Those mysterious sounds from the sky weren’t sleigh bells...
On Christmas Day 1964, Mildred Head was woken at 1.25am by a loud noise coming from the roof of her home in Warminster, Wiltshire.
It didn’t sound like Santa’s sleigh...
Instead, Mildred described them as strange lashing noises, like giant hailstones. But, looking out of her window, the weather was clear…
Around 6.30am, Marjorie Bye was on her way to church for a Christmas morning service when she heard a bizarre crackling from above.
She looked up to the sky but saw nothing.
The noise grew louder until the pounding vibrations knocked poor Marjorie to the ground, leaving her unable to move.
She later told people that she felt ‘pinned down by invisible fingers’.
There were more reports of similar experiences, all centred around an ominous drone.
And it wasn’t just humans who were affected.
While Joan Brown’s roof was undergoing one of these sonic attacks, her cat started vomiting repeatedly.
Mice in nearby fields were found with holes ripped through them, and pigeons fell from the sky, paralysed.
Not only had a significant number of the folk heard these incredible sounds, they had something else in common.
None of them had seen a thing that could explain the cause of the furious racket.
Could something not of this world have been responsible?
These incidents continued into 1965, with regular reports coming in of crackling in the sky, and roofs being pummelled by a thunderous unseen force.
Terrified, the people of Warminster soon christened this invisible culprit The Thing.
Anxious for an explanation, the council brought in a scientist called David Holton to investigate.
As Holton studied the bizarre happenings, The Thing pushed its reign of terror into overdrive. On the evening of 3 June 1965, Reverend Graham Phillips and his family saw a glowing, cigar-shaped object in the sky over Warminster.
With a halo of red-and-orange light, it stayed in the air for over 20 minutes before vanishing.
Members of the community started to witness unidentified flying objects, covered in bright lights, in the sky over the next few weeks.
The council called a town meeting to discuss The Thing, and invited David Holton to share his findings.
However, Holton refused, saying that he’d rather destroy his dossier than read it aloud.
‘This is a serious matter, and must not be thrashed out in a half-hearted way by newspaper men and television cameras,’ was his justification.
But The Thing had already captured the attention of the Press…
Arthur Shuttlewood, an editor at the local newspaper, had been keenly reporting on the antics of The Thing.
In August 1965, local man Gordon Faulkner saw the unusual object in the sky and captured a photograph showing what we now typically describe as a flying saucer.
After Faulkner showed his picture to the Warminster Journal, Shuttlewood sent it to the Daily Mirror.
Suddenly, sleepy Warminster was national news.
Alien enthusiasts from across the country descended on the town, desperate to catch a glimpse of The Thing.
Filmmakers also came to
Mice found in fields had holes ripped through them…
record documentaries on the bizarre occurrences – even the BBC broadcast a study of Warminster’s Thing entitled Pie in the Sky.
Not everyone was convinced, with cynics pointing out that, as there was an Army base close to Warminster, the flying saucers could be military aircraft.
But believers insisted that the presence of the base was exactly the reason why the other-worldly visitors were drawn to the town.
Shuttlewood, who was now fully immersed in the mystery and excitement surrounding The Thing, had become something of a local spokesman.
He even claimed to have been contacted by the aliens behind the phenomenon, who’d told him that they were on Earth to save the human race, to stop us from destroying our own planet.
So had Shuttlewood really communicated with extraterrestrial life forms?
He published six books on the subject within the space of just nine years, but, by 1977, UFO sightings and reports of The Thing’s strange activities began to dwindle.
Newspapers also gradually lost interest, and soon Warminster was old news.
However, UFO enthusiasts still visit the town today, intrigued by the enduring mystery of The Thing.
What was it? What did it want? Where did it go? And will it ever return?
Cynics pointed out that there was an Army base nearby
What Faulkner saw