The witch who leaked WWII secrets about sinking battleship

#1
An interesting story about a mystic who revealed in a seance the sinking of HMS Barham, convicted as a witch.

As she happened to live in Portsmouth, perhaps the information didn't come from the spirit world?

I don't think her conviction should be overturned, at the end of the day she revealed a state secret in time of war.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=522992&in_page_id=1770

Campaigners bid to clear the 'witch' who leaked WWII secrets about sinking battleship
By ANDY DOLAN - More by this author »

Last updated at 11:14am on 1st March 2008

When the battleship Barham was torpedoed by the Germans in November 1941, with the loss of over 800 lives, the Admiralty delayed announcing the news to maintain morale.

But the secrecy was ended within a few days when medium Helen Duncan told a couple during a seance that their son, a sailor on the ship, had appeared from the spirit world to tell them it had sunk.

In one of the most bizarre acts of the Second World War, Mrs Duncan was accused of leaking military secrets - and became the last woman jailed as a witch in the UK.

Now campaigners want an official pardon for the Scots-born mother of six, who spent nine months in Holloway Prison, north London.
A group of mediums have handed a petition to the Scottish Parliament, calling on it to lobby Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Campaigner Roberta Gordon, from Gullane, East Lothian, said: "At the time the country was paranoid about security and the evidence used against her wasn't accurate.

"It would take away the stigma from her granddaughters and the great-grandsons."

Mrs Duncan was one of Britain's best-known mediums. During her seances she produced "ectoplasm" - a stringy white substance that is supposed to give form to spirits and allow them to communicate.

Paranormal investigators denounced her as a fraud who used cheesecloth and egg whites, but her family insist she was genuine, "an ordinary woman with a gift".
Despite the controversy, Mrs Duncan reputedly numbered Winston Churchill and George VI among her clients.

Churchill denounced the case against her as "obsolete tomfoolery" and visited her in prison.

The Barham, a 29,000-ton battleship, was hit by three German torpedoes in the Mediterranean on November 25, 1941.

The ship went down within minutes, with the loss of 861 lives. Already reeling from the Blitz, the British government decided not to make the news public, not least to keep the Germans guessing.

But Duncan, who was living in Portsmouth at the time, held a seance just days later and told how she saw a sailor with the words HMS Barham on his hatband.

He told her: "My ship is sunk". News of the revelation reached the Admiralty and she was placed under observation. But she was not arrested until January 1944.

The trial in March 1944 caused a media sensation as Mrs Duncan was accused of being a traitor.

But the prosecution struggled to back the claim and she was convicted instead under the 1735 Witchcraft Act, which had declared there could be no such thing as a medium.

She was the last person in Britain jailed under the act, which was repealed in 1951. The last person convicted, East Londoner Jane Yorke, 72, escaped with a fine in October 1944 due to her age.

Mrs Duncan died in 1956, soon after being arrested again in a police raid on a seance.

Last year the Criminal Cases Review Commission rejected a petition for her to be pardoned, saying it would not be in the public interest.
 
#3
amazing__lobster said:
She did leak a national secret, but I think that she should be pardoned from being convicted of witchcraft.
Either that she works for mi5 or she burns at the stake!!! her call :twisted:
 
#4
amazing__lobster said:
She did leak a national secret, but I think that she should be pardoned from being convicted of witchcraft.
If you live by the sword, you die by sword. She was the one claiming the information came from the spirit world.

They should have put her on the ducking stool. If she didn't drown then she must have been a witch :twisted:
 
#5
BURN THE WITCH BURN THE WITCCH!!!! Quite rightfully so ....
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#6
When the battleship Barham was torpedoed by the Germans in November 1941, with the loss of over 800 lives, the Admiralty delayed announcing the news to maintain morale.

If they didn't anounce it and she saw a sailor then she must have supernatural powers so she could be done under the witchcraft act

Otherwise some one else must have told her in which case they would have been in even more troube - she was friends with Churchill

Is this the giveaway?

But Duncan, who was living in Portsmouth at the time, held a seance just days later and told how she saw a sailor with the words HMS Barham on his hatband.

During World War II cap ribbons bearing only the letters 'HMS' or 'HM Destroyers/Submarines' were in use.

I shall check the John Mills collection later but I'm sure this is correct
 
#7
PsyWar.Org said:
An interesting story about a mystic who revealed in a seance the sinking of HMS Barham, convicted as a witch.

As she happened to live in Portsmouth, perhaps the information didn't come from the spirit world?

I don't think her conviction should be overturned, at the end of the day she revealed a state secret in time of war.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=522992&in_page_id=1770

Last year the Criminal Cases Review Commission rejected a petition for her to be pardoned, saying it would not be in the public interest.
FFS! What do they think they're achieving by refusing a pardon after all this time? Are they agreeing she was a witch? :? Idiots... :roll:
 
#8
I read a book years ago called 'Secrets and Stories of World War 2'. Apparently, in the months coming up to D-Day, most of the code words for the invasion appeared as clues in the Daily Telegraph Crossword, including 'Overlord' and the code names of all the beaches. The compiler of the crosswords received a visit from MI5 and was subjected to some very intense questioning.
 
#10
Hey Ho, shit happens. It was war FFS. Whether she was guilty or not of witchcaft or not, the mood of the nation and the propoganda ministry felt they had to act. The end justified the means in this case. Personally, I will keep an open mind as to the 'reality of the voices', you just never know.

OTT
 
#11
Whilst the Witchcraft Act which was repealed it was replaced quickly with the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1954, which is still on the statute books; I believe it is being phased out this year in favour of trading standards legislation which is a shame, as it has been my sad and pointless life's work to try and get the CPS to run a job under this little known bit of law.

It is probably more of a thing north of the border as the Witchcraft Act stems from the Stewart monarchy and their strange obsession with the subject; the Scots also killled more people than the English did (but IIRR we hanged our witches) and the Scots continued with the witchcraze for longer than the English as well.
 
#12
Who cares? Some biddy got a bit of porridge 60 years ago, big deal.
 
#13
This has taken me back a few years. I have a book, it's more like a newspaper, entitled, ' The War Despatches' published by the Daily Mail circa 1977. This story is mentioned within it.

It's full of odd ball adverts like , " Never was Virol more needed than now" - "Phosferine makes life worth while. "

I went to Abersychan Grammar School. I did english, history, chemistry, tech drawing and physics, WTF are they talking about ?
 

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