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Tom Slemen's SPOOKY SUMMER; Our columnist's new series on the scary side of the sunny season.

IN the blistering hot August of 1973, two Liverpool University students -Barry Dunne and Duncan Greenhall - both 21 - decided to hitchhike across France.

They got as far as Paris, where, after spending what little they had over the course of a week living in a very cheap hotel, they decided to go home via Dieppe, where they planned to take the ferry to Newha ven. They both had a little too much wine down at Dieppe, and being a scorching day at noon, Barry and Duncan went down to the beach, intended to do a little sunbathing, but something quite extraordinary happened that day which defies a rational explanation.

The students were taken aback by the lack of visitors to the beach, and also noticed the strange silence hanging in the air there. There had been a steady hubbub from distant traffic just a few moments ago, but now the students could hear the waves lapping the beach. As Barry was remarking upon this sudden stillness the skies darkened - even though there was not a cloud above in what had been a beautiful blue canopy.

Then all hell broke loose on that beach. Loud thundering booms startled the students and were so loud, Barry and Duncan clamped their hands over their ears. They then heard men's voices shouting, as well as cries and screams - and then came the distinctive ominous clatter of machine-gun fire - but there was no one else on the beach.

Above the baffled students, a plane was heard to fall, screeching and whining as if it was about to dive-bomb them. They looked up and saw nothing, but suddenly there was a enormous bang somewhere close and the blast knocked Barry and Duncan to the ground.

When they got to their feet feeling rather concussed, they were greeted by a surreal and terrifying sight: a cadre of German soldiers were heading in their direction, and they were dressed exactly like the Nazi soldiers of World War Two. Duncan hoped someone was shooting a film but then some of the approaching Germans raised their rifles and aimed them at the two young men.

There was a burst of shots and the bullets whined close past Dun can's head. The students turned and ran in the other direction - and in the distance, about 500 yards away, they saw a mass of figures, all apparently dressed in military uniforms and coming from amphibious landing craft. Further down the beach, tanks were also coming out of the strange landing craft.

A hail of bullets came from the direction of the other soldiers, so the students fell down and lay flat, wondering what to do as they pan icked. Duncan suggested taking to the sea, but Barry found a stick, and to the end of it he tied his handkerchief, and with this makeshift white flag he attempted to surrender.

The German troops ran to him and Duncan, and they thought the end was near. Duncan picked up a rock and threw it at a pistol-toting soldier - but the rock went straight through him. The German fired the gun at Duncan at point blank range and he felt a slight tingle where it went through his head.

Then three German soldiers ran straight through Barry as he frantically waved his flag, and he felt a cold sensation as each figure dashed through him. Only then did the students realise the soldiers were ghosts. Then the skies brightened again and the beach was crowded with sunbathers.

The same ghostly re-enactment of what is thought to be the Dieppe Raid of August 19, 1942, has been seen by many other people over the years. In August 1951, two wellrespected English ladies holidaying at a boarding house near to Dieppe beach were awakened one morning by the sounds of planes dive-bombing, whistling shells, explosions and gunfire, even though the beach was deserted at the time.

The Allied raid on Dieppe was one of the biggest military failures of World War Two, and 3,648 British and Canadian troops were killed, captured or reported as missing in the assault. Barry and Duncan were not aware of Dieppe's tragic history, and will never forget the day when they inadvertently had a chilling holiday in the past.

Haunted Liverpool 25 is out .now on Amazon.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 27, 2014
Words:729
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