Classic Mysteries

Editor’s Note: Tim “Mr. UFO” Beckley kindly provided permission for us to post this thought-provoking UFO classic as this month’s Classic Mysteries feature. This article appeared in Tim’s book Strange Saga (2005, Global Communications), although it originally appeared (and I still have the original too) in the Summer 1974 (Vol. 1, No. 6) edition of Saga’s UFO Report.

The mysterious wave of UFO, entity, and paranormal high-strangeness that besieged the small town of Warminster, England back in the 1960s and 1970s were very bewildering.

Warminster—The Town Haunted By Flying Saucers

By Arthur Shuttlewood as told to Timothy Green Beckley

On almost any clear night you can gaze up at the sky above Warminster, England, and become part of a mystery which has made this otherwise tranquil locale one of the strangest places on Earth.

As this is being written, on the average of two UFO reports are brought to my attention every week. As a result, over the last nine years, I have seen myself slowly change from that of a skeptical chief reporter and feature editor of the Warminster Journal, a highly respected newspaper, to an individual whose consciousness has expanded to encompass previously unimaginable areas.

During my on-the-spot studies I have come across ample evidence to prove that this community has been (and still is) playing host to an unprecedented armada of unexplainable aerial and ground level phenomena which include:

Disturbing sounds that fill the air with a thunderous roar;

Unexplained deaths of small animals and birds;

Strange Solid-looking craft that dematerialize in plain view of confused witnesses;

Objects disappearing that belong to UFO observers; and

Accounts of actual meetings with UFOnauts.

The first inkling of anything “uncanny” about Warminster came at six a.m. on Christmas morning, 1964. At that time a middle-aged woman was forcibly tossed about and then thrown violently to the ground by an invisible shock wave which originated a short distance above her.

Weird crackling noises paralyzed Mrs. Marjorie Bye while she was on her way to services at Christ Church. Mrs. Bye told me later that as she walked along the cobblestone streets, a high-pitched hum began to fill the air. It sounded to her as if a jet plane was about to take off from an unseen runway several feet from where she stood riveted to the ground. As the noise grew progressively louder, a powerful force pulled her legs out from under her and toppled the crying woman to the pavement.

Shock waves of an unknown magnitude continued to pound at her head, neck, and shoulders that numbed her completely. Helpless, she was pinned down to the ground by fingers of sound that left her weak and jelly-legged, so that even when “It” passed she had great difficulty reaching the church.

At the precise moment of the strange attack upon Mrs. Bye, the stage was being set for Warminster’s postmaster to undergo a similar horrifying experience.

Working late the previous night, Roger Rump did not expect such an early call on Christmas morning. This credible and frightened participant in the early stages of the Warminster UFO story told me he was jerked out of a sound sleep by a pounding on the roof of his home which is only a short distance from Christ Church.

“There was this terrific clatter,” Mr. Rump told me, “as though the tiles on the roof were being rattled about and plucked off by some superhuman arm. This was followed by a scrambling sound, as if they were being hurriedly replaced.” Roger Rump said that he then sat “bolt upright” in bed and listened carefully, noting that on top of all this noise, he could hear a loud humming drone.

He added that it seemed as though all the tiles were being roughly manhandled and jostled together before being thrust into their respective niches again. Upon inspection, none of the tiles were chipped or damaged and the roofing was intact.

A terrified Mildred Head, wife of an ex-policeman and once a seamstress at Warminster Hospital, sat quiet and shaken as she told me how she was awakened at her home at 1:25 a.m. on Christmas morning. “Our ceiling came alive with strange sounds that lashed the roof,” she said. “It was as if prickly holly bushes were being pulled across it, or like a cat sharpening its claws. It ended with a noise I can only describe as giant hailstones pelting down with all their might.”

Most of these aerial “attacks” (there were about 20) took place in the southern sector of town, and were apparently responsible for the death of small creatures and birds who were collapsing without any apparent reason.

During this period, reports came in (sometimes as many as three or four a day) of dead mice found in the gardens of “affected” homes. Their bodies were covered with burn marks, and many holes perforated their skins.

