One of the common topics I’ve explored on HPANWO is UFO’s and the various falsehoods associated with them; for instance: that they’re only seen by “loonies”, that they didn’t exist until impressionable and imaginative people, usually wearing anoraks, first saw them in cinemas in the 1940’s etc. As we can see, UFO photos and reports both date back to far earlier epochs, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2008/04/old-ufo-photoes.html. Another myth is that UFO’s are unknown in the Third World and are only seen in developed Western nations where people have been exposed to them culturally; but the Zulu Shaman Credo Mutwa reports that this is definitely not the case, in fact he has been abducted and abused by the very same beings that were seen in a famous Brazilian case, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/alien-abduction-similarities.html. In this article I shall explore the theory that the famous Roswell Incident of 1947 was the trigger that led to all subsequent incidents that resembled it, and that no such incidents occurred before it. The word “Roswell” of course refers to the city of Roswell in New Mexico, USA which was the centre stage for that most explosive of all UFO tales; however since then other similar incidents have occurred and the word has almost become a common noun with the qualifying adjective designating the place, EG: Brazilian Roswell, Welsh Roswell etc. It means: a very significant UFO event, especially one in which a large amount of decisive physical evidence is left behind, like a crashed craft and alien bodies, and that this evidence is secretly salvaged by the government and covered up. It’s only a matter of time before the Oxford English Dictionary adds the word to its list under that definition.
Contrary to what you might have heard, there are "Roswells" that predate the Roswell Incident. I’ll take you through all the ones I’ve heard about and if you’ve heard of others that I haven’t then get in touch and let me know. We’ll go backwards in time from the most recent to the earliest, but all of them crucially took place before July 1947:
Cape Girardeau- April 1941
The details of what will inevitably be christened “the Missouri Roswell” can be found in this MUFON (See HPANWO Links column) paper. The title is misleading however; this is not “the first Roswell”, but I’m getting ahead of myself! This is a fascinating document that presents the compelling evidence for the case very comprehensively. Somebody has not only done a good research and analysis job here, they’ve also managed to communicate it well: http://www.majesticdocuments.com/pdf/rswood_mufon2001.pdf. The story was first revealed in 1984 in a book by UFO researcher Leo Stringfield. He received a letter from a lady named Charlette (sic) Mann concerning a UFO crash-retrieval in 1941, a full six years before Roswell. The crash occurred just a few miles from Cape Girardeau, a busy and picturesque city nestling on the banks of the River Mississippi. Charlette’s story was then corroborated by other sources: her own sister gave a sworn affidavit that Charlette’s story was true. The Sheriff of Cape Girardeau County, at the time, backed her up, as do seven leaked Presidential documents from three sources and possibly even a handwritten memo from J Edgar Hoover. In April of 1941 Charlette’s grandfather Reverend William Huffman was the local minister at the Red Star Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau. One evening at about 9 to 9.30 PM he received a phonecall from the police asking him to come to the site of a light aircraft crash 10 to 15 miles outside town because the injured occupants were not expected to survive and they wanted somebody to administer Last Rights. Rev. Huffman did not consider this request unusual and left immediately; remember that America is a far more religious country than most European nations, like my own, the UK. He arrived at the scene and saw that it was not a plane that had crashed but a disk-shaped object. The disk was broken open and inside he saw strange control seats and artefacts, and also markings that he thought looked like Egyptian hieroglyphics, a recurring comparison that covers several other UFO reports. Lying on the ground outside the craft were the bodies of three small humanoids which resembled the classic Grey; one of them had been moved to one side and the minister thought that it might be alive. As it was he was only required to give two of the beings the Sacrament of the Dying. There were many policemen at the scene, as well as firemen and news photographers. Military personnel turned up and swore everybody to secrecy before taking over the entire operation and sending Huffman home. Huffman was a patriotic and God-fearing man who took oaths seriously, but he couldn’t resist telling his family members what he'd experienced, including his son, Guy, who became Charlette’s father. Charlette knew