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Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Vanished

Mysterious disappearances are always confusing, sometimes people just up and vanish, often personnel problems and life’s pressures prove to be too much and they choose to walk away.
Other times its strange locations that are areas that seems to be a magnet for the missing, famously the missing 411.
Often the explanations offered for these vanishing are tragic but not anything that that would need us to think outside of the box.
Accidents, suicides and run a ways.
This being said there has been a number of disappearances that are not so easily explained, this because whole groups of people have just vanished into thin air leaving little to no trace to what happened to them.

War is chaos. Death, destruction, and terror all of this is part of any battle.  Battles and stories of war have a tendency to grow in legend and create many mysteries, and amazing stories. One such story begins in 1918, World War I had finished, and the War Graves Commission searched the battlefields of Gallipoli for the remains of the 36,000 Commonwealth servicemen who had perished during the campaign, of these brave souls 13,000 laid in unidentified graves, and 14,000 bodies were never recovered.
Such a waste of life but where is the mystery?
The Gallipoli campaign, took place on the Gallipoli Peninsula of the Ottoman Empire from 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916. The Allied powers of Britain and France had the objective of launching a naval and amphibious assault against the Turks in an attempt to capture and secure the Dardanelles.
An area which was of great strategic importance as it connects the Mediterranean with the Black Sea serving as an essential sea route for the Russians, allies of the Turks and Germans.
The ill-conceived plan was to push through and forcefully take the city of Constantinople the Ottoman Empire’s capital, this would in affect remove Turks from the war.
Fighting this bloody were campaign were the men of the Sandringhams, a military unit that had been created in 1908 by King Edward VII, comprising  of men whom  had been recruited from the staff of the royal Sandringham Estate.
 To create a larger force these men were rolled into 5th Territorial Battalion the Royal Norfolk Regiment, or “The Norfolks” as they became known. The Norfolk’s in turn being given the title of “The Vanished Battalion".
How did they become known by this name?
On the 12 August 1915 the battalion was seen by men from other units marching off into battle against the Turks at Suvla Bay, they were never seen again. The Dardanelles Campaign ended on December 1915 and all of the British and Commonwealth troops that survived were evacuated.
Command made the assumption that any men who were missing had been killed, or captured by Turkish forces and held as prisoners of war.
 The British wanted to account for these disappearance of their men and asked the Turkish government if they had taken the men as prisoners, but the Turkish government denied having any knowledge of the “The Vanished Battalion".
The British continued to demand for the return of their fallen soldiers, but again the Turks adamantly denied having them, and indeed declared that they had never even heard of “The Norfolks”.
Years later The War Graves Commission searched for war dead on the battlefields of Gallipoli, they had some success, recovering 14,000 of the 36,000 Commonwealth soldiers who had sacrificed themselves in the bloody campaign.
13,000 were found in unmarked graves.
It was in one of these graves that a Rev Charles Pierrepoint Edwards uncovered a Norfolks regimental cap badge, along with 180 bodies scattered about and around a farmhouse surrounded by the wooded area in which the men had last been seen. A further 122 of the bodies were found to have shoulder badges that identified them as members of the Norfolks, and one was even identified by his shoulder flashes as Lt-Col Beuchamp.
 For many this was the definitive proof that the regiment had been captured and killed, but as the years continued to pass the case of the “Vanished Battalion” would get stranger and stranger.
This all begins with the then British army officer Sir Ian Hamilton, the man was one of the chief commanders overseeing the Gallipoli campaign. He wrote;
"In the course of the fight, there happened a very mysterious thing. The fine company enlisted from the King's Sandringham estates charged into a forest and were lost to sight and sound."
He added the ominous words "Nothing more was ever seen or heard of any of them"
This turned the incident from a wartime tale of tragedy to an eerie battlefield mystery.
A survivor Sidney Pooley disputed this story. He would say "I did not see any wood into which the officers and men could have disappeared, I know absolutely nothing about how the officers and men disappeared. I heard no news about them charging into a wood until I came home."
We also have the account of Reverend Pierrepoint Edwards who discovered the bodies, He wrote, "The whole thing quite bears out the original theory that they did not go very far on, but got mopped up one by one, all except the ones who got into the farm."
However, It has been said that Edwards privately told that the soldiers had all been shot in the head, executions carried out by unknown people. Arthur Webber another survivor, said he heard his fellow soldiers being ruthlessly rounded up and slaughtered by the Ottoman enemy.
So it would seem these men were the unfortunate victims of wartime brutality, well not so fast this story has a strange twist.
The case would become the topic of debate when  in April 1965, New Zealand WWI veteran Frederick Reichardt, along with two of his brothers in arms, gave their story of what happened to the men of the Norfolk regiment.
Reichardt told tale that they had been sappers with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and the men had been operating in an area near a Turkish position known as Hill 60, this location was not far from the place the lost Norfolk Regiment had been fighting.  The veteran claimed they noticed between 6 and 8 odd, grayish brown, “loaf shaped” clouds hovering over the battlefield. These strange clouds were said to be completely still even when there were high winds blowing at the time.
Below the clouds ‘or let’s just say it UFOs ‘ was another, even larger and denser looking cloud like object that was  estimated as being around 800 feet in length and around 200 feet in height.
 This massive cloud (UFO) according to the men was hovering over a dry creek bed this was just as the Norfolk Regiment approached, the battalion did not stop marching they walked directly into what was above the creek bed. Reichardt claimed that it was at this point that the cloud slowly began to rise upwards to joining with the other strange clouds, the soldiers seemingly disappearing with it.
This account of the British soldier’s disappearance was first published in the September/October edition of the New Zealand UFO magazine Spaceview back in 1965.
The story told by the man and his fellow servicemen was corroborated in 1966, this when another New Zealand veteran a one Gerald Wilde, told the UFO publication that although he had not seen the, what could be classed as an abduction, directly, he had heard the many stories told by soldiers, these stories telling that the Norfolk Regiment had vanished into a cloud which was straddling the ground to never be seen again.
This legend went against all the official conclusions of what had happened to the men, it became a story UFO enthusiasts would regularly reference when discussing abduction theory, a missing persons case that would suggest alien abduction as a cause for many missing people.
This sinister tale of cloud-shaped UFOs whisking away a whole regiment of men in the middle of a battlefield grew and grew something about it capturing people’s imaginations. It gained such popularity amongst the general public that the British Ministry of Defence and the Imperial War Museum were constantly bombarded with letters requesting that they release any top secret files that they have on the alien abduction and subsequent covered up.
So we are left asking “what really happened to the Norfolks?”
Did they die on that battlefield or were they adducted by extraterrestrials?