During the first few months of 1965, household pets were adversely affected by the weird rooftop sounds. Dogs crawled into kennels, under tables or kitchen sinks, barking and whimpering, when homes were attacked by the unknown noises. Cats arched their backs, fur bristling, as they twisted and turned in rapid circles at the height of the bizarre aerial battering. Many pets in these affected houses were sick and cringed in corners. One woman from Westbury Road openly cried when she recalled her pet’s ordeal. In an upstairs room her faithful cat “Budgie” lay stiff-legged in death after a roof bombardment. The shock had paralyzed it!

A flock of pigeons were killed in flight after tangling with the “Thing” (as our intruder came to be known). They came into fatal contact with deadly sound beams in the woods near Crockerton, in February 1965. Stiff-winged, they plummeted to the ground into a clearing on Longleaf Estate belonging to the Marquis of Bath. Two witnesses judged that rigor mortis had set in instantaneously.

David Holton, a surgical chiropodist and naturalist, told me of another surprising development after having examined two stricken pheasants shortly after their death fall. The two birds were found on his estate by a man noted for his hunting ability. The shooting season was over and his wife was surprised to see him walk up the front steps of their large house, carrying a brace of lifeless game birds. He was unarmed and she knew he had not shot them. His wife, a local councilor, told me he had stumbled upon the dead birds in a thicket on their spacious estate. She wondered if they had been bludgeoned to a mangled mass of rigid limbs and fluttering feathers by jet aircraft crashing the sound barrier. David Holton told me he thought the birds were killed by sound waves of an intensity Earth creatures were not accustomed to.

Following the initial “attack” of Warminster’s “aerial turbulence,” my office phone was kept busy by dazed residents who were observing all types of craft in the sky. “Flying trains” and “railway coaches” with glowing windows were said to be hurtling about in space.

In late May and early June of 1965, I was still laughing at such reports and rejecting them as too ridiculous and far-fetched for publication in the Warminster Journal.

My skepticism had its first big challenge when similar sightings started cropping up in the neighboring counties of Weston, Siper Mare, and Cheltenham.

As far as I am concerned, the initial breakthrough came with the testimony of Kathleen Penton of Warminster on June 19th. She told about her sighting while seated in front of my desk. “It was a fantastic spectacle, so much so that my husband and daughter thought I was going crazy when I told them about it later. I was opening an upstairs window, as it was a stuffy night, when I saw this shining craft going along sideways in the sky from right to left. It glided quite slowly in front of a line of trees. Porthole-type windows ran along the whole length of the ship, which, to my eyes, was enormous. Its windows were lit up, the color of yellow flames in a coal fire.

“It was much like a railroad car,” she added. “only with rounded ends. And it did not travel lengthwise, but was gently gliding sideways.” Mrs. Penton’s sighting, which lasted about five minutes, was confirmed by six local residents who telephoned the newspaper within a matter of a few hours. And all their observations tallied. I was admittedly puzzled and determined to find out what was behind this phenomenon.

News of the events at Warminster soon spread. Magazines and daily newspapers all over Britain began featuring stories on what was happening in our community. Unfortunately, in many instances they gave the erroneous impression that our citizens were cowering in panic, trying to shield their eyes and ears from this unknown terror.

TV and radio coverage soon reached an all-time high and in August 1965, even the staunchly conservative British Broadcasting Company sent a camera crew to record the testimony of anyone who would step forward and relate their experiences.

Rachel Atwill, the attractive wife of a pilot, did exactly this. In front of a BBC commentator, Mrs. Atwill told how she had both heard harsh grating sounds and saw what was causing it. Her traumatic experience told place at approximately 3:45 a.m., on Tuesday, August 10th, when she was awakened by a “terrible noise” that caused the bed and floor to quake. “I went to the bedroom window and looked out,” she said, “and between the two bungalows opposite us, about 200 yards above the range of hills beyond, I saw a bright object like a massive star. I have never believed in flying saucer stories, but I cannot describe this as being anything else. What I witnessed was definitely domed on top and was huge in size, an unwinking light of great brilliance!”

Rachel Atwill said that she was not overly frightened by this “thing” but was terribly shaken by the awful noise that came from it.

