By John Macklin
“I’ll be back. Don’t worry about me,” said Captain Arthur Leckie with cheerful optimism. It was the summer of 1918 and Leckie was leaving Britain to join his regiment fighting the Battle of the Somme, a conflict that would account for the lives of nearly half a million British soldiers.
His brother-in-law, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, doctor turned writer and creator of the immortal Sherlock Holmes, seemed unable to share Captain Leckie’s light-hearted approach to war. “Make sure you do,” he said, as Leckie left London’s Victoria Station en route for France.
Ten days later came the news that Leckie had died in action and Arthur Conan Doyle, a somewhat sceptical 57-year-old, underwent a dramatic character transformation which would last until his own death in 1930 at the age of 71.
He had become convinced that he was receiving messages from the dead and from then on dedicated much of his time, energy and over £300,000 (now worth several million) to spreading the belief that there is life after death.