Uncanny: The Todmorden UFO Might Be Linked To Broad Haven & Zimbabwe School Sightings

December 09, 2021 1:00 AM ‐ PodcastsUFOsRadio

This article is more than two years old.

Uncanny - Case 8: The UFO in the Playground
In the eighth episode of 'Uncanny' Danny Robins reopens the case file on the Todmorden UFO, which was featured in an earlier episode of the podcast series. This time he investigates whether Allen Godfrey's encounter in Todmorden might be linked to the famous Broad Haven and Zimbabwe school sightings.

Alan's story was featured in the show's third episode and took place in 1980, at that time Alan was a policeman serving in the West Yorkshire town. Alan reported seeing a diamond shaped craft on a dark, lonely road - although when he later drew it, it was shaped more like a classic flying saucer. He also experienced an unexplained portion of missing time. The case involved Cold War correspondence with a Russian scientist, visits from a mysterious man from the ministry, and possible links to one of Alan's earlier investigations, the death of Zigmond Adamski.

Danny reminds us, "Adamski was found on top of a coal heap with strange injuries, a burn marks on his scalp and not a single smudge of coal on him." In this update on the case, the podcast host tells us that several listeners had got in touch asking if Adamski had broken bones, suggesting he'd been dropped onto the heap. Danny clears up the queries, "well, the answer is no. The autopsy report doesn't show that."

Danny then gives us a bit of new information, "we've unearthed one little eerie coincidence. Exactly 100 years earlier in 1880, another man disappeared whilst out walking and Todmorden. 69 year old William Wheedle, finally found a month later in the Irish Sea, almost as if he'd been dropped."

Danny then spoke to a new witness, Bob Wallace, who saw a UFO in Todmorden in 1996. The former Todmorden resident described the craft as a "large black triangle, about 100 foot off the ground, and it had white lights on each corner." He added, "it had this weird white glow to it and it didn't make any noise." This matched Alan's claim that the craft he saw was also silent.

What makes Bob's story so interesting is that it was witnessed by other people. Bob remembers, "my sister was working at a pub nearby, she came home at 1am and I explained to her what I'd seen, and she said to me, four people who had been dining in the restaurant, saw exactly the same thing. They saw a black triangle with white lights on each corner, manoeuvring across the skyline, and then just disappearing off a great acceleration."

Broad Haven, Wales

Broad Haven, Wales

Danny then introduces us to another major UFO case involving multiple witnesses that happened just three years before Alan's sighting. 14 people all claimed to have seen the same UFOa in a small seaside village in Wales on February 4, 1977 and those 14 people are schoolchildren.

The incident took place at Broad Haven Primary School, where pupils claimed that a flying saucer hovered over a field near their playground one Friday afternoon, this was the first of a wave of sightings dubbed the Dyfed Triangle.

Danny was joined on the podcast by Dave Davis, one of the witnesses who was 10 at the time. He told Danny, "the object just popped up from behind some trees. It was about 50 foot long, about the size of a bus with a pearlescent silver finished to it. It had a central dome on top which covered the middle third of the vehicle and on top there was a red pulsating light."

The following Monday, Dave remembers being called in by the headmaster with the other kids who had see the object, "he made us draw pictures of what we saw, and also a written account. Now, he was very skeptical, but the accounts were so similar, that there was this resignation that hit him that we had, in fact, seen something."

Later, Danny was joined by David Clark, one of the UK's leading authorities on UFOs. David told Danny he had some doubts about the drawings, "because they all went to him over the weekend, and then on the Monday morning, after they'd had two days to all talk about it amongst themselves, the head teacher Ralph Llewellyn, sat them all down separately and gave him a sheet of paper."

But David admits, "those drawings are amazing. You've got a classic flying saucer, you've got a ladder coming down from the saucer. In some of the drawings, you've got quite clearly silver-suited aliens and I did a bit of research on this." The UFO expert added, "I went back to the Radio Times from 1977 and I found that 'Forbidden Planet', the 1950s sci-fi film was actually showing on BBC at the time."

The movie features a classic scene where a saucer-shaped spacecraft lands and a ladder comes down from it. David says, "I'm not trying to suggest that those children were lying, clearly they did see something that they thought was extraordinary, but when they actually came to draw it, these elements from popular culture have come in somewhere."

