When it comes to dealing with distinctly Fortean issues, such as Ufology, Cryptozoology, the domain of ghost-hunting, Crop Circles and more, witness testimony is a vital component of trying to understand the nature of the phenomena at issue. And, on more than a few occasions, that same testimony can reach near-jaw-dropping proportions. From my files, comes one such extraordinary example.
In 1952, Bill Maguire was stationed at Royal Air Force Sennen, near Land’s End, Cornwall, England, where he worked as a radar specialist. Maguire’s skills were in high demand, and he and a team of five others often worked together at different bases, in order to give accurate readings of radar instrumentation.
“These were usually during exercises, and there would be the same half a dozen of us. Usually, it was made clear to us where we were going. You’d get a travel-warrant, and a truck would be waiting to pick you up.”
On one occasion, Maguire and his colleagues were driven to a location which he now believes to be somewhere near RAF Sandwich in the county of Kent. From the onset Maguire realized that this exercise was going to be different to all the previous ones, because the windows of the truck, which on earlier occasions had been open, were all shuttered. When the team got to the location they found it was an open field with a hump which led to a large underground installation.
“Even in those days, this place impressed me,’’ he told me. “This was a huge complex; I’d never seen the likes of it before. It must have gone down for half-a-mile. It was like something out of a science-fiction film; everywhere was lit up in blue light, and it was completely operational with about one hundred people working there.”
Maguire explained that the machinery in this underground labyrinth surpassed any that was known to be used, at that point, for the purpose of detection and observation: “As an experienced radar operator, what surprised me most was the extent of the machines. They were able to see right across to Eastern Europe, and parts of Russia, and way over to Sweden, which I hadn’t realized at that time we could do.
“My memory was that everything was in a complete flap. Normally, in a military situation everything is ordered, regular and set out. But here was a situation that was plainly out of control. Mechanics were flying about all over the place.”
As Maguire got his bearings, and the situation was revealed to him in its starkest form, the reasons behind the blind panic became staggeringly clear: a huge, unidentified aerial object was being tracked on the radar-scopes high over the English Channel. “The mechanics were being blamed for not calibrating the instruments properly; we were being blamed for not interpreting the readings correctly. Every single instrument on the base was showing this enormous object sitting up at an unbelievable height. It was the size of a warship and it just stood there.”
At first, Maguire and his colleagues did not interpret this as an alien spaceship. ‘There was talk of an escaped V-2 rocket – which was rubbish – and temperature inversions. But we knew damned well what an inversion was. We could tell an inverted seagull, never mind something as big as a warship.”
Maguire recalls that the object stayed in the same position for 18-minutes before splitting into three parts and disappearing at phenomenal speed. One went north, one towards France, and the third, east to the Balkans.
“Whatever this thing was, it sat stationary in a stratospheric wind of several hundred miles per hour, which was quite colossal for the time. I wasn’t on the height-finder but I remember the mechanics said that it was higher than anything we knew about.”
After the event, Maguire and his colleagues were told by their seniors not to talk about what had occurred. “It was all brushed under the carpet and we were all split up. But I do remember coming out at night, and looking up, and thinking: I wonder what the hell that was?”
Whatever it was that Bill Maguire and a whole team of experienced radar personnel tracked from that vast underground complex nearly sixty years ago, it remains a definitive mystery.