X-FILES II: Paranormal Encounters… Paranormal: “Denoting events or phenomena such as telekinesis or clairvoyance that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.”
A little while ago, I did a list of alleged monster encounters during time of war and I have to admit, it got a much better response than I thought it would. But while researching those article, I stumbled across other strange/paranormal happenings and incidents which happened during times of war, as well as mysteries which remain unsolved to this day.
Like it or not the world still can be a very strange and mysterious place, and sometimes that strangeness can occur during wartime. This is sometimes a good thing, as those who witness these happenings tend to be more credible and have nothing to gain by telling their stories. But sometimes the paranormal can equal to sinister, leaving not only more questions than answers, but a body count as well.
So from a haunted U-Boat which made the navy call in a priest, to an otherworldly dogfight over the skies of Iran. Let’s learn what happens when when soldiers, sailors and pilots go out to serve their country, only to have…. Paranormal Encounters.
1) The Ivan Vassili
The Ivan Vassili was originally a civilian operated freighter, built in 1897 to transport freight across the Baltic Sea. During her early years nothing really spectacular or out of the ordinary really happened to the merchant, she was not cursed in any way or jinxed, Nor did she have a troubled history. In reality the Vassili was a sturdy and reliable freighter, perfect for the task of hauling cargo between Imperial Russia and the other Baltic states. Basically, there was nothing paranormal about this ship but of course that would all change. As in 1903 tensions between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan began to rise and war was expected to break out soon.
As a result the Ivan Vassili’s role changed over night from a humble freighter, to a supply ship for the Russian Navy. Her job not was to set sail to Port Arthur, Manchuria to support the Russian Pacific fleet based there. A 3000+ mile voyage made longer due to the fact ship had to make a port of call in Cape Town, South Africa. After stocking up on much needed supplies the freighter left port to continue her voyage, but that was things started to turn for the worst.
Almost immediately, the crew of the freighter felt as if something was off. It was if a blanket of negativity had overcome the men on board, but no one knew why. Then one night one of the sailors on watch saw what he described as an “Ghostly Figure” on deck. It was surrounded by a very odd mist as it appeared to walk normally across the deck before it disappeared behind a lifeboat. Needless to say the crew were very alarmed by this nor did it help with the general mood on board. But thing would soon go from bad, to worse.
Just two nights later, the entire crew suddenly went into a panic and began fighting one another. This only came to an end when one of the men jumped over board and as quickly as it began, it came to an end, with many of the men starting to cry before they calmed down. But two nights later, the Vassili’s crew went mad again and fought each other. Once again another crewman leaped to his death over board and the fighting came to an end . Now the crew were certain something was terribly wrong and there was something on board that was causing it. Thankfully the ship arrived at its destination and no sooner had the vessel docked, every single man abandoned ship as fast as they could. Some even jumping over board and swimming to shore.
But the Russian government managed to round up all the would be deserters (They were still at war after all) and forced them back on board the cursed vessel. This time to do a cargo run to British Hong Kong, but just two days into the voyage, the crew went mad and another man died.
Even more disturbingly, the captain of the Ivan Vassili committed suicide once the vessel made it to Hong Kong, jumping over board and drowning. With no one to stop them this time, the surviving crew deserted the vessel and were never seen again. As a result, the Russian government hired a new crew and captain for another voyage, this time to Sydney for a shipment of wool.
This time it looked as if what ever had haunted the vessel had moved on, as the voyage was uneventful. That was until the captain which had been hired by the government, shot himself with his pistol as his ship entered Sydney harbor. When they finally docked, this new crew abandoned ship and it would be months before a new one could be found and hired for the ship’s next job.
This time the Russians hired men who didn’t believe in ghost or the paranormal and once everything was ready, the ship set sail to San Francisco. I guess you knew what happened next. After another bout of madness, two men died and the new captain killed himself the following night. This crew of skeptics were now firm believers that something was very wrong on the ship and changed course, this time back to Russia. They knew this was against orders but didn’t really care, they just wanted off this vessel and fast!. But when the Ivan Vassili returned to Russia, the men were awarded medals and bonuses for returning the ship and were allowed to go home.
