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Messages from a ‘Dead’ Soldier to His Mother

Posted on 17 June 2024, 7:28

A heartwarming movie titled A Rumor of Angels was released in 2002 and is occasionally seen on television reruns.  The film stars Vanessa Redgrave as an elderly recluse in a small ocean-front town.  She befriends a 12-year-old neighbor boy who is grieving the loss of his mother in an auto accident.  She tells the boy about how her son had communicated with her following his death in the Vietnam War during 1974 and gives the boy her diary of spirit communication from her son.  The boy reads various entries in the diary and finds comfort in them until his stepmother and father discover the diary and conclude that the boy’s mind is being poisoned by the elderly woman and prohibit him from further visiting her.  When the elderly woman dies, she communicates with the boy from the Other Side.


Probably few people who have viewed the movie realize that it was purportedly based on a true story, although it took place in World War I, not the Vietnam War. The story, with many Hollywood modifications, came from the 1918 non-fiction book, Thy Son Liveth: Messages from a Soldier to his Mother, by Grace Duffie Boylan, a popular journalist and author of that era.  The book was initially released anonymously, but later issues carried Boylan’s name.  It was not stated that Boylan was the mother of Bob, the young soldier about whom the story revolves, but that seems to have been the implication. When the publisher, Little, Brown and Company, questioned Boylan as to the authenticity of the story, she replied, “I ask you to regard this book as truth, unaccompanied by proofs of any sort, making its own explanation and appeal.”

A more complete summary of the story is told in my book, Dead Men Talking, along with the stories of four other victims of the Great War – Raymond Lodge, Claude Kelway-Bamber, Thomas Dowding, and Rolf Little, all of whom communicated after-death messages.  Bob is given the surname “Bennett” in the book.

Bob is said to have grown up with his widowed mother in an old home on the Hudson, below Tarrytown, New York.  He went to Columbia University, where he studied electrical engineering, and soon after joining the United States Army was commissioned as a second lieutenant and sent off to fight in World War I. Well before he went to college, Bob developed an interest in telegraphy and set up a wireless in his home with a large mast on the roof.  “Bob took to telegraphy as a spark takes to the air wave,” the story is told by his mother. “He was one of the first to raise a wireless mast from the top of his home, and of course, I had to study and experiment with him.  He bullied me into learning the code and being the party of the second part to take his messages.  Looking back upon this now, I am impressed with the methods that are used by the Destiny that shapes our ends.  Had it not been for that inkling of the science of telegraphy which I gained in our play, I should not have heard [from Bob].” 

After Bob’s deployment, she received several messages from him by Morse Code. The news of his death also came by wireless. “Mother, be game.  I am alive and loving you.  But my body is with thousands of other mothers’ boys near Lens.  Get this fact to others if you can.  It’s awful for us when you grieve, and we can’t get in touch with you to tell you we are all right.  This is a clumsy way.  I’ll figure out something easier.  I’m confused yet.  Bob.”

Grace realized that such communication would be difficult for most people to believe. “I have no knowledge of established psychic laws or limitations,” she wrote. “But I know what I know.” A month later, official notice of Bob’s death on the battlefield was received by Grace. She concluded that Bob’s first wireless message to her came not long after he fell.

No Horror in Death

A second wireless message read: “Attention: Get this across – there is no horror in death.  I was one minute in the thick of things, with my company, and the next minute Lieutenant Wells touched my arm and said:  ‘Our command has crossed: Let’s go.’  I thought he meant the river, and followed him under the crossfire barrage the Tommies made, up to a hillside that I had not noticed before: a clean spot and not blackened by the guns.  Lots of fellows I knew were there, and strange troops.  But they looked queer… I overtook Wells. ‘What in the deuce is the matter with me, with us all?’ I asked.  He said, ‘Bob, we’re dead.’  I didn’t believe it at first.  I felt all right.  But the men were moving, and I fell in line.

“When we marched through the German barbed-wire barricades and in front of the howitzers,” Bob continued, “I realized that the body that could be hurt had been shed on the red field.  Then I thought of you.  Sent the wireless from an enemy station in the field.  The officer in charge couldn’t have seen me.  But he heard, I guess, by the way his eyes popped.  He sent a few shots in my direction, anyway.  I am using an abandoned apparatus in a trench today, depending on relays.

