Thursday, 17 December 2009
Back slightly sooner than expected! But with the New Year soon to arrive on our door step I thought it more appropriate to bring this particular blog forward and mark both the Anniversary of Leonard Stringfield's death (18th December 1994) and the standards that he adhered to throughout his research and investgative career in the field of Ufology.
Leonard maintained the highest historical and forensic standards in his research, and shared much of his most critical work with other researchers whom he deemed trustworthy and professional in their approach to the UFO subject.
In addition Leonard also emphasized certain ethical priorities that we should always strive to achieve and maintain:
1) Never violate the promise made to a witness to protect his/her identity from public disclosure.
2) Stand for the highest quality of work and research. Do not become complacent with the media, or with people who substitute their own belief systems for genuine research.
3) Maintain meticulous, organized research notes that can be passed along to the next generation of researchers.
Leonard placed considerable faith in his sources, whilst maintaining their anonymity - with this in mind the Penkridge Incident was clearly deemed worthy enough to have been included within the pages of his Status Report Series. Stringfield, a former US intelligence Officer himself had clearly believed there was an element of truth in this story and that the small town of Penkridge, South Staffordshire did indeed play host a extrordinary event wayback in 1964.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF LEONARD H. STRINGFIELD
Extracts (Italics) taken from the thoughts of Forensic artist Bill McDonald who talked extensively with Leonard Stringfield in the last week of his life.
Sunday, 13 December 2009
The year's end is now fast approaching, with Christmas nearly upon us this Blog entry really is a case of just keeping the shop ticking over. This year as been one of great sadness for me personally. Although I started the year with great intentions, events have over taken me and subsequently its been a year of missed opportunities and while much of my research as been placed on the back burner I have to admit I've struggled at times to be motivated with my Blog. That said the year end will be one of contemplation.
Whilst I shall be kept busy over the Festive Season, hopefully the New Year will herald a return with a new and improved Blog with some long overdue investigative fieldwork following on from my research, with 2010 being a more productive year.
Best Wishes to all
Monday, 16 November 2009
19th March 1964
Captain E D Morrison pilot of a London bound Boeing Clipper Jet en route from New York and Captain R A Botthos, a DC-8 pilot independent of Capt Morrison, two hundred miles from Lands End, at an altitude of 29.000 feet. Both pilots witnessed something entering the Earths atmosphere. Captain Botthos reported the object as travelling on a north to south trajectory - explode in a large flash with trailing columns of smoke.
It woke up the sky in a great white flash, observation quote: it was not a natural phenomena.
AIR 2/17526 Public Record Office file.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Although conjecture on my part Leonard Stringfield's source stated that his primary task was the translation of intercepted Soviet military transmissions, during which he recalled one particular instance when decoding a message received at the ships ‘crypto-machine room'.The intercepted transmission related to a Unidentified object over-flying Europe.
Initially I took this to mean that the Soviets were tracking a "Unidentified" Object over Europe, now "What If" the object was actually known to the Soviets but the objects true origin was lost in translation leaving the Spyship to classify the object as Unidentified?
Whilst today much of the former USSR's Space program is now in the public domain we can see from the article that in the years leading up to Yuri Gagarin's successful manned space flight in 1961 the question of mystery surrounding possible missing or failed (manned) space flights appear to have been answered although could the same be said of unsuccessful unmanned space flights during the early 1960's?
In some respects the notion of a space vehicle going astray would lend credence to Stringfield's source and South's testimony regarding a partially covered Delta wing craft being loaded onto a flatbed truck. Its not beyond the realms of possibility that the vehicle in question could have been an early prototype unmanned Russian version akin to NASA's lifting body program.
Equally though the drawbacks to this speculative theory are themselves in abundance, officially the History of USSR's Space Program for the period in question tells us that with the success of Sputnik 1 in 1957, the USSR had a considerable number of ambitious projects under development with the goal of sending space probes to the Moon Mars and Venus. Certainly by the end of the 1950’s other Design engineers had entered the program with an additional further array of ambitions - including Manned Spaceflight to both the Moon and Mars, Orbiting Battle Stations and Combat Spacecraft.
