Sunday, 9 August 2009

RAF Melksham

Essentially this is a hypothetical blog in-so-far as Harold South's recollection of events are concerned, with regards to his confiscated camera, which was allegedly returned to him in a parcel, post marked "Melksham, Wiltshire" three weeks after his encounter along the New Penkridge Road back in 1964.

As South points out there are a few RAF Bases within this area in addition to RAF Melksham, the most immediate and noticeable (as far as Ufology is concerned) being RAF Rudloe Manor, along side RAF Lyneham there is also another complex of particular interest, Hawthorn is the location of a number of defence related underground facilities in the vicinity of Corsham, established during the Second World War and later used as the Central Government War Headquarters throughout the Cold War. A further part of this complex was developed as an aircraft engine factory, to act as a fallback should the then Bristol Engine Factory at Filton be destroyed by bombing. The engine factory was never used officially.

Naturally I first looked at RAF Melksham with the view, why would the confiscated film have been sent here? A first look at the History of RAF Melksham revealed it to primarily be the Number 12 School of Technical Training (24 Jun 1940 – 26 Feb 1965) resuming the major role after the Second World War of training Aircraft Fitters in the field of Electrical and Instrumentation, although there were a number of other specialised training courses covering engine trades and motor transport these were also held at Melksham and were conducted over shorter time periods.

In addition Melksham was a exceptionally large base, which at its height accommodated over ten thousand personnel, housing No 10 School of Recruit Training, which averaged 100 a week of mainly National servicemen until its final intake arrived in June 1953.

There are however two points of interest with regards RAF Melksham, the first being although it was never an operational flying base because it had no runway. The aircraft (which were on display during open days) were used for training purposes for ground crew and technicians and were transported to and from the base in dismantled form.

Secondly there appears to be some confusion over the actual date of closure, most official sources place the year as 1965. Yet the official commemorative stone (see photo above) and the unofficial website with the Squadron emblem place the closure date as 1964.

Which if true could well mean the base was virtually closed at the time of the Penkridge Incident (assuming the date and month are correct; 26 February) this at first glance might appear to rule out RAF Melksham as playing any role in the events at Penkridge.

For a moment though lets consider the possibility that RAF Melksham didn't play any active role in handling the confiscated Film or Camera and these items were more than likely processed and analysed at RAF Rudloe's Photographic Laboratories along with the camera to see if there was any specialised equipment being used by South, purely as a security measure, conjecture of course.

But what if, RAF Melksham instead played host to a downed object retrieved from a field alongside the Penkridge New Road? Clearly if Melksham was in the process of closure with no further intake of RAF personnel, is it feasible that a small contingent of Senior Officer's, NCO's, Qualified instructors; specialist's in Engine's, Airframe's, electrics and instrumentation be assembled and dispatched to oversee the retrieval and transportation of an unidentified object?

Furthermore the transportation of aircraft was a common enough occurrence and would not have attracted undue attention, providing the ideal opportunity to house securely the object in one of RAF Melksham's vacated hangers, whilst pending transportation to its final destination, possibly via RAF Lyneham and out of the country as part of a co-ordinated NATO exercise.

Its a hypothetical scenario, but not beyond the realms of possibility.


  1. Steve,

    Have been in touch with John Keeling about the 67 case. He's going to speak with Dr. David Clarke, which is one of his esteemed contacts to see whether he can shed any more light on the Penkridge mystery. It's worth a shot and he is at least intrigued.

  2. Hi Ian, It would be really interesting to see what Dr David Clarke makes of the Penkridge Incident. Any feed back here would certainly be welcome! On another note did you find out or have any idea if John Keeling's intended Book on the 1967 Flying Saucer Hoax is due to be released?

  3. John said the book would be out sometime next year. He's going to let me know a bit nearer the time. Am really looking forward to reading it, should be good. Will wait to see what David Clarke has to say. John wasn't very familiar with the Penkridge case but he said he would look into it. It still seems to be little known - guess it doesn't quite have the same fanfare as Roswell or Redlesham Forest and alike.

  4. Unfortunately the Penkridge incident for many could be considered a non-starter, largely because there is so little to go on.
    But Leonard Stringfield placed great faith in his source and as Nick Redfern points out why would anyone Stateside select a little known place called Penkridge in rural Staffordshire for their storyline? This really intrigues me!
    Looking forward to the Book myself, and as you said yourself there could be some interesting parallels.

  5. Steve,
    Another angle which might be useful is an approach to the farmers who own land near the site. I wonder if anyone has spoken to them in the past? Perhaps a brief letter introducing myself as a local historian might work - don't want to scare them with talk of crashed UFOs.

  6. Have been up to Shoal Hill adjacent to Cocksparrow lane and which overlooks the site where Harold South reported seeing the transporter and the crane. It's a beautiful site and well worth the trip to soak up the atmosphere. I did notice a few civilian aircraft flying overhead, which is interesting - perhaps the wreckage was civillian? Also the farm itself, isn't that big. Certainly not large enough for an aircraft to land in without making a very big hole in the ground.

  7. Hi Ian, Its certainly might be worth checking if the current occupiers of the land (who may indeed still be the original owners from 1964) to see if they have already been approached or have any recollection of the events in 1964.
    Although this might not be the case and quite possibily ownership as changed hands over the years. There's only one way to find out. I would appreciate it if you do decide to follow this through and let me know the outcome.
    I'm pretty sure had the crash been a civilian aircraft this would have been picked up in back copies of the local papers or in the requests that we've both made, more so if there had been a loss of life.
    The impact of an object in the field(s) is going to be one of speculation, on the oneside Stringfield's testimony says the object broke in two with the main part falling at Penkridge. South's testimony on the other hand says the object appeared to be intact describing a delta winged shape. It may well have created quite an impact encompassing a large area of the field, was the ground in the field quite soft and absorbed the impact quite well? If the object had broke into two parts on descent, would it then be fairly safe to say a larger debris area had been created as a result? Either way if the crash site was contained within the field area itself, it wouldn't have been to difficult to
    dig over the site and bearing in mind after 35 plus years how many times have these fields been dug over or ploughed? Inaddition had there been any damage to buildings within the site? or are the buildings post 1964? The questions are almost endless, its going to be a long haul.

  8. Investigators way back in 2002/3 had equal difficulty - a useful reference -

  9. Yes, it is quite frustrating and that said in many ways it would be more than likely argued by sceptics because of the lack of evidence that the event never actually happened.

    However if true, I still believe there should indeed be something, somewhere which will give credence to the Penkridge Incident and this will be found at local level.

  10. New files released:

  11. The release of the files is of considerable interest, although the period in question from our point of view as long passed. Having said that new files continue to surface long after their release date. I'm pretty sure you could spend a life time going through the Archives at Kew!
    Having identified certain files its now the case of visiting the Archive and a case literally trawling through them.
    Whether they shed any new light on the Penkridge Incident remains to be seen?

  12. Have written a letter to the owner of mansty farm. Will post it soon.