“We are assigned to duty here for the present according to Wells. I don’t know how he knows.  It seems while we have no supernatural power to divert or stop bullets, we can comfort and reassure those who are about to join us. There has been much talk about the presence of one supposed to be the Savior among the dying.  I should not wonder if that were true.  The capacity for believing is enlarged by experience. But as yet I have no more real knowledge than any of the other fellows.  I will let you know as I gain information.”

Grace faithfully recorded her son’s messages, inserting the proper punctuation and apparently adding some missing words to provide the necessary flow in otherwise truncated verbiage.  In the fourth wireless message, Bob encouraged his mother to attempt automatic writing, as it was too difficult trying to get through on a wireless.  She confessed ignorance of such “occult” practices, admitting that she had always turned away from books of alleged spiritual sources because the “author souls” seemed so unadvanced intellectually, whereas she expected an all-wise, all-seeing, all-knowing angelhood. However, she slowly developed the ability to do automatic writing.

Grace had heard the skeptical theory, that the messages were all coming from her subconscious. “Well maybe they are,” she wrote.  “I cannot say that they are not.  For I do not know what subconsciousness is. What stuff it is made of.  Whence it comes or whither it goes.  Maybe it is the bridge, the link between the mortal and immortal part of man.  Maybe it is the inherent life which all scientists from first to last, have sought without finding; that invisible stumbling block over which every well-built theory of atoms and electrons takes its headlong fall.  If subconsciousness is one of these, it is more than probable that my boy is using its avenue of communication.  For they must be clear enough from his end of the road…”

Bob repeatedly stressed the need to get all of this information to other parents in order to comfort them and urged his mother to write a book. He warned his mother about mischievous spirits interfering with the messages, referring to them as “scalawags.”  He further informed his mother that those on his side knew nothing about the outcome of the war or if there was some cosmic purpose to such war, though in the great scheme of things it might not be as terrible as people in the earth life view it.

As Bob came to understand it, the earth is a preparatory planet.  “The human race is marked for an advanced existence and is brought to as high a degree of perfection as may be necessary to bring up the average,” he communicated.  “That is: The high degree of intelligence of the greater number lifts the lesser in the scale.  We begin the new existence where we left off in the old.  The more we have gained, the greater our advancement among far more favorable conditions.  That is not clear.  I’ll get a better hold on the idea.”

Near-Death Experience

In one communication, Bob told of another soldier named Cooper, who at first appeared to be “a sniveling ‘willy’ boy” who was afraid of the dark.  However, when a grenade fell in the trench, he grabbed it and jumped out of the trench, saving many others.  Cooper temporarily joined the “dead” and was very much concerned about his mother’s grief.  “Coop says he was a rotter to his mother, and he has lately heard her crying that she had been too harsh with him when he was a little boy.” Cooper returned to his physical body.  “I have permission to tell you that Cooper has, because of his understanding and compassion, been sent back home as an instructor,” Bob told his mother.  “His body, sustained by some life principle which I cannot explain, has been all this time in a reconstruction hospital back of the French lines…[He] will take up his old life on earth, and his mother will have her son. But he will not be the same. None of those who go back will be the same…”

Bob had much more to tell his mother, some of which is related in my book, but he stressed that there were many things he did not yet know about or was incapable of understanding.  “…I am not yet far enough advanced to make any definite or authoritative statement,’ he informed her.  “ I only want to start this whole propaganda of comfort, on the one sure thing:  There is no death.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.

Next blog:  July 1





Just finishing up my reread of “The Scole Experiment” by Grant & Jane Solomon and noted this on page 197:

“As if by way of some sort of confirmation for us, on Tuesday 1 December, Lin Brady, a friend who lives in Dorset, rang us with some news. It appears that friends of her had been getting Morse code on tape recordings from a team of spirit communicators ‘for ages,’ using a device ‘a bit like the Scole germanium receptor but with five coils. Now one of the group had started going into trance and they were getting all sorts of communication coming through on audio-tape.”

Michael Tymn, Thu 4 Jul, 02:49

With the presidential debate in the offing tonight, it seems timely to release a debate given on the morning and evening of Sunday, Dec. 16, 1860 via the trance mediumship of Cora L. V. Hatch. You won’t find many soaring spiritual insights in this debate, instead it’s a vigorous elocution on the question of abolishing slavery vs. compromise for the sake of the union.

