The Red Baron, the Great War and UFOs

A recently published book – UFOs of the First World War – delves on the mysteries and paranormal sightings WWI soldiers and even the Red Baron himself encountered during the Great War a hundred years in the past.

According to this book, authored by Nigel Watson, more bizarre and more frightening things than fighter pilots patrolled the skies above the French battlefields during the said conflict. Throughout the First World War, there are existing accounts as told by soldiers and civilians about a paranormal encounters — encounters that even historians and UFO experts have long struggled to explain.

Here are some of these sightings [as featured in the above-mentioned book]:

The Red Baron and UFOs

German pilot Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen who went down in history as the famous Red Baron is WWI’s most famous pilot. No other human flyer could match his skills in flying and even fighting while up in the air. Apparently, neither could UFOs, too.

Accordingly, the Red Baron spotted an Unidentified Flying Object – described as a “looking like an upside down silver saucer with orange lights” – in the spring of 1917 while he was on an early morning mission in Belgium.

The account went on to say that another WWI German Air Force ace, Peter Waitzrick, witnessed the dogfight between his comrade and that of the UFO. Waitzrick described how they looked on with fear at the object as it was unlike anything they have seen before. The Red Baron immediately began firing on the said UFO and it went down crashing into the woods, mowing tree limbs on its way.

Allegedly, two occupants from the saucer-like flying object clambered out from the wreckage and ran into the trees.

The squadron, along with Waitzrick, initially believed that the UFO the Red Baron encountered was a secret US Army aircraft. However, when he read about UFOs and reports on flying saucers, the former undoubtedly maintained that what they saw and what the Red Baron fought off in the Belgian skies was one.

Nevertheless, Waitzrick waited eighty years after its occurrence before sharing the story, He was already 105 years old when he did open up about the encounter. The account made it into the pages of the Weekly World News August of 1999.

But historians are doubtful with Waitzrick’s narration. According to them, it was not until months later after the encounter that the Fokker triplanes that the squadron were allegedly fighting when the incident occurred were put into operation service. That fact cast a shade on the WWI German pilot’s story.

Gallipoli Campaign’s Disappearing Soldiers Caused by UFOs . . . ?

Reportedly, about 4,000 members of the Royal Norfolk Regiment were “abducted” by UFOs during the catastrophic Gallipoli Campaign. Eye witnesses said that the soldiers were snatched by aliens who swooped down on the battlefield looking like huge gray-colored clouds.

According to three WWI soldiers from New Zealand, they saw British soldiers – numbering to several hundreds – marching forward to Hill 60 which was in Sulva Bay, Turkey on August 20, 1915. Then, they saw a solid-looking gray cloud -approximately 800 feet long, 220 feet high and 200 feet wide – settle at the top of the said hill.

The three went on to say that the British troops marched straight into the cloud without any hesitation but to their surprise, not one of the Tommies who went through the cloud came out to fight!

About an hour passed before the cloud secretly lifted itself off the ground and joined other similar clouds before the lot flew towards the north.

The soldiers who related this account insisted that the British had demanded the return of the whole regiment from the Turks when the the latter surrendered. However, the Turks denied that they knew anything or had something to do about the disappearance of the regiment.

Though many dismissed the New Zealand soldiers’ account as a hoax, it was authenticated by the Dardanelles Commission’s final. report which was written in 1917 and was declassified, finally, in 1965.

UFOs in the Home Front

In 1968, a certain A. E. Whiteland, a reader of the news publication Daily Mirror, wrote to the newspaper how his mother saw an aircraft from her home’s upstairs window during World War One. His mother had resided in Aldeburgh at that time.

His mother, who was already 84 years old during the time of his writing to the newspaper, recounted the story so many times throughout the years and that made him keen to find out her story’s whereabouts.

“A little above the level of the house eight to twelve men appeared on what seemed to be a round platform with a handrail around it, which they were gripping tightly. She could see them so clearly. They were wearing blue uniforms and little round hats, not unlike sailors’. She heard no sound from the machine as it came off the marshes. It turned a bit and went over the railway yard to disappear behind some houses,” said his letter.

The sighting was explained as just an observation carriage being lowered from a zeppelin seen by Whiteland’s mother. But, Charles Gibbs, an aviation historian, begs to differ.

According to him, a zep’s observation carriage was too tiny only one man could fit into it. Additionally, it wouldn’t be let down so near the ground.

Carl Grove, a UFO researcher, went on to carry out a full investigation on the matter but has failed to come up with any plausible explanations for the sighting.

Angels or UFOs?

The account about the Angels of Mons was seen as a sign that God was on Britain’s side during the Great War. The well-known WWI story basically goes on like this — as British soldiers fled for their lives during the Battle of Mons in 1914, a strange figure suddenly appeared to fend of the Jerries as the former were making their escape.

In spite of the British soldiers’ full-scale retreat, the British army during that time only lost 1,600 men, a mere fraction of the massive losses resulting from the other battles that occurred later in World War One.

During that time, the Angel of Mons was commonly described as St. Michael, St. George and even a band of angelic warriors. News about the miracle spread out quickly and made it to the Evening Standard. 

Nevertheless, many of the UFO specialists now believe the angelic beings who manifested themselves during the 1914 Battle of Mons were actually UFOs just taking the form of something the soldiers would easily recognize.

As what UFO expert Kevin Goodman pointed out, the “UFO enigma” was still practically unknown during the Great War, thus, the troops reacted in an event like the Angel of Mons in a familiar way — taking it as a sign from God.

The Flaming Onions

The Flaming Onions brought out so much terror from WWI fighter pilots as no one knew what they were and they moved at a very fast pace — too fast for the WWI war planes to take evasive actions against them.

Denis Winter, author of the book First of the Few and a Cambridge historian, described these Flaming Onions as glowing green-hued balls which moved in a twisted way “turning over end on end in a leisurely way” like live things and seemed to chase WWI-era planes.

The mystery behind these UFOs remain unsolved until now though there’s one likable explanation for these balls — they may have been the string of flares fired out from a German five-barreled anti-aircraft gun known as the Lichtspucker [Light Spitter].

Lady Sopwith

Lady Sopwith was first seen by Lieutenant Frederick Ardsley while he was flying to Villers Bocage on an early morning patrol – which was in northern France – from Amiens on January 9, 1918.

According to accounts, the lieutenant spotted an identical S.E. 5 biplane flying next to the aircraft he was piloting and to his surprise, the pilot went on to remove “her” goggles with a gaudy laugh and Ardsley saw a cascade of golden hair. The pilot, then, proceeded to blow the WWI pilot a kiss before “she” danced a Can Can dance at the edge of the plane’s cockpit.

Ardsley pursued and tried to shoot the said plane down but Lady Sopwith but she managed to dart, roll away and dip with such skill he couldn’t keep up. While the dogfight and air chase was going on, eyewitnesses saw the entire scene below.

Ardsley’s account about Lady Sopwith was the start of her legend, just the tip of the iceberg. Reportedly, she went on to shoot down German pilots who gave her the moniker The Valkyrie. Many civilians, including a six-year-old boy, were among those who had spotted her.

What do you think of these accounts — are these enough proofs that UFOs were involved in the Great War?

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE