On 11 November 1918, France was dancing in the streets.

In Calais, this Victory joy started an astounding story.

One evening in 1948, Michel Davel tells his wife of thirteen years, Rose-Mary Adrian, that he has just remembered that he is not really Michel.

“My memory has come back.  I’m not French…  I’m English…  My name is George Littlon.  I was living in Adelaide when I had my accident, and I already had a legitimate wife who is still alive…

“My memory came back suddenly three days ago, and I made some enquiries.  My wife is still living in Adelaide.  I saw her yesterday and she recognized me straight away.”

Rose-Mary is completely bewildered.  Michel, or rather George, tries to make her understand.

“In 1934, on 12 August, I had a fall, I opened my skull, I lost my memory and I was transported to hospital.  Then, I don’t know what happened, but when I woke, I was speaking French.  I said that my name was Michel Davel.  As I didn’t have any papers on me, the administrative personnel took me for a French sailor who had jumped ship, and the Australian authorities gave me a resident’s card and a work permit.  Then I met you and, for thirteen years, I had no doubts.  Curiously, I had in my mind all the memories of someone else…  of the one that you loved before.”

Rose-Mary thinks that she is going mad.  How can she believe this story, when her husband has kept reminding her throughout these thirteen years of marriage, of a thousand details from their youth, a thousand facts that they alone knew?

Imagining that her husband has invented this extravagant story to be able to leave her, she goes to the police.  But it is not long before she learns that it is all true.

Then, broken, she goes to England and entrusts her French friends with investigating what has happened to the real Michel Davel.

One morning, she receives the answer.  An answer which terrifies her:  Michel had died accidentally on 12 August 1934, that is to say on the same day that the other one, in Australia, had cracked his skull…

***

Rose-Mary Adrian, having learnt that the real Michel had died on the exact date of the false Michel’s accident, was so troubled that she decided to consecrate the rest of her life to trying to pierce the mysteries of death.  And she founded a metapsychical research society.  She and certain members of this society investigated the case which personally touched her, and she published the result of the enquiry.

***

The enquiry proved that George Littlon, the false Michel, really did have an accident on 12 August 1934;  that he had been transported to hospital in a coma;  that when he woke up, he had declared that he was French and was called Michel Davel;  that he didn’t speak one word of English at the time.  He had no identifying papers on him.

***

The hypothesis that the false Michel could have met the real Michel between 1918 and 1934, and learned about Rose-Mary, has been envisaged.  But this idea had to be abandoned.  It has been proven that George Littlon, who had arrived in Adelaide as a child, had never left Australia, and that Michel Davel had never set foot in this part of the world…

***

The possibility that, during his sixteen years of marine life, Michel Davel could have been, for a very short time, a member of a crew which might have briefly stopped in an Australian port, and that during a drunken night, he had confided in a stranger – George Littlon – has also been considered.  But George would have had to have had an astoundingly inhuman memory to remember details such as the colour of the dress worn by Rose-Mary on 11 November 1918, the French music to which the two young people had danced, the songs that they had sung, without mentioning the sonnet that the young girl had written.  It is impossible.  Further, how could George Littlon have “recognized” Rose-Mary on a crowded Melbourne street without ever having seen her before?

Even if he had seen a photo of her, remembering her face after having seen a photo for a few seconds, again demands an extraordinary memory.  On top of which, this photo, if it existed, would have been of Rose-Mary at the age of seventeen.  She was thirty-four when George Littlon meets her in Melbourne.  If we admit the impossible, that is to say that there was a contact between Michel Davel and George Littlon before 1934, why would George have taken on Michel’s identity when he woke from his coma?  Why would he abandon his brilliant situation in Adelaide to become a docker in Melbourne?

All sorts of suppositions have been studied, including the possibility that George had fallen instantly in love with a photo, and had plotted the whole thing.  But all the different scenarii leave too many unanswered questions.  The most important one being: why did George Littlon have his accident on the same day that Michel Davel died?  There is no valid explanation.

***

Here is the hypothesis retained by certain parapsychologists:  according to them, the real Michel’s spirit, at the moment of his death, immediately reincarnated into the body of George Littlon which was, at this moment, more or less “available”, because of his unconsciousness…

***

This raises the question of what George Littlon’s spirit was doing while his body was animated by that of Michel Davel.  George Littlon has no memory of this thirteen-year period.  As if his soul had wandered in a “somewhere else” which had left no trace in his memory.  But where?  And this is not the only question mark in this extraordinary story…

***

Advertisements