Aside from the public interest at the time in the question, the larger intent seems to be a clear presentation of distinct personalities with strongly opposing viewpoints as evidence that Mrs. Hatch was serving as a channel, and not the author, of the remarks given through her. I did find some interesting parallels in these talks to the issues of today. It’s history rhyming, not repeating.

Here’s the link:

David Chilstrom, Thu 27 Jun, 21:54

When Queen Elizabeth died, Prince Charles said: “To my darling Mama, as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late Papa, I want simply to say this: Thank you ... ”

Jon, Thu 27 Jun, 21:24

Michael—“I don’t need to believe or disbelieve.  I’m satisfied just pondering on it.” Yes, that is more what was intended. I like that word ponder, as it suggests a sort of mental sauntering. There is in pondering, no urgency to reach a destination, but a kind of savoring, even a wallowing in the mystery.

I’ve been pondering your comment on the word “darling”, as possibly arising from contamination by Mrs. Leonard’s mind. “Darling” is a term used by lovers, particularly in the Springtime of romance, and may have something of a possessive quality to it. My darling, my sweet, my little chickadee. And children begin life as mother’s little darlings until they flee the nest of the maternal bosom and awkwardly begin to exercise their wings.

For a man to refer to his mother as “darling” has, perhaps, a disturbing Oedipal ring to it, and the taboo against physical intimacy between son and mother, daughter and father, forbids a level of passion and intimacy between parent and progeny that is a necessary part of our social order and psychological well-being.

The question is, might freedom from the flesh lift the Oedipal taboo and open up a heretofore forbidden and suppressed aspect of love? It is something to ponder.

David Chilstro, Thu 27 Jun, 19:17

David, well stated. However, I don’t need to believe or disbelieve.  I’m satisfied just pondering on it.


Michael Tymn, Thu 27 Jun, 06:35

In discussing automatic writing and Grace’s account of her son’s “letters” Amos observed: “She can’t help but add her own thoughts to what is downloaded from him.” A graphic example of a similar phenomenon is on display in the comments here. From Amos’s remarks it is evident to me that he and I did not read the same book. It has the same title and the same author, but we did not read the “same” book. For instance, he characterized Bob’s discarnate communication as “more ‘womanly’ than I would expect from a soldier in the midst of combat.” Wow, I missed that part completely, though I’m unclear as to what measure of “womanly” is appropriate for men in combat or in civilian life either.

As this story focuses entirely on a mother and son that died in combat, excluded from Grace’s story are her husband at the time, Louis Napoleon Geldert, Bob’s brother Malcolm Stuart Boylan, and his sister Clover Roscoe. As such, it is understandable that a reader might mistakenly perceive their relationship as that of a widow and only son living alone. Grace could easily have padded out the book with extraneous family details, but I thank God for her concise editing of the text. I’ve been correcting an OCR from a scan of Edmond’s Spiritualism Volume II, and wishing that he had William Strunk for an editor. The words! The words! The many, many words!

Amos noted something *queer* about Bob moving his room across from his mother’s “in case [she] needed help.” This interpretation is a misreading of the text. Bob moved his room after one night, and he was five years old at the time! I’ll pass on the pop psychology about mother love and “the production of homosexual men” except to say—BUNK.

We each have our own private edition of “Thy Son Liveth”, colored by our prejudices and blinkered perception. It’s all a part of being human. I’m OK with skepticism and interpretations that don’t match mine, but start the skeptical program by removing the beam from thine own eye first.

Facts matter and our intuitions can easily devolve into dubious conjecture and speculation. Stay close to the facts and keep your intuition closer.

In the end, the only person who can possibly know the truth behind Grace’s account died a century ago. Believe or disbelieve and let’s leave it at that.

David Chilstrom, Thu 27 Jun, 02:33

Thanks for the link on the Fox sisters, Amos. It is well done. The so-called “confession” of Leonora Piper has been has also been distorted and exaggerated. Unfortunately, I don’t think the non-believers or debunkers are interested enough to further consider it.

I’m re-reading the Scole Experiment book by the Solomons.  There is so much more there than I had remembered from my 1999 read of the book.  If the world was unable to see that as offering overwhelming evidence, I don’t think anything will. Will be doing a blog on that one in a month or so.

