Military installations have a long history of supernatural activity, ranging from the shade of a dead pilot at the training facility HMS Daedulas who returned for one last photograph with his comrades in 1919, to the shadowy apparition of a suicidal marine that stalked the hallways of Forward Operating Base Ripley in Afghanistan in late 2005.
But sometimes the activity appears to bear little relevance to any event that actually took place at the location in question.
In September of 1940, the German air-force, the Luftwaffe, began their bombing campaign against Great Britain.
Following the flattening of Coventry in November of the same year, the British government began the creation of what came to be known as ‘starfish’ sites. Consisting of a series of lights and controlled fires designed to simulate burning cities, the purpose of these sites was to confuse the Luftwaffe in to dropping their ordnance over the countryside and away from their intended targets.
One such site was at Hack Green in Cheshire.
After the war was over, Hack Green was modernised and upgraded to become part of the British government’s air defence infrastructure. A radar station was added, alongside a rather substantial concrete bunker, built half into the earth. The site was then used to provide air traffic control to military planes that crossed into civil airspace.
With the advent of the Cold War, the Home Office took control of Hack Green, designating the newly reinforced bunker as a ‘Regional Government Headquarters’, just one example of a network of sites that would allow the government to continue to operate in the aftermath of a nuclear strike on the UK.
In 1992, with the end of the Cold War, Hack Green stood empty for a couple of years, before a private concern took over the site and opened it to the public as a museum, housing a large collection of military memorabilia.
It is rumoured, as most buildings with such history are, to be haunted by the usual apparitions of noisy service-men and women.
But it is not the usual apparitions that concern us today.
In early 2011, a most unusual shade began to make itself known.
15th February 2011
Richard ‘Dicky’ Cole is an elderly man, but surprisingly sprightly for his age. Since the death of his wife five years ago, he spends his days on the fields of Cheshire, sweeping the muddy earth with his trusty metal detector.
He joins me for a pint in the nearby Barrel & Tap, and after some small talk he shares his experience of a fortnight ago.
“My kids don’t like me being out there in all weathers. ‘You’ll catch your death’, they always say. But it’s my life now. It’s what I do.
“The only thing I’ve ever found out there was an old Roman coin. I gave it to the local museum. Like a prat. An honest prat, at least. I wish I’d kept it now. That’s why I do it. That’s why I go out there in all weathers. I’d like something to hang on to, a little piece of history.
“Do you think that sounds odd?”
I assure him I do not.
“Well, I’ve been out on those fields for some months now, and it’s a big ol’ space. I was getting to the last part, the bit nearest the bunker. I’d left that until the end. There’s a lot of crap around there. Litter and the like.
“That’s when things got weird.”
“Well my detector is normally silent. It’ll only beep when I sweep it over something metallic. But that day… that day it was just making weird noises in my headphones. Like the sound of a respirator or someone breathing heavily. There was also this kind of… chattering, I guess it was, like a voice. Unintelligible. Like it was far away.
“I listened to it for a bit. Then I just gave up. Thought I’d go and get some fish and chips. I’ve not been back. I don’t have time for that.
“I’m putting it down to sodding Japanese engineering. I’d dread to think there’s another reason for those sounds, whatever they were.”
Mr Cole kindly lent me his metal detector for an afternoon. I was unable to recreate the sounds he heard that day.
17th February 2011
Alexa Lewis is a musician local to Cheshire. Twelve days ago she was out on the fields near Hack Green with a friend, there to take some promotional photos for her newest release.
She invites me to her flat for a pot of tea, and, in measured tones that suggest a cynicism quite advanced for her age, she relates her experience.
“I was out near the bunker with Sebastian. He’s a lad I met at college. He’s doing photography, and he said he’d do my shoot as a favour, as he’d be getting some shots for his portfolio as well. Between me and you, I reckon he was just trying to get into my pants.
“I had my guitar with me, and we’d taken a few pictures already. Sebastian suggested I sit on the fence and get some shots with the bunker behind me. Something about horizontal lines, or some other bullshit.
“I’ll level with you, Dr Gotobed. I was getting a bit of sick of the whole charade by that point.
“Sebastian said to say ‘cheese’, so I gave him my best smile. I was pretty confident that would be the one. I was quite keen go home.
“I asked him ‘how was that?’
“He took another photo, then looked down at his camera and frowned.