By the beginning of 1960 there were no fewer than thirty Space Systems on the drawing board, admittedly few of these designs ever reached the hardware stage largely because of internal wrangling that existed within both the political and military mindset of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless the Military overall asserted control, with the research programs of 1962 to 1964 code-named Shchit (space systems), Osnova (space equipment), and Ediniy KIK (ground systems) thus defining what would become the first generation of Soviet operational space systems. Although many of these systems would not be realised until 1966.
Arguably one of the most contentious projects during this period was the considered need for a Space Plane and while work continued on winged spacecraft for launch by ballistic missiles. The first such program, the VKA of 1958-1960, resulted in developing designs launched by means of the Korolev R-7 rockets. In 1960. this work was cancelled, and development commenced on Kosmoplan and Raketoplan space planes. Whilst ultimately these projects would also be cancelled there nevertheless - was a considerable amount of research and development afforded the concept - while officially no manned version of the VKA was ever manufactured.
Would it be considered to outrageous to ponder the question… was there an ill-fated unmanned prototype version of this winged spacecraft carried aloft on a Korolev R-7 Rocket that possibly malfunctioned whilst in orbit back in 1964?
Saturday, 31 October 2009
Sunday, 9 August 2009
Its a hypothetical scenario, but not beyond the realms of possibility.
Friday, 31 July 2009
Yet, during his interview in 1996 with Nick Redfern and Irene Bott. Harold South makes a remarkable if somewhat unusual statement, prior to the interview he alluded to a mysterious telephone call from the Ministry of Defence Police. Although I must confess here this is one area I originally intended to stay away from largely because it is virtually impossible that this could ever be verified beyond the established fact that there had been a call placed to Harold South's home number from a Midlands based operator service utilised by the Military.
Although It could well have been the case that along with Nick and Irene, SUFOG's activities in the local papers of the time had given cause for concern somewhere within the establishment that the subject might come under the spotlight again, especially at a time when the UFO phenomenon was enjoying unprecedented media attention worldwide and a serious concerted effort on behalf of local UFO researchers might indeed unearth a few skeletons.
All though South's letter to Irene Bott was received a week after the article was published in the Burntwood Post referencing the Penkridge Incident, its highly unlikely that the intelligence community would have been aware that Harold South was about to come forward (bearing in mind thirty years had elapsed and as far as we know he had not shared his experience with anybody else) and re-iterate his story, unless there was a surveillance operation already in place on SUFOG members, which is not beyond the realms of possibility. But a more likely scenario would be that if Harold South had indeed witnessed something of importance to National Security back in 1964, he would have remained on file somewhere, with a risk assessment being made, which would have been downgraded as the years passed.
Again any surveillance I would have thought been strictly routine and low key, since it wouldn't have been to difficult to keep tabs on Harold South (or anybody for that matter) as he moved around over the years through his National Insurance number, State Pension and Driving Licence etc. So at what stage did the alarm bells start ringing within the MOD if they thought he was about to be unearthed?
Because there appears to have been a considerable lapse in time from the initial contact made with Irene Bott and the subsequent interview in December of 1996, likewise there seems to be no rhyme or reason for the mysterious call because the call serves no purpose when you consider that South was a retired civilian in his late sixties, he was hardly a threat to National security even if he had elected to tell his story at this late stage, thirty years had elapsed, given that no one else (that we know of) as come forward to corroborate his testimony. Why interfere and risk greater exposure by placing a telephone call which if anything would only lend greater credence to his story? Here again the timing is impeccable, why wait until the day of the interview?
In his interview South tells us he was flustered by the call, but there is no mention as to whether he was warned off from speaking to both Nick and Irene. Instead there is a reference to a complaint the nature of which is unknown in addition to being given a number to call, which turned out to be the Guard Room at Whittington Barracks, Lichfield.
