Book: "Raymond or Life and Death"

Author: Sir Oliver Lodge FRS

Availability: Out of Print

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- (Part 2) Chapter 4 - Supernormal Portion -

The Group Photograph


          I NOW come to a peculiarly good piece of evidence arising out of the sittings which from time to time we held in the autumn of 1915, namely, the mention and description of a group photograph taken near the Front, of the existence of which we were in complete ignorance, but which was afterwards verified in a satisfactory and complete manner. It is necessary to report the circumstances rather fully:

Raymond was killed on 14 September 1915.

The first reference to a photograph taken of him with other men was made by Peters at M. F. A. L.'s first sitting with Peters, in Mrs. Kennedy's house, on 27 September 1915, thus- 

Extract from M. F. A. L.'s anonymous Sitting with Peters On 27 September 1915

"You have several portraits of this boy. Before he went away you had got a good portrait of him two-no, three. Two where be is alone and one where he is in a group of other men. He is particular that I should tell you of this. In one you see his walking-stick"- ('Moonstone' here put an imaginary stick under his arm).

We had single photographs of him of course, and in uniform, but we did not know of the existence of a photograph in which he was one of a group; and M. F. A. L. was sceptical about it, thinking that it might well be only a shot or guess on the part of Peters at something probable. But Mrs. Kennedy (as Note-taker) had written down most of what was said, and this record was kept, copied, and sent to Mr. Hill in the ordinary course at the time.

I was myself, moreover, rather impressed with the emphasis laid on it - "he is particular that I should tell you of this' - and accordingly made a half-hearted inquiry or two; but nothing more was heard on the subject for two months. On Monday, 29 November, however, a letter came from Mrs. Cheves, a stranger to us, mother of Captain Cheves of the R.A.M.C., who had known Raymond and had reported to us concerning the nature of his wound, and who is still doing good work at the Front.

Mrs. Cheves' welcome letter ran as follows:

"28 November 1915,

"DEAR LADY LODGE, - My son, who is M.O. to the 2nd South Lancs, has sent us a group of officers taken in August, and I wondered whether you knew of this photo and had had a copy. If not may I send you one, as we have half a dozen and also a key? I hope you will forgive my writing to ask this, but I have often thought of you and felt so much for you in yr. great sorrow. - Sincerely yours, B. P. CHEVES"

M. F. A. L. promptly wrote, thanking her, and asking for it; but fortunately it did not come at once.

Before it came, I (OJL.) was having a sitting with Mrs. Leonard alone at her house on 3 December; and on this occasion, among other questions, I asked carefully concerning the photograph, wishing to get more detailed information about it, before it was seen. It should be ,understood that the subject was not introduced by Mrs. Leonard or her control. The previous mention of a photograph had been through Peters. It was I that introduced the subject through Mrs. Leonard, and asked a question; and the answers were thus reported and recorded at the time-the typing out of the sitting being all done before the photograph arrived:

Extract from the Record of OJL.'s Sitting with Mrs. Leonard, 3 December 1915

(Mrs. Leonard's child-control, Feda, supposed to be speaking,
and often speaking of herself in the third person.)

FEDA.- Now ask him some more.

OJL.- Well, he said something about having a photograph taken with some other men. We haven't seen that photograph yet. Does he want to say anything more about it? He spoke about a photograph.

Yes, but he thinks it wasn't here. He looks at Feda, and he says, it wasn't to you, Feda.

OJL.- No, he's quite right. It wasn't. Can he say where he spoke of it?

He says it wasn't through the table.

OJL.- No, it wasn't.

It wasn't here at all. He didn't know the person that he said it through. The conditions were strange there - a strange house. [Quite true, it was said through Peters in Mrs. Kennedy's house during an anonymous sitting on 27 September.]

OJL.- Do you recollect the photograph at all?

He thinks there were several others taken with him, not one or two, but several.

OJL.- Were they friends of yours?

Some of them, he says. He didn't know them all, not very well. But he knew some; he heard of some; they were not all friends.

OJL.- Does he remember how he looked in the photograph ?

No, he doesn't remember how he looked.

OJL.- No, no, I mean was he standing up?

No, he doesn't seem to think so. Some were raised up round; he was sitting down, and some were raised up at the back of him. Some were standing, and some were sitting, he thinks.

OJL.- Were they soldiers?

He says yes - a mixed lot. Somebody called C was on it with him; and somebody called R-not his own name, but another R. K, K, K-he says something about K.

He also mentions a man beginning with B(indistinct muttering something like Berry, Burney -then clearly) but put down B.