Michael Tymn, Thu 27 Jun, 00:13

Thanks again Michael for your post about this lovely little book. I very much enjoyed Grace’s eloquent writing style, and that her book was “unaccompanied by proofs” was a major bonus for me. It’s a simple message really. Open your heart and let your loved ones in, be they in the body or out.

While I share the puzzlement over the telegraph messages, I sense a measure of swallowing a camel and straining at a gnat going on there. Most hard nosed skeptics would have stopped at dead man operating a telegraph. I was confused about Bruce’s comment regarding private networks. I don’t know how a *wireless* telegraph could have been on a private network. Ghost Bob said “Sent that wireless from an enemy station in the field.” But, wireless or not, how a signal that could, perhaps, reach Berlin from the front could also skip over the Atlantic and activate a disconnected receiver in New York is mind boggling. I believe, however, that it involves the extraction of a certain amount of ectoplasm and then a little hocus pocus, abracadabra Kalamazoo, at which point spectral hijinks ensue.

David Chilstrom, Wed 26 Jun, 20:24

I know this is off topic but this is the most comprehensive, detailed video about the Fox sisters I have ever seen.  It is long but worth the time it will take to view it all.  Maybe take a break and view it in parts.  It is produced by “Allan Kardec, U.S.A.” so expect some references to Kardec and Spiritism. -AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 26 Jun, 16:08

Boylan told her publisher to “Regard this book as truth unaccompanied by proofs.”  I think that is a lot different than saying that what is reported in the book is true or factual.  I could regard any fictional novel as true. I could regard the Harry Potter books as true, and a lot of little kids probably think so, but my opinion or the beliefs of a lot of children does not make them true accounts.  She continues by saying that “[the book] makes its own explanation and appeal.”  In other words, in her opinion no proof or evidence of truth is needed because of the emotional appeal of the book to bereaved parents and the solace it provides them.  This attitude by Boylan really puts me off and betrays an arrogant self-important, do-gooder attitude of Mrs. Boylan that everyone should believe her because of who she is.  Again, something an elderly well-off privileged woman might say. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 24 Jun, 19:08


I do like this article as it is on the telepathy path. Telepathy emerges as dictation by spirits to the medium. It is different from full trance (possession) or automatic writing (part passion), being the dictation without possession. To the trance mediums I explain it as light trance. To the automatic writers I explain it as free hand.
The SPR were always keen on telepathy and those on the other side are still keen. I mentioned that I thought Thy Son Liveth was a morality play and I suspect that the writer left us a clue.

Page 28 Mother, dear, you are behaving like a brick. I tell you we are going to get this mortality play across the footlights. And it must be known as truth. I don’t mean to call it that. But you know what is in my mind.

The play on words from morality to mortality is a clever use of words with a play about the afterlife referencing mort.(Old French/Latin for death). The person is very skilled as a writer. I suspect that the writer is Lydia Allison.

She has the background and is in the inner circle of the Boston Telepathy group. The story-line would be a compilation as the writer’s style intrudes in to the story. The book is to encourage more people to develop telepathy for spirit communication.  This book could be thought of as a primer on telepathy.

I always find your analysis to be both accurate and insightful. This article is great from my point of view as I was unaware that the ASPR Boston Group was involved with telepathy until Warcollier came along.


Bruce Williams, Sun 23 Jun, 02:31


An additional thought to my earlier post this morning. In the introduction to “Dead Men Talking,” I noted that I questioned the fact that both Claude Kelway-Bamber (Chapter 3) and Rolf Little (Chapter 5) often addressed their mothers as “Darling.”  While I had recognized the term of endearment between spouses and also directed from parent to child, I had never heard a child call his mother by that affectionate term. The fact that Gladys Osborne Leonard was the medium in both cases made me very suspicious. 

I wondered if it might have been common in England at that time, but Dr. Howard Jones, an educator and scientist in Wales, told me he had never heard the term used by a child in addressing his mother. 

However, it has been explained by several psychical researchers that the spirit communicator impresses an “idea” on the mind of the medium, while the medium’s subconscious mind puts words to the idea. Thus, both Claude and Rolf may have communicated special affection toward their mothers that when filtered through Mrs. Leonard’s brain, came out “darling.” With another medium, it might have come out “mother dear.” That explanation makes sense to me.