about the incident because her father and other family members mentioned it occasionally as a family curiosity, but it was from the 1984 deathbed confession of her grandmother Floy, William Huffman’s wife, that she learned the complete tale; that which she related to Leo Stringfield. She found out what became of the photo of one of the aliens that her father had shown her one night at a party. The photo had been taken by one of the photographers at the scene and given to Huffman by a friend of his at his church a few weeks later. Huffman gave it to another friend in the early 1950’s: Walter Wayne Fisk. Fisk was a career photographer who’d made a living taking snaps of Cape Girardeau’s famous rose gardens and probably Huffman thought he’d appreciate this piece of evidence more than the average man-on-the-street. As far as we know Fisk still has that photograph today. Recently, the researcher Stanton Friedman managed to track down the elderly Walter Fisk to his current home in New Mexico. They spoke on the telephone and Fisk told Stanton all kinds of strange tales, like how he was a psychologist and worked for the President, but he refused to confirm or deny whether he still had the photograph. Since then he has declined all attempts to speak on the subject and so the whereabouts of the photograph remain a mystery. Charlette described the photo to Stringfield: It showed two men holding up one of the aliens by its arms. She sketched a reproduction of it, see above at the top of this HPANWO article, and since then two photographs have emerged online that are said to be the original, see below:
I personally doubt that either of these photos are the real McCoy. The first one looks a bit too neat; it looks like it was shot in a studio enviroment with proper lighting effects, and the quality leads me to think that it was taken using modern equipment. The alien also looks a bit too much like something you could buy in a Roswell tourist shop! The second photo is very obviously taken in daylight, even though the crash was late at night, and it shows a creature far smaller than the ones Charlette reported seeing; it’s barely two feet tall. The most intriguing evidence lies in the independent articles, like the Hoover memo. This incident took place just a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbour and the US Government knew it was going to have to fight a war very soon and although there were serious leaks, like the photograph, it’s obvious that there must have been some kind of protocol already in place to deal with an incident like this UFO crash. It may not have been as perfect as it was at Roswell but there’s no way the Government would have been able to suppress news of this hitting the airwaves unless they had a contingency plan; and if they had a contingency plan then they must have had previous knowledge or experience of UFO crash-retrievals. Experience? Where did that come from? A few weeks later, on the 21st of May, a huge tornado ripped through the heart of Cape Girardeau killing 23 people and injuring many more; 233 homes were destroyed. It’s possible that any notoriety generated by the UFO and aliens was drowned out by this much more terrestrial disaster. The burying of news and long time periods between events and witnesses to them coming forward has plagued UFO cases left, right and centre throughout the history of UFOlogy; none more so than the next Roswell on our list:
The strange case of the “Gateshead Grey” took place the year before Cape Girardeau, but it went completely unreported at all until 2008. The researcher who broke the story was a friend of mine, Richard D Hall (I’ve been interviewed on Richard’s TV show and will be again shortly, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/ben-emlyn-jones-on-richplanet-tv.html) When he did a lecture on UFO’s in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, he was contacted by an elderly gentleman who told Richard that he’d seen one himself. Robert Hall (no relation) had lived in the Bensham area of Gateshead in 1940 where he’d been a small child, aged just 5, and he’d had a close encounter which led to a full-blown Roswell. Gateshead is a very large and populous town that occupies the land south of Newcastle on the banks of the River Tyne; if an alien landing can be covered up there, it can be covered up anywhere! (In fact in my fictional novel The Obscurati Chronicles, I include a situation in which a UFO crashes in a big town near London, see: http://hpanwo-bb.