Those mys­te­ri­ous sounds from the sky weren’t sleigh bells...

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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

Crazy noises

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