Archive for January, 2015

Sometime around the 12th Century two children showed up in the village of Woolpit, Suffolk, England. The two children had green coloured skin, the brother and sister spoke in a strange language and whilst they both lost the greenish coloured skin over the years, and learnt to eat food other than beans, the boy was sickly. He died not long after the two were baptised.

The girl learnt to speak English and explained that they had come from an underground land, called St Martin’s and that the people there were green.

Two writers reported about this, Ralph of Coggeshill and William of Newburgh. William reported the name was St Martin’s Land and Ralph added that the people there was green.

They were unable to account for their sudden appearance in the village, they were herding their fathers cattle and heard a noise. The two children then appeared at Woolpit.

If you are interested in this tale then you can listen to a podcast by Mindset Central, the link is below.

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In 1946 there were more than 400,000 POW’s from Germany and there was some controversy about the Geneva convention, as many were not returned until well after the end of the war. Nearly a fifth of the farm work on British Soil was being carried out by POW’s and there was a ban on fraternisation between POW and the general populous. The ban was lifted in Christmas 1946 and so many men experienced a more friendly Christmas with local families for the first time in many years. Around 250,00 German POW’s went home but around 24,000 decided to stay in Britain.

Records from the time give some insight into the camp life, many of the documents don’t reveal the camp locations as they were not allowed to write their address on the letters they sent home. However many have been identified, some are better known than others and a list of them (ongoing) has been compiled to preserve the records even if the buildings themselves are gone.

It was part of the Redmires, and nearby is a large golf course, the old Lodge Moor Hospital’s remaining buildings are part of a residential complex, a plane crashed into the hospital killing one and injuring seven back in 1955.

The nearby land originally was planned for an airfield and racecourse, due to the elevated position the land was marshy and not suitable so the costly layouts went to waste. The overlapping land was used by the Sheffield Battalion for training grounds to dig trenches and practise for warfare. Sadly many of those that were training up on the high and uncompromising land would be lost in the Battle of the Somme.

There was a prisoner of war camp situated at Lodge Moor in the First World War, from 1917-1919 and was used to house German captives. An archaeological website details that the capacity of the camp was greatly extended bu the use of tented accommodation. It says that it was guarded by double wire perimeter fences with watchtowers. From 1917-1918 (for about six weeks approximately) it housed U-Boat captain Karl Dönitz, whom Hitler picked for his successor as Führer, he failed this in the last days of the Second World War. He returned to Germany in 1920, after being sent to Wynthenshaw Hospital after displaying odd behaviour, it is not unreasonable to assume he would have acted this way to ensure that he was taken from the camp in the first place.

The site was then used as a Smallpox hospital as an extension to the establishment at Lodge Moor but this was demolished and another POW camp set up for the Second World War. This time it housed Italian and German prisoners, this time it was slightly more to the right and opened out in front of the Three Merry Lads, this area is now demolished and opened up for planted woodland and traveller enclosure.

A local oral story says that the local Redmires army gave the Italian prisoners free cinema tickets and food to help them leave the area once Italy surrendered. Many in fact decided not to go back to Italy due to the way they were treated and remained in Sheffield. This seems quite reminiscent of the Dad’s Army episode, but the episode I believe is based more on Island Camp Farm than Sheffield’s. Locals also recall that the Italian POW’s would wave and try to talk to people because they missed their own family and so seeing some sense of normality they would want to interact.

Recently, armed with the iPhone as the camera batteries died when I got on to the site, we headed out to see the remains of the Lodge Moor Prisoner of War Camp. Lodge Moor lies on very open country side, in an elevated position, we found it by parking at the Sportsman Inn and then following the public footpath. It was icy there and snow lay on the ground, from Nottingham however there had been no such conditions with it being a lower ground.

A 1923 Survey map shows the layout of the buildings and is marked as the “Redmires Special School” and there is now a pub called the Three Merry Lads which was unmarked on there at the time. Originally when we pulled up we thought it was that car park we needed but the Sportsman’s Inn proved to be the better for accessibility.

The site itself is out in the peaks and is behind a large unmarked wall, protected from the roads and it is overgrown. The old cement outlines can be seen amongst the vegetation and trees, and we had a little of the frozen ground to protect us from the mulch thanks to the rain and the pretty much flooded basement levels.

