X-FILES: Encounters on the Battlefield. William Shakespeare once wrote “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” This one line suggest that despite making great strides to understand the world around us, our knowledge as a species is still fairly limited. We like to believe that as the dominant species on this planet, we more or less have the world around us somehow figured out. All the while not hesitating to shoot down or deny anything which challenges what we believe to be the status quo and believing monsters do not exist.
But in reality, the world is still very much a big place and filled with mysteries that science has yet to find an explanation for. Every day people from around the world come forward with stories of encounters with creatures and/or phenomenon which challenges what we know. So it should not be too surprising that some of these encounters happened during war time and were well documented by either soldiers, sailors or even pilots who really have nothing to gain by telling their stories.
Like the Belgian flight crew who came across a giant snake in the African Congo, or the German U-Boat which killed a “sea monster” after sinking a British steamer. These may sound fantastic and unbelievable to most, but to the men to witnessed these things, it was anything but. So here I will list some of the more perplexing incidents which occurred during war, when men went to fight only to find monsters and other encounters on the Battlefield….
- Belgian Air Force vs. Giant Snake.
This is one of the more famous encounters. Now for centuries there has always been legends of giant snakes lurking in the most remote parts of the world, big enough to eat men whole. As time passed these stories became seen as nothing more than just that, stories to frighten young children. But in 1959, the crew of a Belgian helicopter would not only have a story of their own, but photographic evidence to back it up.
In 1959, Colonel Remy Van Lierden of the Belgian Air Force was on a mission deep within the Katanga region of Democratic Republic of the Congo. Monitoring the armed resistance taking place which would eventually lead up to the Congo Crisis one year later. Van Lierden and his crew were at an altitude of 500 feet when they saw something which will haunt them for the rest of their lives: Emerging from a hole in the ground was a massive snake which began to strike at the approaching aircraft. Remy nor his men could believe what they were seeing and made several passes at the gigantic reptile.
From his vantage point, Van Lierden estimated that the snake was at least 50 feet long and had greenish-brown skin with a white underbelly. He also believed that that this snake could have easily taken down his helicopter if he were to get any closer.
- Now I must point out that Remy Van Lierden was not some fool, he was a decorated Ace fighter pilot during WW2 and received the Distinguished Flying Cross while with the RAF. He even had command over a Belgian military base in the Congo prior to this sighting. He certainly was not the type of person to make up such a fantastic story, having photographic evidence and other eye witnesses didn’t hurt either.But whatever Van Lierden and his crew saw that day, it has never been seen since. As Remy and his crew saw the massive snake slither into the forest after a while. This has lead many to believe that there may be an unknown species of giant snake somewhere in the Congo, all I know is that if there is… I have one less reason to want to visit Africa in general.
2) Soviet “Bigfoot”
Yes I know but bare with me. We all know about Bigfoot, the huge (sometimes smelly) ape man which is said to roam the remote forests and swamps of North America, but what you my not know is that he has a Russian cousin. Known as the ”Almas” (Wild Man), sightings of this creature have been reported for centuries and it is said to to inhabit the Caucasus regions of central Asia and Russia.
Even today every so often news of a new sighting would be reported, but in 1925 a group of Red Army soldiers were involved in what many believe was a missed opportunities to confirm the existence of Russia’s Bigfoot.
In 1925 the newly formed USSR was still trying to shake off the affects of the Russian Civil War and although the Communist regime was victorious, there were still a lot of armed resistance fighters in the rual parts of the country. As a result the Red Army was sent out to deal with these armed groups. One such army group was sent into the Pamir Mountains, under the command of Major General Mikhail Stephanovitch Topilski.
While on patrol the soldiers came upon a cave which they believed to be used as an enemy stronghold. Topilski ordered his men to fire into the cave in an attempt to drive the enemy fighters out, but what ran out was anything but human.
According to the General, a “creature” covered in hair ran out screaming and into the hail of gunfire, before falling to the ground dead. In his report, Topilski described the creature to be male, 5′ 5” tall and covered with thick, grey hair all over it. After looking over the strange creature, the soldiers originally planned to skin it and bring the hide back with them. But instead they buried the wild man outside the cave, seeing that the creature had human features they found to be unsettling.
Now I will admit this story is rather fantastic and hard to believe, but we must remember that the African gorilla was also seen as nothing more as a myth until 2 were killed by a German patrol in 1902. So who knows just what is lurking in the mountain and forest of central Asia?
3) The Hell Hound of No Man’s Land
The Battle of Mons was the first major engagement on the western front between the western allies and the then German Empire. Named after the small Belgian village of Mons, it was here that the British military would first clash with German troops and as the battle progressed, the Belgian country side would become moist with the blood of British and German soldiers. But apart from the machine guns, mines and other new technologies which came with the First World War, troops on both sides soon had another thing to worry about lurking in No Man’s Land.
It all began one night with a four man patrol from the London Fusiliers went off one night into no man’s land, but failed to return the following morning. This alone was not enough to raise concern, as it was originally thought that said patrol had been killed by German forces during the night, but that all changed when their bodies were found some days later. All of them were badly mutilated with their throats ripped out, a fact made even more disturbing when teeth marks were found on the wounds.
But this was just the beginning. As the days wore on, more patrols which were sent out began to disappear. Alarmingly, the bodies of the missing soldiers were always found days later with the same wounds found one the first four. And on some nights British soldiers would hear the panicked cries of their German counterparts coming across No Man’s Land, meaning that whatever was attacking their men, was also attacking the Germans as well. Something that was not human.
It was not long before the sightings began, as some soldiers on sentry duty began to report seeing a large, grey, doglike creature prowling the wastelands at night. Just before a patrol would go missing or more cries would come from the German lines. Sightings of this creature continued even after the battle ended along the western front for two more years as more men fell victim to its wrath, but just as mysteriously as it began, it all stopped. There were no more sightings of this bizarre animal and the attacks ended. Yet no one was ever closer to solving the mystery of this seemingly demonic creature.
It could be assumed that the “creature” which was seen at night was nothing more than a common dog which was scavenging the wastelands for food. While stories of this apparent Hell Hound were nothing more than ramblings of shelled shocked soldiers. But there are still those who believed that the carnage seen at Mons and the western front attracted something much more, something that was not of this world.
4) Sea Monsters at War
For as long as humanity has sailed the open seas, there as always been stories of encounters with creatures that for some reason or another, liked to attack and sink ships.
Today most of these stories could be attributed to encounters with whales, sharks or other large sea creatures already known to science. But the ocean is a very big place and most of it has never been explored, so there is a chance some of these attacks were not done by whales or sharks. Nor should it be surprising that some of these encounters were reported by active naval personnel.
In 1848 off the Cape of Good Hope, the crew Royal Navy Frigate HMS Daedalus sighted a “60 ft. long” serpent like creature which swam effortlessly past their vessel. What makes this incident all the more interesting, was the fact that not only most of the crew saw the serpent, but the vessel’s commanding officer was one of the many eyewitnesses to the creature as well.
On July 30, 1915, the German submarine U-28 had just torpedoed the British steamer Iberian. But no sooner had the merchant vessel disappeared under the waves, that a massive explosion occurred which not only sent pieces of the Iberian into the air, but a large “sea creature” as well. According to the submarine’s captain and all those who witnessed it, the creature itself looked like a gigantic crocodile which flew out of the water at a height of approximately 80-feet. Keep in mind submarine captains are not known for exaggerations of any kind.
Another such encounter also took place during World War I just two years later, when the crew of the UB-85 claimed that their vessel had been attacked by a large sea monster while on the surface one night. According to the eyewitnesses, UB-85 was rocked by an almighty surge on the starboard side, followed by a terrific thud as something landed on the deck.
Upon investigation the crew discovered to their horror that a large creature was climbing onto the submarine and causing it to sink under its weight. Keep in mind the UB-85 weighed over 700 tons. Fearing the vessel would sink, Captain Günther Krech ordered the crew to shoot at the creature. Eventually the creature retreated back into the water, but not before damaging the front deck , effectively denying the submarine the ability to dive. This made the UB-85 a sitting duck when it was sighted the next morning by the Coreopsis, whose crew members were themselves surprised to see the crippled sub on the surface.
The U.S. Navy also had their own encounter 1978, when the Destroyer USS Stine was “attacked” by a unknown species of Giant Squid. While steaming in the Pacific the vessel’s sonar suddenly stopped working with no explanation and the Stine was forced to return to port for repairs.
But it was when the vessel was placed into dry dock it was discovered that the dome had deep gashes covering it, as well as large claws and tentacle marks on the rubber coating. From this evidence it was believed that the creature which attacked was at least 100 feet long, but as to what it was still remains unknown to this day. But such encounters are not just limited to the open ocean….
5) The Brosno Dragon and Lake Issyk Kul
Located 250 miles north-west of Moscow near Andreapol in West Russia is a relatively small body of water known as Lake Brosno. At first glance it doesn’t really out of the ordinary but to the locals, Brosno hides a deadly secret, as the lake is believed to be home to what is known as the “The Brosno Dragon”. This “dragon” is a dangerous creature which is said to lurk in its waters and many believe to be responsible for numerous missing persons. But despite its ferocious reputation, the Dragon is said to have saved the city of Novgorod from an Tatar-Mongol army in the 13th century. As the legend goes the leader of this army known by the name of Batu Khan stopped his troops by the shores of the lake, so that his horses and men could drink from it.
But this move would prove to be fatal, as it is said that while they were drinking, the colossal and roaring beast emerged from the dark waters and devoured animals and soldiers alike. The surviving men were so frightened by this that they retreated, thus saving the Russian city. Then during World War 2 the Brosno Dragon was said to have made another stunning appearance, when during the Nazi occupation of Andreapol the beast was said to have emerged from the lake and eat an Nazi aircraft which was flying over the lake at the time. But Brosno is not the only lake said to have something living in it.
Located in what is now Kyrgyzstan is lake Issyk-Kul, which is one of the largest lakes in the world. During the days of the Soviet Union, the lake was home to a Soviet facility which was used to test new submarine and torpedo technologies, as well as train Navy Divers. But for centuries there had been legends of something else making a home in the lake, as locals have told of giant humanoid beings which lived deep in its waters.