I’m sure any pseudo-skeptic would have jumped on that term of endearment as it all having come from Leonard’s subconscious and had a good laugh without giving any consideration to the research in the field.

Michael Tymn, Sat 22 Jun, 20:19

Yes, I considered that, but I had to keep reminding myself over and over again that “Bob” was not English, he was born and educated in the United States.  When I read Boylan, I keep thinking she sounds like an upper-crust woman from England, at least her writing seems like that to me. My father, born in 1904 and many uncles were raised during the “Golden Age’ of the U.S. (Edwardian Age in Great Britain) and I was well acquainted with all of them but none of them talked like “Bob.”  Of course, my family were working-class people, my grandfathers were cement finisher, farmer, carpenter, coal miner, etc.  and my father was a machinist in a factory so I never heard that kind of speech from any of them. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 22 Jun, 19:10


Thanks for your additional comment. I agree.  I discussed automatic writing in my blog of March 23, 2015, which can be found in the archives.  As you may have observed, I often liken psychic abilities to baseball or running events.  There are many degrees of ability and there are mediums with Babe “Ruthian” ability and with various degrees of ability down to those who aren’t quite good enough to make it the big leagues.  The latter are still good ballplayers and may have shined in high school or college, but the difference between a good high school player and a major-league all-star can be the difference between running a mile in 4 minutes, 40 seconds (a decent high school winning time) and 3 minutes, 43 seconds, the world record.  That nearly a whole minute difference.  The high school champion would look like a real slow-poke on the same track as the Olympic runner, close to being lapped on a quarter-mile track.  Yet, that high school 4:40 runner is faster than 99.9% of his fellow students and can still consider himself a good “runner”  by high school standards and definitely in the top one tenth of one percent of all boys his age. t.  I believe it is the same in mediumship.  Most mediums are probably in the 4:20 to 4:40 mile category, while only very few are in the sub 3:50 category. Keep in mind that the average high school male student would run a mile in the 8-9 minutes mile range.  There is probably more “coloring’ of messages by the subconscious among the “slower’ milers and that’s why we have to closely “discern” the messages.

I also agree with what Don said about the “overly woman” nature of the communication.

Michael Tymn, Sat 22 Jun, 18:28


Just a thought (without having read the material in question)...

While you may well be right about the “leakage from the medium” aspect—-it’s also possible (probable?) that with regard to the “overly womanly” nature of the communications, you may be trying to judge what would be normal for an Edwardian-Age Brit by the standards of a 21st C. American. Quite different animals I suspect…

Don Porteous, Sat 22 Jun, 15:54

Yes, I might be known to be prone to provide criticism that is considered to be negative.  Even I would agree with that idea except that I prefer to think of myself as skeptical, “A blind groper seeking truth” as someone I know has said several times.

I think this discussion about automatic writing is an important one that needs to be had with some final conclusion drawn from the discussion.  “Automatic writing” has been an easy out for people who have no other explanation for written spirit communication between the living and the dead.  But I don’t think that “automatic writing” is clearly defined. I don’t think most people know what they are talking about when they use that term.  Did Leonora Piper do automatic writing or was she possessed by spirits who used her body to speak and write?  Was William Stainton Moses possessed by Rector or Imperator when he wrote?  Was Pearl Curran possessed by the spirit “Patience Worth.”  Was Geraldine Cummins possessed by the spirits of Myers or Mrs. Coombe-Tennant?  Both Cummins and Curran said they were not possessed and “Bobby” Boylan was reported by his mother to say, “[A] fellow here who knows all about automatic writing says there is no pencil-guiding by unseen hands about it. The recipient just takes dictation.”  Well, that statement is in total agreement with what Cummins and Curran have said about their receipt of information from “spirits.”  Both of them said there were taking dictation. 

