Posts Tagged ‘1944’

Tea Break Reading!

It is also known as Truk Lagoon, it is part of a protected reed and in 1944 the Americans launched an early morning attack on 17th February. The Japanese intelligence had picked upon it and removed their largest war ships but Operation Hailstorm lasted for three days. It resulted in them sinking 12 warships, 32 merchant ships and destroyed 275 aircraft.

In 1969 the lagoon was explored and it is now a popular diving spot, it’s referred to as a Ghost Fleet and the ocean floor and sunken vehicles are gas masks, depth charges, human remains and many artefacts of interest. Alongside this is a wonderful variety of marine biology such as manta rays, turtles, sharks and corals. All of these sights, sand and life are part of what is classified as a Japanese Graveyard. Its eventual clean up for any fuel or environment threats will require the involvement of the Japanese Government.

Paranormal divers are a group that investigated it, they checked it out as other divers reported hearing the sounds of engines turning and starting up. Other mentions were of voices and the sounds like idling machines. There has even been an account of investigators picking up a human-like heat signature.

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Duncan is best known for being the last person to be imprisoned under the British Witchcraft Act, 1735. She was born November 25th, 1897 and died December 6th, 1956. At school she was known to have alarmed fellow pupils with prophecies of doom and displaying hysterical behaviour.

She married Henry Duncan in 1916 who supported her talents and in 1926 she went from clairvoyant to medium, offering séances to summon recently deceased spirits via emitting ectoplasm. She worked part time in a bleach factory and was a mother of six, a pretty busy lady.

In 1928 photography showed her tricks via dolls and old sheets as drapes. In 1931 the ectoplasm was supposedly cheesecloth, paper mixed with egg-white and toilet paper. In 1933 a trick to summon ‘Peggy’ a spirit was investigated and she was fined £10 for fraud, Harry Price concluded it was all fake and so why am I reporting on her? Well… here goes.

November 1941, WWII, she held a seance in Portsmouth and laid down the claim that a sailor spirit told her the HMS Barham had been sunk. An official announcement for the sinking came months later in February 1942. Due to this the Navy took interest in her claims. There was scepticism about her claims of the spirit telling her this because close family members of the victims had been informed about it. It was summarised that she might has known as around 861 families at the time could have been discussing it with the links they had, and she may well have over heard the news.

Duncan’s claims were taken seriously enough that they arrested her on a minor other issue, but then found the clause of witchcraft. She had a mock-up of an old HMS Barham hat band but after 1939 they hadn’t been worn. There seemed to be concerns that she would leak more confidential information, whatever her source, and that she was exploiting the recently bereaved. Seances did not come cheap, incidentally they don’t these days either…

She was found guilty on one count, and she was imprisoned for nine months. Winston Churchill seemed unimpressed by what seemed to be a waste of time and resources on “obsolete tomfoolery”. In 1945 she was released and promised to stop, which clearly wasn’t the case as she was arrested again in 1956. There was no sign of anything odd about her death after though, she had been suffering ill-health from around 1944 and was an obese woman who would move slowly due to heart trouble.

All too often when the media talks about these events it is with a very sceptical approach. Replications of their so-called trickery has been given as the reason not to trust mediums etc. Helen Duncan was unfortunate in the media enough times I’d question why folks even continued to see her, but the grief of a lost one is hard and people may well have given her more benefit over doubt due to this.

In the case of HMS Barnham, she was in Portsmouth, a naval town in a time where it was already considered a badly kept secret. Sailors of the living variety may have been talking and she overheard it. Perhaps she truly was told by a spirit but I hate to admit full poo-poo on the situation however I would say the only S involved here was media speculation and sensation.

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It is a site 12km north of the city of Šiauliai in Lithuania, it is a site of pilgrimage and the exact time at which the practise of leaving crosses began is unknown. The practise most likely came from around the two uprisings of the Polish and Lithuanian people against the Russian authorities. The Russian Empire took control in 1795, two uprisings from 1831 and 1863 left many perished rebels with their bodies unclaimed and never returned to their family. The crosses are symbols of the fallen and represent the endurance of the Lithuanian Catholocism.

