Sunday, 15 March 2020

Harry Finlay recounts his 1952 Monster Sighting




The picture a couple of paragraphs below is enough to let Nessie fans know that this post is about the 1952 close encounter between the Loch Ness Monster and two individuals - Greta Finlay and her son Harry. As recounted last year, I tracked down Harry to his home in Perth, Scotland and phoned him up for a chat on that day on the 20th August 1952.

However, some people said I should get Harry in front of a camera and record the account straight from the man himself. That task was done yesterday, having arranged a date and time with Harry, we met up at his house for the first time. Though I guess Harry would be somewhere near 80 years old, he looked a fit and sprightly eighty to me.



Of course, we chatted about the event amongst other things and Harry is one of that small band of people I call a "knower" rather than a "believer". When you see the Loch Ness Monster from a range of twenty to thirty feet, it is no longer a case of believing but knowing what you saw. Having said that, you can see the creature close up but still have no idea what you are looking at.

Mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish or something else? Harry couldn't give a definitive answer to that one and, apart from those who tell us more than they actually know, I would be in the same camp. Does it exist? Yes. What is it? I still don't know.

It was also good to finally get to see a picture of his mother, Greta, who passed away back in the 1990s. The picture below shows here with her husband, who took the initiative and reported the story to the local newspapers. I snapped this with my mobile phone, so the result doesn't quite do them justice.




I asked Harry to roughly sketch what he saw that day for me which is shown below, though one would not really expect the drawing to diverge that much given such a monstrosity is going to brand itself onto one's memory to some degree. It is more a composite picture as the creature was first seen approaching Harry from the right, then glided past them, finally submerging with its rearward parts closest to them.

Harry's estimates of particular dimensions were added by him and if we add in the two water gaps between neck and humps we get near the 15 feet estimate of his mother given to Constance Whyte. Add in the presumed present but obscured tail and we get a creature in excess of 20 feet.



Having sketched the beast, I showed him the original from my copy of Constance Whyte's "More Than a Legend" with which I snapped a picture of him at the top of this article. But what you will hear from Harry was how he was a split second away from taking one of the best pictures of the monster ever but his Mum grabbed the camera from him, thinking he was fumbling! The Loch Ness Hoodoo strike again!

Enjoy this clip on a classic monster sighting from the very eyewitness himself.






The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com





59 comments:

  1. That was great. Their sighting is one of those that has had me hanging on as there being a creature. But now I have some questions.
    I was always under the impression from the sketch, that the creature's head was turned facing them. Assuming bilateral symmetry, those 'horns' or 'tendrils', as well as that curved line implying a jaw line, implies the creature was turned towards them. Yet, unless I missed something, Harry says the view of the head was from the side and is why he saw no discernible features.

    Secondly, the whole inanimate nature of the thing is bothersome. Unless there was an entire under-structure (like Dinsdale's imagined likeness of a large body with two rather solid humps like a camels on top and propelled by flippers) rather than being serpent like, that apparently there was no undulations or neck movement is very odd. Then when it comes to it just sinking straight down in an inanimate fashion, ie, no forward lunging or anything, is rather strange.

    Now I'm not suggesting the Finlay's saw a 20-30 log, but if it was the creature, it's antics ain't helping any, lol.

    Jon

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    1. Jon, Harry's sketch (then and now) is his impression of what the creature looked like. It did indeed face him as it approached him from the initially longer distance, then side on, then backparts. It is a fairly unique sighting in this regard as most sightings are so far that the creature always presents the same aspect to the witness.

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    2. The rigid nature is very Nessie like. We have other sightings were humps vertically rise and fall out of sight. I would have asked Harry if it sunk vertically whilst also moving forward which would give a more diagonal dscent.

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    3. Thanks for the clarification Roland. :)

      So more or less Mr Finlay did a combination sketch I take it. That is head face on as it was earlier with the full side view when it passed.
      Having read pretty much all the books that came out back in the 60's and 70's during LNM's heyday, I had been aware of this vertical movement which is rather odd behavior regardless, lol.
      What a spectacular thing to have seen! Lucky man.