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/obscurati-chronicles-part-13.html.) It became famous in 1998 for the erection of the 66 foot high sculpture the Angel of the North, although in my view it looks more like an aeroplane stood on its tail than an angel. Are the Grey and the Angel being in the same place a coincidence or is something more occult and esoteric going on?... That’s a story for another article. In 1940 a strange atmosphere hung over the country; war against Germany had been officially declared the previous September, but the worst hostilities had yet to break out and negotiations were going on to try and find a peaceful conclusion to the conflict. However Britain was still preparing for the onslaught to come, building up the Armed Forces and organizing parades on city streets to reassure and inspire the British public. It was while watching one of these marches one fine day, on a hitherto undisclosed date that year, that 5 year old Robert and one of his friends were sitting on a wall on a main throughfare called Saltwell Road watching the troops file past. (It helps if you use Google Maps or Earth to follow this narrative) Eventually they got bored and felt cold (this could indicate that the date was not in the summer months) and ran down Stephenson Street, the side terrace near where they lived. When they were halfway down the road they saw a translucent barrier across the street that Robert described as resembling heat-haze. The two boys found that the barrier didn’t reach right down to the ground and they could pass under it by ducking. Then, at the bottom of Stephenson Street they were confronted by a large ovoid object hovering just above the ground about 12 to 14 feet in diameter. Running parallel to Saltwell Road at the other end of the residential terraces is an alley known as “the Back Alley” where local children used to play, and lined up all along this alley were a large number of beings of many species. In fact it was a veritable ET menagerie with more variety than any other reported encounter I’ve heard of; Robert’s descriptions of these entities answer those of other alien contactees’, and this was confirmed by Derrel Sims, see: http://www.alienhunter.org/. There was a humanoid creature that was covered in fur, “Bigfoot” Robert called it; classic Greys in several sizes, “Praying Mantis” insectoids, dwarf-like gnomes and blond, blue-eyed “Nordics”, very humanlike beings which you wouldn’t look twice at if you saw them in normal human situations. Robert and his friend were taken aboard the craft and underwent the medical examination that is a common feature of UFO abductions, blood specimens were taken and they were pacified by a paralyzing weapon that one of the aliens held in its hand. Robert was terrified and tried to flee; he saw other children climbing the fence by the railway line bordering the alley. Robert eventually managed to escape the aliens’ clutches and ran back to the main road where he alerted the marching soldiers. One of the soldiers went to have a look and shot at the aliens with his pistol. Panic ensued and people on the main road fled. The craft rose into the sky and disappeared.
If the events of that day weren’t incredible enough, more was to come three days later. Robert was on his way to the shops one morning and he took a short cut through a pedestrian alley further up the road than the Back Alley; suddenly he realized that he was not alone. He looked round and saw a Grey running towards him. He pelted as quickly as he could to the nearest street where his Uncle Ernie ran a coal yard. Robert tripped on the kerb and thought that the Grey had got him, but luckily Uncle Ernie was on the pavement outside and he attacked the Grey with a coal shovel and killed it. Uncle Ernie Wren was still alive in 2008 and Richard met him, but unfortunately Ernie is somewhat senile and unable to give a solid witness account. Ernie then moved the body behind the gates of his coal yard while Robert went and found a policeman. The body was then moved by a police or army vehicle to the crypt of St Cuthbert’s Church about half a mile away on Bensham Road where it was apparently stored for three months. There is no mention in the church’s management records of this going on, but then it’s not the kind of thing the Vicar would be too open about, especially if he’d been warned to keep quiet. Robert reports seeing men in white overalls going up and down the narrow outdoor stairway leading to the crypt and visits from “professors”. On at least one occasion during this time the local area was subjected to house-to-house searches, Northern Ireland Troubles-style; the soldiers were apparently searching for more of the aliens.
Robert suffered from a lot of the classic symptoms of “post-abduction syndrome” including a triangular scar on his face that lasted for 8 years. He was visited by military officers, scientists apparently investigating the matter and a very eager news reporter whom Robert says physically assaulted him to try and make him part with information. He was also followed to school many times by a frightening stranger. These sound to me very much like Men-in-Black encounters, at least some of them, and the callers may not have been whom they said they were or looked like; in fact they may have been aliens themselves, but that’s a long story.
