A WOMAN has sparked a fierce debate online after telling how she heard a toddler sobbing pitifully for their mother in a York street – but then searched for the child in vain, leaving her wondering if it was a 'ghost-child.'

The woman's posting on the Nextdoor hyperlocal social networking service prompted suggestions she may indeed have heard the cry of a 'ghost-child' from the 'Baedecker' bombing raid on York in 1942, in which scores of people died.

But others said it might have been foxes or cats, while some insisted she should have taken no chances and called the police.

The woman started off by asking whether anyone in the South Bank area, specifically Brunswick Street, had ever heard a child sobbing pitifully for their mother but then found there was no child anywhere in sight.

She said: “This happened to a friend of mine recently and she is worried that she’s either heard a ghost child or is going mad.”

She later admitted it had been her that heard the child, but 'was just worried about coming across as slightly bonkers.’

She said: "What I heard was at approx 3pm. It definitely wasn't cats or foxes because I heard words.

“It was very clear, came out of the blue and said "Mummy, Mummy, where is my Mummy?"several times in a very distressing way. 

"It stopped just as quickly as it started, but I was convinced that it was a lost child, and when I turned the corner I would see a toddler wandering there. But no. The whole incident left me feeling very shaken."

One person responded by saying he lived in South Bank in 1977 – 78, and he and his mates had all heard the sound of a child sobbing for their mother.

“My grandmother who lived in that area all her life told me it was after the Baedeker raid on York during World War II, when a house was bombed and the mother was killed and the child survived," they said. "As a kid of eight, it scared the living daylights out of me."

Another said they lived on Sutherland Street and believed they had heard a distraught child crying a few times but never seen anyone around when they had looked.

Others feared that a real child was in trouble and the police should be contacted urgently. “Please, please if there is a child that needs help or it’s mum needs help, we need to locate that child,” said one. “Please don’t turn a deaf ear.”

Some took it more humourously. “That’ll be a tom cat getting it together with his lady cat, nothing to worry about, awful noise nonetheless,” said one. “Are you sure you weren’t watching an episode of Doctor Who?” said another.

The woman said she would do some research about bombing in the area. "I can't say that I have ever really believed in ghosts, but this experience definitely made me think again...."