Cappy Ricks & The Stones

An intriguing stone-throwing poltergeist case from Port Louis, Mauritius appeared in the Melbourne Argus of 4 February, 1939.

The author of the article was ‘Cappy Ricks’, who The Argus introduced as a naval officer who served in Australian waters during WW1 and lived for 11 years in Melbourne. “He is now in business in Mauritius, but forwarded this story because of former associations with “The Argus,” the article stated.

A little focused Internet searching revealed the author as James Ernest Capstick-Dale (1879-1940), who according to the Commonwealth of Australia Navy July List (1918) had been an Acting Lieutenant in the Australian Navy.

Anyway, onto Cappy’s story:

‘Extraordinary Incidents Are Related by an ex-Naval Officer From His Own Experience


AT 7.30 a.m. on September 1, 1937, a stone fell on the roof of my house, a bungalow, in the Rue Touraine, Port Louis, Mauritius. It rebounded to the paved courtyard, striking the stones only a few inches distant from the feet of the children’s “nanan,” a Creole girl aged 13 years. During the day 100 more fell – 43 in the house itself, doing, though, only slight damage. It was thought at first that this was the work of mischievous boys, but the police proved such not to be the case.

Stones fell later in the bedroom when all doors and windows were closed, one falling vertically between the feet of my wife’s four sisters, coming to rest as it fell. Others fell in the court, and the nanan rushed into the house in terror, with three stones following her in, horizontally. The bombardment ceased as night fell, and the nanan left for her home; but it was resumed at 7.30 on the following morning. None of the stones was such as are common to the locality. One of them, a flat one some seven inches long, had a hole at its pointed end, and into this I inserted my pencil, to swing the stone round and round as I perplexedly deliberated on the inexplicable occurrence. More of this later.

Police took up station in and all around the house. In the evening 27 stones and a large iron shackle fell in the house in an hour and a quarter, although all windows and doors were closed. Nightfall only put an end to the bombardment.

On the following morning a large iron nut that had lain in the court for months past fell from the kitchen ceiling (so far as could be ascertained) and dashed a dish from the Indian cook’s hands. In the bathroom I was struck by a large stone which entered by a 6in. space above the door. A detective inspector was at the moment leaning against a tree 6ft. distant, but he had seen nothing.

At midday stones fell on the (roofed) back verandah, and I saw a large bull mouth shell that with others had lain on the tiles of the verandah for two years rise of its own accord to a height of 5ft. and make straight for the little nanan, who fled shrieking. Later, when she was laying my study table for tea, a stone flew in the partially open door, and I crouched to catch it, but as it entered the room it swung 40 deg. right and smashed glassware and a milk jug on the table where the nanan was standing.

This caused me to come to the determination – a weak one maybe – that the nanan must go, but she left for home before I could tell her not to return. No stones fell during the night, but the morning of the fourth day saw a resumption of the bombardment. Six police surrounded the house and courtyard, one of them up a high tree.

I packed off my wife and babe to her mother’s house, and stones fell there, though still doing little damage. Then a retreat was made to a neighbour’s house, and the stones followed, smashing pot plants and a table on the verandah. I took my people to the hotel, and left for the office to bring out my paper, only to be summoned to take wife, babe, and nanan away. Leaving the hotel, a stone flew into the car, but was caught before it could strike anyone. It was the stone with the hole in it that, to the best of my belief, lay in my courtyard a mile away.

Arriving at home I at once packed the nanan off for good and all, and not a stone fell afterwards. But what a mess my home was in, not to mention the fact that it, with the street and courtyard, contained 1,000 excited people, most of them yelling advice, 1,000 varieties, at me. All I could do was to clear them off the premises, with the exception of the police.

Mauritius. Photo Wikipedia, Photographer carrotmadman6.

I had left my home for the office at 9 a.m., but before going I had collected all the stones that had fallen inside the house that morning, 14 in number, and these I placed on the bed in the adjoining room, with a note for the detective inspector whom I had been momentarily expecting. It was these stones that had wrecked my dining-room.

I must explain that the two rooms are really one, divided by a wooden partition which cuts in two a window space common to both halves. The wall at this point is 18 inches thick, with the glass of the window flush with the outside of the street wall, leaving a large window sill recess, which was stacked with papers and magazines. A small body can pass from one room to the other round the partition.

The communicating door between bedroom and dining-room was closed and bolted, and the stones travelled horizontally from the bed, round the end of the partition, breaking the window, tearing its curtains, and scattering all the papers on the dining-room floor, and smashing the hanging lamp and everything breakable on two tables. Twelve of them remained on the tables amid the wreckage; the others strewed the floor. The house was empty and all doors and windows were locked when this incident occurred.

In the year that has elapsed the occurrence, which was by no means unique in the country, has taken premier place in the three quarterly deliberations of the local psychical society, which has at last announced its inability to suggest a solution of the mystery. A similar reply was received from the parent British Society of Psychical Researches.’


From ‘The Australasian’ 13 April 1940.

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