Here the horns are really going to grow out of my head!!! But just before they do, I thinks its only fair to point out that never actually having met Harold South the following comments are purely conjecture and therefore should not necessarily be seen as a true reflection of his integrity or character, but seen through the eyes of natural scepticism only.
Harold South did indeed have a telephone call from a Midlands Based operator service controlled by the Military on that morning in December 1996 prior to the arrival of his two guests, but did he instigate it himself? Lets face it, its not to difficult to make a telephone enquiry, then ask them to return the call. was his enquiry for Whittington Barracks telephone number by any chance? On the face of it we know very little of Harold South's background, presumably he did his two years National Service? Did he complete his training with the Staffordshire Regiment based at Whittington Barracks? Is this why he chose Whittington Barracks? Why didn't he return the call when he was asked to do so, more importantly if he was concerned why did allow Irene Bott to return the call on his behalf if he thought he was being subtly advised not to speak about his experience?
Furthermore what was the complaint about? Was this another subtle attempt on behalf of Harold South to reinforce the link between the alleged call made by MOD Police and the pre-text for which he was allegedly told to report to Bloxwich Police Station in 1964; namely that a complaint had been made about him "cutting up a motorcyclist" ???
Finally If the Police had traced Harold South through the registration number of the van he was driving that day, surely this would have been registered to his place of work, being a company vehicle, they would have also had to obtain his name address and telephone number from his employer Bendix where he worked. Then after which they quite astonishingly call his home leaving a message with his mother to ask him to report to Bloxwich Police Station?
Right that's enough healthy scepticism for this blog!!! Regardless of whether or not we choose to accept Harold South's story further research will continue and hopefully redress the balance of his testimony in future blogs in a more positive and favourable light.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Sunday, 19 July 2009
The Council does not own any of the land along this road, unfortunately all records pertaining to individual planning applications (which are numerous), tree planting and preservation orders date back to 1971 only, no records exist beyond this date.
This in effect means that if Harold South's testimony is to be believed then a more precise location of the impact site along the New Penkridge Road would be required in order to establish whose land the incident occured on back in 1964.
On a broader search the Urban Forestry Officer for Cannock Chase district Council could find no records that exist locally for the period in question.
Unfortunately there are no records of road closures of the types I requested that go back this far. The usual retention period for these types of records is only around 7 years and thus they would have been routinely destroyed many years ago.
In essence and at this moment in time while there appears to be no records held locally its not beyond the realms of possibilty that any significant event would have been transfered to the National Archives at Kew whether pending release or already declassified only time will tell.
Sunday, 5 July 2009
The stories of Captain E D Morrison pilot of a London bound Boeing Clipper jet en route from New York and Captain R A Botthos, a DC-8 pilot whom both on the 19th March 1964 witnessed something entering the Earth's Atmosphere. Morrisson had stated that " It woke up the sky in a great white flash" Whilst Botthos himself stated "I saw the object, which was travelling on a North to South trajectory, explode in a big flash and trailing columns of smoke on re-entering the Atmosphere.I was flying at 29,000 feet. It was a spectacular sight."
Ironically fourteen years later the Cosmos 954 satellite would make a remarkably similar final journey entering the Earth's Atmosphere over the Canadian continent from its 150 mile high orbit on a North to South trajectory impacting in the Northwest Territories of Canada, although quite alarmingly had the satellite managed to achieve another orbit before plunging into the Atmosphere its impact area would have been very different, falling instead just outside of New York City.
Oddly enough the one thing you can't keep is a secret...or is it?
Given the nature of the problem and the size of the Northwest Territories, combined with the fact that the fallout was scattered over a 124'000 square mile area. Its not surprising that a considerable search effort was required by both American and Canadian aircraft to facilitate the the location and recovery of the fallen satellite's scattered debris or more appropiately its power source (110lbs of enriched uranium), followed by a clean up operation which continued until October of the same year.