OJL.- I am asking about the photograph because we haven't seen it yet. Somebody is going to send it to us. We have heard that it exists, and that's all.

[While this is being written out, the above remains true. The photograph has not yet come.]

He has the impression of about a dozen on it. A dozen, he says, if not more. Feda thinks it must be a big photograph.

No, he doesn't think so, he says they were grouped close together.

OJL.- Did he have a stick?

He doesn't remember that. He remembers that, somebody wanted to lean on him, but he is not sure, if he was taken with some one leaning on him. But somebody wanted to lean on him he remembers. The last what he gave you, what were a B, will be rather prominent in that photograph. It wasn't taken in a photographer's place. 

O.J.L. - Was it out of doors?

Yes, practically.

FEDA (sotto voce). - What you mean, 'yes practically'; must have been out of doors or not out of doors. You mean 'yes,' don't you?

Feda thinks he means 'yes,' because he says 'practically.' 

OJL.- It may have been a shelter. It might have been. Try to show Feda.

At the back he shows me lines going down. It looks like a black background, with lines at the back of them.

(Feda here kept drawing vertical lines in the air.)

There was, for some reason, considerable delay in the arrival of the photograph; it did not arrive till the afternoon of December 7. Meanwhile, on December 6, Lady Lodge had been looking up Raymond's Diary, which had been returned from the Front with his kit, and found an entry:-

" 24 August.- Photo taken."

(A statement will follow to this effect.)

Now Raymond had only had one "leave" home since going to the Front, and this leave was from 16 July to 20 July. The photograph had not been taken then, and so he could not have told us anything about it. The exposure was only made twenty one days before his death, and some days may have elapsed before he saw a print, if he ever saw one. He certainly never mentioned it in his letters. We were therefore in complete ignorance concerning it; and only recently had we normally become aware of its existence.

On the morning of 7 December another note came from Mrs. Cheves, in answer to a question about the delay; and this letter said that the photograph was being sent off. Accordingly I (O. J. L.), thinking that the photograph might be coming at once, dictated a letter to go to Mr. Hill, recording roughly my impression of what the photograph would be like, on the strength of the communication received by me from 'Raymond' through Mrs. Leonard; and this was posted by A. E. Briscoe about lunch-time on the same day. (See statement by Mr. Briscoe at the end.) My statement to Mr. Hill ran thus:

Copy of what was written by OJL. to Mr. Hill about the Photograph on the morning of Tuesday, 7 December 1915

"Concerning that photograph which Raymond mentioned through Peters [saying this: 'One where he is in a group of other men. He is particular that I should tell you of this. In one you see his walking-stick.(1)], he has said some more about it through Mrs. Leonard. But he is doubtful about the stick. What he says is that there is a considerable number of men in the photograph; that the front row is sitting, and that there is a back row, or some of the people grouped and set up at the back; also that there are a dozen or more people in the photograph, and that some of them he hardly knew; that a B is prominent in the photograph, and that there is also a C; that he himself is sitting down, and that there are people behind him, one of whom either leant on his shoulder, or tried to.

"The photograph has not come yet, but it may come any day now; so I send this off before I get it.

"The actual record of what was said in the sitting is being typed, but the above represents my impression of it."

(1) This bit not written to J. A. H., but is copied from Peters's sitting, of which Mr. Hill had seen the record.

The photograph was delivered at Mariemont between 3 and 4 P.M. on the afternoon of 7 December. It was a wet afternoon, and the package was received by Rosalynde, who took the wet wrapper off it. Its size was 12 by 9 inches, and was an enlargement from a 5 by 7 inch original. The number of people in the photograph is twenty one, made up as follows.

Five in the front row squatting on the grass, Raymond being one of these; the second from the right.

Seven in the second row seated upon chairs.

Nine in the back row standing up against the outside of a temporary wooden structure such as might be a hospital shed or something of that kind.

On examining the photograph, we found that every peculiarity mentioned by Raymond, unaided by the medium, was strikingly correct. The walking-stick is there (but Peters had put a stick under his arm, which is not correct), and in connexion with the background Feda had indicated vertical lines, not only by gesture but by saying "lines going down," as well as "a black background with lines at the back of them." There are six conspicuous nearly vertical lines on the roof of the shed, but the horizontal lines in the background generally are equally conspicuous.

By "a mixed lot," we understood members of different Companies - not all belonging to Raymond's Company, but a collection from several. This must be correct, as they are too numerous for one Company. It is probable that they all belong to one Regiment, except perhaps one whose cap seems to have a thistle badge instead of three feathers.