According to data released from the National Archives, the officials who investigated the Broad Haven sightings concluded that it was most likely the work of local pranksters, but the area still remains a popular location for UFO hunters, and there are even locally run UFO tours available.

Ruwa, Zimbabwe

Ruwa, Zimbabwe

Danny then tells us that this is not the only time that something like this happens, "let's fast forward 17 years to 1994 in Zimbabwe, Africa," he says.

Danny tells us about a famous case which got worldwide press attention at the time. The incident involved more than 110 children and staff at a school, which sits just outside the small agricultural centre of Ruwa. The witnesses all claim they saw aliens land near their school. The case is often referenced as an example of the psychological principle of mass hysteria.

Danny had managed to track down one of the school children who witnessed the incident. Now grown up, Liesl Field told Danny, "it was our break time and I remember the teachers were in a meeting, we were playing and I looked towards the trees, and there was flashing lights in the sky. So that's what drew our attention. I looked towards the trees and we saw flashing lights and like a silver saucer kind of thing."

Danny says, "Liesl, Dave, and the other children have always stuck to their stories, just like Alan, despite the press scrutiny, and the personal cost, which was huge in Alan's case, we heard how he lost his job, and his family and you wonder why someone would choose to bring that upon themselves."

Vicky's Story

Danny had one final witness to speak to in the episode, Vicky Dimmsdale, who was 12 years old when she saw a UFO with her granddad in Todmorden in 1981.

Vicky told the podcast host, "there was absolutely nobody else there, it was just us two and the dog. You could see right over the hills and right over to Bradford and all the mills and all the chimneys, and this thing just appeared in the skies just in front of us."

Vicky described the object, "it was a sort of long, thin diamond shape and it was white initially when we saw it, and then it went through a sequence and it kind of changed to green, red and blue and there was no sound, no sound at all."

Danny picked up on the obvious similarities to Alan's sighting. He said, "is this the corroboration that we have been looking for?" Adding, "if we believe our witnesses, Alan, Bob, Dave, Liesl and Vicky, they all saw a flying craft of some kind. The question is, what was it?"

To try to answer this question Danny referred to an email sent to him by a listener of the podcast, Nathan Sowerby. Danny read the email, "in the late 1970s stealth technology was being developed and the first plane that saw active service was the F-117, which has a very diamond shape. Todmorden is only a few miles away from Menwith monitoring station, which was being used by both the US Air Force and NASA in the early 1980s."

Does this mean Alan could have seen a model of a stealth plane being used in a very early test? Danny says, "then we could hypothesise potentially that what Vicky saw later was the plane itself." Nathan also points out that this would fit in with the contact that Alan had from Russia, the Soviets would certainly be interested in this research.

But, the final revelation was still to come. Danny tells us, "the sightings don't start with Alan's. They don't start during the Cold War. They start way, way earlier."

He continues to tell us about some information dug up by a listener named Nancy Bottomly, "she's found this copy of the Todmorden and district news. So the headline is 'remarkable phenomenon in Haworth'." Haworth is a village near Todmorden. Summerising the news report, Danny says, "the article describes a sighting of an unidentified flying object by two policemen on duty, just as Alan was."

Danny reads from the article, "police Sergeant John Johnson says, 'we saw a very bright light in the sky. It came somewhere overhead.' He says, 'I saw an object flying along at the height of a mill chimney,' a really Yorkshire way of measuring things. He says, 'the object was as big as the largest ship I ever saw. The thing was so bright, we could see every little crevice on the roadway. We listened attentively, but could hear no noise.'"

Once again there is seemingly similarities to Alan's story and Vicky's account. Danny continues with John's description of the object. He reads, "it was pointed towards each end, resembling the billet that lads use in playing tip cat." Danny explains, "I had to look this up, tip cat is an old fashioned game, where you use a stick to flip a wooden shape known as a billet. That wooden shape is a diamond."

Danny then tells us the reason why John is using an old fashioned game as a reference point. It's because it wasn't old fashioned to John as Danny explains, "this sighting took place on December the 27th 1901, before the Cold War, before aeroplanes were even invented."

Danny sums up the episode by asking, "so what was that object flying through the night sky and Edwardian times? Was it in some way linked to what Alan saw?"

More episodes of Radio 4's 'Uncanny' are available on BBC Sounds now and will also be broadcast on Saturday nights at 11:30pm on Radio 4 from October 23.

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