Friday, 31 July 2009

The Police Interview and the Telephone call

Following on from my previous thoughts on Harold South's testimony and his recollection of events at Bloxwich Police Station, (Pictured above, 2009) something else recently occurred to me. Although there is a reference in "Cosmic Crashes" that Harold South's original letter mentions he was warned to stay silent by the civilian Police (p77) Its unclear as to whether during or throughout the interview he was asked to sign the Official Secrets Act or if the Police sought his co-operation in remaining quite and requested he did not discuss with anyone his encounter along the New Penkridge road or the subsequent confiscation of his camera and film.

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

Road Block Theory

If and when a Road Block becomes necessary, I would have thought the primary factor to consider would firstly be the traffic flow. Which would obviously be cause for concern, therefore it would be logical in the first instance to create a diversion at the junction of the Road either end, informing of the Road closure, keeping any disruption to a minimum by the use of diversion signs.

It would make no sense whatsoever to allow traffic to travel partly down a closed Road then force them to reverse their route. Even more so if the reason for the closure was to avoid unwanted attention and to keep away prying eyes.

In the case of Harold South's testimony, we assume an object had impacted in a field adjacent to the New Penkridge Road and whilst being relatively intact, lets assume for the sake of argument there is no debris from the fallen object scattered across the Road itself. Why is the Road Blocked, especially at a point along its route where motorists are still able to visibly ascertain a flat bed truck in a field with a crane and a heavy military presence in the background all behind the Police Road Block?

Thus creating, allegedly, the unwarranted attention of Harold South. Had the Police been unable to close off the junction(s) to the New Penkridge Road for whatever reason. Surely it would have been better to keep the traffic flowing (assuming their is no physical obstruction blocking the road), the motorists moving and hence their curiosity to an absolute minimum allowing nobody to stop along that particular stretch of the road.

If on the other hand, there was indeed Debris scattered across the road and leading up to the impact site itself the road would have had to have been cordoned off, but from a secrecy aspect it would have been far better to set any Road Blocks at the junction(s) to allow the retrieval operation unhindered (and unseen) access without having to deal with possible on lookers and traffic congestion which would surely result from such a relatively close Road Block.

From Harold South's description, the recovery operation appeared to be well underway taking place around mid-morning (10.00am) so the Roadblock(s) would have been well established.
Yet they're positioned so that the operation is well within sight of any motorists travelling along this road, instead of actually diverting the traffic away from the area. Why?

And all of this would have been happening on what might have been at the time private land, would the owners have been informed? As would nearby residents?

The Penkridge Incident raises many baffling and inexplicable questions. Undoubtedly an ariel search of the area to pin point the crash location would have been required to facilitate a quick recovery, if S M Brannigan's testimony is also to be believed? Were the local emergency services alerted along with the Police? How long had the downed object been on the ground before the arrival of the Authorities? Why are they're no witness reports of the object descending like in the Kecksburg Incident? The Cosford Incident the year before had appeared in the media creating attention yet there is not one iota of press coverage relating to the Penkridge Incident, were the local press subject to "D" Notices? Harold South had said initially he told no one of his encounter with the Road Block and did not return to the area for two weeks, yet he maintained that at the motorcycle club night at Hednesford there were rumors circulating about UFO activity in the area along with a crashed UFO; RAF personnel from Melksham were also believed to be residing temporary at the Red, White and Blue Public House at Featherstone.
Its all very intriguing, but additional corroboration is further required to elevate this story from the realms of virtual obscurity and to establish whether their is indeed a factual basis, not only to Harold South's testimony but that of the original custodian; Leonard Stringfield.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Lost in the Passage of Time?

The New Penkridge Road appears to fall outside of Cannock Chase Council's responsibility, the boundary ending with the junction of Sandy Lane (which ironically was the subject of a road closure on the 10th May 1964) Land to the west of this falls within the jurisdiction of South Staffordshire District Council.
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.

Staffordshire Police

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 Art of Secrecy (Part 2)

Following on from the first part of this article where I briefly touched up on some similarities between the Penkridge Incident and the Cosmos 954 Satellite crash back in 1978. One further example which lends credence to the belief that orbital debris could have laid the foundations for the Penkridge Story (although cannot be directly linked to it) can be found within the pages of Nick Redfern's Cosmic Crashes...

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....