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  2. This is wonderful to see GB and as you said, Harry is looking very well indeed. I wonder if any of the well known LNM sceptics are seeing this and what comments, if any, they may wish to make. Great stuff.

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    1. I have no doubt H Finaly's report is genuine and that he did indeed observe an object he could not identify at the time. However, I am sceptical of his interpretation of the object as well as of his estimate of distance and size. I posted elsewhere a quick sketch of the object drawn with 'correct' proportions as provided by Mr Finlay. Note, if the neck was 3 ft high and the visible portion of the body was 20 ft long, then the 'monster' could not possibly have appeared as he drew it! However, I think he sketched the object as he saw it (keeping the observed dimensions in, more or less, correct ratio). Consequently, the 'monster' could not have been longer then 5 ft and was probably even smaller if the distance was exaggerated. My deduction has to be true or else the monster in Finlay's sketch would have held a neck over 12 ft high (keeping the body-to-neck ratio fixed)!

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    2. Your deduction has to be true? I didn't expect you to accept this account. Indeed, I long assumed there is nothing any witness could say to dissuade sceptics from their chosen path.

      But back to your point, I didn't clarify with Harry whether his estimated length was the visible length or his estimate of how big the entire creature might be. But he did produce a second sketch for me with dimensions written on it and from the tip of the horns to the righmost edge of the second hump, the total length is closer to the original 15ft estimate of his mother to Constance Whyte. This obviously includes the three water gaps between humps and neck.

      If one assumes the usual tail underwater, then the estimate of over 20 feet is eminently reasonable.

      Your estimates I find rather forced and as ever guided by a prejudice which demands all monster sightings null and void. Why don't you give some credit to these people and admit they do have observational skills?

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    3. GB, that's not the second sketch above is it? If so how come you didn't post the one with dimensions?

      Playing devils advocate, ATL has a point IF the sketch is proportional. If Finlay scrunched proportions together cuz piece of paper isn't wide enough, that's different, lol.
      But yeah, a 3ft neck with that kind of hump spacing would be rather small, even with a hidden tale.

      Jon

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    4. Jon, I will scan in the other sketch later, but we're basically looking at at least a 20 footer.

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    5. Thanks GB. :)

      Can't believe I spelled 'tail', 'tale, lol.

      Jon

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  3. Aha! The interview some of us have been waiting for. Other “Knowers” have also described stalks or tubes on the head. Blame it on his mum to botch the shot. LOL

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  4. Roland, this is GOLD! Your contribution to the data on the animal is second to none. You'll probably get inundated now with people asking, "why didn't you get his comment on THIS or THAT aspect of the sighting", but I don't think he could be clearer if he tried. The Dinsdale re-drawing shows the humps connected above the water-line, rather than two individual humps with water in between, as in the drawing Harry submitted to you for this post. That's also consistent with the drawing in the Whyte book - I wonder why Dinsdale connected them - more dramatic? I wonder also if Harry had an opinion as to whether the 'face' was looking directly at him, or directly away? He didn't seem to see any features - which is an aspect of the animal that many close up sightings cite. Anyway, kudos to you for getting his account documented!!

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    1. The editorial team for Dinsdale's book took some "artistic" liberties IMO. I would trust the older Whyte account in this instance.

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  5. Nice interview and a decent man. I'd love to see the the critics and money making sceptics talk to this man and call him a liar - because that's what he has to be - according to the po faced ,oh so intelligent ,nasty twats who try to silence the truth.

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  6. Wow GB. . This is amazing! This is one of my favourite sightings! A mother and young son.. Hardly liars so the sceptics claimed a deer. A deer has never washed with me as I'm sure u wud recognise a deer at a few yards plus a deer wud eventually make his way out of the water so u wud see this as ud woudnt stop looking at something u thought was the monster!!! The size and colour also rule out a deer. And I agree Harry is looking fab for his age! Great to see him talk thru and sharing his sighting with us.. Great work Holmes or is it Watson lol... Cheers Roy.

