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20TH-CENTURY WITCH TRIALS

Although your excellent article on the Salem Witch Trials (February 2016 states that “The English laws against witchcraft were repealed in 1736”, there was actually a trial under these laws during World War II.

On 25 November 1941 at 4.25pm, HMS Barham was hit by three torpedoes from a German submarine. The explosion was caught on camera by John Turner, who was on the deck of the nearby Valiant. Out of a crew of approximately 1,184 officers and men, 841 were killed. The survivors were rescued by the other British ships. The government was concerned about the effect this might have on national morale. As such, news of the disaster was concealed for several weeks.

Despite this, Helen Duncan, a well-known medium who claimed to have psychic powers, learned of the event from survivors.

Duncan held a séance in Portsmouth, at which she claimed the spirit materialisation of a dead sailor from HMS Barham who informed the audience that the battleship had been sunk.

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About History Revealed

The March 2016 issue of History Revealed.