As to "prominence," I have asked several people which member of the group seemed to them the most prominent; and except as regards central position, a well-lighted standing figure on the right has usually been pointed to as most prominent. This one is "B," as stated, namely, Captain S. T. Boast.

Some of the officers must have been barely known to Raymond, while some were his friends. Officers whose names begin with B, with C, and with R were among them; though not any name beginning with K. The nearest approach to a K-sound in the group is one beginning with a hard C.

Some of the group are sitting, while others are standing behind. Raymond is one of those sitting on the ground in front, and his walking-stick or regulation cane is lying across his feet.

The background is dark, and is conspicuously lined.

It is out of doors, close in front of a shed or military hut, pretty much as suggested to me by the statements made in the 'Leonard' sitting-what I called a 'shelter."

But by far the most striking piece of evidence is the fact that some one sitting behind Raymond is leaning or resting a hand on his shoulder. The photograph fortunately shows the actual occurrence, and almost indicates that Raymond was rather annoyed with it; for his face is a little screwed up, and his head has been slightly bent to one side out of the way of the man's arm. It is the only case in the photograph where one man is leaning or resting his hand on the shoulder of another, and I judge that it is a thing not unlikely to be remembered by the one to whom it occurred.

Confirmatory Statements

Statement by Raymond's Mother

Four days ago (6 December), I was looking through my son Raymond's Diary which had been returned with his kit from the Front. (The edges are soaked, and some of the leaves stuck together, with his blood.) I was struck by finding an entry "Photo taken" under the date 24 August, and I entered the fact in my own Diary at once, thus:

"6 December.-Read Raymond's Diary for first time, saw record of 'photo taken' 24 August."

(Signed) MARY F. A. LODGE

10 December 1915


The dictated letter to Mr. Hill, recording roughly Sir Oliver's impression of what the photograph would be like, was written out by me on the morning of Tuesday, 7 December, at Mariemont; it was signed by Sir Oliver at about noon, and shortly afterwards I started for the University, taking that and other letters with me for posting in town. I went straight to the University, and at lunch-time (about 1.30) posted the packet to Mr. Hill at the General Post Office.

(In the packet, I remember, there was also a letter on another subject, and a printed document from Mr. Gow, the Editor of Light.) (Signed)A. E. BRISCOE,

8 December 1915 Secretary to Sir Oliver Lodge 

Statement by Rosalynde

I was sitting in the library at Mariemont about 3:45 on Tuesday afternoon, 7 December 1915, when Harrison came in with a flat cardboard parcel addressed to Mother. Mother was resting; and as the paper, wrapping up what I took to be the photograph, was wet with the rain, I undid it and left the photograph in tissue paper on a table, having just glanced at it to see if it was the one we'd been waiting for.

No one saw it or was shown it till after tea, when I showed it to Mother. That would be about 6. Mrs. Thompson, Lorna, and Barbara now also saw it. Honor was not at home and did not see it till later. (Signed) R. V. LODGE

8 December 1915

Note by OJL

In answer to an inquiry, Messrs. Gale & Polden, of Aldershot and London, the firm whose name was printed at the foot of the photograph, informed me that it was "from a negative of a group of Officers sent to us by Captain Boast of the 2nd South Lancashire Regiment"; and having kindly looked up the date, they further tell me that they received the negative from Captain Boast on 15 October 1915

It will be remembered that information about the existence of the photograph came through Peters on 27 September-more than a fortnight, therefore, before the negative reached England.

The photograph is only shown here because of its evidential interest. Considered as a likeness of Raymond, it is an exceptionally bad one; he appears shrunk into an uncomfortable position.

Further Information about the Photograph

Extract from a letter by Captain Boast from the Trenches, dated 7 May 1916, to Mrs. Case, and lent me to see.

Some months ago (last summer) the Officers of our Battalion had their photo taken. . . You see, the photographer who took us was a man who had been shelled out of house and home, and as he had no means of doing the photos for us, we bought the negatives, and sent them along to be finished in England."

A later Letter from Captain Boast

In answer to a special inquiry addressed to Captain Boast at the Front, he has been good enough to favour me with the following letter:

10 July 1916

"DEAR Sir,-Your letter of 4 July has just reached me. The proofs of the photographs referred to were received by me from the photographer at Reninghelst two or three days after being taken. To the best of my belief, your son saw the proofs, but I cannot now say positively. I obtained particulars of requirements from the officers forming the group, but the photographer then found he was unable to obtain paper for printing. I therefore bought the negatives and sent them home to Gale & Polden. In view of the fact that your son did not go back to the trenches till 12 September 1915, it is highly probable that he saw the proofs, but he certainly did not see the negatives.-Yours faithfully,

"(Signed) SYDNEY T. BOAST''

It thus appears that Raymond had probably seen a proof of the photograph, but that there were no copies or prints available. Consequently neither we, nor any other people at home, could have received them; and the negatives were only received in England by Gale & Polden on 15 October 1915, after Peters had mentioned the existence of the photograph, which he did on 27 September 1915

I obtained from Messrs. Gale & Polden prints of all the accessible photographs which had been taken at the same time. The size of these prints was 5 by 7 inches.