All the researchers who have interviewed Robert Hall say that he comes across as honest; he’s a simple and ingenuous man who doesn’t fit the profile of a fantasist or liar. The UFOlogist Gary Heseltine has also interviewed Robert; Gary is a police detective and so has developed a good intuitive ear for when he’s being spun a yarn, and he passes Robert’s testimony as truthful. As I said above a very long time has passed between the incident occurring and research into it beginning, meaning that the majority of witnesses are probably no longer living, the memories of the living witnesses will have become faded and distorted, and direct evidence is harder to come by. Richard and the others have done a good job retrieving even what little they have. There’s no mention of the event in any newspaper archives or local records. Despite the fact that there are a few old people living in the area who also lived there in 1940 no others have professed any recollection of the UFO incident and the only one positively known to have been in the vicinity at the time is refusing to comment. However Robert’s sister Rhoda does recall the hostile visitors who questioned her brother. This would be less frustrating if Robert Hall were not such a credible witness. One thing he mentioned that is especially interesting is that he expressed his confusion that the craft he saw was so small while the aliens which presumably came from inside it were so numerous; I imagine that if he underwent an examination inside the UFO then it would have had to have been larger on the inside than its 12 to 14 foot exterior. The notion of alien craft being Doctor Who's TARDIS-like: larger on the inside than the outside, is not one Robert Hall is likely to have made up; however it is a recurring feature of many other abduction reports. A good example is Jan Siedlecki’s 1976 encounter in Leeds in which he describes a disk-shaped craft only about 20 feet across, yet it had three deck-levels inside (Good-1998). A bullshit-merchant would probably not put these details into his charade and make the craft’s inner and outer dimensions proportional, in line with terrestrial logic.
The week before this HPANWO article was published I travelled to Newcastle to record my interviews on Richplanet TV, and Richard showed me the location of the Gateshead Grey sighting. I took a few photos (Apologies for the darkness and poor quality, they were done on my mobile phone). It was immediately apparent that the architecture of the nearby houses and public buildings was 19th Century and so the area must look pretty much the same in 1940 as it does today. I took a photo of the famous kerbstone where little Robert tripped over as the Grey bore down on him before Uncle Ernie dispatched it to defend his nephew, but unfortunately the shot didn’t come out. It was too dark and my mobile phone camera had no flash. However it’s likely that this is the original kerbstone because it looked quite old, and although pavements need to be regularly resurfaced the kerbstones last much longer. I’ve very rarely seen them changed where I’ve lived.
This is 29 Hedley Street where Robert spent his childhood and lived as a five year old boy in 1940.
This is the spot at the bottom of Stephenson Street where the UFO appeared.
This is the gate to Uncle Ernie’s coal yard through which the dead Grey was dragged so it could be concealed. This gate looks very old and might also be original.
These are the narrow steps leading down to the crypt. St Cuthbert’s Church has been deconsecrated and abandoned since 1940 and today it is being converted into a museum (Not a UFO one!). By the time Richard and I arrived here it was night-time and completely dark and so I declined to descend the very narrow and steep stone stairway into the crypt; if it had been daytime I would have tried it. As you can see if you watch Richard’s documentary, see below, the crypt is just an empty derelict chamber filled with rubbish measuring 12 feet by 8, and according to Robert Hall, for three months 72 years ago it was used by the military to store an extraterrestrial corpse. This part of the tale is very revealing I think. Why did they leave it there for that long? Couldn’t they have moved it to somewhere more secure and convenient? This indicates to me that, unlike with Cape Girardeau, Roswell and all subsequent crash-retrievals, the British Government in 1940 had no contingency plan on how to deal with this kind of thing; it was as unexpected to them as it was to Robert and his friend. I wonder if the secret reports on the Gateshead Grey may have been shared with the Americans, even though they were neutrals in the war at that time. This may have triggered the US Military to work on a plan of what to do if something similar happened on their soil. Was this why they were all set up and ready a year later when that saucer came down near Cape Girardeau?
The story is told in Richard’s own words in this full-length documentary: http://www.richplanet.net/detail.php?dbindex=146 and here is the follow-up: http://www.richplanet.net/detail.php?dbindex=206 . The Gateshead Grey is a tantalizing mix of thin evidence, but believable testimony. The case becomes even more interesting when we find out that, even if it’s unknown in the modern human world, it may have influenced our folklore subconsciously: watch it and you’ll find out where the catchphrase “Little Green Men” might have come from!
Aurora- April 1897
As we go back in time before the 1940’s the stories of UFO-related encounters become dimmer and mistier. Although, as I demonstrate in the link above to pre-1940’s UFO photographs, it’s obvious that the phenomenon existed, it had little or no presence in popular culture. As we approach the century-ago marker we find a bleak landscape as far as Roswells are concerned. There are a few very tenuous recitations about crashed objects being seized during World War I, but nothing tangible. Then as we enter the close of the 19th Century we’re suddenly hit in the face by an almost unbelievable story from Texas: The Aurora Incident.