It is said that in 1982, a group of Soviet Nay divers came face to face with these aquatic humanoids at a depth of 150 feet during a training mission in the lake. Upon this sighting, these men reported the incident to their commander, who believed what his men had told him, as he knew they were not the type to make up stories, let alone one as fantastic as this. Even more so, the Soviet military was told of this encounter and hatched a plan to capture one of these creatures. But it would end in disaster.
Soon a seven man dive team was sent to the lake with orders to capture at least one of the supposed humanoids and they were able to corner one. But as they attempted to drag a net over the creature, a violent force suddenly pushed all the divers away from the creature and out of the lake itself. This would prove to be deadly, as the sudden acceleration to the surface did not allow the divers to properly decompress and as a result, 3 out of the seven divers died as a result, while the survivors were crippled for life.
Fishermen who were out that day saw these divers literally fly out the water, and claimed some went as high as 50 feet, but believed that it was all part of a military exercise. Some believe that these creatures are still in the lake and that the Russian government knew a lot more than many think. But we may never know just what might be lurking Eurasia’s deepest lakes and well, do we really want to know?
6) The “Rock Apes” of the Vietnam War
Much like America and Central Asia, South East Asia also has its legends of ape like creatures which are said to lurk deep within the tropical forests of the region. In Vietnam and Laos, this creature is known as the Người rừng or “Forest People” and stories of this supposed race of wild men go back centuries. Described as being between 4-6 feet in height and covered in either red, black or even gray hair, the Người rừng is sometimes said to be rather shy, or extremely aggressive; Sometimes throwing large rocks to even killing anyone who were unfortunate enough to encounter them. Even before the Vietnam war, legends of these Forest People were rampant among the numerous villages which dotted the interior.
But it was during the conflict that some of the most compelling and sometimes, violent encounters were said to have occurred. As both American and Vietnamese forces were said to have had run-ins with the Forest People. One such encounter involved a 6 man unit from the 101st Airborne Division, who literally came face to face with a large creature covered in red hair. They observed the creature for several minutes before in disappeared back into the forest.
Another supposed encounter was said to have taken place in 1968 when personnel began to report hearing inexplicable noises along the outer perimeter of their camp late at night. Curious, an Corporal decided to investigate and went off to a nearby bunker to see just what was going on. But on is way back, a number of men saw the man fire several shot from his weapon, before running back with an unsettled look on his face.
When asked what happened, the corporal said that while walking back he noticed a bush that had not been there before. When he had leaned down to take a look, it had then allegedly “snorted” at him, causing him to panic and fire.
But one of the most frightening encounters was said to have happened when elements of the 101st Airborne Division got into an actual fire fight with quote, “Ghostly Figures” who were brown to reddish in color. Throughout the frightening encounter, the ape-like beasts reportedly made sounds that sounded exactly like dogs barking, but eventually disappeared back into the forrest, leaving a very confused platoon behind them.
This was not the only time such a battle was said to occurred, as in 1966, Marines stationed in Quang Nam Province were said to have gotten into a battle with “hundreds” of these creatures who were hurling large rocks at them. This would turn out to be one of the more violent encounters, as several marines were said to have been injured while numerous “Rock Apes” were said to have been killed. This encounter would be known as “The Battle of Dong Den” while the area would be known as “Monkey Mountain” because of the amount of creatures that were said to be there.
Interestingly, American forces were not the only ones to run afoul of these creatures, NVA and Viet-kong units were said to have been attacked as well. One incident actually occurred when an American unit who had been ambushed by enemy forces began to hear screams and yelling from the Vietnamese lines, as if something was attacking them. When everything died down and the U.S. Forces went to investigate, they found a enemy soldier who had been litterally torn apart.
Sightings were so rampant that when the war ended the Communist government actually sent out a expedition to locate what ever had been seen by its soldiers, but only a few foot prints and hair samples were ever found. To this day, some persons who venture into the rural forests of Vietnam, Laos, and even Cambodia sometimes report seeing these Forest People which in some cases are still very much aggressive.
Now I am not saying that I believe most of these supposed encounters, (Though I still don’t see myself wanting to visit the Congo any time soon), I am not saying that I don’t believe them either. The world is a big place after all and every once in a while something new is discovered which was either previously unknown or thought to be extinct.
It was a U.S. Navy Research Vessel which discovered the shark species known as Megamouth back in 1976, while the first Mountain Gorillas were brought back to civilization after they were shot by a German Army patrol in what was then German East Africa. Keep in mind, local villagers in region had spoken of large, man like creature in the forest of Africa well before the Europeans came.
When it comes to alleged sightings and encounters with the unknown, military personnel tend to be more credible eye witnesses because of their training. So although some of these cases may be hard to believe to many, one must keep in mind that every legend has some form of truth behind it. So maybe there was something at Mons and the Battlefields of WWI, or something unknown to science is living in Russia’s lakes. All I know is that if you ever come across a military veteran who says they saw something they can’t explain, you may want to hear them out.
They just might change your view on the world.