Many years ago I read a number of paperbacks by Bruce Halpenny, which listed numerous strange happenings at many of the old existing RAF and USAF WW2 airfields. I was, at first, very sceptical about many of the so called hauntings but must admit that some were very strange indeed. Recently I met an ex-RAF type on holiday and we spent many happy hours drinking and reminiscing, whilst our respective wives twittered away at a safe distance from the bar. He knew the North East very well and had also spent some time at RAF Middleton St George, (about a year after my ignominious departure!)
One evening he asked me if I had ever seen the ghost of a wartime pilot who was reputed to haunt several of the old WW2 buildings and hangars at Middleton but I expressed my cynical view on the subject. My friend , however, went on to say that it was not uncommon there and mentioned that he had heard similar tales at several other stations during his career. We parted without further recourse.
Thinking back, I do recall being on Guard Duty on a cold, windy, moonless night with cocky, ginger haired LAC who obviously knew the ropes. We set off at midnight armed with torches and wooden staves and he told me to do the obvious ie. try a few doors, show our faces in all the right areas at all the right times and then ensure we finished up at the Met. Office for a cup of tea and a warm. We went through the motions fairly rapidly, but then I saw an old hangar in the distance and suggested we should check it out as we had bags of time left. ” No point mate – it has been locked up for donkeys years’‘ was the reply “Nobody ever bothers – besides it is dark and bloody spooky over there”. I tried to pull rank. (After all I was a Junior NCO with an upside stripe to prove it wasn’t I??) but my companion would have none of it. ” You bugger off then old son – I will stay here and have a fag.” (So much for rank!!)
I approached the hangar without too much trepidation but found that my torch was rather dim away from the airfield lights. The main doors were secured with rusty chains and some sort of reinforced metal bars so I decided to check the doors of the side offices. Most of the windows were broken and boarded up from the inside and the door handles, such as they were, were rusted and immoveable – until I came to the last one! The door glass was only part boarded, cracked and grimy but to my total surprise the rusty handle turned smoothly and easily and the door swung half open before being vigorously slammed shut! I tried the door again but it was totally immoveable. I shone my torch through the cracked glass but could only partly see cobwebs and a jumble of old desks , chairs and what appeared to be some coils of rope. (One odd thing was the long grass in front of the door was undisturbed.) I found the LAC and told him the tale but he just shrugged and suggested we stop f****** about and get a f****** move on!
At the Guardroom a bleary eyed SP Corporal asked if we had anything to report. The LAC groaned when I said yes and the Corporal sighed loudly. ” You bloody well would. New here are you?” He then dragged me to one side and explained, in a menacing tone, that if I made an incident report then the next two on Guard Duty would have to check it out and this would not be popular all round. I got the message and chickened out. Looking back I certainly did not feel spooked in any way and feel sure there must have been a simple explanation. OR WAS THERE??