The veracity of this mystery has been questioned, the story is said to be full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies, wrong dates and even the wrong battalion number.
Reichardt claimed the incident happened on August 28, 1915, when in actuality it had been carried out on August 12. He also claimed it was a quarter of the battalion that had vanished, when actually the first and fourth were a sister battalion held in reserve, it had been the first and fifth battalion that had charged into battle and vanished.
An important fact is that we have the clergyman Charles Pierrepoint Edwards who discovered the field of bodies in 1918. . This finding suggested that a war crime was the reason for the disappearances rather than an alien presence
Also the Allied commander in charge of the Gallipoli Campaign, Sir Ian Hamilton, also made efforts to dress up the massacre as something more mysterious and unexplained.
 This to cover his handling of a series of botched missions, mishaps, and poor planning.
The officer not wanting to risk his reputation by admitting that his poor leadership and foresight had led to the pointless slaughter of so many men.
I have a theory that everyone is actually correct to some extent, maybe the cloud that is thought to be a UFO were actually smoke bombs, these smoke bombs used to cover an assault on the Norfolks by Turkish troop.
The operation being a success and the Turks then being left with a large group of prisoners, not knowing what to do with the men the heinous order of execution was handed down.
The cover up after the event was not to hide the presence of an alien craft but to cover for the surviving Turkish commanders who have undoubtedly been handed a death sentence for their crimes post war.
Nevertheless, the idea of a brave battalion valiantly charging into battle and then mysteriously vanishing to never be heard from again is a compelling and powerful tale that captures the imagination
And if this event is not strange enough how about Weird Cases of Whole Towns that disappearing leaving no a Trace?

