A legend from World War I concerns the ‘Angels of Mons’ that appeared in a cloud and saved British troops from certain death against the Germans. What actually happened? What does the Bible say about warrior angels?
“For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”
The most well-known story of God providing an army of angels to assist humans occurs in the second book of Kings and involves Elisha’s prophet.
In brief, in the Old Testament of the Bible, in the book of 2 Kings 6, God provided an army of angels with leading horses and chariots of fire to protect the prophet Elisha, according to Learn Religions. It describes a war between the king of Syria and the king of Israel. Because Elisha was able to see anything the king of Syria spoke, the leader wanted to seize the prophet. However, God dispatched an army of angels to protect Elisha.
Therefore, our takeaway from this story is that God has been shown to send out angelic armies to protect humans and intervene in earthly battles.
“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”
– Psalm 34:7
Known as the Battle of Mons, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fought the German army at Mons, Belgium, on August 23, 1914, in the opening weeks of World War I, according to Britannica.
The German First Army had some 150,000 men and 600 guns, twice that of the 75,000 British soldiers and 300 guns.
What happened next was what has become the legendary tale of the “Angel of Mons.”
According to the story, a cloud appeared over the battlefield. A ghostly, heavenly host descended from the sky and stopped the German army that was closing in on the British. The angelic apparitions spooked the German horses, which reared up and began braying at the army of angels.
The legend says that the phantom army of angels was made up of archers. The angelic intervention allowed the vastly outnumbered and outgunned British Army to make a retreat and reestablish a new defensive line some three miles from the canal and continue their fighting in what has been called the Great Retreat to the Marne, History reported.
Because of the angelic protection, the British were saved from fresh troops from the German Empire that were poised to encircle and annihilate the exhausted Brits.
Slightly over a month later, a short story, entitled The Bowman, was published in the London newspaper on September 29, 1914, written by fantasy author Arthur Machen.
Machen used the rumors of divine intervention at Mons as inspiration for the story. However, using his vivid imagination and taking artistic liberties, Machen embellished the tail, borrowing from another story, the 1415 Battle of Agincourt saving the troubled Tommies, to tell of angelic archers in the Battle of Mons.
As British soldiers returned from the front, speaking of the angelic cloud that saved them from the Germans, people then believed that Machen’s elaborations were also a true part of the story.
Later on, Machen admitted to making up the details in his short story.
Machen’s fictional retelling of events does not negate what soldiers on the battlefield say they saw, which made their way to Machen through rumors that he then used as the basis for his tale.
It would be a year later, in 1915, when a British officer came forward and told the paranormal journal Light of what he called a ‘curious phenomenon’ that occurred, which several officers and soldiers had witnessed at Mons.
“It took the form of a strange cloud interposed between the Germans and the British,” the British officer told the Journal.
“[The cloud] had the effect of protecting the British against” the enemy,” the officer added.