After a while the horrible humming diminished, and finally the noise stopped altogether. “The entire episode lasted for 25 minutes,” she said. “The noise was most upsetting…I felt as if there was a tight band of steel around my forehead…a pounding and hammering at my eardrums. I drank some brandy afterwards; I was dreadfully cold and could not stop trembling. Then I filled two hot water bottles and went to bed. The strange thing was,” Rachel Atwill concluded, “that not one of my neighbors on this private estate saw or heard anything unusual.”

After word leaked out about what was happening in Warminster, we found ourselves plagued by people from around the world, who came to see what was taking place for themselves. The curious set up camp for as long as a week at a time, or until they were satisfied that what they had read was not some concocted tale created by an over imaginative journalist.

On many occasions, I was among the skywatching groups when something definitely not of earthly origin was spotted moving across the horizon. Because of the obvious importance of the situation at Warminster, we often invited government and military officials to check out the situation for themselves. In most cases, we were politely, but firmly, informed that a natural solution could be found for what we had seen. But despite this negative attitude, the Defense Minister would never deny specific cases!

Given patience, no sincere investigator ever leaves Warminster without visual confirmation of otherworldly contacts. Around Warminster, extending in a complete circle are a number of key observation sites from where UFOs can be readily watched performing their aerial acrobatics. The names given these selected vantage points (Heaven’s Gate, Lord’s Hill, Jacob’s Ladder, Starr Hill, and Cradle Hill) would seem to imply that previous cultures that settled nearby and gave these sites their names, were familiar with this locale’s extraordinary contribution to extraterrestrial (or interdimensional) relations.

Actually Warminster is steeped in enigmas, both modern and ancient. The strategically placed rural and peaceful community of 14,000 is surrounded by prehistoric relics, stone monoliths, and ritualistic circles.

Stonehenge, a gigantic complex of rocks built by an unknown society, is located to the east of our town. Standing like a lone sentry on the Salisbury Plain, this strange structure was, according to one theory, built as an astronomical observatory centuries ago. Several hundred years later, the Druids, an almost extinct religious sect, used the stone pillars of this ancient monolithic structure for equinoctial religious gatherings and claimed it as their own work of art. Scholars, however, tell us that Stonehenge’s true origin dates back thousands of years!

Avebury, to the north, has a similar history and like Stonehenge consists of a series of stones which supposedly had a mathematical purpose!

With so many mystical anomalies in the area, it should not come as a surprise that Warminster has become the modern focal point for visits from flying saucers.

It is almost as if some strange vortex exists here which acts as a cosmic beacon, beckoning UFOs earthward and welcoming them to this serene terrestrial locale.

Personally, I have had more than 800 authentic UFO sightings and have even had the opportunity to come in close contact with the occupants of these phantasmagorical objects.

The UFOs sighted over Warminster take on various shapes and come in a multitude of colors. They have been seen as: glowing spheres; luminous teardrops; ovoid jewels that range from blood red rubies to winking diamonds of flashing light; from lustrous gray daytime pearls to fiery green emeralds that decorate the nighttime heavens.

Seen through a three-inch telescope at night, a hovering spacecraft is a glorious firefly of radiating colors, pulsating from the center to its outward edges in a continuous stream of flickering and living energy patterns, with white, amber, green, red, and blue predominating.

The most common daylight variety is a gun metal gray that sparkles with silvery majesty when sunrays strike it through passing fleecy clouds. Basic shapes are round, bell-like, and torpedo. Sizes vary, we find, as do conventional aircraft designed for different tasks and responsibilities on our planet.

Longer and larger airships, which are not so common, are described by witnesses as aerial submarines, silver white “lighter-than-air” craft, or illuminated round-ended railway coaches in flight, complete with portholes along the sides. The majority of these phenomena are most often seen in the distance, and they’re silent, as the smaller types invariably are, unless they swoop close to the ground. Then a distinctive buzzing or droning sound is audible, which is similar to millions of swarming bees.

Especially active in the sky over Cradle Hill, is what I term “a thinking light” or “brain beacon.” These are simply tiny circular bright lights that change direction rapidly, sometimes at bewildering speeds. They are usually amber or white and surrounded by a glowing aura or halo along their edges. We have seen specimens of this type at night come toward us, and in fact go right past us, at a distance of only four to six feet. They frequently emit a high piercing whistle like noise, which causes ears to throb in pain.

