Friday, 30 September 2011

The Enigmatic Ghost in Dursley, Gloucs

An  obscure message is that delivered with great clarity by the disembodied phantom at the Old Bell Hotel in Long Street, Dursley. Adopting the booming tones of a town crier, the ghost informs anyone within earshot that “It is eight o'clock!”. The voice has been heard at all sorts of times, not just at the time it claims. A clear enough message, but the meaning of which is utterly obscure.


Haunted Gloucestershire by Rupert Matthews

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Loch Ness Monster - early sightings

Meanwhile, in Loch Ness, a creature has been oft seen and sometimes even photographed. The first recorded witness to Nessie’s exploits was St Columba in the 6th century, who allegedly saved a man from its attack. Sightings have escalated since 1933, when a motor road was built along the shores of the loch for the first time. Before that time only locals had seen the monster, but after the road was constructed hundreds of people came to the loch shores every day - they now number in the thousands - and sightings increased.

The first sighting to hit the headlines was that of John McKay just weeks after the road was finished. He reported seeing “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface”. There have been photographs in abundance, most famously one taken by Dr Robert Wilson in 1934 that became known as the Surgeon’s Photo as he at first preferred to remain anonymous though he gave his profession to reporters in an attempt to show that he was a reliable witness. The Surgeon’s Photograph showed a small head held atop a longish neck with a large, but indistinct body just below the surface. The photo caused a sensation, but later analysis revealed that the object was rather smaller than it at first appeared. There have been other photos, but most are rather indistinct and could be explained away by sceptics as uprooted trees drifting in the wind.

Nevertheless sightings have continued to be made. In 1952 Nessie was accused of having claimed her first known human victim. On 29 September John Cobb attempted to break the world water speed record in his speedboat Crusader on Loch Ness. The loch was easily long enough to allow the boat to accelerate and slow down again either side of the measured mile course. All that was needed was a dead calm day, and 29 September was one such. Unfortunately the speedboat hit a patch of ripples on the loch as it reached maximum speed and broke up, killing Cobb instantly. Later analysis of the film showed that the ripples were a low wake, as if caused by a small boat - but no boat had been present on the loch. It has been surmised that the wake was caused by Nessie swimming past submerged, but close to the surface.

In April 1960 a holiday maker, Tim Dinsdale, spotted just this sort of a wake created by a submerged object. Whipping out his movie camera, Dinsdale shot several seconds of film that clearly showed a wake being created, then dying away as whatever caused it dived down below the surface. Subsequent analysis proved that some submerged object moving at around 6 knots had caused the wake. The hidden object was estimated to have had a width of about 5 feet.


The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal by Rupert Matthews

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Problems of studying the Almas and Yeren cryptids

There have been hundreds of reports coming out of Central Asia about a human-like creature that is not quite fully human, but neither is it entirely animal. It goes by many names depending on the language of the humans who encounter it. Among the assorted dialect terms for this wild man are Abnuaaya, Barmanu, Bekk-Bok, Biabin-Guli, Gul-Biavan, Guli-Avan, Golub-Yavan, Kaptar, Kra-Dhan, Ksy Gyik, Mirygdy, Mulen and Voita. As the study of this creature has moved out of folklore and into science, a more accepted general term has been needed to cut through the confusion. Those studying reports from China tend to call the beast the Yeren, those looking at reports from Mongolia and what used to be the Soviet Union call it Almas, or sometimes Almasti.

The problems of studying the Almas and Yeren have been compounded by the places where it is said to live. The largest of these are the forested mountains and uplands around the Tien Shan mountain range that straddle the borders of Russia, Mongolia and China. The mountains of China’s Hubei Province also produce reports, and so do the more remote regions of the Caucasus Mountains. All of these areas are far away, difficult to reach and bereft of any good roads.

If that were not enough, they lie in countries that for most of the 20th century were suspicious of foreigners - especially of those claiming to want to travel to remote areas for obscure reasons - and very often in areas closed to outsiders altogether. The problems that these regimes can throw in the way of cryptozoology researchers can be gauged by the life of Badzare Baradyine, a leading Mongolian zoologist. Not only did Baradyine see an Almas himself, he collected a huge amount of material on the Almas. He then got involved in a campaign that aimed to give the supposedly independent Mongolia greater freedom from the oppressive Soviet regime that exerted control from Moscow. He was promptly arrested by the Soviets, then put up against a wall and shot. His vast collection zoological data and specimens - including his work on the Almas - was confiscated and dispersed among various Soviet institutions, much of it being lost along the way.