After that day, the Ivan Vassili never went to sea again and would remain in port for many years until the government decided to burn the ship. As she was now too old and in too bad a shape to be used . But as the vessel burned, eyewitnesses reported hearing something scream on board the Vassili as she went up in flames. What ever had possessed the freighter, was still on board.
2) The Haunting of UB-65
World War One was the first time in history submarines were used en-mass as offensive weapons and it was considered a great honor to serve on one in the Imperial German Navy. But to those who served on the UB-65, it was a living nightmare.
The UB-65 was just one of many submarines built for Germany during the First World War. But even before she touched the waves, this submarine had earned a reputation of being cursed. During her construction, a steel girder was being lifted by chains when it just crashed to the ground killing two people. Not too long after this, three engineers were overcome by diesel fumes while inspecting the ship and died.
More men died while the vessel was undergoing sea trails when a wave washed them over board during a freak storm. While two more were killed from another gas leak during a test dive just a few days later. Yea, the UB-65 more or less earned its reputation of being cursed and had a body count before it even saw action. But the UB-65 was still seen as operational and was allowed to enter service with the Imperial German Navy. But before the vessel could complete its first patrol, an torpedo exploded while being loaded into its tube. Killing an officer and damaging the submarine, forcing it to return to port for repairs. Unfortunately for the men on board, once repairs were completed things on board ship when from bad to worse.
While on patrol one night in the British channel, one of the lookouts spotted a figure standing at the bow of the ship. A place where no one was supposed to be to begin with. But his curiosity soon turned to terror as he realized that the figure before him, was in fact the same officer who was killed in the explosion weeks earlier. In that one incident, the UB-65 went from just being cursed, to being haunted as well.
As time passed, more and more members of the crew began to see the ghostly image of their former ship mate. Understandably were all but in a state of panic when the submarine made it back to port, many of whom refusing to return to the vessel and some going as far as to resign from the Navy all together. It was so bad that eventually the German government sent a priest to the UB-65, as he was to perform an exorcism in hopes that this would help calm the crew. It didn’t really work.
Within 2 months, the new crew members began to see the apparition again and these men would be in a straight up panic once they returned to port. Many of whom would request transfers to other vessels, rather than stay on board the UB-65. But as strange as these encounters were, there is some credibility to these reports.
In 1918, the American submarine L-2 sighted the UB-65 on the surface, off the Irish coast. The U-Boat looked as if it was in distress, as the american commander noticed that it was just sitting there doing nothing. Either was, it was an easy target and the captain was eager to earn a kill. But before the torpedoes could be loaded, the UB-65 suddenly exploded and began to sink. But as it sank, one of the American officers on board the L-2 reported seeing a ghostly figure on the submarine before it went under. There were no survivors.
One could only imagine just what was going on in the UB-65 before it exploded and even though the wreck was located in 2004, it is still unknown as to what actually caused the explosion.
3) The Mystery of the L-8
Not exactly Paranormal, but still creepy. On the morning of August 16, 1942, Lieutenant Ernest Dewitt Cody and Ensign Charles Ellis Adams of Airship Patrol Squadron 32, boarded their airship L-8 for what was supposed to be routine patrol. In the months following Pearl Harbor, Japanese submarines had sunk at least half a dozen Allied ships off the American West Coast. As a result, the U.S. Navy began to step anti-submarine patrols along the coast.
One of the aircraft used by the navy for this role, was the “L-Class” lighter than Air airships. Built by Good Year (Yes, THAT Good Year), the L-class was primarily used as training ships for future air crews, though a number of them were modified and used for patrols. For this task, L-8 was fitted with two 325-pound Mark 17 depth bombs mounted on an external rack, a .30-caliber machine gun and 300 rounds of ammunition. Their mission, hunt and sink any and all Japanese submarines spotted off San Francisco. Both Cody and Ellis were veteran airship pilots, while their craft the L-8 was a reliable airship with no history of problems.