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  7. This was great investigative work, GB...thank you.

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    1. Thanks. I see Jacobite Cruises has suspended trips due to coronavirus and I expect the rest will follow soon. How's things along the shore?

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    2. Exhibition complex shut since Friday; Scotmid still open, Garage still open (and hopefully fixing my car); pubs shut, but doing takeaways; not sure about Post Office.

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  8. Thank you Roland for this LNM diamond piece! Great work and very interesting interview. These interviews really add weight when a person recalls their experience to you documented on camera. Always great to ask a witness about deer, seal, or otter and watch their reaction, In Harry's case NO way was it any of the three.

    This interview is most intriguing. Had Greta only taken a photograph!! Thanks again GB

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    1. Thank you. I always thought such a photo would turn out similar to this one:

      https://lochnessmystery.blogspot.com/2012/02/interesting-photograph.html

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    2. What? The Sherlock Holmes prop? Art imitating life. I wonder if they took their cue from the Finlay sighting. But as I say, in regard to the, as John Rutherford so humorously put it in his inimitable way “adornments” on the head, there have been numerous other eyewitnesses who have also described stalks, tubes, horns, snorkels etc. or whatever they are. Or, Maybe they're eyes, which can turn every which way like a chameleon. LOL

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    3. No one is mentioning the Gargoyle head picture?

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    4. If you accept the gargoyle photo then that counts towards the horns discussion.

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  9. Congratulations on following this up Roland- some great detective work on your part here. As everyone says, Harry looks very well. The main thing that I myself take from this is that whatever he saw, it clearly wasn't a deer. Harry was most emphatic on that point and you were right to press him. As you know, deer is the usual explanation advanced by those who think the LNM is all just a case of mistaken identity, but I think this now categorically blows that out of the water. I suppose that some will still just keep coming back with 'They saw a deer' even though Harry makes it very clear that they didn't, simply because that's a much easier conclusion for them to make than admitting there might have been something unexplained in the loch. As Jordan says, this is a diamond piece and I hope you'll be able to unearth more of these classic witnesses and get their accounts.

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  10. The strange head adornments are rather intriguing, have they been reported in other sightings I wonder ?

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    1. I covered the subject of horned reports here:

      https://lochnessmystery.blogspot.com/2015/07/on-horns-of-dilemma.html

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    2. I recall Roy Mackel, who wrote the book "The Monsters Of Loch Ness" claim he's witnesses...and I'm paraphrasing... "a round head with two (breathing) tubes just below the surface."

      Jon

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    3. Makes me think of the two white blobs in the John Rowe photo, circa 2011..I believe they were written off as birds, diving in unison!

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    4. Forgot about Jon Rowe, yes, could be same thing.

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  11. @John, the short answer is yes. There was a report from the 1930s by someone called Palmer (I want to say A.H Palmer, but I'd need to check that) who described similar antennae or whatever.

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  12. Steuart Campbell, who wrote a well known sceptical book in the 1980s entitled "The Loch Ness Monster - The Evidence" asked me to post this comment:

    "Now that I see a full report from Findlay, it's obvious that what he saw was a breaking ship's wake as described many times in my book. the cause was probably Scott II, which would have been about at the time. with calm surface as described, wake would have been more prominent. report of head and horns either imaginary or debris caught up in the wave, or both. deer not involved. thanks for getting clarification on this report."


