Having written already on some aspects of unexplained occurrences that I have experienced since 1953 when I was nine years of age, there is still much that has not be written about, not least those experiences that occurred whilst I was serving in the military(despite being a pacifist!)
Of the many individual events that occurred, two are as vivid as the day they happened. Both occurred in 1966 when I was stationed at an RAF air base in Germany. At the time, I was part of a NATO search and rescue team which operated generally across those European countries that were part of the NATO set up.
This particular day, we were called out to search for a crashed aircraft somewhere in the Bavarian Alps in the north-eastern part of the country. I was assigned as mountain leader for this rescue which was to: a) locate the crashed aircraft; b) establish if the two aircrew had ejected or were still strapped in to their seats in the aircraft; and c) if they had ejected, make an attempt to locate them within a five mile radius of the downed aircraft.
We boarded a military plane which flew us to another military airstrip somewhere near to the Alps and then we boarded a long range helicopter. Soon we were over the Alps and unceremoniously dumped onto a glacier and left to our own devices to find the actual wreckage and any possible survivors.
Eventually, we found the aircraft standing on its nose poking into a steep snow bank high up in the mountains. The cockpit cover was missing as was the two wings. Further investigation, told us, that one of the two aircrew had ejected as one of the two seats was missing and the other was occupied by the other member of the aircrew.
Clearly he (the pilot), had been killed on impact so all we had to do was extricate him from his seat and somehow transport his body back off the mountain down to the meadows below where a helicopter could collect the body.
Once we had extricated the body of the pilot from his ejection seat, we wrapped him in his parachute so we could drag/slide him down the mountain. It was at this point, that the cloud base decided to sink lower enveloping us in a near white out condition so it was impossible to see where the mountain edge was and free space started.
Within minutes, we found ourselves spread out across the side of the mountain barely able to make visual contact with each other. Someone suggested that we should regroup and discuss our options. Someone else said we should leave the body where we were, as we would have a better chance of getting down the mountainside safely, and someone else said we should just bury him there and say that we did not find anyone when we got back down.
Clearly, we could not come to any consensus about what to do. For my part I just sat on the edge of the proceedings and listened to everyone else putting their own point of view. I found myself agreeing in turn with everyone so I continued to hold my peace.
I felt a deathly cold creep over my body despite being warm inside my warm goose down duvet jacket. Everything went silent despite the shouting and arguing that was still going on. I knew instinctively that something out of the ordinary was going to happen; it always did in situations like this, so I just sat and waited.
I did not have to wait long when I felt, sensed, heard, something standing behind me. I turned my head, knowing that there would be nothing there, there never was. It was just a habit I had adopted, in the hope that one tine, just one time, I would see something. But, like every other time before, there was nothing but the cloud base.
I waited some more whilst the rest were arguing about what to do as fear was creeping in as it often does when your’ in such a dangerous situation. My feelings got more intense and more unsettling. My heart rate increased and my body tingled as I felt a wave of electricity flow over and through me. In the distance I heard someone shouting over the wind and it just kept saying “now, now, now, now, now”.
I stood up and interrupted the musical row going on and said my piece which was brief and to the point. “Don’t care what you all think we are taking him back down, that’s our job, end of story”. I took hold of the tied up parachute, and started to drag it in a direction which I, nor anyone else, had any idea of where it was leading.
The cloud base had gotten even lower and the weather was deteriorating fast into a full blown snow storm. Being lost on a mountain slope is not the place to be in such a time as this, and we all knew it.
It was impossible to see more than a foot or two in front of myself, but I somehow knew I was safe despite our situation being serious in that any slight error of judgment could well end up with our own bodies being collected by another search and rescue team at a later date.
Movement downwards was precariously and painstakingly slow and at one point, I had to agree that continuing to drag the body down the mountain was foolhardy and possibly not going to good for our own health let alone survival.
Just as I was about to say that I agreed with leaving the body there so we could concentrate on extricating ourselves out of the potentially dangerous situation, I found myself standing in a silent calm bubble. There in front was a little girl wearing a summer dress and with two pig tails tied up with red ribbon.
She smiled and pointed into the clouds with one hand and to the bundle in the parachute with the other and nodded. I knew I had to follow her so shouted for the others to move slowly and to keep hold of the parachute.
I followed that little girl slowly and after what seemed hours of struggling, she disappeared with a smile and a wave and suddenly we were below the cloud base and there a few hundred yards away was a meadow and a helicopter waiting.
I thought no more of the incident, until some months later, when I was looking through an old copy of the RAF magazine, and read the story of the funeral of our pilot who it appears, was a WWII pilot who had won the Air Force Cross for bravery when he saved the life of his aircrew by flying his Lancaster bomber whilst being engulfed in flames and landed his place safely saving his crew. I was taken aback when I saw the photo of his wife and daughter at the military funeral, for the little girl was the same one that visited me on that mountain. She was wearing a summer dress and wore red ribbons in her two pigtails.
Over the next six months, rescue followed rescue with nothing much unusual happening but I knew this was not to last, and it did not.
It was a Friday night and I was getting ready for a night down the NAAFI club when the rescue call came in. Never a one to dawdle, I was change and at the rescue pad within 20 minutes ready to go wherever I was needed.