We are confident that these are remote controlled mechanical and electrical robots, sent out from larger craft on close survey operations. These unmanned surveyors are no doubt a tremendous help to travelers farther aloft, who are anxious to learn all they can about us.

Except on August 1, 1971 when we saw three silvery discs suddenly appear near ground level, daytime UFOs usually burst into view above the horizon. The sun glittering over their metallic surfaces, they often make right-angled turns before suddenly stopping and hovering. Occasionally they make a fluttering descent much as an autumn leaf falls in a breeze.

At night, fast moving UFOs can be seen coming in over the horizon, stopping at a point over nearby treetops, where they slow down and then erupt into brilliant red balls of light. Then they gradually change to an oval or ellipsoid shape and switch from red to gold or amber color.

In addition to the various types of flying saucers seen here, this area has been the focal point of dozens of UFO-related incidents which defy logical understanding and explanation. These events, we believe the evidence shows, are highly indicative of a continuing surveillance by beings who originate from some totally alien world.

For example, numerous UFO watchers at Cradle Hill and Starr Hill can confirm that articles have vanished from cars and vans, even when their doors have been locked; then miraculously turned up again, safe and sound, when drivers and passengers arrived home after a night of skywatching.

George Woods, a Merseyside area resident, turned UFO enthusiast, has braved inclement weather several times to gaze at the Warminster phenomena. After his first visit, Woods discovered that his tape recorder had been skillfully tampered with by someone or “something” unknown.

A repair shop owner verified that Wood’s machine had been expertly taken apart, with components laid out in reverse order on top of the mechanism. A silly prank? This is hardly possible, as no one in the house had access to the equipment.

Another visitor bought a record while staying in Warminster for a few days. The disc was a new one, only recently released, and was in the locked car of one of the men skywatching at Starr Hill.

The driver, after locking the car, joined us at a gateway in front of an abandoned farm. Glancing back, he saw a shadowy form silhouetted against a car window. He counted the people at the gate and realized that the dark figure wasn’t a member of our party. Then he ran back to his car and unlocked it. No one was inside, yet in the few seconds it took Neil Beverly to count the skywatchers, “someone” had been in the car. What was more amazing was that the new record was badly warped, wax soft, and had obvious thumb impressions at the edges.

Also a camera in the glove compartment had been dismantled, with its film “mischievously” turned around. Another container of film, this one developed, had been replaced backwards.

We have helped others search, in vain, for “lost” items such as glasses, knitting needles and wool, packs of cigarettes, small good baskets, coffee flasks, cameras, and so on. All were invariably “found” later, often after arriving home.

These mystifying experiences later increased my feeling that much more than purely physical spaceships were at work. Not only did solid objects belonging to skywatchers seem to vanish, but UFOs themselves on occasion have been known to drift in and out of sight, and always in front of witnesses.

On a Sunday afternoon not too long ago, I was with 30 trustworthy individuals when we all spotted an object about the size of a full moon. The UFO, elliptical in shape and having a semi-spherical dome, hung in a cloudless clear blue sky. Gray in color, the object was struck by a bright shaft of sunlight, transforming it into a brilliant, living jewel of dazzling magnificence.

We watched the hovering object for about a minute, during which several observers (including an ex-Royal Air Force bomber crewman) ran to get movie cameras. Before they could return, the UFO, which we estimated was hovering at an altitude of about 700 yards, began to tilt like a fall leaf and without warning “flashed out.”

We refused to believe that anything so obviously solid could disappear before our eyes. So we spread out and formed a large circle in a field bordering the roadside. Between us, with every member gazing at a different point on the horizon, we hoped to pick up the glittering object when it reappeared. Obviously it had sped from the peaceful scene at such blazing speed that it had deceived our eyes.

We waited in vain for about three minutes, when: “My God, look!” shrieked one of the women. We looked again, and there, in precisely the same patch of clear blue sky where it had abruptly vanished, the craft was reassembling itself. Little by little, over a span of roughly three minutes, the UFO turned into a solid form again. We stood with our mouths open in total amazement, watching what assuredly had to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Gradually, in muted undertones of half-gray and white, the filaments started to interlace in mid air as the entire object began to re-form. The strands ceased to interweave as the “filling in” operation finished, and there again in all its metallic might was the UFO.

