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An Intriguing 1911 Near-Death Experience

Posted on 24 February 2014, 10:04

While Dr. Raymond Moody is credited with naming the near-death experience (NDE) and popularizing it in his 1975 book, Life After Life, there were numerous accounts of NDEs long before Moody began doing research on them.  Several of the pre-Moody NDEs have been discussed in earlier blog posts here.  I find these old NDEs more intriguing than the modern ones, because the experiencers had very little, if any, knowledge of such a phenomenon.  Today, the debunkers argue that a person reporting an NDE is simply making it all up because he or she read about such experiences and is fantasizing a similar experience.

I recently came across a 1911 NDE in a 1943 book entitled Transition, by Charles Hampton.  It drew on an account published in the May 26, 1935 edition of The Sunday Express of London.  It was related by a Mr. W. Martin of Liverpool, England.  (I don’t know why so many of those old timers liked to go by their initials only.)  Here is what Mr. Martin reported:

“In 1911, at the age of sixteen, I was staying about twelve miles away from my own house when a high wall was blown down by a sudden gust of wind as I was passing.  A huge coping stone hit me on top of my head.  It then seemed as if I could see myself lying on the ground, huddled up, with one corner of the stone resting on my head and quite a number of people rushing toward me.  I watched them move the stone and someone took off his coat and put it under my head, and I heard all their comments.  ‘Fetch a doctor.’ ‘His neck is broken.’ ‘Skull smashed!’

“[One man] then wanted to know if anyone knew where I lived, and on being told I was lodging just around the corner, he instructed them to carry me there.  Now all this time it appeared as though I were disembodied from the form lying on the ground and suspended in midair in the center of the group, and I could hear everything that was being said.

“As they started to carry me it was remarked that it would come as a blow to my people, and I was immediately conscious of a desire to be with my mother.  Instantly I was at home, and father and mother were just sitting down to their midday meal.  On my entrance mother sat bolt upright in her chair and said, ‘Bert, something has happened to our boy.’

“There followed an argument, but my mother refused to be pacified, and said that if she caught the 2 p.m. train she could be with me before three.  She had hardly left the room when there came a knock at the front door.  It was a porter from the railway station with a telegram saying I was badly hurt.

“Then suddenly I was again transported – this time it seemed to be against my will – to a bedroom where a woman whom I recognized was in bed, and two other women were quietly bustling around, and a doctor was leaning over the bed.  Then the doctor had a baby in his hands.  At once I became aware of an almost irresistible impulse to press my face through the back of the baby’s head so that my face would come out at the same place as the child’s.

“The doctor said, ‘It looks as though we have lost them both,’ and again, I felt the urge to take the baby’s place to show him he was wrong, but the thoughts of my mother crying turned my thoughts in her direction, when straightaway I was in a railway carriage with her and my father.

“I was still with them when they arrived at my lodging and were shown into my room where I had been put to bed.  Mother was beside the bed and I longed to comfort her, and the realization came that I ought to do the same thing I had felt impelled to do in the case of the baby and climb into the body on the bed.

“At last I succeeded, and the effort caused the real me to sit up in bed fully conscious.  Mother made me lie down again, but I said that I was all right, and remarked that it was odd that she knew something was wrong before the porter had brought the telegram.

“Both she and Dad were amazed at my knowledge.  Their astonishment was further increased when I repeated almost word for word some of the conversation they had had at home and in the train.  I said that I had been close to birth as well as death, and told them that Mrs. Wilson, who lived close to us at home, had had a baby that day, but it was dead because I would not get into its body We subsequently learned that Mrs. Wilson died on the same day at 2:05 p.m. after delivering a stillborn girl.” 

There seems to be more here than just a near-death experience, but I’ll let the reader ponder on that.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores. 

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Next blog: March 10



Wendy, I also wondered about that part of the story, since it suggests immediate reincarnation is possible.  At the same time, since he wasn’t able to get into the baby’s body, one might infer that it is not possible. I am cyurious, though, what it is about Theosophical beliefs that make the account suspect.  As I recall, the rest of the book was pretty much in accord with Spiritualists’ beliefs.

Michael Tymn, Tue 25 Feb, 11:06

Amazing story, Mike, and yes, more interesting than current ones. I love your work, Mike.
As always, huge thanks!

Jane Katra, Mon 24 Feb, 21:51

Hi Mike, This sounds like the writing of a Theosophist. In all the accounts of NDEs I have read I have never come across a similar one regarding impressing the face through the back of the baby’s head. I notice that the book is published by Quest Books, a Theosophical Publishing House which increases my suspicions and makes the whole account suspect.

wendy zammit, Mon 24 Feb, 21:51

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