In stark contrast to the Northwest Territories. Cannock Chase quite literally pales into insignificance, although it as to be said here that a significant debris field such as that produced by the Cosmos 954 would have had dire if not fatal consequences for the towns surrounding the Chase and therefore there could be little dispute that such an incident could not be kept out of the public domain. Even a well placed contingency plan and cover story would have been unavoidably publicised within the local and national press and later retained for posterity within the archives, hence leaving a footprint in the pages of history.
However, in order to preserve the conspiracy theory surrounding the Penkridge Incident we have to stray a little to another event which took place a year later and in many ways is more closer to it than the Cosmos affair. On the 9th December 1965 an alleged Unidentified Object crashed within the vicinity of the small town of Kecksburg,Pennsylvania.
Although unlike Penkridge the event was quite remarkable in that not only were there an abundance of eye witness testimony but also media coverage from a local Radio station all bearing witness to an alleged retrieval operation by the military of a downed object.
Still there are some pretty remarkable similarities here, a witness testimony placed a flat bed truck at the scene of the impact being used by the Military to remove the mysterious object (whilst the Military themselves claimed they found nothing in their search of the area) further testimony is presented by another witness who (arrived prior to the Military) actually took photographs but later had his film confiscated.
Whilst finally the crashed object itself, being positively described as very similar to an acorn shape had (more importantly) allegedly remained virtually intact with no discernible debris field other than the point of impact.
Despite this body of testimony and far from being lost in the passage of time (as appears to be the case with the Penkridge Incident) the Kecksburg UFO Incident pertains that something out of the ordinary did actually occur back in December of that year. Yet we unfortunately still continue to find no such tell tale signs of something unusual happening at Penkridge, which dare I say it should be there. While on the other hand one of the theories put forward to explain the Kecksburg UFO is the question of Space debris, which interestingly enough continues to raise its head. This time in the form of another Soviet satellite Cosmos 96 (Although ruled out in some quarters because of a timing difference when compared with other observations) nevertheless this still presents an underlying theme of orbital space debris on a North to South trajectory that might have inspired if not laid the basic foundations for Leonard Stringfield's story.
So where does all this leave us? Both the Cosmos 954 satellite affair and the Kecksburg UFO Incident present two opposite sides of the secrecy coin in the sense that Debris scattered over a large area is indeed bad news for the Men in Black. Whilst a relatively intact falling object might possibly escape unwanted attention (however this would have to be more luck than by design) or at the other end of the scale, present the Men in Black with a feasible damage limitation exercise in concealment....
Sunday, 28 June 2009
The Secrecy aspect of the Penkridge Incident is one that I sometimes have difficulty with in the sense that while the evidence available to date suggests nothing out of the ordinary happened
back in 1964. On this basis should we allow ourselves to really believe that the series of events described by the late Leonard Stringfield and later elaborated on by the alleged eyewitness testimony of Harold South did actually occur? And then quite successfully be removed from the pages of history?
History V Conspiracy
On January 24th 1978 the Soviet Nuclear powered Satellite Cosmos 954 re-entered the Earths atmosphere impacting across the Northwest Territories of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. While this high profile event occurred fourteen years after the alleged recovery of an object from a field near Penkridge in Staffordshire 1964 the event itself offers us a useful insight into the problems of recovering a downed spacecraft and offers some interesting parallels.
The Cosmos 954 was already deemed to be a troubled satellite a month prior to its fiery descent into the Earths Atmosphere having been tracked from its initial launch by NORAD. This advanced notification of the satellite's unscheduled re-entry had already been pr emptied by talks between the two superpowers when it became obvious that attempts to prevent the satellite's disintegrating orbit had failed; prior to public knowledge of the satellite's demise both nations had addressed (in secret) the issue of how best to allay public fears over what could be a potential disaster.
With this in mind if we look back at Stringfield's source (S M Brannigan) its unclear how long the Soviets had been tracking the unidentified object before its malfunction, would it therefore be unreasonable to assume that had there been sufficient time in the interests of Safety and International Diplomacy to forewarn the British Government of the impending crash of a Foreign Object on not only mainland UK but also West Germany?