The L-8 was scheduled to fly to the Farallon Islands, 30 miles west of San Francisco, then head north to Point Reyes and south to Montara Beach before returning to their base at Treasure Island. A fairly routine patrol that was expected to last the better part of 4 hours. About an hour into its patrol, Lt. Cody sent a message:
“Am investigating suspicious oil slick—stand by.” An oil slick was usually a sign that there could have been a submarine, and the L-8 began to pop flares to mark the location. A sight which was noticed a couple vessels in the area. One of them, a fishing vessel named “The Daisy Grey” reported seeing the L-8 circle the area. At one point watching the airship descending to 30 feet above the waves, as if its crew wanted a closer look at something. But by 9 a.m., the L-8 gained altitude and headed back towards San Francisco.
The next time the airship was seen was at 10:49 AM, when a Pan American Clipper pilot reported seeing the blimp over the Golden Gate Bridge. He spotted nothing wrong with the ship, which appeared to be heading back to base. Then at 11 am, a pair of Kingfisher patrol planes reported seeing L-8 three miles west of Salada Beach, rising through the overcast at 2,000 feet. An altitude which was normally avoided by airship pilots.
The next person to spot the L-8 was an Army P-38 pilot, who saw the blimp near Mile Rock. He noticed nothing amiss, assuming it was headed to Treasure Island. A few minutes later Richard Quam, an off-duty seaman heading for a day at the beach, was driving along the coastal highway between San Mateo and San Francisco when he spotted L-8 in the distance and noted that the blimp was bent in the middle.
At approximately 11:15 a.m., five hours after L-8 left Treasure Island, the blimp approached the shore at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Much to the surprise if a local beach goer, as he noticed the blimp was silent as it approached. As well as sagging noticeably as it moved in the wind, 50 feet above the water. The ship continued to drift aimlessly inland for another 15 minutes before it finally came to rest on Bellevue Avenue in the city itself. Much to the surprise of the residents who witnessed the eerie sight before the craft landed. But upon investigation of the Airship’s gondola, both pilots were missing and to this date, have never been found.
The last persons to see both Cody and Ellis alive, were the crew of the Dasiy Grey just hours earlier. But no one is certain as to what happened to the two men after that. The L-8’s compliment of parachutes were still on board and safe for the damage the blimp suffered from its crash landing, everything else was in working order. The only thing slightly strange was that the blimp’s batteries were drained and part of its fuel supply had been dumped. Normally, a blimp wouldn’t dump fuel unless it needed to increase buoyancy in a hurry. Since L-8 didn’t seem to have that need, it wasn’t clear why fuel had been lost and its engines idled.
Despite numerous investigations and searches, it is still a mystery as to just what happened to the L-8 and its two man crew in the two hours after it was seen by the Daisy Grey. Though after the incident the L-8 was returned to service and continued life after the war as the Good Year Blimp.
4) The Ghost Planes of Dark Peak
By 1940, Britain stood all alone against the German war machine. France had fallen and mainland Europe was now under the dominion of Nazis and their allies. As a result, the British isles became one massive aircraft carrier with the task of both defending the home islands, as well as striking at the German homeland. To do this hundreds of new air fields were constructed across England, so as to accommodate the thousands of aircraft that would use the countryside as their base. However, today, even though the war has been over for seven decades, some of these warplanes are still said to be patrolling the British skies. Even though they never returned from their last mission.
Located in Northern Derbyshire is an area known as Dark Peak which during WW2 was home to numerous RAF bases. And even though the bases are closed, people still continue to report seeing aircraft over the countryside. Usually at low altitudes and with no sound.
Over the years, hundreds of individuals have reported seeing “Large, Four Engine Aircraft” flying low over the countryside. So low, that they immediately think the aircraft is going the crash. But there is no sound as the aircraft flies over head, nor is there a f explosion that signal their supposed demise. The plane vanishes without a trace and leaves a understandably shaken and confused witness behind.
