Mysteries of World War One

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Date: 1914 to 1918
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Surnames/tags: The Great War World War I WWI
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YouTube - Top 5 Greatest Unsolved and Unexplained Mysteries of First World War

Mysteries of World War One

In 1918 when World War I had ended, the War Graves Commission searched the Gallipoli battlefields. Of the 36,000 Commonwealth servicemen who died in the campaign, 13,000 laid in unidentified graves, 14,000 bodies were never found

They shall not grow old
As we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them

Vanishing Battalion of Gallipoli

The Norfolk Regiment, set out for the Gallipoli Peninsula from Liverpool on July 30, 1915 aboard the SS Aquitainia, there were 250 men, 16 officers, and led by Sir Horace Proctor-Beauchamp, they arrived at Suvla Bay in Gallipoli on 10 August 1915 amidst heavy fighting. On August 12, the[1]5th Norfolks, as part of the 163rd Brigade, were ordered to launch an offensive against Turkish positions in order to clear them out ahead of a planned Allied advance. The men were in poor physical condition due to the hardship of their journey, the side effects of inoculations, a lack of sleep, and the harsh, brutally hot climate of the area. Many of them were sick with dysentery, and their morale was low.

They turned the wrong way, separating them from the larger 163rd Brigade. Realizing their mistake, they still prepared to advance against Kavak Tepe ridge without support or reinforcements. The Norfolk Regiment bravely pressed on managing to push the enemy back towards a forest that was alight from artillery fire. Soldiers of the New Zealand Field company described how the company climbed the ridge and began to enter some low lying cloud just as the last of the Royal Norfolk Regiment was seen to enter the cloud, it lifted off the hill. The company of men should now have been clearly visible, but not one of them remained. The entire regiment had simply disappeared.[2]The 5th Battalion were never seen again.It was assumed that the [3]battalion of 266 men had been captured and held prisoner, the British government demanded that Turkey return them. They insisted that they had neither captured nor made contact with the Norfolk Regiment. A BBC TV drama, All the King's Men was based upon their story

Mystery of Celtic Wood
1st Division (Australia)

The [4] 10th Battalion of the 1st Australian Division[5]were known as the "terrible 10th", because of their fighting spirit in the trenches of France and Belgium. Two members were awarded the Victoria Cross during the Gallipoli Campaign, they led the Australian forces in the first landing and defense of ANZAC Cove.

The 10th Battalion were to [6] attack Celtic Wood during the Battle of Poelcappelle.[7] Instead of the normal night attack the troops attacked at dawn. [8] At 5:20am on 9 October, the battle began and seven officers and 78 men of the 10th under the command of Lieutenant Frank Scott who was only 22 years old charged the woods.The 10th Battalion commander Lieutenant-Colonel Maurice Wilder-Neligan wrote in his report of the action .a desperate hand encounter followed, in which heavy casualties were inflicted upon the enemy...I am only able to account for 14 unwounded members of the party. One survivor said only seven made it back to the Australian lines while another said the number was 14. Official army records list 37 of the 85 involved in the attack as being missing without trace.

The missing were never heard of again. Their names were not in any list of prisoners received during the war. The Graves Commission found no trace of their bodies after the war. German military records contained no mention of the attack, there is speculation that they were massacred by German troops and buried in a secret mass grave. Six books have been published attempting to explain the mystery. The disappearing soldiers of Celtic Wood is known as the greatest mystery for Australia in World War I.

USS Cyclops

On the 4 March 1918,[9]USS Cyclops departed for Baltimore, Maryland, with no stops scheduled, carrying 10,800 long tons manganese ore used to produce munitions . The ship was thought to be overloaded when she left Brazil, as her maximum capacity was 8,000 long tons. Commander Worley had submitted a report before leaving port that the starboard engine had a cracked cylinder and was not operative.[10]Cyclops never made it to Baltimore . It was suggested by some that the combination of the overloaded condition, engine trouble, and bad weather may have conspired to sink Cyclops, an extensive naval investigation concluded Many theories have been advanced, but none that satisfactorily accounts for her disappearance.There was also speculation as it was wartime the USS Cyclops was captured or sunk by a German raider or submarine.[11] No wreckage of USS Cyclops was ever found she along with 306 crew and passengers disappeared without a trace, within the area known as the Bermuda Triangle.

The Crucified Soldier

On 10 May 1915, The Times printed a short article titled Torture of a Canadian Officer. According to the article, Canadian soldiers wounded at Ypres had told how one of their officers had been crucified to a wall by bayonets thrust through his hands and feet before having another bayonet driven through his throat and, finally, riddled with bullet. [12] The soldier was recorded as being white, around 5ft 10in, clean-shaven with brown hair. His nationality was Canadian. Colonel Ernest J. Chambers, the Canadian chief censor, began investigating the story . He found a private who swore under affidavit that he had seen three Canadian soldiers bayonetted to a barn door three miles from St. Julien.The story made headline news around the world, the Allies used the supposed incident in their war propaganda.Sgt. Harry Band was thought to be one of the crucified soldiers he was a Canadian soldier who served in the 48th Highlanders, 15th Battalion.Records show him missing on the 24 April, 1915.[13]The story of the Crucified soldier has never been verified by official sources.

Angels of Mons

On 22–23 August 1914, the first major battle of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War happened at the Battle of Mons. German forces were pushed back by heavily outnumbered British troops, who suffered heavy losses and they were forced to retreat the next day.On 24 April 1915, an account was published telling of[14] visions of a supernatural force that miraculously intervened to help the British at the important moment of the battle. Stories varied from it being medieval longbow archers alongside St. George to a strange luminous cloud, the most popular version was angelic warriors.

On 29 September 1914 Arthur Machen published a short story called The Bowmen in the London newspaper The Evening News.The story told how a phantom bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt summoned by a soldier calling on St. George to push back the Germans. The only real evidence of visions is from actual serving soldiers stating that they saw visions of phantom cavalrymen, not angels or bowmen, and this happened during the retreat rather than at the battle itself. It is said the stories can be explained away because troops were exhausted and had not slept properly for days.But the men insisted this is what they saw.


  1. - The Mysterious Vanishing Battalion of WWI
  2. The Cubitt Family - 5th. Battalion, The Royal Norfolk Regiment
  3. Before its - 266 British Soldiers Disappear In 1915 Without A Trace
  4. 10th Battalion - The 10th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army that served as part of the Australian Imperial Force during World War I.
  5. 1st Division (Australia) - The 1st Division is the main formation of the Australian Army and contains the majority of the Army's regular forces
  6. - On this day October 9
  7. Battle of Poelcappelle - marked the end of a number of highly successful British attacks in late September and early October 1917, during the Third Battle of Ypres.
  8. Trove Digitised Newspapers - Barrier Miner Broken Hill, Friday 12 October 1917
  9. USS Cyclops - loss of the ship and 306 crew and passengers without a trace within the area known as the Bermuda Triangle
  10. Washington Times - April 19, 1918, FINAL EDITION, Page 11, Image 11
  11. Google Newspapers - The Age October 7,1939
  12. International Business Times -Ypres anniversary Why we must all remember the Crucified Soldier
  13. Spartacus - Crucified Soldiers
  14. History on - Mysteries & Controversies of WWI – 10 of The Biggest!

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