I think there is a fine line here that gets caught up in semantics.  Is thought transference from one mind to another mind what they are talking about as “dictation”.  Are telepathic thoughts downloaded from the departed spirit into the subconscious mind of the living percipient?  Eleanor Sedgwick thought so when she concluded her report about Leonora Piper!  While the information might be coming through their subconscious, the information may not be originating entirely in their subconscious.  Information in the subconscious has to be put there either by experiencing it while incarnated or placed there in some other way.  Maybe it is thought transference by the dead to the living, by the living to the living, tapping into the Universal Consciousness or maybe it is put there from experiences of a past life, as reported by children 2 to 5 years old with no evidence that the information got in their subconscious in their current new life.  Curran and Cummins saw visions in their mind’s eye and heard people speaking to them in their head.  This is similar to what the modern medium Matt Fraser says he does. He says he hears, sees, and senses spirits in this mind. He never says he is possessed.  Fraser is close to 100% accurate in what he relates to the family members of the spirits who communicate with him.  Fraser is especially gifted in that way.  Perhaps he is an example of the continuing evolution of people who can communicate with spirits. They get better as new mediums are born and develop.

I think this is all getting to the crux of the matter of just what is a soul?  What is it that really survives death. I have proposed that it is in fact the subconscious mind, or subliminal mind that is the true self that survives.  The subliminal mind is the group soul or “Soul Consciousness” that contains all of the personalities of past lives and apparently subliminal minds or Soul Consciousnesses can communicate with each other by thought transference whether they are in or out of a body.  Reportedly, that is how communication occurs in the afterlife as reported by people who have had an NDE.  Language as we know it on Earth is not how spirits communicate in the spirit world.

So, although I might seem overly critical of Boylan’s “letters” from her dead son, I also allow that even though the information purported to be coming from her son seems to me to be more “womanly” than I would expect from a soldier in the midst of combat, I would still seriously consider that the information was coming from her dead son, but mixed with her own experiences, desires for survival and belief systems.  She can’t help but add her own thoughts to what is downloaded from him.  And THAT is the main issue to be sorted out when considering these tales of spirit communication through automatic writing.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 21 Jun, 19:59


It was more (I feel) a marketing book along the lines of a morality play. The message from Raymond and others was too long and what was needed was a short storyline of a grieving mother finding hope. The need for an easy to read message was well known by the Spiritualist Church.

All of Bob’s antennae were taken down and well beyond the technical ability of the mother. (My uncle had lots of antennae and his licence was restricted to a certain power output by our Department of Transport. He had a hidden boost switch which allowed him to contact anywhere in the world. The Drug squad was very interested as it would have allowed bypassing the normal communications). There is a good story about when they broke in to the house on the quiet when my uncle died in 1991 but our detection system picked them up. My family split on drugs, some were successful and others not too successful.

I look at this book as having layers so that there is a message of telepathy coming through which really means a lot for me..

I will add a comment later to the blog that one of my friends/spirit guides was moved to look after Gulf War. From what he told me it was the rate of deaths and bewilderment of those passing that was the problem. They had the same problems in WWI and WWII. There was a lot of resentment and anger which were the problem.

Thanks for such great articles,

Bruce Williams, Fri 21 Jun, 08:27

Thanks to Amos and Bruce for the negative criticism. I wondered about the ability of someone to send Morse Code from a German outpost to a home in the U.S., but I considered the possibility that Bob, being an electrical engineering graduate, knew how to do it, or there was some aspect of it that was celestial rather than terrestrial in nature. Also, I gathered that the home unit was still working in spite of the government ban on it. It sounded like a real stretch, but I know nothing about such technical matters.  Most of the material in the book seems to have come from automatic writing, but the Morse Code aspect leaves it all in doubt.

Coincidentally, after receiving Bruce’s comment, I went looking for my hard copy of the book to check on a page number Bruce mentioned and pulled the wrong book off my shelf. It was the same size and right next to the subject book.  The title was “The Harvest of the Mystic” by Olga Barrett.  According to my little note in the book, I read it in 1999, but I couldn’t remember anything about it. The Introduction suggests that Olga was a pianist of great ability and that her son, Ted, who was killed in WWII, was a violoncellist. It seems to have involved much the same sympathetic relationship as that of Grace and Bob.  I gather that Ted began communicating with his mother via “inspirational writing” soon after his death, but I haven’t had time to go beyond the Introduction.  It made me wonder if that’s what was taking place between Grace and Bob but that Grace, being a creative journalist, threw in the Morse Code explanation in the first release, which was meant to be fiction, to make it sound more realistic and then got stuck with that explanation and couldn’t back away from it after it was said to be more than fiction.

