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Lieutenant R.S. Maxwell took off in his BE2C fighter but saw nothing unusual until 8.25 p.m. when, according to his report: 'My engine was missing irregularly and it was only by keeping the speed of the machine down to 50 mph that I was able to stay at 10,000 feet. I distinctly saw an artificial light to the north of me, and at about the same height. I followed this light northeast for nearly 20 minutes, but it seemed to go slightly higher and just as quickly as myself, and eventually I lost it completely in the clouds.' Such sightings occurred frequently during the war. The reasons are fascinating in themselves: the first is that aviation is in its infancy, so light phenomena at altitude are a new experience. The second is fear: for the first time a real threat came from the skies. It wasn't just the Western Front: on 21 August 1915 twenty New Zealand soldiers allegedly saw eight bread-loaf shaped clouds over Hill 60, Suvla Bay. 'A British regiment, the First- Fourth Norfolk, of several hundred men, was then noticed marching . . . towards Hill 60.' They marched into the cloud, which lifted off the ground, and were never seen again.Show more
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