The Night Mum Saw A Ghost

Mum’s family moved about quite a bit after returning to England from India in the early 1930’s. During World War Two the family was based in Liverpool for a while.

The Liverpool docks were important to the war effort and this meant that  Liverpool was the most frequently bombed city after London.

My mother’s family late 1930s. Mum was 16 when this photo was taken. She is the tall one.

Mum was in her nineteenth year when war broke out and she was living at home with her parents and three sisters.  When we were young mum often used to tell stories about her youth and about what it was like living in Britain during the war. Sadly, although we always meant to, we didn’t write the stories down which means that now mum has been gone twenty years I have forgotten many of the details. I can’t tell you exactly where or when this event took place. I will try to tell the story to the best of my recollection.

I do know that Liverpool was bombed heavily between August 1940 and the early part of 1942 so this occurred somewhere in that time period. I also have a vague memory that mum said that family had lived in Bootle but I would not swear to this.

Anyway, the important thing to know was that there were frequent air raids and that when the alarm sounded everyone was supposed to go to the nearest air raid shelter.

As well as the family there were also three Norwegian Merchant Navy sailors staying in the house.  Mum did not particularly trust one of them so when she went up to her bedroom on the top floor of the house she used to take the doorknob off the door and push a chest in front of it.

On this particular night, mum had gone to bed and was reading by lamplight before going to sleep. Her dog was on the bed with her. She became aware of a figure standing over her bed. Thinking her father had come in to tell her to turn the lamp off she said “In a minute dad.” or something of that nature. Then she remembered that the door was blocked off. She noticed that the dog was reacting strangely, his hair standing up on his back.  She told me that she wasn’t afraid but puzzled.

Suddenly one of her sisters started banging on the bedroom door and calling out to her. “Air raid! We’ve got to go to the shelter.” Of course, she had to move the chest and put the doorknob back in but she made it out of the house safely.

Mum said there was no way anyone could have got into the room without at least making a lot of noise and she was always convinced that she saw a ghost that night and that he’d been sent to warn her of danger. She told this story on many occasions and the details never varied so I am sure she was not making it up.




Liverpool Blitz D 5983.jpg
By Ministry of Information Photo Division official photographer –
This is a photograph D 5983 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.


Discover Challenge – Transcript – The Ghost in the Machine

For this week’s challenge, we ask that you, too, take something ephemeral and non-digital and bring it to your blog for all of us to enjoy and reflect on. Of course, not all of us have access to a collection of century-old journals. So let’s define “transcribing” as broadly as possible: you could share an old photo from your childhood album, or snap a photo of a handwritten note from your best friend when you were 11. Record yourself singing a tune that hasn’t made it to iTunes, draw a sketch of your favorite room in your grandparents’ house, or simply write down a memorable conversation that would otherwise be lost to time.

I am using this old  photograph to share a family story from the past.

My mother's family
My mother’s family


This is a scan of a photo of my mother’s family. My mother is the tall, dark one in the back. She was about fourteen  when this photo was taken she told me. She looks older than the others I think but she was actually the second to youngest child in the family. Her two sisters were about sixteen and her brother would have been around twenty or twenty-one when this picture was taken. The little girl, mum’s younger sister, was about eight years old. The photo was taken  around 1934 after the family returned from India where my grandfather was serving with the British army.

During their last year in India the family suffered a tragedy. Mum’s oldest sister Marjorie died after contracting malaria. She was twenty and I believe that she was engaged to a soldier.

The story about this photograph is that when the family first saw it they noticed that  there was a white shape in the background roughly in the place where Marjorie would normally have stood in family portraits. You will notice that they have left a space behind my grandfather. They liked to say that Marjorie’s ghost was standing in her spot.

I can’t honestly say that I can see what mum could see in that picture but I think that all of them liked feeling that Marjorie was still with them and that is as good a reason as any to have a family ghost.

Daily Prompt: A Source Of Anxiety

Ghosts in the machine
Ghosts in the machine (Photo credit: gideonc)

The Ghost In The Machine

Every month I go and spend a weekend with my sister. We generally sit up way too late talking and laughing about all sorts of things. On several occasions we started hearing a woman’s voice even though we were the only ones in the house.

At first we thought that it must be someone passing by on their way home from the nearby pub. Then we thought it was rather late for that. At 2am everyone in this quiet little country town would have long ago gone to bed.

This happened on two or three consecutive visits and both of us were starting to get a bit uneasy about it. The house is an old one and my sister had a couple of unusual experiences there when she first moved in ten years ago but she’d never heard voices before.

We grew up listening to mum’s stories of spirits that she had seen and my sister also seems to be sensitive to such things so we were really starting to believe that something out of the ordinary was happening in the house.

Finally one night as we were about to go to bed we heard the voice again but this time my sister was a bit closer to where the sound was coming from and could hear the words more distinctly. It turned out that it was the anti-virus program she had installed on her computer announcing that it was doing a scan.

We were immensely relieved and had a good laugh at ourselves for being so suggestible.