During the 1890’s news stories began to flood the entire world about the presence of “mystery balloons” and “dirigibles”. When studying the Aurora incident it’s important to understand the terminology used at the time; this was an era when the only aircraft were gas balloons and primitive airships; the Wright brothers’ first aeroplane didn’t lift off until December 1903, and conventional engineering wisdom beforehand mostly proclaimed that the aeroplane was impossible. Words like: “UFO” and even the slightly older: “Flying saucer” had yet to be coined. What these reports were describing was undoubtedly what we today would call a global UFO flap. This came to a head when on the 19th of April 1897 the Dallas Morning News announced that one of the mystery airships had struck a windmill in the city of Aurora, Texas. Despite it being officially classified as a “city”, Aurora only has a population of 376 and is just a small, sparse and isolated suburb of Dallas. The windmill was actually a wind-driven water pump fitted to a well in the garden of a Judge JS Proctor. The craft impacted at about 6 in the morning and exploded, scattering loose debris over a wide area, destroying the judge’s flower garden. Many of Aurora’s residents were alerted by the noise and rushed to the judge’s house to see if they could help. There was a badly burned and battered body in the debris that was thought to by the airship’s pilot. A local man who was an army signalman and keen astronomer stated to the reporter that in his opinion this was “a man from Mars”. Again, we need to be aware of the contemporary language difference here. At the time some of the most popular pieces of literature were books like HG Wells’ War of the Worlds which was about an invasion by intelligent but hostile creatures from Mars; it came out the following year, but others like it were around in 1897. Because of their influence, and lack of real knowledge about the true nature of Mars, anything extraterrestrial would have called “Martian” or “from Mars”. This was what we would call “an alien”. The creature was given a full Christian funeral and buried in the local cemetery. Again this would not be unusual practice in the United States at that time; remember William Huffman’s story above? The grave was marked by a very rough stone without an epitaph, see photo above, but it did feature what looks like a crude engraving of a cigar or disk-shaped UFO. There followed a clean-up operation in which the largest fragments of the object were carted off (Where!?) while the smaller ones were thrown down Judge Proctor’s well.
Again the hoodoo of a massive delay before the investigation returns to haunt us. The first serious research was not begun until the early 1970’s! The researchers' first move was to turn to the tastiest potential source of evidence: the grave. Unfortunately one cannot just walk into a cemetery with a spade and start digging up graves. Like most countries, the United States has Rights of Sepulchre laws that protect a person’s final resting place under strict guidelines that have few exemptions, and violating them is a serious criminal offence... even if the beneficiary of those legal rights is an extraterrestrial being! The investigators from MUFON wrote to the relevant authorities asking for permission to exhume the body and were given a firm and decisive negative reply; much to their frustration. The local council even posted a police guard at the graveside while the investigators were in town in case they attempted any grave-robbing. I can only imagine what it must feel like for a UFO investigator to stroll through a cemetery and walk above a grave that has an alien body just a few feet underground. But worse was to come because it seemed that somebody wasn’t going to take the chance that the burial authorities might change their minds. Soon after the first investigation the tombstone was stolen and it also looked as if somebody else had tampered with the grave, maybe even secretly exhuming the body themselves before the investigators could. Today the Aurora Cemetery Authority claims not to even know the grave’s exact location. Researchers have often noted that the people of Aurora are generally very uncooperative with UFOlogists and have no desire to explore this unusual piece of their hometown’s history... Has somebody warned them off? It’s ironic to think that as the Government were secreting away the bodies from the Roswell crash in 1947 another alien was lying in a grave just a few hundred miles away in Texas, and had been for 50 years. At the time of the first investigation there were fortunately a few very elderly witnesses to the crash still alive and they were tracked down and interviewed by an excellent individual, I think: Jim Marrs, see HPANWO Links column. Unfortunately he faced the same problems as Richard D Hall did over the Gateshead Grey; it’s not just governments that bury UFO secrets, the passing of time does too. However several people remembered seeing the object in the sky and after it had hit the ground.