Urkhammer a town, in the state of Iowa that seemingly evaporated overnight. The history of this small rural town says that by all accounts it was doing well a thriving mid-American town this was until sometime 1928.
This was when aerial surveys were being carried out and the pictures the plane snapped showed that the town was deserted, the streets dirty and not maintained, the fields looked overgrown and untended. This triggered question obviously and when discussing the strange fate of the disappearing “Urkhammerians” a man came forward with a strange story.
He had been travelling the area and passed through the town, stopping at a gas station to fill his car, he left the money for his gas on the counter and drove away after receiving his fill up. It was then that he noticed the needle firmly planted on empty. He had been conned paying for gas that no one pumped, he spun the car around and angrily headed back to the gas station.
This is when things become even stranger the man reported that it was impossible for him to reach filling station, and that it seemed to forever remain in the distance no matter how far or fast he drove. Eventually he ran out of the little gas he had left in his tank and decided to walk yet he could still not reach the town, and the station at which he had stopped. Finally the man gave up returned to his vehicle and awaited passing motorist who he would stop and ask for help.
This motorist was not alone in his strange experience Other people driving past or through  the town reported that the previously busy  town was abandoned, these stories were then investigated and those that managed to get to the town discovered rows and rows of houses empty and there were no signs of the people or recent activity.
The houses looked as if one day families just walked away leaving everything as it was on that final day.
The media caught wind of the vanishing and local newspapers ran the story, the Clarion-Sun-Telegraph, reported the incident but it was buried by the massive news of stock market crash of 1929.
More and more reports if what happened in the town surface it was said that people witnessed the town actually evaporating into thin air, this as if being absorbed into some other dimension, or like the “The Norfolks” in part one could they have been taken by some kind of cloaked UFO?
This idea of cloud like UFOs gets a small boost with a story from 1932. A large dust bowl was hitting the area and some people caught out in it headed to the town in the hope of finding  supplies, what they found was confusing. The story which was recorded on the Strange State website and reads as follows:
    Imagine their surprise when they were unable to mount the steps leading to the store, their feet each time passing through the lowermost step as through a cloud. Convinced that this was some sort of plot to prevent outsiders from shopping at the store, they attempted to scale the steps using an old board found nearby. Imagine their surprise when their feet passed through both board and steps as easily as a potato passes through the smoke of a campfire! Terrified, the men ran back to their nomadic camp and reported what they had seen, only to be accused of spending the group’s hard-gotten money on illegal hooch rather than on beans and bacon. But they displayed the money and challenged others in the camp to try the same experiment. A group of a dozen men, some armed, went back to the general store, and lo! and behold! had the same eerie experience. The caravan covered its fires and decamped with all deliberate speed, but the story quickly circulated, and soon a group of State Police were ordered to investigate the phenomenon.
    They went to the Urkhammer Sheriff’s office to confer, converse and otherwise hobnob with their brother law enforcement officials. The group’s leader approached the office of this guardian of the peace and attempted to knock on the door, only to see his hand pass through the thick oak as though it were merely painted steam. Their report began the gradual decline of Urkhammer. It became less substantial with every passing day, and passersby noted the absence of children playing and the growing seediness of the houses and barns. Then, on May 7, 1932, Phineas Bumf, a Huguenot immigrant farmer, passed by at dawn with his cargo of produce, and what to his wondering eyes did appear but- nothing! Where the town had stood were only abandoned fields and long-rotted fences. A cast-iron bathtub, used long ago as a watering trough for livestock, sat alone in a field of weeds, the sole relic of human presence. Urkhammer was no more. Many years later a gypsy caravan camped on the site but left abruptly. The Ataman of the group, “Baxtalo,” told a Roma-friendly neighboring city councilman that the place was “saturated with the tears of the dispossessed, and with the despair of those who had never borne names.
