Sunday 22 May 2011

Men in Black at Loch Ness?

Nick Redfern in his Mania blog comments recently on the potential link between the infamous men in black of UFOlore and cryptozoological creatures. This link is here.

This reminded me of the only alleged MiB encountered at Loch Ness and it is no surprise that it came from Ted Holiday, the paranormalist pursuer of Nessie who died in 1979. I mentioned Ted Holiday in my series of occasional blogs examining what people think the Loch Ness Monster is and Holiday was the definite champion of the paranormal creature theory (see link).

It is a strange story not just for the weirdness factor but because of some inconsistencies. The encounter apparently happened only days after the Reverend Donald Omand had conducted his famous exorcism of Loch Ness in June 1973. Holiday had heard of a report that a flying saucer and occupants had been spotted on the ground near Foyers by a Jan Ove Sundberg previously in 1971. He wished to track down the site but first visited local psychic Winifred Cary who advised him against visiting the site because she felt it presented a danger. At this point Holiday writes:

"At that precise moment, there was a tremendous rushing sound like a tornado outside the window, and the garden seemed to be filled with indefinable frantic movement. A series of violent thuds sounded as if from a heavy object striking either the wall or the sun-lounge door. Through the window behind Mrs. Cary, I suddenly saw what looked like a pyramid-shaped column of blackish smoke about 8 feet high, revolving in a frenzy. Part of it was involved in a rosebush which looked as if it had been ripped from the ground. Mrs. Cary shrieked and turned her face towards the window. The episode lasted 10 or 15 seconds and then was instantly finished."

He did not visit the site but instead found himself in the local village of Foyers the next day and saw a peculiar figure entirely dressed in black looking at him from about 30 yards away:

"He was about 6 feet tall and appeared to be dressed in black leather or plastic. He wore a helmet and gloves, and was masked, even to the nose, mouth and chin."

He walked towards the figure but turned his head to look at the loch for a couple of seconds, heard a whispering or whistling sound and turned to see the person had gone. Nothing more came of it until a year later when he came back to Loch Ness but suffered a mild heart attack. As he was taken to the ambulance, the medics passed over the spot where he had first seen the man in black.

What do we make of such a story and what has it to do with creatures in Loch Ness? The problem lies with the Sundberg sighting. The impression is given that the incident revolves around avoiding this alleged UFO site. However, in 1981, a Stuart Campbell, writing for the March issue of Flying Saucer Review, found the site based on the photograph Sundberg had taken and discovered the forest was too dense to allow any clearing for the 30 foot craft and three occupants claimed. The sighting was then dismissed as a hoax or hallucination.

(I believe this is Steuart Campbell, who wrote the sceptical book on Nessie, "The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence"). Now allowing even for 10 years of extra tree growth, that would seem to discredit the whole thing. Jan Sundberg now runs the monster hunting organisation GUST where the focus is on aquatic monsters and not flying saucers.

If the UFO sighting did not happen, then what would be the point in an alleged MiB giving a typically dark warning about it? Holiday would have known about men in black from John Keel whom he corresponded with. John Keel popularised this aspect of UFOlogy some time before in his book "Operation Trojan Horse". What we are to make of this incident and the Biblical like pillar of cloud is bewildering. Did Holiday merely encounter some kook? No doubt Loch Ness is a magnet for people who are one sandwich short of a picnic. Was it just a trendy motorcyclist kitted up from head to foot? A fuller description would have helped.

And what about the whirlwind? Was it nothing more than that - a cyclone stirred up by aerodynamics that allows the topology of Loch Ness to funnel air currents and whip up squalls and other gusts of wind?

The problem with Holiday was that he was not always consistent in what he reported. One case was the infamous MacRae film. In his Great Orm book, Holday claims that a Mr. Dallas filmed the Loch Ness Monster in 1936. When Nessie researcher, Mike Dash, investigated this claim years later, Mr. Dallas denied he had shot any film of the creature he claimed to have seen.

In other areas, his research lacks follow up as when he claimed in the Orm book that his aforementioned friend, John Keel, had read an 1896 article on the Loch Ness Monster when researching archives in America. The claim is true but the article has yet to be found.

We can only guess as to what Holiday thought he witnessed. He is gone as I suspect are the other witnesses of that day. However, we finish on the eerie note that all these things occured just down the road from the infamous house of Aleister Crowley. A place which Crowley thought was a mystical energy portal!


  1. In Ted Holiday's books,he leads his witnesses on when interviewing them,asking leading questions, something that is not seen as acceptable these days. Interviewers are trained not to lead on eye witnesses. I am not sure it was deliberate,I think he just didn't know but it does show a certain lack of judgement on his part.He orginally wrote the Loch Ness creature was a living thing and then seemed to change his opinion to it having paranormal qualities.We are all allowed to change our minds but I do wonder where his mind was when he wrote about the MIB etc. As for Crowley,he died living a normal life in a flat with his mistress and child, so not such a great evil after all.Having visited Boleskin House in the past,there was no bad feeling about it, it was just a house.Though the Loch itself can be very eerie in the wee small hours when you are on your own.

  2. I think if one had read the John Keel-like books of the day with their dark threatening tones about such phenomena, it would be easy to take a seige mentality to what one perceived about them.

    I don't know who Holiday saw that day: leather clothes, mask, gloves. Still sounds like a biker kitted out against the winds that perhaps had caused the mini-whirlwind of the previous day. A weather check for that period would be helpful. If Holiday had drawn what he had seen, things might have been clearer.

    I am beginning to sound like a Nessie debunker, I better go and lie down!

  3. Amendment to posting. This incident actually happened outside the home of Winifred Cary at Strone beside Castle Urquhart and not at Foyers.

    ANGSE Volturara Irpina 83050 ( AV )
    Via A. Di Meo n. 122 - ITALY
    Unpublished Coal drawing NESSIE Loch Ness Monster
    and the Black Man without a face date 1949.-
    Famous Artist M.C. ESCHER 1898-1972 NL

  5. Curious. No doubt a sceptic would put anything unusual seen around Loch Ness down to hysteria, and I'm sure the phenomena did attract some genuine eccentrics as well as (thankfully) genuine investigators. And I suppose there's nothing to suggest the two can't co-exist.