It’s quite hard to imagine now, but prisoners would arrive at the camp and be interrogated by the Prisoner-of-War Interrogation Section, it categorised their strength of belief in National Socialism. Those who were fervent believers were labelled “black”, those non-believers were “white” and those in the middle – “grey”. At Lodge Moor some of the “black” POW’s joined in others to help plot and escape to help sabotage the war effort. Some had already begun tunnelling there and did much of it whilst the guards thought that they were asleep.

Whilst the prospect of being a POW is grim they fared better in the English camps than those in Germany, they were reasonably fed and cared for. They were educated outside of the Nazi propaganda, the POW’s were allowed to be used dor labour as long as it did not benefit the British War Effort and they could not be allowed to go into factories, as they were likely to be bombed.

Sleeping conditions were also rough, and this was not hard to be imagined when standing up on a frosty, snow covered hill in the middle of nowhere. Many prisoners would be sleeping rough and by 1944 the lodge was full so people were sleeping in the tents, many slept on bare mud in wet conditions.

Lancashire is an area with a pleasure beach, theme park full of rides. The Blackpool Pleasure Beach is also one with a ghost train, and a ghost.

In 1936 the park opened its spooky ride but the name later changed to Ghost Train, and seemingly was the first one to do so.

A dedicated member of staff was known as Cloggy, he tended the ride meticulously and seemingly passed away from some dire illness. Cloggy appears to have been so dedicated that he continued with his passion after his death.

Ride visitors spoke about having been touched on the ride, complaints about this and being grabbed by invisible hands  were made and passengers were informed that this was not a part of the ride.

On one occasion it was noted that maintenance were repairing the ride and had heard strange sounds. They had heard groans and mystery footsteps. They came to the time to shut down, and as per the procedure they turned off the electrics. When this happened and they headed off they noticed that a skull was still illuminated on the top of the building.

 

I went to visit recently (September 2014) and did not spot or hear any ghosts… but I did snap this on my way around!

The maintenance creDSCN7256w spent an hour trying to resolve the situation they couldn’t work out how it was lit. In the end they left baffled and unnerved.

Previous blog about the site.

1986 saw one of the worst nuclear disasters to date, the Chernobyl reactor disaster, 31 died on the day but over 500,000 people were involved and the long-term effects continue to be recorded and monitored. Witnesses who have visited the area believe that the spirits of those who died there still roam the area.

1986 is within living history for me, I was 6 but it wasn’t until I grew older I recognised the historical importance of this event. The tragedy is fascinating on both a historical and scientific level, but are also quite terrifying.

At the start of April 1986 people living and working at the power plant began to witness strange events. Sightings of a large black bird, or bird-like creature, and even a headless man with large black wings and red eyes began to be reported. It was later given the name ‘The Blackbird of Chernobyl’.

Witnesses had nightmares, threatening calls and some claimed first hand encounters with the creature. The strange happenings were reported and increased until the morning of 26th April, 1986, when reactor number four exploded.

The explosion sent a nuclear fall out of frightening proportions that drifted over the Western Soviet Union, Eastern and Western Europe, Ireland, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and even eastern North America. All of this took a scarily short period of 48 hours. It was 400 times the level of Hiroshima and the meltdown left fires and further explosions at the direct sight. After the awful events, and further deaths of those trying to stop the radiating fall-outs, there were no further sightings of the Blackbird.

It has been likened to the Mothman, a West Virginian phenomena linked to the collapse of the Silver Bridge, previously this had occurred in 1968 and after no sightings of the creature were made either.

Pripyat town is now abandoned by living human residents but its regarded as haunted, people have reported that they have seen apparitions and shadows at the windows of the city hospital.

Andrei Kharsukhov, a nuclear physicist from the university of Bufffalo visited the site in 1997. He was at reactor fours sarcophagus but was unable to enter thanks to the radiation. Even though no one was inside he could hear the sounds of someone screaming for help, they were shouting about a fire inside. He rushed to inform someone only to be told that he was the first person into the control room for three years, if someone had gone inside before that an alarm would have been tripped.

Later in the evening they were eating dinner outside an old building, a flood light turned on in the room of the installation but no one was inside. It was like a power surge and just as someone went to say it, the light switched itself back off.

The stories of the paranormal at Chernobyl will not be ones that are easy to investigate, the continuous risks of the environment and the need for constant assessment should outweigh any ghost hunting trips. It is also worth considering that respect should be given to those are living victims of this terrible occurrence.