In later years people would begin to move into the region and find that indeed there was a town there that had grown weed-choked and feral, crumbling away into nothingness. It remains unknown just where all of the people of this alleged town went, or even if it ever really existed in the first place, and it remains a strange historical oddity and unconfirmed mystery.
This disappearance is not an isolated incident the town of Ashley, in the U.S. state of Kansas was a small farming community populated by about 700 persons.
According to records from the United States Geological Survey on August 16, 1952, the area was hit by a huge earthquake that measured a whopping 7.9 on the Richter scale. The remoteness of the small town of Ashley meant most did not think about it at the time of the quake but when investigators did finally get around to checking on the people and the town they found that oddly there was no one there.
The clues of a disaster were present from the time the investigators first arrived there was a large fissure in the ground and it was belching flame and smoke, measuring 1,000 yards in length and approximately 500 yards in width, upon passing the tear in the ground they found the town empty not a single soul could be located even animals had seemingly evaporated into thin air.
A 12-day intensive search ensued, yet no traces of any of the town folk was found It seemed that everyone had simply dematerialized, or maybe somehow they had all been swallowed by the massive quake.
The search was stopped when seismic activity resumed in the area waiting for the quakes to stop before returning to the town the investigators were shocked to find that once this activity had finished the large flaming cavity in the ground had also disappeared.
As with the vanishing of the people in Urkhammer and the soldiers of the Gallipoli campaign, a wide range of odd phenomena was said to have happened day and weeks before the people would be lost.
Allegedly on August 8 reports were made  by a local man called Gabriel Jonathan, he said that he had spotted  a “small, black opening in the sky,” shortly after this  the police received many, many calls reporting the same unknown opening in the sky.
A police officer from the nearby town of Hays, a one Allan Mace went to investigate, after which he would radio in to claim that he had been headed down the only road towards Ashley but had somehow found himself back in the town of Hays, despite the fact that he had not turned around.
This being very similar to the man who attempted to get gas at the start of this mystery.
Other police officers attempted to solve the mystery and they too encountered the same strange phenomenon being turned around unable to reach the town.
This was not the only bizarre thing happening at that time many atmospheric anomalies were reported, also people were mysteriously vanishing without a trace. Strange atmospheric events tied to disappearances could this be alien craft disguised as clouds, could they be taking people, if so for what purpose?
There was yet weirder goings on with the town reports that the town was in total darkness, as if the sun had never risen. Perhaps even stranger still were the tales that townsfolk were having conversations with family members who had been long dead.
Allegedly a woman named Phoebe Danielewski, claimed that her daughter was speaking with her dead father, the man had passed more than 3 years earlier, and she described how the girl would keep trying to leave with her father, the dead man asking the girl to “join them.”
Police switch boards would continue to be lit by hundreds calls over the next few day this culminating on August 12th 1952 when it is said the children in the town had spontaneously vanished in the middle of the night
The next day on the evening of August 13, 1952, a caller named Scott Luntz claimed that there was a fire in the distance that was described as “bright red and orange [that] seemed to extend high into the sky,”
“Fire in the sky” a phrase made famous by the abductee Travis Walton
Then on the morning of August 14, 1952, frantic local man Benjamin Endicott called local police, the man was in a state of utter uncontrolled panic claiming that a vast “fire in the sky “had turned night into day.  

So was this aliens, or the paranormal were these people unfortunate victims of a natural disaster?
A number of mundane Theories have been proposed as answers one is that that these homes are the abandoned set of a movie or the site of a bout of radon or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Today these towns and houses are left rotting away, lost to the tides of history, and the stories tied to the locations have passed into urban legend.
Spooky tales to stir the imagination!
So what do you think, aliens, ghost, or Mother Nature or maybe just over active minds and hard times, what made these people vanish?
Let me know in the comments below

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The Vanished

Mysterious disappearances are always confusing, sometimes people just up and vanish, often personnel problems and life’s pressures prove...

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