Sometime later, in April 1973, in a field in Gwent, Monmouthshire, Wales, two little girls and an engineer were astounded when the luminous and glowing object standing before them literally disappeared as they approached it.

Saucer lore abounds with dozens, if not hundreds, of such “vanishing acts” made by these elusive craft. Perhaps this ability to weave in and out of Earth’s physical dimension is a good answer to why we were so often frustrated in attempts to photograph UFOs. We often took pictures of what we knew to be typical UFO shapes, only to wince at the ridiculous results when our negatives were developed. We frequently ended up with prints emblazoned with rows of triangles and pyramids; weird animal heads; bodies and legs; wriggling snakes and serpents; or series of stairways and towering stone columns.

There is ample evidence to support my theory that Warminster is a “window” area to another plane of existence, or perhaps there are unique “properties” here that serve as some sort of landing beacon to some far off intelligent life. I can state for a fact that much of what has happened does not indicate the existence of ordinary astronauts from another galaxy. The pattern of events is far too complex and disturbing to simply conclude this.

And take my word for it; it’s much safer to watch the skies around Warminster in the company of others. Many nights we have heard frightening sounds which could not be identified as belonging to man or beast.

At 2:30 one March morning in1966, I stood at the edge of a cluster of trees near Cradle Hill, eyes raised towards a starless sky, the mist swirling in gray spirals around me. The first sound came from a barn nearby. It was a heavy footstep. I walked toward the building and non one was in or around it. Yet the sound was repeated several times, as though someone of giant size were walking, or clumping, in front of me. I hurried to catch up to it, but the “thing” changed its direction and I heard a shrill cackle that chilled my spine. For a few frightful seconds I was rooted to the spot; then fear of the unknown overcame me and I fled down the trail, twisting my ankle in my rush to escape.

Bob Strong, another veteran skywatcher who has photographed UFOs many times, had a similar experience. While a glowing bodied “thing” swished down over Cradle Hill, he heard heavy footsteps thumping behind him, but when he turned around he realized no mortal was near.

It is reassuring to learn that the footsteps of these “ghostly walkers” have been heard by more than 27 people in the notorious area around Cradle Hill. On one occasion, a research party hurriedly jumped out of the way and separated into two groups when an invisible prowler charged between them. Several other individuals, including myself, have been victims of coat-tugging “invisibles” at both Cradle and Starr Hills. In January 1974, Pauline Trubridge, who was standing near the barn where my initial encounter had taken place, screamed to her husband for help when the hem of her dress was violently tugged. Six of us scoured the area for more than an hour, finding no sign of the intruder.

One of our really close confrontations with alien intelligence came on the evening of August 27, 1969 while 13 people were in our skywatching party at Cradle Hill. Among those on the hill, besides myself, were an ex-naval commander’s wife, Mrs. Kathleen Bent; her friend Mrs. Eileen Keck; Ian Cowan and his wife Kathryn; Mrs. Gwen Smith; Christopher Trubridge; his student friend Robert Coates; Julian Butler; and John Dunscome.

At precisely 10:10 p.m. our attention was attracted to what can best be described as a “burning bush” about 600 yards southwest of our vantage point on Cradle Hill.

At first we thought it was rubbish being burned by a farmer, but we all commented how strange it was that this “circular” flame should suddenly erupt, without warning, as no smoldering or smoke was noticed prior to this by our ever watchful group.

Chris Trubridge and Robert Coates immediately started to run to the site while the rest of us followed more warily.

The burning effect “died” on the ground and was replaced by a large orange ellipsoid that hung motionless about 100 feet above the ground. It was glowing and immobile for almost three minutes.

While several members of our party discussed the rather sudden change, the object started to move southeasterly across Cop Heap in the direction of Starr Hill.

It was enormous! The UFO moved slowly, almost sedately, throwing off a bright and fitful halo around the craft’s main body.

Shortly thereafter we saw a second, similar shaped object much higher in the sky that was keeping pace with the bright orange UFO closer to the ground.