There are several hoax theories going round, including one promoted by a former mayor of Aurora. The reporter who wrote the news story, SE Haydon, had a reputation as being a practical joker. There was apparently a motive for trying to put Aurora on the map. The town was in dire straits socially and economically because it had recently been hit by a spotted fever epidemic that had killed many people there; indeed the town went through several periods of quarantine (I myself was once stuck inside a quarantine zone in my hospital and it’s pretty frightening I can tell you!) The town’s main industry, cotton farming, had also just been decimated by an infestation of pests, boll weevils. Most people there were unemployed, poor, sick and hungry. The recent cancellation of a railway line through the town must have been a severe blow; and, in the same way some other places have tried to fake apparitions of the Virgin Mary, somebody decided to take action by fabricating a fake UFO crash... or so the theory goes. One wonders who, how and why they came up with this idea when there are plenty of other more promising ways to boost a town’s profile. Personally I’d stage some fake serial-killer deaths! Also the theories come from people who had no first-hand knowledge of the incident at all, and all Jim Marrs’ other contacts say the UFO was real, so unless we were faced with a conspiracy by a group of slow-witted octogenarians, we’ll have to knock the hoax theory on the head for now.
There’s more, apart from the grave there’s another massive potential source of data: the well into which the people dumped the debris. But annoyingly, just as with the grave, the well has been sealed over with a concrete slab and the current owner of the land refuses permission for UFOlogists to gain access to it. I’m beginning to wonder if Lyall Watson’s “Cosmic Nanny” isn't at work here, see: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/lyall-watson.html. There is an interesting story attached to the well though, if not a sad one because it concerns a man’s illness and disability. In 1945 a man called Brawley Oates bought Judge Proctor’s old house and went to live there. Like the judge before him, he got all his drinking water from the well and before long the unfortunate man was struck down by debilitating rheumatoid arthritis in his hands, rather like David Icke has been. Was Oates’ condition caused by drinking water from the well that had been infected with some kind of toxin from the alien debris? Whatever, the well remains sealed and a sturdy brick outhouse has been constructed over it to protect it further. Here’s an interesting documentary about the Aurora case: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmY9D7T0m7A.
What has become apparent to me is that when it comes to Roswells we have two research obstacles: Since at least 1941 there has been a secret policy in place to cover up and deny these incidents. It’s a global policy, because whether the crash occurs in the USA, Brazil, China, Russia or any other country in the world, the same thing always happens: The government sends the army in, keeps everybody away, enforces media silence and then comes up with stupid cover stories about weather balloons or escaped chimpanzees. The other obstacle is time: the human lifespan, and our memory. There may or may not have been a decision by governments on dealing secretly with UFO’s before 1941; I suspect not, but this era is now so long ago that only the very elderly remember it, and their memories are blighted by inevitable lacunae and inaccuracies. The best hope for us all is to deal with the cause of the current and recent Roswells, what Stephen Bassett calls the “Truth Embargo”.
Just to end this article, let's look at the remarkable tale of a Mr James Lumley, a man hiking in the Rocky Mountains one day when he saw a lighted object cross the heavens and burst into pieces like “a sky-rocket”. This was followed by a rushing sound like high wind. The following day, Mr Lumley discovered: “that, as far as he could see in either direction a path had been cut through the forest, several rods-wide, giant trees uprooted or broken off near the ground, the tops of hills shaved off and the earth ploughed up in many places. Great and widespread havoc was everywhere visible. Following up this track of desolation, he soon ascertained the cause of it in the shape of an immense stone driven into the side of a mountain. An examination of this stone, or so much of it as was visible, showed that it was divided into compartments that in various places it was carved with curious hieroglyphics. More than this, Mr. Lumley also discovered fragments of a substance resembling glass, and here and there dark stains, as though caused by a liquid. He is confident that the hieroglyphics are the work of human hands, and that the stone itself, although but a fragment of an immense body, must have been used for some purpose by animated beings.” This report is dated to the 19th of October 1865, see: http://www.rense.com/general16/histufocrashing.htm. Could this be the first ever Roswell?
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