July 1964

The Genesis of Hoaxes

Arch Intern Med. 1964;114(1):157-158. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.03860070203030

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In discussing the matter of hoaxes (February, 1964) I found myself involved in the business of making some nice distinctions between the hoax, the legend, and the myth. In this connection I cited the legend of "the angels of Mons," an incident reputed to have occurred on Aug 23, 1914, during the first battle in which the heavily outnumbered British Expeditionary Force ("The Old Contemptibles") took part, initiating their historic retreat. I indicated that historians are inclined to attribute the legend to a fictional short story which was published about the same time. Since then I have come across another interesting bit of evidence which in credibility and in its conformity with the realities of war is worth noting. It is contained in a letter which appeared in the Sept 22, 1963, issue of the London Sunday Telegraph. The writer is Lt. Col. J. W. Naylor (Retired) of Reading, England.

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