I was trying to get away with being lazy today. I wanted to pull something out of the archives or out of the drafts folder, but no going.
So, yep, you get hellhounds again. Because I can never let a hellhound story pass me by.
I must post about all the the hellhounds ever. I mean, I might even tell you about Cuchulainn and Arawn later this month just so I can talk more about hell hounds.
They’re two different and not really related entities, by the way. I just feel the need to clarify that.
I also don’t talk a lot about war mythology and legends. I don’t know why I don’t-I don’t feel like it’s particularly off limits. I do have things that I won’t play with, but war isn’t one of them.
With this being the 100th anniversary year of the beginning of World War I, maybe this is as a good time as any to get into war superstition. Starting, of course, with another death hound.
*War World I and the Jazz Age are actually two of my research concentrations. I don’t have references for trench warfare, because it’s sort of just white noise in my knowledge at this point.
The Hell Hound of Mons is, perhaps predictably, connected with the Battle of Mons specifically. Said to enjoy the no man’s land between the German and British trenches, the hound was said to be incredibly oversized and slaughter any man, British or German, who entered into the area between the trenches.
I think that media occasionally likes to present the no man’s land as being something like an empty soccer field in between the trenches-something that suggests a significantly more orderly situation than what was actually occurring. During heavy fighting, such as the Battle of Mons, the no man’s land-while not being an instant death sentence-was certainly not a place that you really wanted to be. The battle technology of World War I was decidedly unpleasant and rapidly evolving.
It was not entirely uncommon to experience an area full of barbed wire, the use of mustard gas depending on the battle in question, and explosives. The area would sometimes be littered with holes from explosions. Attempting to cross this area would also make you a prime target being that you were that much higher from the trenches-though in fairness, the trenches with their backlog of human waste, flooding, and occasional cave-ins weren’t exactly Heaven either.
War is Hell, and while World War II gets a lot more discussion, remember that World War I was actually not entirely ready for its own technologies and was the crucible in which a great deal of our modern warfare was developed. It’s not the Lost Generation for nothing.
In 1919, an Oklahoma paper published an account by a Canadian soldier named F.J. Newhouse regarding a string of corpses pulled out of the Mons no man’s land covered in bite marks, missing their throats, and showing others of tangling with something nasty. The hound was said to shriek and howl-and take out entire companies who wandered into the space. There were sightings-while it would make more pop culture sense now to say that a hound like this is black, the Mons hound was actually dark gray.
This went on for two years.
Newhouse had his own theory regarding the hound-namely, German genetic and breeding experiments. That’s right, Frankenwolf. Literally, Frankenwolf. It was Newhouse’s claim that the Germans had put the brain of an insane man into a wolf (well, in fairness Newhouse claimed it was a wolfhound and not a wolf, but still) and let it loose during the Battle of Mons. He claimed to have papers proving that these experiments took place.
Was there actually a wolf in Mons? An actual, living wolf that the urban legend machine got a hold of? Was the entire series of events fabricated? Was this a stress reaction to the trenches? Did Newhouse simply hallucinate the whole thing? While I truly doubt the Frankenwolf angle, we might never really actually know what was going on. However, it has been pointed out that both sides of the conflict were heavily interested in propaganda and it may have been a deliberate creation to add fuel to an already rolling anti-German propaganda machine-in other words, a WWI era Slenderman.