Even now in the 21st century it involves a major effort to obtain permission to visit the areas where Almas and Yeren are reported to live. There then follows a physical endurance test to get to the remote regions. And all this costs a huge amount of money.

As a result much of the evidence for the existence of these enigmatic creatures relies on translations of media reports or scientific journals that have filtered out of the countries concerned. Putting these together can be a time consuming and frustrating task that does not guarantee any firm answers.

from BIGFOOT by Rupert Matthews

Thursday, 22 September 2011

NEW BOOK OUT TODAY - Haunted Surrey by Rupert Matthews.

“Surrey born and Surrey bred, Strong in arm, thick in head”

Well, that is the rhyme we used to sing when I was growing up in Surrey back in the 1960s. How true it is, I shall have to leave to others to decide.

What I do know is that Surrey is rich in history, folklore and ghosts. As I got out and about exploring on my bike as a boy, I came across all sorts of sights and stories. A bronze statue of Britannia stood on our village green, a gift from Queen Victoria who often visited a local manor house when she was a girl. Apparently it was taken down and buried behind the church in 1940 in case the Germans invaded and took a pot shot at it. Then there was the tall brick tower that was all that remained of a vast castle (Time Team later did a dig on that one and found the castle foundations).
And then there was the house where the dead walked. Knock on the front door at midnight, we local children all firmly believed, and the ghostly butler would answer the door to invite you in to your doom. I never knocked. I'm not that brave.

I grew up with these and other tales of Surrey. The battle fought against the Vikings at Ockley, the prince murdered in Guildford and the infamous reading of the riot act in Godalming. But nothing fascinated me half so much as the ghosts. I used to delight in tracking down tales of horror and ghoulish terror. It is a hobby that I still follow. I left by pedal bike behind years ago, and now am more likely to travel by car or train. But the thrill of finding a haunted place is still strong, and when I manage to track down a witness who actually saw a ghost I still get that little shiver.

Surrey is a most beautiful county. Outsiders have been known to sneer at it for being a mere suburb for London, but we locals know that there is far more to Surrey than that. I recall pulling up in Ripley one time to investigate a haunting at the Talbot Hotel. It transpired that the ghost has not been seen since a recent refurbishment. And that is not at all unusual. Many a haunting has ceased after some building work or other has disturbed the spook. Mind you, other hauntings begin when the builders move in. Having found out all I could at the Talbot I wandered off and later stopped for lunch at a local pub only to find that it was haunted as well.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever reach the end of the vast array of supernatural events, hauntings and spooks in Surrey. But then I turn a corner and find yet another ghost. It is a great hobby to have.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Talking to the Ufonauts

A very few people claim not only to have encountered the occupants of UFOs but to have spoken with them. Sometimes the conversation seems to take place in the language of the human who encounters the beings, at other times it takes place telepathically or by some other unknown means.

One of the earliest such encounters, though it was not recognised as such at the time, took place outside Homan, Arkansas, in 1896. This encounter took place during the rash of sightings of mysterious airships over the USA that year and in following months. James Hooten, a railroad engineer, was out hunting in the woods near Homan when he heard a loud whooshing noise that reminded him of an air brake on a steam locomotive.

Pushing through the undergrowth, Hooten emerged into a clearing. Resting in a clearing was a large cigar-shaped object with four paddle-like objects projecting out the back and three large wheels along the side. A cabin hung down from underneath to touch the ground and at the back of this stood a short man wearing a face mask. Hooten strolled up to the man and asked “Is this the airship?” The man seemed surprised to see Hooten, but replied “Yes, sir. Good day, sir.” There then followed a brief conversation in which the strange man told Hooten that the airship was powered by compressed air. Four other men then appeared and one said “All ready, sir.”

The strange men quickly ran inside the cabin. The wheels began to turn and the object emitted a whooshing or hissing sound. The object rose into the air, accelerated to high speed and shot out of sight.

A few months later, in April 1897, J. Lignon and his son were walking home across farmland one evening when they saw a light in a field. Going to investigate they found a large, dark object with four men standing beside it. One of the men asked Lignon for water and Lignon pointed out a nearby stream. The men said that they were flying their airship from the Gulf of Mexico to Iowa and that the craft was powered by condensed electrictiy. Once the water was acquired, the men entered the craft by a door and then took off.

