RAF Bircham Newton is well known in ghost story circles, with tales of long dead WW2 fighter pilots wandering the corridors of its sick quarters, engine and hanger activity noises around its squash court and so on. The account below attributed to and is an extract from an article written by Bruce Barrymore-Halfpenny, and charts ghost-busting efforts to solve some of the Bircham mysteries ! If you can throw some further light on the matter or if you have your own RAF related ghost story to tell why not let us know click here to submit your tale.
‘I have a follow-up to the Birchan Newton……..Mary Tock was a Waaf nursing orderly at Royal Air Force Bircham Newton who had a ghostly experience in 1949. Decades later it still chilled her as she related it to me.Over the August Bank Holiday period in 1949, Mary Tock was on duty jn the Station Sick Quarters. She and a playing on the Sunday evening…, when they experienced an eerie encounter. It was about 9.0 pm and, they had been playing for about ten minutes when suddenly they heard the clunk of a door closing and heavy footsteps; Fear gripped the two young Waafs and, they ran into the Staff Duty Room. They telephoned the Guardroom and the Station Police came and searched the whole of the Decontamination Centre and the sick quarters but found no one. All the doors were securely locked. It transpired that some weeks earlier a fighter aircraft had crashed a few miles from RAF Bircham Newton and the pilot’s remains were brought back to the Station. The pilot’s flying boots and other items of Medical Officer, who visited the scene of the crash, called Tock to his offce. He wanted to know if she had a relative in Medical Officer, who visited the scene of the crash, called Tock to his offce. He wanted to know if she had a relative in the Royal Air Force. She was puzzled at the question for she did not have any relatives and, she told him so. It became the Royal Air Force. She was puzzled at the question for she did not have any relatives and, she told him so. It became clear to Mary Tock when the Medical Officer held out the pilot’s bloodstained paybook. The pilot’s name turned out to be Peter Took. . . . but a bloodstain had covered part of the second 0, making it look like Tock. The Medical Officer thought it might be her relation. The footsteps that Mary Tock had heard were those of the pilot coming for his flying boots and other belongings. The two Waafs did not see a ghost but, they heard the door slam shut and, they clearly heard the footsteps. But, the sound of the footsteps puzzled Mary Tock when she was told it was the ghost of the pilot. ? The footsteps were so heavy, it sounded as though he was wearing heavy boots, said Mary. So, was it the ghost of the fighter pilot that Mary and her friend heard? There were many other hauntings reported at the old wartime airfield but, the most puzzling is the haunted squash court, which was built during the First World War. Ghostly footsteps in the viewing gallery have been heard by many people. Also many people have seen a ghost airman in the viewing gallery. One of the most psychic recordings ever made was from the haunted squash court. The tape recorder picked up the sound of muffled speech…. and, a ghostly woman’s voice can be heard – most spine chilling. I have the actual tape recording and, it is most frightening when one knows it was recorded in an empty squash court. The tape recorder picked up metallic clangs and noises as though heavy objects were being moved around – it was an unearthly sound eerie and, it gave the impression that one was listening to the everyday sounds of people working in a hangar in wartime. No one could explain the sounds on the tape and everyone who visited the haunted squash court said they had an uneasy feeling and felt cold when in the right hand court. To try and solve the mystery of the haunted squash court a couple called Sue and Jeffrey Cooper, who live in Bishop Stortford, decided to do a follow-up on Denny Densham’s original investigation. They went down to Bircham Newton and they actually got permission to spend the night in the squash court. They entered the left court and they found it had a perfectly normal atmosphere but, when they went into the right court, there was just something curious about it, something strange, which fascinated them. They had a cassette recorder with them which they put on the floor of the building and they actually stood around and waited while they were recording. Now, they did not hear anything themselves but the recorder picked up very similar sounds to the sounds that Denny Densham recorded. I do have both tapes from the recordings and, in the second tape, the one recorded by the Coopers, you can hear odd thumps and there was again a metallic ping, rather fainter than the one that Denny recorded but, nevertheless, a metallic ping. There was also a metallic clank but, there was nothing in the buildings which could have caused that sound. The walls are lined with timber and the end walls are brick with a plaster surface which was to hurl the ball at when playing squash. At the other end of the building is a wooden gallery but nothing metallic so it is a mystery as to how these metallic sounds were caused. ?Even more mysterious is the way you get these very heavy clanks, said Denny. It is the only way I can describe them. It is rather like heavy objects being moved around and one might imagine them inside an aircraft hangar. To hear the tape one is left in no doubt that the sounds are those of a wartime hangar. The tape recorder picked up sound that was quite remarkable for it could well be the sound of an aero-engine. It went on for about twelve minutes and, towards the end, it sounds as if the engine revs up for the tone of the engine changes. There is no way this particular sound could have been produced inside a completely empty squash court. I have heard the tape recording and I have to agree that it clearly sounds like an aeroplane engine on run-up in a hangar. Denny Densham said ‘For my choice, I would say that that was a piston engine, or a twin engine machine, that is standing on an apron with its engine ticking over and the changing tone towards the end of the recording seems to add some authenticity to the sound. How it came about I just don’t know. Another mysterious sound on the tape recording the Coopers described as a hangar door closing. But again, there is no logical explanation for what it really is. ‘It could be a hangar door closing’, said Denny. Towards the end of their tape they got what apparently are footsteps going down the staircase from the minstral gallery….ghostly footsteps. I have listened to the tape recording and one can clearly identify footsteps. They had a very successful night’s work and, as I understand it, they are to continue doing investigations at Bircham Newton so as Denny Densham remarked: ‘It will be very exciting to get up- dates from time to time. But, it does seem that there is something going on in the squash court, although I am completely baffled by how these sounds can be recorded’. Everyone is baffled – the haunted squash court did not yield up its eerie secret- it is another game to the ghosts of Bircham Newton – the ghosts in eternal time……………’