Author: Patricia Pearson
A new book, Opening Heaven’s Door, will make you re-think everything you thought about death. Here, in the third part of our spine-tingling series, survivors of shipwrecks, air crashes and terrorist attacks tell how they were mysteriously guided to safety.
As he lay sleeping in a muddy trench in France one night, William Bird woke to find someone shaking him. It was 1917. He’d just been through the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and he was exhausted. Irritably, he tried to pull away — but whoever it was continued to shake him with some urgency.
So Bird — a journalist in civilian life — wearily opened his eyes and, to his utter astonishment, recognised his brother, Steve, who’d been reported missing in action two years earlier.
‘Steve put his warm hand over my mouth as I started to shout my happiness,’ Bird recalled. ‘Then he pointed to the sleepers in the bivvy and to my rifle. “Get your gear,” he said.’
Many strange stories emerged from the Great War including that of journalist William Bird who woke to find someone shaking him in 1917… (File picture)
Bird searched for him frantically, but eventually came to the conclusion he’d been asleep on his feet. Anyway, his brother had been wearing the uniform and cap of 1915 — two years out of date.
It had been a dream, for sure. Bird crawled into the nearest trench hole and fell asleep. The next morning, he was awakened by soldiers who were highly excited to find him alive. The trench where he’d ‘dreamed’ of his brother shaking him awake had been hit by a high-explosive shell.
As Bird soon saw, the bodies of the men who’d remained there were beyond recognition.