On arrival at the rescue base I was pleased to hear that this plane crash was not in the mountains but on some flat open farm land near a place called Nordhorn which rang a bell but as it was a long way off, I allowed the familiarity of the name to pass by unheeded and unchallenged into the dim and distant recesses of my brain.
We drove to Nordhorn which was in Northern Germany but had no idea what sort of rescue it was going to be as no one was saying anything which was frustrating as we could not work out who would do what before we arrived which would in my view, waste valuable time on the actual crash site.
However, the silence was made abundantly clear when we arrived and assembled beside the quickly erected field tents where we were met by some high ranking officer. We were called to order and one of them spoke, his words being precise and crystal clear.
No one coughed, shuffled their feet or scratched an itch as he told us that a Canberra had nosed dived into a farmer’s field. Nothing out of the ordinary I thought, but he then went on to say, that the aircraft was on a bombing exercise, that’s when it struck me, Nordhorn is [was] NATO’s unofficial bombing range where they tested new bombs during the cold war in Europe.
He went on to say that the plane is not in one piece as it had three bombs on board to test drop. One dropped successfully, but the other went off as it left the bomb bay and as far as anyone knew, the third bomb was still attached inside whatever was left of the aircraft and was almost certainly still armed!
Given the potentially dangerous mission we were being asked to undertake, the heavens decided to open up and allow torrents of rain to fall vertically downwards.
The rain caused the ground to turn into a quagmire which proved disastrous for any transport coming or going from the crash site. This meant no fresh food was brought it and no replacement rescuer teams which meant we had to continue to do the work, sodden wet through and hungry, let alone without getting any sleep for fear the third bomb might still go off and we had no idea how far or close we were to its location.
On the fourth day we had re-covered most of the aircraft fuselage, and the unexploded bomb which was delicately recovered on the following day and deactivated by the bomb squad who was also in situ but not involved in the actual search. All that was left to do was try to see if we could find any body parts of the three aircrew, the pilot, the navigator and the bombaimer.
Unfortunately the rain did not stop so our task was that much more unpleasant.
We were split into pairs and given an area to search methodically. My area included a dense forest way off across the landscape as far away from habitation or civilization as you could get in that area. I had Paddy with me and as we were drinking buddies we were both grateful to be together rather than paired with one of the RAF Regiment personnel that had tramped in that morning to help finish the mission.
When Paddy and I got to the edge of the forest, we decided that he should walk around the edge whilst I tried to find my way through the center of it from one corner to the diagonally opposite corner and then repeat the process from the other corner.
I enjoyed the solitude of being alone in the forest with nothing but the musical overtures the torrential rain was making on the forest canopy and floor where it managed to make its way to in areas where the canopy roof was sparse.
After about thirty minutes in, I sensed total silence, no falling rain, no wind and no rustling of the leaves despite the rain still coming vertically down from the heavens above. I stood still for a while to see if I could hear anything but nothing disturbed my sense of peace and solitude. I shouted out Paddy’s name but heard nothing. I picked up a twig and snapped it and again heard nothing. Now I knew I was not deaf but that something was about to happen again.
I heard the laughter of children over to my left but could not see anything through the dense layers of trees. Then I saw balls of colored lights dancing around in-between the trees again over to my left. I made my way in that direction and felt a warmth permeate my body the nearer I got to the laughter. Just when I knew I was right where the laughter was coming from, the lights started to dance around me and the laughter stopped.
There was a thunder clap in the distance and everything became chaotic and noisy. The wind started to gather pace bringing a feeling of intense cold. The rain started to fall in torrents again from the dark brooding sky like it was in a hurry to land on something, me, the ground, the trees the dead leaves littering the forest floor, anything so long as it got to its destination.
I looked upwards and saw the tumultuous dark angry clouds above, scurrying past my line of vision like they too were in a hurry to get to wherever they were eventually going. In all of this, I saw two balls of light hovering above a tree just to my left and when I moved to the tree trunk and looked up, they vanished and there hanging on several branches were bits of intestines as if they were hung out to dry.
I knew I had found the partial remains of one of the aircrew and radioed my find in. Before we had set off, we were given wooden washing tongs some plastic gloves and a plastic bag each and told to collect whatever we could. Once I had climbed the trees and collected the body parts, I sat down under the tree and waited for Paddy to find me so we could return to base camp.
As I sat under the tree, that old familiar feeling of being in a cocoon returned and as I knew it was always a protective feeling, I allowed myself to wallow in its warmth. Then two balls of dancing lights appeared in front of me and transformed into a shape which I did not recognize. The image shimmered and the edges were blurred and ill defined, but it was a human figure, of that there was no doubt. I sat and watched it, fascinated as to why it was there. Such apparitions never spoke to me; they just seemed to have a need to be there just like the little girl had been on the mountain rescue mentioned earlier when we had collected the body of her father.
I was stunned and shocked when it spoke. Without giving it another thought, I was having a conversation with the figure about life, death, love and relationships. All of a sudden, I heard a noise behind me and knew it was Paddy returning and just as quick as the image came; it vanished as did the cocoon.
I immediately forgot what the conversation was about that I had just had, all except the topics we talked about. Again, I just accepted that what had happened was for a reason and if I was to know that reason, it would make itself known to me when it was ready.
I had to wait sixteen years before the reason became apparent which I will talk about in my next article.
Be well and be safe
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