Thursday, February 26, 2015

Creature of the Month: The Graveyard Werewolf by Nick Redfern

It probably won’t surprise many to learn that the British Isles – which are steeped in legend, myth, and folklore - have traditions of full-blown lycanthropy in their midst that date back more than 1,000 years.

One of the most famous of all such beasts has become known as the “Flixton werewolf.” It was a marauding animal that prowled around the village of Flixton, North Yorkshire, around 940 AD. It struck terror into the hearts of the locals as it went on violent killing sprees, reportedly at the bidding of a sinister magician who was familiar with the black-arts.

I have other cases of alleged sightings of werewolves in Britain from times long gone, including the 12th and 15th centuries. But, what may well surprise many is that these legendary, menacing shape-shifters are still seen today. Welcome to the diabolical world of what I call the “Graveyard Werewolf.”

It’s a creature that haunts a certain cemetery in central England, one which is located only about a fifteen-minute drive from where I grew up as a child. It’s known locally as the “German Cemetery,” as a result of the fact that it contains the remains of numerous German military personnel, who died on British soil during both the First and the Second World Wars. Its official title, however, is the Cannock Chase German War Cemetery.

And, it was at this particular location, in 2007, that sightings began of something very strange, and downright monstrous. You have probably, by now, guessed what it was. That’s right: nothing less than a definitive werewolf.

The controversy (which soon overflowed with hysteria) began in late April 2007, when the local newspaper, the Stafford Post, astounded and entertained the folk of the Cannock Chase with the following story:

“A rash of sightings of a ‘werewolf’ type creature prowling around the outskirts of Stafford have prompted a respected Midlands paranormal group to investigate. West Midlands Ghost Club says they have been contacted by a number of shocked residents who saw what they claimed to be a ‘hairy wolf-type creature’ walking on its hind legs around the German War Cemetery, just off Camp Road, in between Stafford and Cannock. Several of them claim the creature sprang up on its hind legs and ran into the nearby bushes when it was spotted.”

Nick Duffy, of the West Midlands Ghost Club, went public with what he knew of this monster-mystery: “The first person to contact us was a postman, who told us he had seen what he thought was a werewolf on the German War Cemetery site. He said he was over there on a motorbike and saw what he believed was a large dog. When he got closer, the creature got on his hind legs and ran away.”

Then there was the case of a local scout-leader, who said of his encounter at the cemetery: “It just looked like a huge dog. But when I slammed the door of my car it reared up on its back legs and ran into the trees. It must have been about six to seven feet tall. I know it sounds absolutely mad, but I know what I saw.”

In the aftermath of the initial sightings, even more controversial stories began circulating amongst the people of the surrounding villages and hamlets that are situated close to the cemetery. There was hushed talk of pet dogs going missing – and on a large scale, no less. Others spoke of hideous creatures – half-man and half-wolf – creeping out of old and abandoned mines across the Chase; the theory being that they dwelled deep below the ground, only surfacing to feed savagely on whatever crossed their paths.

Echoing this, an off the record source, one that the media described as a “senior local resident,” said: “It’s a fact that there has been significant mining activity under Cannock Chase for centuries. And it's a fact there is a high rate of domestic pet disappearance in the area - especially dogs off the lead. Just ask anyone who walks their dog near the German War Cemetery.”

Interestingly, this was not the first time that something strange and sinister, and of wolfish proportions, had been seen in the area. On the morning of June 28, 2006, numerous motorists passing junction 10A on the M6 Motorway reported seeing a strange beast that the press described as “a wolf-like creature” that was “racing between lanes at rush hour.”

The creature reportedly charged around the busy lanes at an incredible rate of speed, skillfully avoiding cars, trucks, and motorbikes as it did so. The Highways Agency announced that its staff was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. They did not. The final words from the agency were that a rumor was going around suggesting the creature had been captured “…but we don’t know where, who by, or what it was.” In other words, no-one really had a clue what was going on.

As I grew up in the area where the werewolf encounters occurred, the local press contacted me on several occasions for my views on the werewolf wave of 2007. When my comments were published – in both the Stafford Post and the Chase Post newspapers – it led several people to contact me with their own, hitherto unknown sightings.

They were all eerily similar: the location was the same, the old cemetery. And the nature of the beast was the same, too: it had the ability to run on both two legs and four, and when standing on its hind legs it reached a height of around seven feet. There was something else, too: all of the witnesses got a sudden feeling – but for reasons they couldn’t fathom – that the beast was both supernatural and downright evil.

Thankfully, there were no human casualties and the sightings of the graveyard werewolf finally faded away, as the summer of 2007 became the autumn, and as the days became shorter and the nights became longer.

We may never know, for sure, what the creature was, from where it came, or to where it vanished. But for the people that live in the vicinity of the Cannock Chase German War Cemetery, it’s likely to be a mayhem-filled few months they will never, ever forget. 

Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including his new release Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind . He has appeared on more than 70 TV shows, including: Fox News; the BBC’s Out of This World; the SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive; the History Channel’s Monster QuestAmerica’s Book of SecretsAncient Aliens, and UFO Hunters; the National Geographic Channel’s Paranatural; and MSNBC’s CountdownNick writes regularly for UFO MagazineMysterious Universe, and Fate.

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