Slain Legionnaires In May 1912, several companies of French Legionnaires in a lonely desert blockhouse in Algeria were witness to the strange sight of ghostly comrades walking through the sand. The case was never formally investigated but was recorded, and it remains an unusual one of collective apparitional sightings.
The recorder of the incident, René Dupré, reported that as his company and two others had marched toward the blockhouse, they were ambushed by Arab tribesmen about two miles from their destination, and five Legionnaires had been killed before the tribesmen were sent in retreat. The dead were buried immediately, and stones were piled on the graves to prevent marauding by animals.
Two weeks after the incident, Dupré was standing guard one night when, after midnight, he spotted the lone figure of a man approaching in a staggering and zigzag fashion. As it grew closer, Dupré, aided by moonlight, was able to see that the figure was dressed in a Legionnaire’s uniform. Then he suddenly realized that he could see through the figure.
Dupré summoned others, who gathered to watch the figure stagger about as though searching for something. One of the men recognized it as Leduc, one of the slain soldiers. At that moment, the phantom dissolved.
Leduc’s Ghost did not appear again until four nights later, at about 1:30 A.M. Again the ghost staggered about and then vanished. One of the soldiers on guard duty claimed he could see blood on the phantom’s face; Leduc had been shot in the temple.
Three nights later, Dupré was again on night guard duty when he and several others spotted another lone phantom. This figure, which also zigzagged about, was identified as another one of the ambushed dead, Sergeant Schmidt. The ghost of Schmidt reappeared two nights later.
No one could explain the odd movements of the ghosts, until one of the Legionnaires suggested that Leduc and Schmidt were looking for each other—they had been close friends in life.
On the 15th night from the time that Dupré had first spotted Leduc, he and about 30 other Legionnaires were up watching the sands. At about 2:00 A.M., two ghostly figures were sighted, marching together along the sand. They were too distant to be identified, but of course, everyone assumed them to be Leduc and Schmidt, together at last in spirit. The ghosts were observed for about one minute before they disappeared over a dune, one of them raising an arm as if to signal farewell. The ghosts were never seen again.
- Knight, David C. The Moving coffins: Ghosts and Hauntings Around the World. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1983.