Interestingly, it isn’t just one type of aircraft being seen. Though most reported aircraft being sighted is a Avro Lancaster, other aircraft have also been seen as well. One of the more recent involved a mother and daughter who saw a C-47 “Dakota” with RAF markings. They said it looked as if the plane would crash right into them, before it banked right and vanished. Another sighting occurred when a local postman sighted another C-47 while walking his dog. He stated that the aircraft made no sound, even though he could clearly see the propellers turning as it lost altitude. Fearing it would crash he saw the plane fly over himself before vanishing behind a small hill, but when he ran to investigate, there was nothing there.
Now a lot of these sighting could be easily explained away, as there are still a few C-47s still flying in England. But it still does not explains why these planes which have been seen, made no sound when they flew. Now there was a lot of activity during the war. Which thousands of aircraft in the air at any one time, and more than a few of them crashed throughout the English country side due to accidents. But why they continue to haunt the Peak district is anyone’s guess.
So if you are ever fortunate enough to be driving in the Peak District of Derbyshire, keep an eye to the sky. You just might be lucky enough to be one of these Phantom Aircraft.
5) The Tehran Incident
Unidentified, Flying, Objects. We have all heard this term at least once in our life and automatically, images of flying saucers and “little green men” come to mind. Now to be fair, “U.F.O.” is a term usually used to describe an aircraft that is both unknown in design and origin. It does not automatically mean that it is from another planet or that its occupants are non human. Usually such sightings can be explained away but every once in a while, an incident occurs that leaves more questions than answers.
Such was the case on September 18th, 1976. Around 11:00 pm the inhabitants of Tehran, Iran, spotted a glowing object above the city. As reports began to flood in , the Imperial Air Force of Iran (Remember, this is still a few years before the Revolution) scrambled 2 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms, one of which was piloted by Parviz Jafari, from Shahrokhi Air Base. With the objective of investigating the unknown aircraft, as well as determining whether it was friend or foe. Now it must be noted that one of the Phantoms returned to base, which left Jafai alone to investigate.
Near midnight, Jafari’s Phantom sighted the UFO as he approached Tehran air space. Maintaining contact with his home base, Jafari reported that the object was as large as a “747 jet” and that it had pulsating lights. But what happened next would make this one of the most harrowing UFO incidents of all time. No sooner had the Phantom sighted the strange craft, a small object emerged from the larger one and shot towards Jafari’s jet. Now despite the F-4 traveling near super sonic speeds, this new object not only managed stay in formation with the jet, but literally fly circles around the now stunned Jafari. As if he were standing still.
This goes on for a few minutes before the small object shot back towards the main one and “merged” with the craft. No sooner had this occurred, another small object emerged from the UFO and once again shot towards Jafari, causing the Iranian pilot to take evasive action. Believing he was now under attack, Jafari attempted to arm an Aim-9 missile to attack the now hostile UFO. But as he pulled the trigger, nothing happened as the missile failed to launch. To his horror, the weapon controls in his fighter had seemingly shut down and he was alone in the sky with a clear threat.
Thankfully, the small object returned to the large one. Allowing Jafari to make a bee line for Tehran and the airport there. But as he began his decent, Jafari then noticed that a third object was following him as he approached the airport. This time, the object seemed to have no interest in the F-4, as it descended to the desert floor. Something which is also witnessed by the airport personnel, as its glow lit up the area and crash landed near Shemiran. There was an investigation into the incident afterwards and it is said that even the Shah himself was being informed as new evidence emerged and new findings made. But what ever came from these investigations still remains unknown. As it is believed that most of it was lost and destroyed during the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The Incident of 1976, is one of the more well documented and celebrated UFO encounters in the last 70 years. As for Jafari himself, he became a bit of a celebrity in the UFO community. having been invited to speak at numerous conventions over the years about his encounter. But the Tehran case is not the only time the Military has come face to face with Unidentified, Flying Objects….
April 11th, 1980: A Peruvian Air Force Su-22 is scrambled after an unknown object was spotted near an air base. The aircraft engaged the UFO and fired 64 rounds at the intruder, but had no effect as the UFO outran the Soviet built fighter.