Of course, it can be argued that inspirational writing is all coming from the subconscious, as Grace Duffie admitted.  We are left to wonder if she actually acquired the ability to do automatic writing and if we should discount the material in the book that supposedly came from automatic writing rather than by Morse Code. The skeptic would say that if she lied about the Morse Code aspect, there is no reason to believe the 90% that came from automatic writing, and that may very well be the answer.

Thanks to all others who have commented.

Michael Tymn, Thu 20 Jun, 21:33

A noetic comment from a knowing person.  Thanks!  Thanks for the technical information and astute observations. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever refer to my mother as a “fat little rascal-ma as you are.”  Nor would I say, “Come, I’ll race you to the house.” Especially to an old woman.  However, an old woman might say that in a deprecating way about herself and refer to herself as a “fat little rascal-ma.” Boylan’s account is just too much for me to bear. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 20 Jun, 18:26


A very interesting article. When I first read it I was intrigued about the mechanism of using morse code to contact. Amateur radio required morse code for licensing when I was growing up (my dad and uncle were hams) so I was very familiar with the technical side. Now with my network training I know that there are two types, public and private networks. If as in the start of this story about Bob Bennett when he listened in to the public system he found encrypted morse. You require a key to decrypt the message. The secure military private network is a different type of fish. Your network was protected to avoid wrong messages coming through. The WW1 technique was to tap in to the enemy telecommunication lines which were laid behind their fronts in order to intercept orders. This was rare as secure lines was very important. When Bob found an abandoned telegraph post “Sent that wireless from an enemy station in the field. The officer in charge couldn’t have seen me.” This is where I started to question. Sending a message from one secure military private network behind German lines to the public system in New York seemed impossible. The story had also revealed that the home system had been previously dismantled under US Defense orders and is described “I think his mind was more or less occupied with his electrical experiments and he still fussed over his demolished wireless station “  Morse to a disconnected morse key…mmm.

I was also wondering about how a Spartan concept arose in the story, the mother must know her ancient history well. Death in battle was preferred to surrender and Spartan mothers said either come back carrying your shield or be on top carried by others. Tough love. Only a few well read people would know this concept.

Thy Son Liveth page 7 He suddenly smiled and threw a paddle full of spray over me as we landed. “Oh, you Spartan mother!” he laughed. “That *come back with your shield or upon it’ business does not go with such a fat little rascal-ma as you are. Come, I’ll race you to the house.”

My head was swimming (note the use of fish previously) for such embellishments hinted at techniques of Spiritualist writers to weave such a story. It uses a compilation of bits as a parable. I did like the writing style of embedding a concept and dropping down the tone to increase believability.
Page 20 Bring pencil and tablet if you want to. But a fellow here who knows all about automatic writing says there is no pencil-guiding by unseen hands about it. The recipient just takes dictation. Better bring the pencil. You will want to report this just as it is for our purpose.
Try to realize that thought is the one thing that is absolutely unlimited. You can send your thought to the most remote place as easily as you can direct it to something in your immediate neighborhood.

Now they were surprising me with giving messages by telepathy.  I suspect that this book is great not for the emotions but for the method of message.


Bruce Williams, Thu 20 Jun, 07:51

Thanks Michael,
I have read your 2014 book and I have read the original account by Mrs. Boylan, on line in its entirety.  I must say that after 10 years studying accounts of communications from the spirit world I reread your book with a different understanding than I did 10 years ago.  In spite of my distaste for Mrs. Boylan’s book, some of the things she says in terms of her day, surprisingly, seem to me to be very current using different wording of today. 

After receiving a message directly from her son via a “wireless telegraph,” one which had the antenna dismantled per government instruction, Mrs. Boylan says that it was soon abandoned for direct transference of thought into her subconscious and she proceeded to use “automatic writing” to receive “letters” from her son. My response is WHY?  Even though it might have been slow, what better irrefutable evidence could there be that communication was occurring from the spirit world to the world of embodied spirits than sending messages from the spirit world using Morse code by way of a barely functioning or non-functional wireless telegraph?  What a boon it would be to mankind if whatever method the mother and son were using to communicate by the “Wireless Telegraph” would be shared with the rest of us today. “Automatic writing” is always susceptible to skeptical comments that the material was coming from the mind of the automatist which I believe is the case with Mrs. Boylan. 

