sounds of war and people going over a ‘ridge’‘Saskatchewan‘ I repeated to Mike several times…”Where’s that?”  “Canada” he answered…

The alarm had  gone off three times when at last the rush of souls slowed to a stop.  I heard a bugler playing The Last Post.  I heard someone saying ‘At the going down of the sun… (and Mike finished it for me: “At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them“.  As though watching a film, the camera panned to a war memorial and an epitaph.  The bugler played again to remember these lost souls of various wars in history.  It was 3.50 am.  My guides thanked me for helping 999 spirits to leave and said, amusingly, ‘you deserve a medal – as does your comrade in arms!

Mike jumped back into bed and shuddered.  “Thank goodness that’s over; I’ve got to be up early…”  I pushed my freezing arm back under the covers and he took my hand to warm me up…..Two minutes had barely passed when it started again: SHRIEEEEEK!!! This time it was not funny. On and on the alarm continuously announced the arrival of dozens more souls  who died in various ways including ‘being pushed downstairs, a scalding, children on crutches and people with ‘rickets’ (an old fashioned disease of the bones), electrocution, a caravan fire, run over by a bulldozer, factory workers, drug overdoses’ and so it went on…After another hour I was flagging and Mike had become so fed up he even braved the frost and went down to the garage to fetch a ladder: “I’m going to sort this once and for all!” he said…”It’s ridiculous!”

“Be careful!” I begged, remembering that I’d attracted spirits who died of electrocution.  But by the time he’d returned the alarm had finally stopped, thankfully!  At 5.15 am we eventually got the sleep we yearned for, but at least 2,000 souls had finally got the peace they so deserved.

The next day a friend who lives less than a mile away from us said that her house alarm had gone off at 1.30 am but there were no burglars…Of course I couldn’t resist tuning in and sure enough there were three lost souls stranded there (didn’t quite make it to the meeting point at our house!) and one of them gave his name as ‘Billy Butlin’…”What? THE Billy Butlin of holiday camp fame?” I asked…

“Indeed!” came the answer.  I looked him up to make sure that he had died and found that British entgrepeneur Sir William Heygate Edmund Colborne (“Billy”) Butlin (!) died in 1980, aged 81.  Imagine my amazement though to discover that before he became a famous holiday mogal he had enlisted as a bugler in World War I – In the Canadian Army! (What was it my friend had said: ‘but there were no burglars’…surely she meant to say ‘buglers‘ 🙂 )

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