Although Hooten and the Ligons interpreted their sightings to be of the mysterious airship seen over other parts of the USA their reports included features that would later appear regularly in accounts of alien contacts. The vague and ultimately meaningless descriptions of motive force would prove to be particularly recurrent features.


Alien Encounters by Rupert Matthews

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Death of Captain Mantell and the UFO

At 2.15pm on 7 January 1948 a Virginia State Police patrol on the highway near Madisonville radioed an urgent alarm to their base. A large, disc-shaped object gleaming silver and red had flashed overhead at low level. And it was heading for the main US gold reserve store at Fort Knox. According to the police report, dozens of people in Madisonville had seen the object pass by.

The police immediately alerted the guards at Fort Knox. At this date nobody knew what to make of the flying saucers, some thinking that they might be top secret Soviet attack aircraft. That one was heading for the most vital part of the US government financial system was deeply alarming. Fort Knox alerted the USAF base at Godman Air Field, which provided air cover to the gold storehouse.

At Godman three P51 fighters were already in the air on a routine flight to Standiford Air Field. They were contacted and sent roaring off toward Fort Knox. But the flying saucer had changed direction and appeared over Godman at 2.40pm while the fighters were over Fort Knox.

Colonel Guy Hix, the Commanding Officer of Godman, was in the control tower when the object arrived. There was broken cloud, but the large, round object had been unmistakable as it flew south of the base. The chief executive officer, Woods, managed to get a brief fix on it and estimated it to be about 140 feet long. A radio message was instantly sent to the fighters ordering them to come to Godman and give chase.

The flight commander was Captain Thomas Mantell, an experienced pilot of the propeller-driven P51 fighter. As he and his comrades approached Godman he radioed “I’ve sighted the thing. It looks metallic and it’s tremendous in size.” A few seconds later he added “It’s starting to climb. It’s at 12 o’clock [meaning it was dead ahead of him] and making half my speed. I’ll try to close in.”

A few minutes later Mantell reported that the mystery intruder had accelerated to 360mph. Then his wingman reported that he and his comrade were abandoning the chase, while Mantell raced on ahead. At 3.15pm Mantell’s voice came on to the radio again. “It is still above me, making my speed or better. I’m going up to 20,000 feet. If I’m no closer, I’ll abandon the chase.”

Mantell’s aircraft was not fitted with oxygen for high altitude flying, so the decision to abandon the chase at 20,000 feet was wise, even though the P51 was able to reach 41,000 feet.

Back in Godman control tower, Hix, Woods and others waited anxiously. When no further message came from Mantell, they tried calling him. There was no answer. The two wingmen turned their aircraft back toward the last reported position of the UFO, but could see nothing. Search aircraft were sent out and the wreckage of Mantell’s aircraft was spotted. Mantell was dead, his aircraft had broken up in mid-air and been shattered to a thousand pieces that fell over a wide area, indicating that the break up had occurred at high altitude.

Two hours later a UFO that looked very much like the one that Mantell had been chasing was spotted flying fast and low over Columbus, Ohio.


UFOs: A History of Alien Activity from Sightings to Abductions to Global Threat by Rupert Matthews

Thursday, 15 September 2011

George Adamski before the UFO

On 20 November 1952 the owner of a hamburger restaurant at Paloma came staggering out of the Californian desert to tell the world that he had not only seen a UFO and its occupants, but had spoken to them as well. The man’s name was George Adamski and his claims would revolutionise the study of UFOs.

Before that fateful day in 1952, Adamski had led what might be politely called a colourful life. He had been born in Poland in 1891, emigrating to the USA with his family at the age of two. In 1913 he joined the US Army, riding with a cavalry unit that patrolled the Mexican border during the volatile years of the Mexican Revolution and subsequent civil wars.

By the later 1920s, Adamski was living in Laguna Beach, California, where he founded a mystical religious sect that he called the Royal Order of Tibet. Adamski announced that a vital part of the religious ceremonies of his new sect involved imbibing small amounts of alcohol. On the strength of this he was granted a licence allowing him to produce wine, even though Prohibition was in force at the time. A fair amount of the “sacred wine” found its way on to the black market and Adamski earned a good living.