During 1944 – 1990 people continued to travel up the hill, displaying an allegiance to their original identity. It was a venue of resistance and the occupied Soviet Union tried to remove crosses and even bulldozed it three times.

7th September 1993, Pope John Paul II visited, he declared it a place for hope, peace, love and sacrifice. As the hill remains under nobody’s jurisdiction people remain free to build crosses as they see fit.

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Kryžių kalnas (Góra Krzyży)” by Pudelek (Marcin Szala) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

J Tunis’ wife Lula was dying of cancer in the 1930’s, and having tried every method of cure available, they prayed for some sort of assistance where the medical world had failed. Norman Baker came to them from the Baker Institute, Iowa and Lula was in his hands with the last of their hopes on a recovery, he was a medical maverick with a new cure. He dressed in a white suit with a lavender tie, owned a radio station and preached a gospel… that he would use alternative medicine and cure the common man!

Unfortunately with this great claim was a man experienced in great lies. He was a former magician, inventor and radio host who then turned to a Cancer Doctor without a day of training in the medical profession. The magic elixir was nothing more than watermelon seed, brown corn silk, alcohol and carbolic acid.

Tunis later testified against Baker, she endured terrible needle treatments and that it did nothing. She begged to go home and he took her back home only to have Lula dead by Christmas. Normal Baker wanted to sell himself as a pioneer of medicine and that it would be his story of a personal battle, in fact brought and paid for as a biography. What he actually did was make thousands of pounds from the sick and dying and Lula was not a unique victim of this man’s “cure”.

The scandal was made more prominent because of his history of radio broadcasting and that had also been often done illegally, he was determined to allay fears that the cure was actually harmful and drank a massive dose of it himself. He put on a show for all those people that were gunning for blood and he one of those other events was to do open air surgery on a 68 year old man!

A doctor from his Baker Institute opened up the skull of Mandus Johnson, he then applied his cure to the cancerous brain tissue whilst he was still conscious. Cancer is cured, he claimed, and now that he had their attention he launched an attack on America’s Medical Association. He charged them with choosing profits over patients and said that he would remind the people he was fighting for them.

The AMA retaliated against the man and his growing institute, stating that even the open air brain surgery was nothing more than a trick. The whole in the man’s head meant that when they opened his skull what they saw was a part of an inflamed skull, a medullary portion. The AMA were also able to get his radio license revoked meaning that the radio method of damage was not renewed in 1931 as he had hoped. Following this a steady stream of relatives of former patients began to come forward to testify.

Finally he was issued with a warrant for practising without a license. He then fled to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and started another radio station that was out of the legal reach of the Federal Radio Commission. He was there until 1937, with another smaller cancer hospital but appears to have become restless. He pleaded guilty and served a one day sentence then he tried to bid for Iowa’s senate seat but failed and left Muscatine for good.

He ended up in Arkansas, purchasing the Crescent Hotel, a majestic Victorian hotel that had fallen on hard times. It was the “castle in the air” and was soon the new Baker Institute location. He made the same scam as he had done in the previous town, conning more people with the same terrible behaviours and after two years the Federal Authorities were closing in. 1939 they finally arrested him.

1940, Little Rock trial, Norman was found guilty and the court of appeals declined his application, the cancer cure was declared a hoax. He arrived at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary to serve a four year sentence. It’s possible that the treatment he gave did nothing but hasten the deaths of the poor people he preyed upon. Norman Baker was therefore resigned to being nothing short of wonderful, instead he was Inmate 58197.

He was released in 1944 and retired to Florida, he lived comfortably until his death in 1958. He was a monster and he was happy to arrange the deaths of people in order to profit. And with this history? Yes you guessed it, there are a wide variety of haunted legends about the place. Perhaps there are some replay ghosts or even active intelligent hauntings, but for now I think his story alone was gruesome enough.