I found that the group had been repeated, with slight variations, three times-the Officers all in the same relative positions, but not in identically the same attitudes. One of the three prints is the same as the one we had seen, with some one's hand resting on Raymond's shoulder, and Raymond's head leaning a little on one side, as if rather annoyed. In another the hand had been removed, being supported by the owner's stick; and in that one Raymond's head is upright. This corresponds to his uncertainty as to whether he was actually taken with the man leaning on him or not. In the third, however, the sitting officer's leg rests against Raymond's shoulder as he squats in front, and the slant of the head and slight look of annoyance have returned.

These two additional photographs are here reproduced. Their merit is in showing that the leaning on him, mentioned by 'Raymond' through Feda, was well marked, and yet that he was quite right in being uncertain whether he was actually being leant on while the photograph was being taken. The fact turns out to be that during two exposures he was being leaned on, and during one exposure he was not. It was, so to speak, lucky that the edition sent us happened to show in one form the actual leaning.

I have since discovered what is apparently the only other photograph of Officers in which Raymond occurs, but it is quite a different one, and none of the description applies to it. For it is completely in the open air, and Raymond is standing up in the hinder of two rows. He is second from the left, the tall one in the middle is his friend Lieutenant Case, and standing next him is Mr. Ventris (see p. 279). It is fortunate again that this photograph did not happen to be the one sent us; for we should have considered the description hopelessly wrong.


Concluding Note by OJL

As to the evidential value of the whole communication, it will be observed that there is something of the nature of cross-correspondence, of a simple kind, in the fact that a reference to the photograph was made through one medium, and a description given, in answer to a question, through another independent one.

The episode is to be published in the Proceedings of the S.P.R. for 1916, and a few further facts or comments are there added.

The elimination of ordinary telepathy from the living, except under the far-fetched hypothesis of the unconscious influence of complete strangers, was exceptionally complete; inasmuch as the whole of the information was recorded before any of us had seen the photograph.

Even the establishment of a date in August for the taking of the photograph, as mentioned first in Mrs. Cheves' letter and confirmed by finding an entry in Raymond's Diary, is important, because the last time we ever saw Raymond was in July.

To my mind the whole incident is rather exceptionally good as a piece of evidence; and that 'Raymond' expected it to be good evidence is plain from Peters's ('Moonstone's') statement, at that first reference to a photograph on 27 September, namely, "He is particular that I should tell you of this." (This sentence it probably was which made me look out for such a photograph, and take pains to get records soundly made beforehand.) Our complete ignorance, even of the existence of the photograph, in the first place, and secondly the delayed manner in which knowledge of it normally came to us, so that we were able to make provision for getting the supernormally acquired details definitely noted beforehand, seem to me to make it a firstclass case. While, as to the amount of coincidence between the description and the actual photograph, that surely is quite beyond chance or guesswork. For not only are many things right, but practically nothing is wrong.


  • 20 July 1915 Raymond's last visit home.

  • 24 August 1915 Photograph taken at the Front, as shown by entry in Raymond's private Diary, but not mentioned by him.

  • 14 September 1915 Raymond's death.

  • 27 September 1915 Peters' ('Moonstone's') mention of the photograph as a message from ' Raymond.'

  • 15 October 1915 Negative sent with other negatives by Capt. Sydney T. Boast, from the Front in Flanders, to Messrs. Gale & Polden, Aldershot, for printing.

  • 29 November 1915 Mrs. . Cheves wrote spontaneously, saying that she had a groupphotograph of some 2nd South Lancashire Officers, which she could send if desired. 

  • 3 December 1915 Feda's (Mrs. Leonard's) further description of a photograph which had been mentioned through another medium, in answer to a direct question addressed to 'Raymond.' 

  • 6 December 1915 M. F. A. L. f ound an entry in Raymond's Diary showing that a photograph had been taken on 24 August. 

  • Morning of 7 Dec. 1915 To make sure, OJL. wrote to J. A. H. his impression of the photograph before it came. 

  • Afternoon of 7 Dec. 1915 Arrival of the photograph. 

  • Evening of 7 Dec. 1915 The photograph was shown to the home members of the family, and examined by OJL. 



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