I don’t believe this account.  Even Boland allows that the “letters” might be coming from her own subconscious mind.  It seems to me that this is written by a grieving mother assuaging her own grief under the guise of trying to help other parents who had lost their children in the “Great War”.  And I don’t understand why the anonymous publication—-not really!

This all strikes me as syrupy romanticism of the early 20th century.  Nineteen-year-old men who are attached to their mother at the hip, to the point that they have to move their room across from their mother’s bedroom to be of help if she needs it, and goes canoeing with their mother on a Sunday afternoon, and who doesn’t like the pretty women at a party for him, suggests to me an inappropriate co-dependent relationship between a young man and his mother.  These kinds of relationships are classic for the production of homosexual men, especially when the father is missing in the family as he was in this case. The mothers never realize the harm they are doing to their son by tethering him to her as a surrogate lover of course, and see the relationship as one of loving and dedication to each other; totally inappropriate if one wants to raise strong heterosexual men.

I have a strong intuition about this account by Boylan.  The whole tone of the “letters” is very motherly, very womanly, something a well-off mature woman with servants would write, not something a battle-worn soldier would “write” from the hereafter.  This all strikes me in the wrong way.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 20 Jun, 01:03


I always enjoy your writings but for some reason this one was a favorite. Thank you for the effort you make in publishing books and publishing these encouraging historical events that provide such insight into the bigger questions about life.

I saw a message above from Keith Parsons who also does such incredible work. I am in the midst of watching one of his documentaries available free on YouTube entitled “Reincarnation and the Holocaust.”

I think it’s going to be so much fun to meet each one of you in future realms, perhaps even the next one.


Brian Anthony Kraemer

Brian A. Kraemer, Wed 19 Jun, 09:37

As Keith mentioned, this little book is available free as a PDF at Also, I was able to download a $.99 version on Apple Books, published by Pantianos Classics. This eighty-four page book, small enough “to hide in a mourner’s sleeve”, was principally intended to amplify the common spiritualist theme “There is no death”, and to comfort those mourning the loss of their sons and husbands in battle. It is said that “Grief is love that has nowhere to go.” While I have experienced what little grief life has handed me to be an ultimately helpful dredging of the harbor of my heart, this little sleeve book warns of the pain that this may cause to those who have crossed over. “The one thing that troubles the men who come here is the fact that the ones that love them are in agony.”

I found this account particularly fascinating as Bob, no longer incarnate, stayed within the field of combat, marching “through the German barbed-wire barricades and in front of the howitzers” aware that “the body that could be hurt had been shed on the red field.” After crossing over he remained in the service, working with other servicemen to aid those coming off the battlefield, as well as comforting those in the trenches and the wounded. At one point he says “a new company is to relieve us, and we will ‘proceed to our destination.’” After starting out for their port of departure, his group of forty were ordered to “right about face” and return to their encampment as they were still needed on the battlefield.

There is an interesting normalcy in many accounts of death as related via mediums, versus the often dramatic and supernormal tales told by near death experiencers. While NDE’s may be a peek into coming attractions beyond the immediate terrestrial sphere, this book emphasizes a reason to remain close to the Earth for a while, to be of service until relieved. It is only at the end of this little book that Bob leaves the encampment with his troop and disembarks to his next posting. A most pleasant read. Thanks for bringing it to our attention Michael.

David Chilstrom, Tue 18 Jun, 01:59

Very interesting story, Mike!

This kind of thing occurs at our spirit sessions when someone attends and their loved one having transitioned to the otherside, relays information of their current situation and for their loved one to not grieve because they are fine.

How wonderful when one knows the spiritual realities of the cycle that is LIFE!

Yvonne Limoges

Yvonne Limoges, Mon 17 Jun, 19:35

A beautifully written piece, thanks. I have read all your books but so long ago I do not recall this particular tale. I’m glad you retold it. The book itself is available free on Internet Archive as a pdf.


Keith Parsons, Mon 17 Jun, 19:32


Excellent blog. For some reason, this blog and the account of the soldier’s depth impressed me a lot. Very interesting.  Do you have a copy of the book itself? I think I’d enjoy reading the whole story.
Mike S

Michael Schmicker, Mon 17 Jun, 19:30

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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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