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A map of the gas attacks.

Or the Anaesthetic Prowler/Mad Gasser of Roanoke as just a few names for example was given the title when the person/people performed a series of apparent gas attacks in Botetourt County, Virginia during the 1930’s. It was also a re occurrence for Mattoon in Illinois during the mid-40’s. Whether the cases are just mass hysteria or not an explanation for the events remain under debate. The reports ran between December 22, 1933 to February 1934.

The first people to report the gas attacks were Mr and Mrs Bert Kearney, 1408 Marshall Avenue and they said he was a tall, thin man with dark clothes and a tight fitting cap. Another report some weeks later described the gasser as being female dressed up as male. The gasser was said to carry a flit gun (pesticide tool).

The first report was in Haymakertown, Boutourt County, she reported an unusual odour at about 10pmn on 22nd Dec 1933 that made her feel sick, it returned again about half an hour later and they contacted the police. A third attack on the house happened around 1am and the whole house was affected with 8 occupants inside from the family and a guest.

The symptoms they had included headaches, nausea, facial swelling, constriction of the mouth and throat. Alice Huffman (daughter of Cal) stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated. She had several fits afterwards which the doctor attributed to be anxiety attacks, not the affects of the gas.

24th Dec, Cloverdale had a report from the Hall family that after they returned from church and detected a small that made them feel sick and weak. The police found a nail had been pulled from the rear window and that this may well have been where the gas had been injected into the property.

Dec 27th mother and son reported a similar event to thee Huffman and Hall cases. Then a fourth happened Jan 10th and then a second attack that night in Troutville. It is worth noting that several more were reported but police dismissed them as either hoaxes or possibly the effects of anxiety/hysteria.

The second spate was in Mattoon, Illinois and began late August 1944. Raef woke up to find that he was weak and sick, he suffered a fit of vomiting and then went to his wife who he found partially paralysed and unable to leave her bed. A similar report was made by a young mother.

September 1st there was a third report, she thought the smell was due to the flowers at first but changed her mind when she found that she was loosing feeling in her legs. There was no evidence of a prowler. Then her husband reported that he found someone snooping around but could not catch him, he gave a similar description to the original attacks of a tall man in dark clothes with a tight fitting cap.

A cloth was found at a victim’s home and was tested but nothing was found during testing. More reports were coming in and it caused an investigation that included the FBI. The local police also had to stop the locals from forming groups that were on patrol and fear was being raised that someone might discharge a firearm incorrectly and cause more problems. During this time there were more reports from footprints to tears in window screens, all of which appeared to be adding to the hype. By September the police had so many reports that they had to act, they made a statement that the incident was likely a result of public fear and women’s anxiety over the local men on war service. Interestingly enough it did decline after this.

Chief of Police C E Cole determined that there had been no gas attacks, the town had been sick with hysteria not gassing. There was, he felt, more likely an explanation in that the gas may well have been something carried over on the wind from the local industrial factory and that public panic had been more of the problem. In fact many of the symptoms such as nausea and choking, or even temporary paralysis are signs of shock/stress and other psychosomatic ailments.

There was another fear that it was due to Toxic Waste or pollution, it was possible that it was a release of something called Carbon Tetrachloride however the primary company involved in this allegation was Atlas-Imperial and they were adamant that they could not have carried enough of that in the factory to cause such widespread symptoms over the two areas. Also before the time of the gassing they had been certified safe by the State Department of Health.

Some researchers conclude that there is evidence there may have been some attacks by an actual assailant. It’s not clear if Botetourt and Mattoon are connected or that one is a copycat but the two ere nearly a decade apart and only affected the local area.

2003 saw a book by Scott Maruna, a former resident of Mattoon who feels that the attacks were due to a mentally disturbed man call Farley Llewellyn who was a chemistry student isolated from the community as he was believed to be homosexual. This was his notice and says that many of the attacks were within his local area. It was also claimed that the female gasser descriptions (more rare) were the work of his sisters to stop suspicion falling on him.