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Observations placeholder

Madame A Clarinval has a vision enabling her to find the grave of her son killed in action



Type of Spiritual Experience

Inter composer communication

Number of hallucinations: 2


A description of the experience

Death and its Mystery – After Death – Camille Flammarian

In order that you may have one more document for use in the important investigation which you are making, allow me to tell you of the two following experiences.

I was concerned in them personally. On September 2, 1916, between ten and eleven o’clock in the morning, I was dressing in my room when, suddenly, I was seized by a terrible, stifling anguish. What I felt was so painful that I rushed, scarcely dressed at all, into my daughter’s room, making my way along the walls so that I might not fall. I cried out to her,

"I don't know what ls the matter: I’m suffering, I’m stifling!"

Then, when my daughter’s kind words had calmed me a little, I said:

 “Good Heavens! A great misfortune's happened to Rene!"

Two days afterward, on September 4, Major Duseigneur, commander of Squadron 57, informed me that my beloved son, a pilot in the aviation service, had disappeared behind the German lines, after an aerial battle above Verdun, on the very day and at the very time when I had been so agitated only after the armistice did the Germans inform us that my son had been brought down within their lines on September 2nd, at Dieppe, near Verdun, and that he had been buried in the Dieppe soldiers' graveyard, in grave 56.

We made four trips and searched innumerable times in this cemetery, without finding anything. The graveyard had been torn up by bombs, and most of the crosses were broken. Since we could not find our dear child’s remains, we addressed ourselves to the officer in command of that sector, whose, duty it was to see to the exhumation of the bodies, that he might let us know the day on which the corpses in this graveyard were to be exhumed. Several persons in high positions had communicated with him on our behalf, and my husband wrote to him continually in order that he might not forget us. This took place last spring.

At half-past eight on May 25th I was pervaded by a feeling of great sadness; was even sadder than usual, without reason. That I might shake off this deep depression, I went to the window, and my gaze wandered to the rue Ribera, which runs up a slope directly opposite. There are trees there, and a little blue sky. Suddenly, in a group of trees, I saw my son Rene appear!

His handsome face was pale and sad ; he seemed to be depicted on a great circular medallion. At his sides were two young men, one on his right, the other on his left. I did not know them, and had never seen them. Terrified by this vision, I left the window, put my hands to, my head, and asked myself if I were going mad. I walked up and down the room several times, then went back to the window; the vision was still there. There could be no doubt that it was Rene. His head was tilted to the left, as usual.

"But who can these young men be?" I asked myself. “The one on the right seems to be a Russian, and the one on the left, a German. But that means that my son isn't dead: he must be a prisoner somewhere."

Still overwhelmed by terror, I left the window once more and ran to tell my husband. But when I reached the door of his room I got myself in hand and said to myself :

“No, I mustn't speak to him;I he'd think me mad; it would be too painful for him. What shall I do?"

I went back to the window: the vision was still there. This time I sat down on the window-sill determined to stay there to the end, near him.

What happened? I came to myself. Had I been asleep? Or had I lost consciousness? I no longer saw my son.

 I rose painfully, left the window, looked to see what time it was. It was half-past ten o'clock. AII this had lasted for two hours. I went to bed, much agitated, shaken by emotion, but could not sleep and dared not say anything to my husband. What could the vision mean? I never ceased asking myself this question. Some days afterward I told three of my women friends all that had happened to me ; they can vouch for this, if you like. Three months went by.

Then, at the close of August, the officer in command of the sector, in reply to a further demand on my husband's part, more pressing than the others, informed us that the bodies in the cemetery in Dieppe had been exhumed, and that our child, had, not been found there. We were deeply grieved. How could we ever know, now, what had become of our poor son? I for my part, felt hopeless. After some days of extreme depression I took courage again, and wished to return to the Dieppe cemetery. It was a fixed idea on my part.

My husband opposed it, telling me, very reasonably, that since we had found nothing when there were bodies there, we could not, now, hope to find anything whatsoever. Nothing could convince me. Since my decision was final, my husband was good enough to accompany me, and we left, in the course of the first clays of September. We went directly to the Eix sector. I asked on what date the bodies in this cemetery had been exhumed. The officer consulted the records and told us, “It took five days (there were one hundred and ten bodies), from the twentieth to the twenty-fifth of May".

 This last date was precisely that of my vision! I looked at my husband, for, most fortunately, I had decided to tell him everything. This coincidence in dates disturbed both of us. We set out. The cemetery was five kilometers away. As we were going there, I reflected that my husband was right: what were we to look for, since there was nothing left? When we reached our destination, I ordered the men to dig in a great shell-hole; I thought that, most certainly, no one could have looked in it. In this hole they found a pair of aviator's goggles. I took courage once more: without any doubt, an aviator had been buried there. They made a further search. Nothing-absolutely nothing. At last a little soldier who was most intelligent took charge of things. Under his guidance we reached an empty ditch where we found a large piece of fur which I recognized gloves, some pieces of a pair of violet silk suspenders. There was no longer the shadow of a doubt: my son had lain there.

“Where did you put him?”

“In the German cemetery. We wrote the word ‘Unknown' above him, and put up a black cross.”

The cross of those accursed men! My grief and indignation may well be imagined! I wanted to hurry to the other graveyard; I did not wish my son to remain there. But the officer refused my request. He could not undertake to have bodies in coffins unearthed. Besides, how could we find the particular coffin which we were looking for? There were more than two thousand graves in this German cemetery. But my mind was made up. We went back to Verdun, eighteen kilometers away. We found the officer in charge of the graveyards. After a long discussion, and influenced by our determined, threatening attitude, he yielded, and authorized us to have a search made. The next day, at five o'clock in the morning, we were in the cemetery, with nine men and several soldiers. By noon they had opened twenty coffins without any result. The men went to lunch. My husband and I remained there, deeply distressed, for we were beginning to lose hope.

We were in despair at the idea of leaving our child among his accursed enemies, when, suddenly, I thought of my vision. As though a gleam of light had irradiated my mind “Why, yes!" I said; “we’ll find him; he’s between a Russian and a German. There was a Russian in the Dieppe cemetery; let’s look for him."

The men came back and took up the work once more. As for us, we looked for the Russian we had to interrupt our search again and again, to inspect each newly opened coffin; this delayed us greatly. At last, at four o'clock, I found the Russian on his left was an unknown man ; on the latter’s left was a German. I felt, I was sure that-beyond a doubt-the unknown man was my son.

They dug up the coffin; it was he!

His poor skeleton was enveloped in his fur coat. More bits of suspenders. But above all, I recognized his teeth. They had opened forty-two coffins. One hundred and ten of them had come from the Dieppe cemetery, and in all there were more than two thousand, that had been sent from various regions! Except for my vision we should have had to give up our search.

Wasn't this marvelous?

My poor child did not wish me to leave him in this graveyard; he did not wish me to have this added, cruel suffering. He came to my assistance ; he gave me the will power to push on to the end, to overcome all difficulties, all obstacles. Now that I am calm, I feel that he lives, that he sees me …- But I find the portraits of the two young men the most extraordinary.

Oh, how happy I should be if you would tell me how this could happen. I think of my vision constantly, and each time that I do I am most disturbed. My husband and my women friends will certainly vouch for the scrupulous exactitude of this account. It is, doubtless, too long, but I thought that every detail would have its own importance in your eyes.

(Letter 4378.) A CLARINVAL

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps