Ghostly sight was soldier's pal in borrowed uniform.
HALLOWE'EN will soon be upon us, a night when the deceased traditionally break through the veil of death to pay a customary but inexplicable visit.
Real or not, for one terrified Liverpudlian lady in 1916, an encounter with a supposedly unworldly spectre was not one she would ever wish to repeat.
It was a dark, cold February night and news from the trenches was not good. Britain was at war and many young men had lost their lives, slain on the battlefield.
Reports of unexplainable frontline apparitions had reached families at home and the tragedy of loss was impossible to ignore. Ouija boards were all the rage and the services of mystics and clairvoyants were at an alltime high.
For many in Liverpool, a world of ghosts and spirits was a very real prospect.
That evening, a Toxteth woman was making her way home along a quiet residential street. The moon shone down lighting up the pavement and only the sound of her own pace pierced the dead of night. Suddenly, up ahead, appeared the shape of a man. For her there could be no mistake - this was a ghost!
Within a heartbeat, the silence was destroyed by the woman's own bloodcurdling scream. So shrill was her cry that people in the neighbourhood rushed out from their houses, only to see the woman collapse to the ground.
Kind-hearted locals ran over and sought to revive her and asked what on earth had happened.
With a racing pulse the lady claimed that she had seen a figure, one unmistakably dressed in an army uniform, complete with muddied trousers, a steel helmet and traditional Enfield rifle. As soon as she screamed, the apparition seemed to vanish! That was all she could remember.
Subsequent enquires by a local journalist revealed the truth of the matter to be a little less supernatural. It turned out that, on that night, a solider - very much alive - had just returned home from the trenches and had been welcomed back by a group of friends. He had thrown aside his uniform and made himself presentable for a night of joviality.
As the alcohol flowed, one of the party decided to dress up in his friend's attire and he looked every bit a solider himself. He jokingly marched out into the backyard then onwards into the street. It was then that his fun took a far more psychologically damaging turn. On encountering the woman and witnessing her sudden collapse to the ground, the would-be apparition hot-footed it back into the house never to be seen again.
His eerie exploits would be the talk of the town for weeks to come.
Typical Liverpool streets where future Pals would have grown up - and similar to where the ghost was first 'spotted'
Liverpool Pals (19th Battalion) at Knowsley Park, Prescot. c.1915: perhaps one of these returning pals was the 'apparition'