A World War II Poltergeist
One slightly odd case from Price’s files is in many ways a typical poltergeist visitation, but in others is quite unique. It concerns a Dr Wilkins of Sunderland and his family and took place in 1942. Dr Wilkins’s daughter Olive fell in love with a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF in 1940 when she was only 19 and he was only a few years older. The airman proposed, but Dr Wilkins and his wife were reluctant to give permission for the marriage to go ahead. Not only was Olive young but there was a war on and the prospective husband was on active service. There was every possibility that their daughter might be left a very young widow. There followed some debate, none of it bad tempered apparently, which ended with the young couple getting married in the autumn of 1941. The young couple set up home in a rented flat in Sunderland, where Olive had a job as a secretary. If her new husband was on duty, Olive would often go to her parent’s home for supper. Because the flat was small, Olive had left many belongings - such as books, tennis racket, old toys and the like - in her old bedroom.
On 26 February 1942 Mrs Wilkins borrowed from her daughter’s jewellery box a kilt pin to secure a wrap. Nothing in the bedroom was out of place. After spending the day in town, Mrs Wilkins returned home, took off her wrap and went to replace the pin in the dressing table in her daughter’s former bedroom. As she entered the room she stopped dumbfounded. The bedclothes had been carefully and neatly turned down, just as they should have been toward bed time if the family had still had a maid. Mrs Wilkins was certain she had not touched the bed, and nobody had a key to the house except herself, Dr Wilkins and Olive - both of whom were at work.
Three days later Mrs Wilkins was in the kitchen preparing dinner when she heard the front door open. The familiar sound of her husband’s footsteps approaching across the hallway were heard, accompanied by the click-clack of her daughter's heels. The kitchen door opened and in came Dr Wilkins alone.
“Where is Olive?” asked Mrs Wilkins.
“I don’t know,” replied Dr Wilkins. “Gone home I suppose.” She was not with him, nor had he heard her footsteps.
Four days later, Mrs Wilkins went into Olive’s room to find that the bed had been disarranged just as if it had been slept in. Two days later one of Olive’s books had been removed from the bookcase and left open on the windowsill as if somebody had glanced at it, then put it down. A week later Mrs Wilkins again heard the front door open, but this time Olive’s footsteps alone came across the hallway. The footsteps went up the stairs, along the landing and into Olive’s bedroom. Then they came out again and into the bathroom. The toilet flushed and then there was silence. After a while Mrs Wilkins went up but there was no sign of her daughter. When Dr Wilkins got home he was sent hotfoot round to Olive’s flat to find her and her husband sitting down to supper. Olive said she had not been round to her parent’s house at all.
A couple of weeks later, Olive really did come round after work. She came with the happy news that she was pregnant. One month later her husband was posted overseas.
from "Poltergeist" by Rupert Matthews
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