October 1st, 1948: USAF P-51 engages a “Ball of Light” above Fargo, North Dakota. The pilot, George Gorman, was a WWII veteran and was on a cross country flight when the incident occurred. Though he attempted the engage the unknown aircraft, his P-51 was unable to keep up with the UFO and he was ultimately forced to give up pursuit.
November 23rd, 1953: A Northrop F-89C Scorpion fighter disappears over Lake Superior while investigating an unknown contact. Ground radar reports seeing the Scorpion suddenly “merge” with the unknown contact, before said object flies away. Both the aircraft and its two man crew have never been found.
December 9th, 1965: After the people of Kecksberg, Pennsylvania witness a large fire ball crash into a nearby forest, a large contingent of U.S. Army personnel rolls into the area. Only to leave just hours later with “something” under cover on a large, flat bed truck.
March 30th, 1990: After a rash of sightings of triangular objects over Belgium, the Belgian Air Force scrambles a pair of F-16 Fighting Falcons to intercept after one appears on radar. Despite gaining target lock on one of the objects, the F-16s are unable to catch up with the UFO.
March 5th, 2004: The crew of a Mexican Air Force Patrol aircraft spots 11 unknown contacts on their infrared camera, while on a mission above southern Campeche. Mexico’s Defense Department issued a press release on May 12th accompanied by videotape that showed moving bright lights at 11,500 feet.
Now these are just a handful of such incidents which had involved military personnel over the years and some of them could make their own, stand alone articles. But lets move on, shall we?
6) Ghost of the Pacific
Now it is no secret that Okinawa was one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific war. As it is estimated that well over 300,000 persons died during the battle, most of whom were civilians who were either caught in the cross fire. Committed suicide or were even gunned down by their own Japanese forces when they tried to surrender. So as you can imagine the volcanic island is a paranormal hotbed of activity, as it is said to be haunted by those who lost their lives during the invasion.
There are numerous ghost stories from across the island and interestingly, some of these hauntings occur on active military bases. Camp Hanson has the story of a WW2 era American soldier who haunts the base near Gate 3. He is usually seen covered in blood as he approaches the gate. Sometimes asking who ever is on guard , for a light for his cigarette before he would vanish. The sighting were so bad that the gate was eventually closed as no one wanted to stand guard there.
Another haunted site is said to reside behind Kenda Air Base, an old building had to be abandoned after numerous incidents were reported by those who stayed there. The building still stands, but is now used for storage. Near by Kenda Golf Course is also said to be haunted by the ghosts of high school girls who committed suicide, after being pressed into service by the Japanese army. But Okinawa is not the only island to be haunted by the Ghost of WW2.
Situated halfway between the Philippines and Hawaii, Truk Lagoon was the site of a major battle between the U.S. and Japan in 1944. Dozens of ships and hundreds of aircraft were lost in the engagement, so much so that many of the vessels are now seen as war graves for their crews. Yet many divers who have been to these wrecks woulds report hearing voices and even the sounds of engines running under water.
Camp Zuma in Japan is said to have its fair share of spirits, as dark shadows and disembodied voices have been reported by base staff . Especially near the base Chapel and a few other areas. Located in Toyama Park, Japan, is the former site of the Army Medical College and Hospital and was said to be home to the infamous Unit 731 during the war. Unit 731 more or less conducted some questionable and down right evil experiments on Human subjects. Though a peaceful park today, people who visit this area would often report seeing ghostly figures or hearing the mournful cries of Unit 731’s victims coming from nowhere. Best to avoid this park after dark.
Now I must point out that these are just some of the more curious events which have caught my attention over the years. By no means are these the only mysteries or incidents which have military undertones and believe me when I say there are too many for me to list here.
As much as we don’t want to admit it, the world is still a mysterious place and there are many questions that we have yet to find answers for. Sometimes these mysteries cross paths with those who serve with the armed forces of their respective countries, and sometimes, those in uniform become a part of the mystery themselves.