When Prohibition ended, Adamski and his followers began to take their religion more seriously. They recruited a number of followers impressed by the spiritual aspect of the sect. One of the new recruits was persuaded to buy a farm near Palomar Mountain, while others donated cash to the movement. At Palomar, Adamski set up a restaurant and he was running this establishment at the time of his interplanetary encounter.

According to Adamski, he had seen several UFOs in the Palomar region from 1943 onward. In 1950 he took a grainy photo of what he claimed was a UFO. The photo and an article Adamski had written were published in the Fate magazine. Adamski made contact with other early UFO researchers, sharing information and ideas. Among the ideas that Adamski put forward was that the UFOs favoured certain places and regions for navigational purposes, which was why they were seen over these places more often than others.

In 1952 he began visiting the places that he had identified as likely to be visited by a UFO. Friends asked if they could come along, and Adamski was happy to take them with him. On one such trip to Desert City, California, Adamski was accompanied by two couples, Mrs and Mrs Al Bailey and Mrs and Mrs George Williamson.

Rupert matthews UFO

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Roswell UFO Crash and the "early version" of Glenn Dennis

In part the link between the two was maintained, and is maintained, by the evidence given by Glenn Dennis. The evidence given by Dennis is usually considered to fall into two categories. The “early version” is that sequence of events recounted by Dennis to friends and family before the Roswell case achieved great fame, and is consistent with the statements he made to early researchers. The “late version” includes additional information and claims that Dennis recounted only much later, after the alleged Roswell crash had become newsworthy.

Some researchers believe Dennis to be a prime witness of honesty. Others  are willing to accept the early version of Dennis’s evidence believing that it has added credibility since Dennis was telling people about it before the case became famous. These researchers dismiss the late version on the grounds that Dennis volunteered this additional evidence only after the Roswell case became famous and he stood to earn money giving interviews to the media. Sceptics refuse to accept any of Dennis’s evidence as being true. They argue that since Dennis changed his story once money was to be made, nothing of what he says can be trusted.

It is probably best to take the early version of Dennis’s story first. According to this the events that he recalled took place in the summer of 1947. At first Dennis was unable to fix the date, but when researchers began interviewing him he claimed to be able fix the date as being in June or July, but could not be any more precise.

He was certain that the events began at about 1.30pm on a work day as he was eating his lunch at work when the phone rang. At that date, Dennis was 22 years old and working as an apprentice in the Ballard Funeral House in Roswell. Ballard’s had a contract to provide emergency mortuary services for anyone who died on the air base, caring for the body until the next of kin could be contacted to make a decision about how the body should be treated. The Ballard staff, including Dennis, were therefore occasional visitors to the air base and were authorised to enter the outer compound.

According to Dennis, the phone call was from a medical officer on the air base who was Ballard’s usual contact in cases of a fatality. The officer asked Dennis what was the smallest size of hermetically sealed casket that Ballard’s had available. Dennis replied that they held in stock only adult-sized coffins but could get child-sized or even baby-sized caskets at 24 hours notice if required. The officer thanked Dennis, then rang off.

About an hour later the same officer was back on the line. This time he wanted to know how Ballard’s would go about treating a body that had been lying out in the desert for a few days and had begun to decompose. Dennis began to explain, but when he mentioned that some strong chemicals would usually be employed, the officer interrupted to ask if this would affect the chemical composition of the bodies. Dennis said it would, then offered to come out to the air base to advise on how to handle a body. The officer at once said that there was no body, and that he was asking these questions merely for future reference in case any such accident might happen.

Dennis says that there was something about the officer’s behaviour and tone of voice that was distinctly odd. Dennis formed the opinion that a person had died either at or near the base several days earlier, but that the base were trying to keep the matter secret. The question about small caskets led Dennis to surmise that children were involved. He thought that perhaps there had been an air crash nearby involving important civilians or high ranking military personnel.

But Dennis's day was to get even stranger a few hours later.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Enigmatic Harry Price

In Britain the cause of poltergeist research was taken up and advanced by the controversial Harry Price. As a ghosthunter, nobody has ever approached Harry Price for either fame or spectacle. His books were carefully researched and contain a vast wealth of information. The investigations he led were lengthy and used the very latest technological gadgets. He was adept at finding natural explanations for some alleged hauntings, and did not scruple to speak out when he suspected trickery or fraud, nor was he backward in declaring phenomena to be genuine when he thought that it was. He billed himself as the greatest ghosthunter alive, and was accepted as such by the public and the media.