Our attention, however, was soon to be abruptly interrupted from the visual treat before us. We heard cries coming from the field, and running wildly toward us came Chris and Robert. They were trembling and their faces were ashen.

They drank hot coffee to recover from their experience. Then they blurted out an amazing story of a face-to-face encounter with a strange “being.” Standing before a crackling fire, they told us that they had run ahead to get a better look at the “burning bush.” Upon reaching “Kidnapper’s Hole” (so-called because in 1911 several horses vanished one night, presumably toppling down a deep well) they saw the flame die out, and in its place stood a tall figure dressed in a shiny tight-fitting suit that reflected the beam of their searchlight.

A gold-colored “sash” was around its neck and shoulder that wound about the waist. No words were exchanged between anyone.

Bob is slightly over six feet tall. He estimated the figure to be a good foot taller than himself. Chris confirmed this. They also said that the “being” had long dark hair falling to shoulder length, bright eyes, and a rather “feminine” set of features. The “visitor” did not move, but the two men, overwhelmed by fear, would not approach closer than 30 yards.

As their searchlight swept over the huge form they decided not to dally any more, and ran back to the hilltop to report in staccato phrases what had happened.

While the two men were being questioned closely by the rest of the observers I wandered across the field. I had a flashlight in my sweating palm and with it beamed a friendly message (in Morse code) out into the darkness to relieve any apprehension on the part of our unexpected “guest.” And while I sensed an unseen tingle in the air, my visual perception did not pick up any “spaceman” wandering about.

A slightly different alien form made itself known to a group of us standing on Starr Hill in the winter of 1972. When Diane Granville-Mathew and I arrived before 8:30 p.m., we were immediately aware of a “supercharged” atmosphere, which I can best describe as similar to the feeling one gets shortly before a thunderstorm when the air is full of electricity. WE heard thumping noises from clumps of bushes to our left as we walked near a barn. We imagined the noises were being made by a wild animal, such as a badger or fox, but soon realized that our own movements made no noises!

We were shortly joined by John and Angela Bennett and Neil and Sally Pike. Neil is a bank employee, his wife the daughter of a former chief detective in the Wiltshire Constabulary. John is a former police officer. Another clumping sound caused us all too look at the hedgerow to our left. That’s when we saw the three giant figures standing in a triangle at the edge of a field a good distance away. They were all of eight feet tall, had domed heads, no apparent necks, wide shoulders tapering to slim waists, and long arms that dangled at their sides. Their outlines were clearly discernible, even though it was dark.

All six of us felt terribly cold and apprehensive, as we sensed that those ghostly forms were not to be taken as friends.

Yet, in seconds, the entire atmosphere changed. A beautiful fragrance wafted toward us that was accompanied by blasts of warm air that took the chill from our bodies and minds. We started to walk down a dirt track and the tall figures, transparent and oddly impressive, glided parallel to us at a distance of not more than 10 yards, but keeping to the hedgerows. When we stopped at the lower end of what is known as Mortar Clump, the figures again took up their triangular positions in front of us near some bushes and scrubland.

We found ourselves, quite unselfconsciously, talking to these ghostly giants, conveying love and trust to them; but they, in turn, didn’t utter a sound. Yet, at this point, we sensed no suspicions or hostility from the trio, just a measured calm, detached appraisal of us, and a warmth of emotion silently transmitted.

Neil walked over to one of the figures and bowed his head toward it while still talking. When he returned he told us that he had in fact passed right through the eerie form! The figures remained for 25 minutes before the roaring exhaust of cars approaching the area cut the night air and led to the abrupt disappearance of our friends.

All these stories, no matter how bizarre they sound, are easily verifiable. All observers, whose names are on file, will attest to what has been reported here. Over a nine year period I have faithfully recorded in over 35 notebooks each event I have personally witnessed or had been told about. Admittedly many of the incidents which have occurred around Warminster are incredible to our way of thinking, but we must keep in mind that they represent a truly alien pattern of behavior.

As for the reasoning behind this mass “invasion” of Warminster, I feel strongly that Salisbury Plain is a “window” to another dimension through which a superior race of beings can pass easily to our realm. From the ancient structures which still remain intact, it is possible to assume that this location has, from the longest period of time, been of immense importance to whoever pilots flying saucers.