The issues here are two fold. If the object was indeed manufactured by the USSR then its a fairly safe bet that the object was tracked from its initial launch until its final descent. therefore the answer should be yes there would have been sufficient time as clearly was the case with Cosmos 954 for dialogue to take place between the two Governments. Likewise the scenario would be the same if the object had been manufactured in the United States.
If we consider the other possibility that the object was indeed unidentified and its detection was at a late stage with insufficient or very little time to react or issue a warning. The Soviet's would undoubtedly have been little more than observers whilst the United States on the other hand would according to Brannigan's testimony play a more active role, Possibly by other means of detection (NORAD) or as a direct result of the intercepted communication. There are, however a number of other similarities between the two incidents, Cosmos 954 showed that the Americans have a capability to operate search and retrieval operations within the sphere of friendly nations. Furthermore while the Cosmos affair itself was very much in the public eye, the nature of the satellite's power source was primarily the reasoning behind the intense publicity. Although recognised as major concern there is a element of secrecy within this episode namely that of the intelligence aspect. While the USSR had perhaps begrudgingly admitted the loss of their satellite, all three nations nevertheless worked together responsibly The United States and Canada for their part very much playing down the affair and the true nature of satellite's purpose.
In the second part of this blog a more in depth look is taken into the similarities between these two incidents. While sceptics would no doubt place the Penkridge Incident into the realms of Science fiction, further asserting that as the Cosmos 954 satellite showed, Secrecy could not be maintained in a real life situation.
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Although I started the year with good intentions, unfortunately the last few months have been tinged with a great sadness and having taken time out from work it really does feel like I've now just stepped back into the world from a place where time as stood still for me.
I recently filed a number of requests through the forestry commission on Cannock Chase and the local authority regarding Road Closures in and around the area during the period in question. While I have received a holding reply it appears that it is going to take some time to locate the information i have requested. This may hopefully afford a greater insight into the events of 1964 although having said that I have a feeling this maybe a long drawn out tedious process with further requests being made, with so little information regarding the Penkridge Incident readily available this line of research I feel should at least unearth some form of tangible evidence that otherwise continues to point towards a non existent event.
RAF Penkridge as unfortunately yielded little results at present beyond its operational value during the Second World War. I will be looking at Pillaton Farm in the near future.
Finally reading through an interesting article recently a thought had occurred to me with regards to Leonard Stringfield's original story, while speculation, sceptics often subscribe to Occam's Razor when dealing with the subject of UFO's and if the latter is true of the Penkridge Incident are we actually looking at a Cold War episode which as quite literally remained hidden from us all these years?
This article will appear in a future blog.
Saturday, 14 March 2009
The airfield was created as RAF Penkridge in 1942 during the Second World War and was the base of RAF 51 Group EFTS. The airfield, which is known by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) designation code X3PR.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Sunday, 8 March 2009
While these events are fairly well established, Nick interestingly adds a foot note to this chapter in the form of a declassified file from the Ministry of Defence dated 1966 relating to a enquiry by an American UFO researcher named Robert S Suter, on the 27th April, Suter had apparently contacted the MOD with regards to a persistent rumor in the United States that a UFO had been "shot down" over the UK several years prior, which allegedly contained the remains of a "Once living organism" rather unsurprisingly the MOD replied that they were unaware of any such occurrence, effectively bringing Mr Suter's enquiry to a close.
What's interesting here is not so much the possibility of a link to verify the claims made by Leonard Stringfield's source but that the rumor itself might well indeed originate with the very same source. If so, does this compromise the integrity of his source? Did "S M Brannigan" confide in other UFO researchers before or during is association with Leonard Stringfield?
Has I have said on a previous occasion, the notion that Stringfield may have been the target of a carefully orchestrated deception, may be purely conjecture although it is not beyond the realms of possibility. Its unclear exactly when "Brannigan" first disseminated his story, whether to Stringfield alone or others within the UFO community. There are slight differences in these accounts and Stringfield may well have been the first to publicize this storyline.
But was he the only recipient of this strange tale?