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    1. Is that Campbells idea of a joke? What's he smoking? Lol
      He might as well said it was 3 leprechauns water-skiing being pulled along by a flying saucer being driven by Thomas the Tank Engine

      Jon

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  13. The deer explanation had some merit (although it conveniently ignored much of what the eye-witnesses had in fact reported) but this suggestion is just ridiculous. And why is it 'obvious'? Why also are the head and horns written off as 'imaginary'? This is just rude. I wasn't there in 1952 and neither was Steuart Campbell, but I've spent about the last 6 weeks at Loch Ness and I've seen all manner of boat wakes. None of them behave in the way that is being suggested here. As readers of this blog know, I don't class myself as a 'believer' in the sense that I'm on any kind of crusade to defend the idea of a LNM, I just try to keep an open mind either way. But by the same token, I think sceptics like Mr Campbell need to look at the facts a bit more closely before they wade in with these arrogant comments. There's nothing 'obvious' about what the Finlays saw; if it was, then there'd be no mystery. And Harry deserves far more respect and common courtesy than he's being shown here. Believers are often accused of being blinkered fundamentalists; actually, I see no difference in this reaction from Steuart Campbell. It seems to me that sceptics who behave like this are equally fundamentalist, only starting from the other direction. A little more humility- even just to say, well, if it wasn't a deer, then I don't know what he saw...- would go a long long way. Sorry Mr Campbell, no cigar!

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  14. Stuart campbell??? Ha ha ha he is getting worse in his old age lol. Ive always said he talks complete garbage ha.

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  15. For how long did the Finlays actually see this entity ?

    A breaking wave [apart from a few Mongolian tribespeople everyone in the world must have seen ] at its peak size, what? 2-3 secs max ?

    The deer explanation, however whiskery and doddery, has at least some basis in reality .

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    1. I think Harry said 2-3 minutes in the video.

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  16. Here's a recent article on the Canadian Ogopogo lake monster that seems to favour the "wave" explanation. I wonder, over the years at Loch Ness, has anyone ever personally got close to it, touched it, got it to look towards the viewer, or threw a stone towards it for a reaction?
    http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20200309-ogopogo-the-monster-lurking-in-okanagan-lake

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    1. Waves are indeed a favoured explanation of sceptics. They are however used for multi hump (no neck) testimonies, generally at long distances.

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    2. No one has ever been reported as touching the beast. Can't say I would hang around to do such a thing. I might get a love bite back. :)

      It is generally too far seen for a stone to reach it and as for it looking at anyone, when it becomes aware of anyone's presence it usually bolts.

      Harry's story is one of the closest ones. I would rank it 2nd or 3rd closest ever. There are a handful less than 20ft away. Worthy of another article I suspect.


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  17. Even an ardent believer will concede that many official sightings of multi-humps at a distance will be standing waves, we have all seen them on the loch and recognise them for what they are. The Finlay sighting is of a real, solid, alive creature, and even though decades have passed, has lost none of its significance.

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    1. Yes. I don't put any credence in the rather far off sightings and videos of 'humps'. I'll watch one of these 'paranormal caught on camera' shows if there's a creature being featured. I get really irritated when the shows talking heads are going, "what could it be?", "definitely shows a strange creature!", and all that.
      However, what are supposed to be humps, you can easily see water breaking on top. I want to scream, lol.

      Aside from that, I have wondered as to why many, many more lakes don't have monster sightings if waves are supposed to be so easily misinterpreted as such.

      Jon

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  18. Thanks for putting up the new sketch with dimensions,GB.

    I'll assume Mr Finlay's measurements as average, in that he could be estimating to low or too high. Give the neck's girth at about a 1 foot. Give gaps to be about 3 feet as compared with his length for the humps.
    So there'd roughly 13 feet of creature and by tossing in a tail length under water I suppose you could make 20 feet more or less.
    If the creature is of a serpent, as many sightings of ocean creatures are, I'm a bit stymied at the moment as to how a serpentine LNM with vertical undulations sticking out of the water could even propel itself or even be supporting itself. Can't imagine a tail alone somehow swishing up and down or back an forth under water doing it.

    Of course, if those humps are protruding from the top of a large body below the surface with flippers that's altogether different.

