Did UFO land on Cannock Chase in Roswell style incident?
It’s being dubbed the Midland’s own Roswell.
The controversial American flying saucer reports were brought to public attention thanks to a whistleblower in the intelligence arm of the US Air Force.
And it was US Navy third class petty officer S M Brannigan who raised alarm bells about a mysterious crash in Penkridge, a town on the edge of the River Penk, near Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, between February and March, 1964.
He said three bodies were recovered from the operation to deal with the incident at Cocksparrow Lane which involved Air Force Intelligence and NATO.
Brannigan was stationed in the Caribbean at the time and told of his discovery after he intercepted a Soviet transmission.
He said the Russian message referred to a UFO malfunctioning and falling to Earth in two parts – the larger section near Penkridge, the other splintering over West Germany.
Mystery further surrounded the incident when an eyewitness came forward to say he took photos of a “delta shaped object” he spotted in a field near Penkridge at the time.
Harold South, of Bloxwich, claims the curious item was partially covered by a tarpaulin and placed on an aircraft transporter. He came across it when he was stopped from driving his van by a roadblock manned by army, RAF and police personnel.
South said the officers confiscated his camera after he took pictures of the scene. When it was returned to him the film had been taken out.
Paranormal websites report the wrecked craft was taken to Porton Down Scientific Research Centre.
Now Peter McCue, former clinical psychologist turned author, has turned the spotlight on the unexplained crash in his new book Zones of Strangeness: An Examination of the Paranormal and UFO Hotspots.
To help him report on unusual phenomena he worked with paranormal investigator Nick Redfern, who was born in Pelsall, Walsall, and currently works in the US.
There is no mention of the Penkridge crash in declassified MoD files and the incident went unreported in local newspapers at the time.
But McCue was drawn to it by Redfern, who included the case in his own 1999 book, ‘Cosmic Crashes’, after being tipped-off by Leonard Stringfield, a former USAF intelligence officer with an interest in UFOs.
It was Stringfield who had stored Brannigan’s account of the crash.
Peter, who adopts an open-minded approach to each case-study in his book, admits to being puzzled by the Penkridge incident.
“If there were hold-ups on a road, you would have thought there would be something in the press at the time, but there was not. It may be, however, the eyewitness got the dates wrong. I really don’t know about this one. Certainly the theory that it was something from Russia rather than outer space seems logical.”
But he added that he doesn’t readily believe that the truth is out there, and that he became frustrated by the lack of hard evidence attached to every incident in his first book.
“One of the hypothesis I’m leaning towards is that when you do get clusters of strange phenomena in one area it may be orchestrated by some higher intelligence, which is not necessary extraterrestrial.
“The things we see are, if you like, stage props, they do not actually exist. They are being played out before us.”
And the mysterious 1964 Penkridge crash is not the only suspicious activity in the Cannock Chase area that has come to McCue’s attention.
A chunk of his weighty tome is dedicated to unexplained paranormal phenomenon in the rural landscape.
Several other UFO sightings have been reported, however these are outnumbered by the number ‘big cat’ sightings said to have been spotted there.
A rash of triangular shaped objects were reported over night skies in Cannock Chase in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
But these are now generally accepted to have been US Stealth Bombers, in their infancy, which were being put through their paces.
Some years later, a US military spokesman admitted Cannock Chase, made up of 26 square miles of heath and woodland, was part of the flight path as Stealths, based on the East Coast, were tested for teething problems.
The number of big cat sightings on the land run into hundreds. And McCue reproduces many in detail in his book.
The most bizarre account was provided by a Miss S Thomas, of Hednesford.
She told how events soon turned from good to bad after she took in a kitten she found on Cannock Chase.
“It looked as if it had been dumped. We took pity on it and took it home,” she said.
“It grew quickly and was soon larger than a domestic cat. It didn’t lie down like a domestic cat and instead of purring normally, it sort of growled. Eventually it attacked my daughter while she was asleep, leaving her with a nasty cut. We took the cat to live outside, but it soon disappeared.”
But the deluge of big cat accounts may be more criminal than paranormal.
A member of the now defunct Rural Crime Squad previously reported that dangerous exotic animals had become status symbols and security for leading underworld figures, particularly drug barons.
It’s possible some of their pets escaped into the wilderness.
Other unusual activity on Cannock Chase includes close encounters with werewolves, troglodytes and even a Brummie Bigfoot.
But these have been dismissed as the work of weirdos and publicity seekers.
McCue, aged 63, believes there are three possible reasons why it’s a paradise for everything paranormal.
“There is either genuinely more paranormal phenomenon than in other areas or the same level of paranormal phenomenon happens everywhere else but more people are drawn to Cannock Chase, because of its reputation, to record it.
“The other possibility is that there is no paranormal phenomenon, but the reputation draws people in who mistake, for example, a fleeting glimpse of a fox for a wolf.”