Martello Towers and the stuck boy soldier.
Some of you who live on the South-East coast will have drove past these towers which stretch for miles up the coast.
They were quickly built to fend of Napoleon's planned invasion of our beautiful little island in the early 1800's. BOY did they do the job!
That short French prick conquered most of Europe before he turned his attention to us, with an army whose number's dwarfed any other army in the world. Our chances looked bleak!
But as history will show, we will always be a force to be reckoned with. Our strategy was better. Napoleon had no other option but to try and invade from our south east coastline. In total 103 towers were constructed almost overnight.
Back in the time before internet, we had to use our brains, and they came up with more genius ideas than ever. These towers were a work of art. They stand up to 40 feet (12 m) high (with two floors) and typically had a garrison of one officer and 15–25 men. Their round structure and thick walls of solid masonry made them resistant to cannon fire, while their height made them an ideal platform for a single heavy artillery piece, mounted on the flat roof and able to traverse, and hence fire, over a complete 360° circle. A few towers had moats or other batteries and works attached for extra defence.
Now that's the history lesson over. Let's get onto the good bits.
I am lucky enough to know the owner of one of them, who just so happens to be a mountain of a man, also a trained wing-chung instructor. Looking at the man, you wouldn't thing anything bothered him, but the tower.... certainly did.
One day I get a call from him and he explains that he has massive plans to turn the almost derelict tower into a restaurant and events facility. He has been in the tower alone quite a bit recently and the activity is becoming unbearable.
There are two staircases in the walls that spiral up to the roof, and he explained that he can't concentrate, as sporadically, he would hear many footsteps running up the steps in a panic. Of a night-time, you can hear cries of "fire!" as if it was being shouted in your ear, and he was getting tired of things going missing or flying across the room.
I jump at the chance to come and meet him down there, vested up and equipment on my belt, I jump straight in the car and head to Clacton-on-Sea where I would meet my friend at the tower.
Walking across the single drawbridge that leads to the only door halfway up the tower. I stop and look below and get the chance to take in the pure genius of this tower. I am about 10 feet above the moat on this bridge and looking up at this perfectly circular building with only one door halfway up it, and a couple of the tiniest windows ever facing the sea. Aesthetically, this tower is gorgeous with a gorgeous view. I could see for absolute miles out to sea, and I got the chance to really appreciate the mindset of the soldiers who once manned it.
I walk into the tower and I begin to explore, I enter the tower on the middle floor. there's a floor above and the ground floor below, and the only way to get to them is via the spiral staircase that ran round the inside of the walls. Now these staircases were VERY thin, I had to walk up sideways and even then, I had to breathe in.
As I begin to walk up them (cobwebs all up in my face) I turn my head to look down to keep balance, as I look back up to see where I am going, I'm met by the sight of a line of about 5 soldiers walking exactly the same steps as me as if they are leading the way.
"Hello" I say.
"I am Jesse"
"who are you"
This is quite common whilst paranormal investigating, but it's so fucking frustrating. It means that I can see into their plane, but I'm not actually on it like I would normally be. It means I can observe but ask no questions.
The only way I can explain it, is it's like the scene in Harry Potter where he gets to go in Tom Riddles diary.
I got lucky because what I was witnessing is the residual energy from an attempted invasion. It's like being transported back in time using a spirit's memory and witnessing an actual event that happened.
I am walking up the stairs (sideways) behind these soldiers, when I get my head round the fact that these soldiers are rushing, they have snapped into action and are rushing to defend the tower against an imminent invasion.
Now the towers 40 feet tall, you can imagine how long this staircase is. As I am nearing the top, I come to a window opening. kind of sunken into the wall. Inside this window is a small man. hugging his knees and absolutely sobbing in fear. The soldiers laugh and carry on up the stairs, their disregard for this man is cold and callous. They don't care.
Well, I bloody do.
I kneel down on the stairs as best I could.
"What's wrong" I ask, soothingly.
Shit, that's right. I'm not on his plane. Ghost hunting can be a right pain in the arse sometimes.
All I can do is use my energy to sooth this man. I rest back on my bum and get comfy and try to catch this man's eye to connect with his energy, and then I see it, my gut twists, my eyes widen, and my mouth drops as I look into the eyes of a boy, this man, as I thought he was, could be no more than 13 years old. Done up to the nines in soldier gear and clearly there against his will.
I take a minute to look at him, study him. He is cowering and shaking, and there is a puddle all around him which I can only assume is urine as he has pissed himself from being so scared, and his eyes.... I can't explain the look in his eyes. They will haunt me to the day I die. Genuine, FEAR!
This kid needs my help. Residue energy means he is stuck there, living this fear for the last 200+ years.
OK, well what can I do?
To get to this time I need to find this boys spirit in my plane. I finish the climb to the roof of the tower. Bearing in mind I had gone their mid-august on a beautiful summer's day. I was greeted with gale force winds and rain as I get to experience an event that happened 200 years ago.
The other soldiers were bustling around, and I had no interest in watching them, I have seen war through my third eye many times.
I ground myself and pull myself back to the here and now and then project my energy. Surprise surprise, I get all sorts trying to connect with me... but I want to help that boy.
Juvenile energy has a different feeling to normal spirits. I search and search and search this tower for well over an hour looking everywhere for this boy so I can get on the same plane as him and move him on or pass him over.
Luckily my friend who owned the tower just let me crack on.
After about 90 minutes, I'm ready to give up and live with this on my conscious, but I give one final sweep of the place and as I walk past the spot I had seen him originally.
I feel this tug on my energy from this very timid boy.
I've got him!!!!!
"Hey little man, I've been looking for you for ages" I explain, my voice similar to a dad putting his kid to sleep.
I wanted to be gentle with this guy, I knew he was fragile, and an easily scared spirit can be very volatile.
"I know, but who are you?" he replied. The sound of his voice broke my heart. It was similar to my sons, just young, soft and innocent! Why was he here fighting a war? Who had let this happen?
"I'm Jesse, its ok. I am here to help you"
"I'm so scared, I don't want to fight them; I don't want to die" he begins to sob.
"Hey hey little man, you don't have to fight anymore, it's over! The wars all over" I explain.
"It's not! It's not!" he shouts, so scared and angry about it.
I sat down for what felt like 45 minutes and explained to him what happened and that it's all over and that the next thing is to pass on.
I will admit, in the time I was at this tower, I had grown quite attached to him.
He explained that his name was Little Peter and that he didn't have a mum or dad and his uncle couldn't look after him, he had been passed to the police who had stuck him in the army. I just wanted to adopt him by this point. I wanted to take care of him.
Now passing a spirit over is complicated, they have absolutely no idea what to do and following instructions from me, who has only third hand heard what they are meant to do, never experienced or seen it, and no one ever will until they die.
But basically, you guide them towards the "light" and hope they work out how to pass through it. you only know they have gone when there is no response from them anymore.
Peter stopped replying and I waited for 30 minutes just to make sure.
I explained everything to my friend who looked shocked and took me to the office part of the tower and showed me a black and white grainy photograph of the soldiers who once ran this tower. Sure enough, there was Little Peter and underneath there were the words.
- P. Lydster
Along with the other initials and surnames of the others.
I will be forever thankful for my opportunity to help Little Peter, and I did get to go back about a month after for a ghost hunt which was open to the public, I didn't see Little Peter again, which bought me a lot of happiness.
I hope he is at rest now.
At ease soldier!