Sunday, 1 March 2009
To form the Hednesford Advertiser-Courier; located at Cannock Library produced little new information.
Although there is an interesting footnote covering the period in question a front-page article in the paper dated 24th April 1964 under the heading…
“Motorway Traffic Row”
The article related to an ongoing complaint about the frequent use of the New Penkridge Road by motorway construction traffic, in particular lorries apparently for no reason leaving the road and ending up in ditches on what appeared to be a regular basis with most traffic occurring around midnight; early hours of the morning.
While Penkridge Police stated that unless the lorries were in collision with another vehicle or persons were injured these incidents did not have to be reported by the drivers concerned.
Nevertheless the residences of nearby Pillaton Farm were considerably unhappy with the nuisance caused by the construction lorries that had been using the road for the last three months.
The M6 Motorway extension under construction (Dunston-Laney Green) designed to relieve the traffic congestion through Penkridge and Gailey Island tends to dominate the local paper albeit indirectly through a series of road traffic accidents over the early months of 1964 including fatalities caused by the high levels of traffic around these areas.
Back in 1964 I would have thought traffic would be considerably modest by today's standards, although this did make me wonder about the volume of traffic in the area at the alleged time of the crash/retrieval. The mystery surrounding the lorries could be little more than fatigue or the drivers being partial to the odd tipple when on nights, although given the three month time period over which these events occured i would have thought at least one collision with another vehicle would almost certainly have occured had this been the case.
Still building a profile of events in and around the area during the early part of 1964 sourcing Stafford and Hednesford libraries for their local knowledge, whilst Penkridge is refer-ed to by Stringfield in his Book "Situation Red the UFO Siege" the woodland area of Cannock Chase appears to be the more likely recipient of this storyline.
Since Stringfield's Source had stated that the intercepted transmission refer-ed to the Russians tracking a Unidentified Object at high altitude. With the USSR's Space Tracking capability comprised primarily of sea faring vessels its not unreasonable to assume the Soviets were monitoring and tracking Satellites in orbit whilst being under scrutiny themselves.
At the height of the Cold War secrecy was at its utmost, however one aspect of this story throws doubt on its authenticity, would the Petty Officer on the Spy Ship really have been privy to the alleged retrieval operation details which resulted from the intercepted transmission? Gathering Intel is one thing, Compartmentalisation is another unless of course it was a dis-infomation exercise.
Brannigan’s primary task was the translation of intercepted Soviet military transmissions, during which he recalled one particular instance when decoding a message received at the ships ‘crypto-machine room`.
The intercepted transmission related to a Unidentified object over-flying Europe
Which, for unknown reasons had malfunctioned and plummeted to Earth breaking into two parts upon its descent the main section of the object crashed at Penkridge, Staffordshire, while the remains hurtled onwards impacting somewhere in West Germany…
Further to Brannigan’s story it was alleged that US Air Force Intelligence were present at the retrieval of, not just the downed UFO, but it’s additional three dead occupants who were also recovered in conjunction with NATO forces.
Stringfield (a former US Air Force Intelligence officer himself) was often criticised for not revealing his source of information, thus leaving the incident to remain obscure and unverified over the years until it resurfaced in Nicholas Redfern’s book “Cosmic Crashes” published in 1999 were it came to the authors attention via a colleague after it reappeared on a internet bulletin board in the United States.
In addition Redfern presented in his book a remarkable eye witness testimony to the alleged recovery operation in February/March 1964 who claimed he encountered a roadblock, and was forced to turnaround and leave the area, the witness however returned on foot to photograph the event but later had his camera confiscated.
Even so the incident once again lacks corroboration from other much needed sources, while the idea that a retrieval operation of such enormity could be carried out in secrecy remains highly contentious, is there any element of truth in this story?.
The second area (2) currently focuses on the Penkridge New Road and the area surrounding, at the present moment the Library at Cannock as provided some useful insight into local events at the time. Although nothing of major significance as surfaced there are a few articles that are noteworthy with one of particular interest.