Tuesday, 14 January 1913

This post is part of a series post-blogging the phantom airship scare of 1913. See here for an introduction to the series, and here for a conclusion.

Devon and Exeter Gazette, 14 January 1913, 11

The Devon and Exeter Gazette today reprints The Times's paragraph from yesterday suggesting that the Hansa was responsible for the airship sightings at Sheerness and Dover. It also adds, p. 11, an interpretative gloss from the Globe on this 'matter which has already attracted considerable public attention, has been the subject of several questions in the House, and remains still to be satisfactorily explained'.

It will be noticed, comments the Globe, that now, for the first time, the two separate incidents of the 'ships (of the air) that pass in the night' are associated.

The implication here seems to be that it's the first time the Sheerness and Dover sightings have been officially 'associated', because otherwise it's hard to see what the significance of this is. This is perhaps supported by the statement that the paragraph was written by 'the writer of the Times political notes' (which, looking at it again, could be the case), which perhaps suggests a Westminster or Whitehall source. The Globe believes the reality of the Sheerness airship ('the mysterious "fly by night"') has been 'established beyond all doubt, since the evidence was vouched for by the expert observers of the Eastchurch flying ground'. As well,

Questioned in the House, Mr. Churchill at first was disposed to regard the matter as a canard, but eventually he admitted that an airship had undoubtedly passed over Sheerness, that it was definitely known not to be an English machine, and that nothing could be said as to its actual identity.

Of the 'Dover incident', the Globe says merely that it 'attracted less attention, and the "moving light" going at great speed and the sounds of an aerial motor were only noticed by a few people' due to the lateness of the hour.

Not every strange light or sound these days is interpreted as a phantom airship. This item appears, p. 6, in the Irish Times today, along with other brief notices from Ulster:

Another 'Mysterious' Light Near Ballybay. -- Apropos of the interest created in the mysterious lights recently seen on Lough Erne there is another story as to strange lights alleged to have been seen by several people at Garryduff, near Ballybay. People who have been travelling late in the district say the light is as brilliant as the moon, and travels like lightning along a marshy hollow, and is accompanied by a weird sound. It is stated that people who have seen this extraordinary light were afraid to pass through the locality, and put up in neighbours' houses for the night.

This sounds like a more traditional phantom, a will'o-the-wisp. There is no suggestion that anyone, even the writer, connects it with the airships being seen elsewhere. This could be because the light was seen travelling close to the ground rather than in the air. It could also be that people in this part of Ireland just don't think of airships as an explanation for something that needs explaining -- though they do elsewhere in the country.

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