His fellow researchers into psychic phenomena were not so certain. In the later part of his career there were several accusations of fraud and trickery, but while many suspected Price of faking some of the phenomena he was supposedly investigating, nothing was ever conclusively proved. It is certain that he hammed up or exaggerated some of his claims in order to get the newspapers and radio interested in his work or to boost sales of his books, but that is quite a different thing from saying that he faked psychic phenomena. It is possible that some of the more diligent, careful but retiring researchers resented Price’s colourful showmanship and alleged trickery when all Price was guilty of was announcing results without having conducted the tests that others thought necessary.

Price was born in London in 1881 to a family in the lower middle classes. He received a good, but unspectacular education at the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham Boys School. He read voraciously and his interest ranged over a vast array of subjects. He showed a liking for getting himself in the public eye as a teenager by enjoying amateur dramatics and writing article for the local press on various historical subjects. He took an interest in archaeological excavations in Greenwich Park, London, though how deeply he was actually involved is unclear.

After leaving school he worked as a paper salesman, but continued to write for the newspapers and to play an amateur role in archaeological digs. He marred young, then dropped archaeology to become an amateur conjurer, joining the Magic Circle in 1922. Inspired by the work of the escapologist Harry Houdini in unmasking false mediums, Price too began using his conjuring skills to explain how supposed mediums were fooling members of the public into believing that they could communicate with the spirits of deceased loved ones.

To further these investigations, Price established what he called The National Laboratory of Psychical Research with himself as Chairman. In 1934 the National Laboratory was to become the University of London Council for Psychical Investigation, with Price as Honorary Secretary. Price continued his researches, radio broadcasts, book writing and stage shows up to his death in 1948.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

A UFO Flap in Surrey, England

One aspect of the UFO phenomenon has been, that of “flaps”. A UFO Flap occurs when a large number of UFO sightings are made within a relatively short space of time and from a restricted geographical area. Why these flaps occur is a mystery, and the solution has much to do with what the UFOs themselves might be.

With hindsight, the Surrey flap of 2007-2008 probably got under way on the Easter weekend of 2007. At 9.30 in the evening a large object was seen over the Hogs Back, west of Guildford. The object seemed to be rather insubstantial, almost as if it were composed of shifting, glowing gas instead of being a solid flying mechanical craft. The object gave off an intensely bright orange light for some minutes before fading from view.

A few weeks later, the precise date was not recorded as the witness did not come forward until some months later, another UFO was spotted over Worplesdon. This object was rather more conventional, being disc-shaped and silvery-grey in colour. It flew silently over the Jolly Farmer pub.

In June, a round, red object was sighted flying over Addiscombe. The witness saw it for only a few seconds and was unable to give a clear description of the craft.

On 5 August a UFO was spotted flying over Croydon in the early afternoon. A young couple were in Shirley Road when they saw a round, white object heading north. They at first took it for a helicopter, until they realised that it was moving in complete silence. Looking more closely, they saw that ti was a smooth, oval shape with no obvious wings, rotors or other protuberances. They estimated that the object was rather larger than a van and that it was moving quite fast in a straight line.

The next sighting came on 15 September at Wonersh. It was 10.30pm when a group of eight UFOs came into sight. They were arranged in pairs, with a single light at front and rear. The lights were steady, not flashing as do those of aircraft, and far too bright to be stars. They were heading toward the northwest in complete silence. They flew on without changing direction until they were out of sight.

On Christmas Day 2007 December 25th 2007 another sighting took place, this time  at Effingham. It was about 7pm when three spherical objects came into sight from the north. The witness called his family out into the garden to watch, so that in all five people saw the lights. The lights were much brighter than those of the aircraft often seen overhead in the area. The three glowing balls of light were heading southwest. They remained in vision for almost three minutes before vanishing from sight.

The very next day another sighting was made north of Guildford. The weather was dull and a thick blanket of cloud blocked out the stars and high flying aircraft. At 9pm a man slipped out of his house to smoke a cigarette in the garden. He then saw a flame-coloured round light approaching from the south. The man watched the object fly silently through the sky, puzzled by what it could be. Just as he was finishing his cigarette he saw a second, identical object in the southern sky. He called a friend out to watch and together they saw this new intruder repeat the flight path of the first. Both objects were flying underneath the clouds, and so could not have been stars or other natural objects. The witness recalled that there was a very gentle breeze at the time and that the objects were going in the same direction, but much faster.