    Jon

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    1. Most sightings are straight forward motion, no need for undulations. In this case, the submerged limbs and tail would keep it moving.

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    2. Like this? Sorry, I couldn't help myself. :)

      https://www.google.com/doodles/81st-anniversary-of-the-loch-ness-monsters-most-famous-photograph

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  19. There's an interesting story recounted in Holiday's Great Orm book about a Mr Tom Skinner. In this report, Skinner claimed to have thrown stones at the monster, but apparently this didn't unduly bother the beastie, it just moved out of range....

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  20. Fabulous. There's no doubt he saw something. Nice work GB.

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  21. Right... got some free time. Both myself and my GF have Corona so we won't be going anywhere. I've been so busy I've missed a lot of your articles recently. And this is wonderful - it's EXACTLY what is required. Outside of photography, film and sonar this is acceptable anecdotal evidence to me. You can discuss what he saw but this man in claiming to see a monster and clearly believes he saw one.

    I just do not believe someone would lie for 70 years. Every other hoax was discovered long before that (and there's always usually rumours long before this). I've long suspected that if, and it's still a big if, there was a monster in the loch it was a one off or part of a small, dwindling family and died, possibly sometime in the 70s. If there were many creatures even occasionally exhibiting this kind of behaviour they would be seen very frequently.

    This is excellent stuff I'll watch it again soon.

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    1. Sorry to hear you're both unwell...hope you get well soon. Regards, Julian.

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    2. I hope you and your girlfriend have a speed recovery, Kyle.

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    3. Thank you both that means a lot we're both fine. She works for the NHS which is why she caught it and gave it to me so early. I wish all the best to everyone here in this strange time and that you and your families are all okay. -Kyle x

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    4. This sighting reminds me of story from Bernard Heuvelmans book 'in the wake of sea serpents' in which trawler sailing in calm seas off the west coast of Scotland saw a partially submerged submarine coming straight at them from the opposite direction.
      As the 'sub' passed by the crew were astonished to discover that it wasnt indeed what they had initially thought but instead it was described as a living creature akin to seeing something resembling a jet black giraffe calmly gliding by their boat.
      It quickly passed and was soon out of sight leaving the crew members totally stunned at what they'd just witnessed.
      This sighting adds some credence to the twin pronged antennae theory

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  22. Brilliant interview. I've always wanted to know more about this case.

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  23. This is such an important document, Roland. I wonder if the two boys who were part of the Peter and Gwen Smith sighting/filming could be tracked down. The incident was in 1977 so they'd still be only in their late 50s now I should think. Since the spectre of a possible hoax was raised in the usual quarters, it would be useful to get their "take" on what happened that day. It might also be useful to know the precise location and the depth of the loch at the point where the neck appeared. Given that Peter Smith said it initially was above the water "at least the heighth of a man", these 2 kids would have had to rig up some sort of block and pulley, set it into the mud of the loch and then manipulate a log at least 12 feet long and 1 foot thick. At the final appearance, one of the boys was in the Smith's view, out in the boat, so one wonders how this feat could be accomplished. It would be EXCELLENT to get their account on film, as in this interview. Thanks Roland!

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  24. It's quite magical hearing this from someone who was there. It's like nothing else.

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  25. I see a challenge here for you Roland, it would be some feat if you could find the boys, or one of them from the Peter and Gwen Smith incident.I have always wondered if this was a trick played by them.

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  26. I re-read the Dinsdale account, and actually BOTH boys were in view during the final sighting. One was on the beach with the Smiths and the other was out in the boat near where the head and neck began to emerge again. The only other plausible hoaxer was the parent, who was asleep in the van up in the layby. If it was a hoax, the sheer weight of a non-bending 12 foot piece of solid material would need massive anchoring and a very visible rope to manipulate it. But an interview would clarify things. They'd either come across as sincere witnesses to a cryptid sighting, or gleefully admit how they 'pulled it off'. This many years on, they'd have nothing to gain or lose by stating the truth.

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