“I went over to him to see what was wrong. He said there was some kind of artefact on the photo.
“Now, I have no idea what he meant by that, but apparently it was some kind of ‘digital mistake’. He showed me the first picture on the screen of his camera, and there was this odd kind of yellow ‘blob’ on there, behind me.
“Then he scrolled to the second picture, and there was the yellow shape but bigger. It was definitely a person, dressed in some kind of, I don’t know, like a… a radiation suit? It had a black plate of glass over its face. And it was reaching out for me, just over my shoulder.
“I remember a chill running down my spine when I saw it.
“Sebastian held up his camera to the bunker again and took another photo. This time the figure in yellow was right in front of us. And it was tall.
“But there was no-one else anywhere near us.
“That’s it, we were done. We jumped in Sebastian’s car and drove off. I’ve not heard from him since. Which is a shame. I’d like to see those photos again.
“Not the creepy ones, though. Just the others.”
Ms Lewis gave me the contact details for Sebastian. As of today, my phone calls and emails have gone unanswered.
19th February 2011
Natasha Barker is a teaching assistant from Hounslow. Ten nights ago, she and her significant other, one Clive Bono, had booked an evening ‘ghost walk’ at the Hack Green bunker.
I meet Ms Barker in a small café in west London, where she orders tea and cake for both of us and explains, in admirably animated fashion, how she doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the so-called ‘ghost walk’ seemed like it might be a fun idea.
“Clive’s always up for trying new things. We both decided to stop drinking a few years ago, so we’re always on the lookout for fun stuff to do that are a little, you know, ‘wacky’.
“There was a small group of us outside the bunker waiting for the guide. He showed up about ten minutes later and stood in front of the door. It was cold, and we were all wanting to get started.
“The guide, though, he’s got other ideas. He’s just standing in the doorway giving us the history of the place. It was interesting, but it would’ve been nicer to have been inside, in the warm!
“Whilst the guide is jabbering away, and Clive’s doing his best to make me giggle, there comes this knock on the door behind the guide. A really, really loud knock. Like ‘clank clank clank’.”
She raps her knuckles hard on the table between us.
“The guide turned around, and the door behind him opened. Now that door was made of metal, and it looked heavy. Like, really heavy.
“Next thing we know, this tall figure dressed in a yellow, kinda, haz-mat suit was there. I couldn’t make out a face, the glass plate in the helmet was too dark. And there was this breathing. It sounded like Darth Vader.
“It moved towards us, out of the bunker. The group split, and this giant guy in yellow walked between us, still making that breathing sound, and then it just ‘disappeared’. One moment there, the next, gone.”
She clicks her fingers and waves her hands in the air.
“We thought it was all part of the tour, so we turned back to the guide and the whole group started clapping. Clive was going up to the guide to ask him how they managed to make it look so real.
“But the guide fainted.
“We later found out that it was nothing to do with the tour at all.
“Like I said, Doctor Gotobed, I don’t believe in ghosts, but that? That was spooky.”
I contacted the management at Hack Green, seeking an interview with the guide from that night. A cordial young man at the museum confirmed that the guide in question did indeed lose consciousness that night and was taken to hospital.
He has since moved away and is unwilling to speak with me.
According to official records, no deaths ever occurred at Hack Green during its operational days. It is also interesting to note that the radiation suits stored at the site were (once again, according to official records), never used for anything more than emergency drills. Those suits were also not fitted with the type of respiratory equipment that would make the kind of wheezing noises that were heard by Mr Cole and Ms Barker.
So what is the nature of this soul which appears so keen to reach out to the living?
This is a question I am unable to answer. All I can do is monitor the site and hope it tries again.
There is, however, a curious aside to all of this.
During my research I contacted an acquaintance of mine at the Ministry of Defence. She passed a file to me which, whilst heavily redacted, details an experiment named ‘Project Sunlit Uplands’ that took place at Hack Green.
From the little information I can glean from this censored report, it appears this project had parallels with the now discredited ‘Philadelphia Experiment’* of 1943.
The date ‘Sunlit Uplands’ took place? 1993, when Hack Green was apparently empty.
Dr Thomas Gotobed
* More information on The Philadelphia Experiment can found on Wikipedia here, but beware, it’s a whole new level of batshit. I managed to disappear down this particular internet rabbit hole for a good few days, don’t blame me if you do the same! – C.R.