War creates more death than any other human activity; it also generates more ghost stories. Tales of ghostly winged aircraft are well documented, but few compare to the tale of the crew members of three WWII Douglas DB-7 Boston bombers who completed and signed their debriefing reports after they’d been shot down and killed.
After the fall of France, a squadron of British Boston’s were ordered out for a strike at German coastal defences. At the bomber base, an RAF air marshal was present to oversee the attack and secure vital intelligence on enemy positions from returning crews.
The air marshal waited, carefully calculating when the aircraft would be due back.
Eventually, at the hour he expected, he heard the sound of three, possibly four, sets of American-built engines approaching.
He heard the aircraft land.
He heard their engines shut down.
He heard vehicles driving up to the operations building, the opening and closing of doors and the sound of booted footsteps.
Finally, the crew of three Boston’s stood before the air marshal, their faces hiding the terror of what they had just been through.
Not wishing to waste anytime the air marshal had the crew fill out their debriefing reports, making sure they included their names, rank, serial numbers, time and date.
He then told them to go and have a well deserved drink.
When the air marshal’s aide entered shortly afterward, he had a great deal of trouble convincing the officer that the entire squadron had been shot down over their targets.
Intelligence confirmed the tragedy, but the air marshal had written reports from the pilots.
Later, it was confirmed all the crews of the bombers were killed. There were no prisoners, no survivors.
What’s particularly remarkable about this case is the written evidence.
People who die suddenly and violently commonly appear to the living. Often they appear to loved ones or people who are expecting them.
Some research suggests this is due to the dead not believing they are dead, and continuing as though still alive.
But when spirits find they have no impact on the world – unable to write or communicate – they usually begin to understand they have passed on.
Death, it seems, held no such disadvantages for these incredible men. They were going to complete their mission – and sign off on the paperwork just to make it official.