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Strangest Mysteries of World War 2

Updated on September 29, 2021
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Nathan enjoys researching forgotten and unusual historical and paranormal events.


Unexplained WW 2 Mysteries

During the dark days of World War 2, when sudden death was not uncommon, strange stories began circulating about unexplained events experienced by soldiers, sailors, and air personnel out in the field. These stories would become scuttlebutt at the barracks, and if ever recorded officially, the files would be quickly shuffled away and forgotten.

A few of these mysterious tales made their way to the public, and became well known such as the odd reported sightings of small UFO's that were dubbed Foo Fighters. But many others slipped through the cracks, only surviving as hearsay and rumor.

The strange and uncanny have always gone hand in hand with war and conflict. Every war has it's tales of odd things seen and experienced. Stories of phantoms and ghosts have always been circulated in times of death and struggle. If some of these narrations were to be believed, many lost aircraft were still trying to return home with their crews. And phantom aircraft from another war were still occasionally spotted in the skies.

Even odder stories came in from obscure parts of the globe, where soldiers recorded things that shouldn't exist. Unexplainable sightings on jungle choked islands far removed from civilization. These are a few of those stories.

Red Baron Style Aircraft


The Ghost of the Red Baron

On a cool late evening in 1940, a lone fighter aircraft was flying over the Dover coastline. This night patrol was meant to give the pilot, Lt Grayson some experience on what should have been an uneventful evening. It was at this time that the German Luftwaffe was coming over the English Channel and creating havoc with the blitz over London. But this particular evening had been quiet with no enemy aircraft reported.

Grayson was alone in the sky flying by the light of the moon, when he noticed another aircraft off in the distance. He turned to intercept the intruder, realizing that no other friendly aircraft should be in this area. This would be his first run in with the enemy.

Grayson opened his throttles to close the gap, but couldn't seem to get much closer to the other plane. As he peered out his windshield trying to identify the intruder, it came out of a cloud and crossed in front of the moon giving him his first good look at it. He was shocked to see that the enemy aircraft was a old fashioned tri-winged plane with a small rounded tail. It looked to be red in color, and then Grayson saw that it was decorated with the iron cross on the fuselage, wings, and tail. In fact it looked exactly like the airplanes which flew in the previous war 25 years before. He tried to get closer, but ran into a rain squall which limited his vision. By the time he flew into open air again, the other airplane had vanished.

After returning to base, Lt. Grayson shared his story with the other pilots, expecting to be made the butt of jokes. However the other men didn't laugh, and told him that many of them had seen the WW1 vintage plane as well. They stated that the plane he saw was the infamous Fokker flown by Baron Manfred Von Richthofen, the infamous Red Baron who was shot down near the end of the last war.

Grayson would always insist on what he had seen, and it turns out that pilots on the other side met the phantom Red Baron as well. A few German patrols insisted that as they were about to engage the enemy, a red tri-winged plane appeared and raced ahead of them diving towards the enemy aircraft, disappearing just before it reached them. Perhaps the phantom of the Red Baron returned wanting to join the battle for Germany again as he had done in life.

The Headless Parachutist

On a visit to their former base, East Cowes on the Isle of Wight, a group of former RAF personnel were walking around taking in the airfield reminiscing. Suddenly their attention was diverted to the sky, where they spotted a parachutist coming down. The ex-soldiers watched in horror as they realized that the man underneath the canopy had no head. As the headless parachutist was about to touch the ground the figure vanished before their eyes. Incredulous, they inquired about the horrific sight to some of the locals, who noted that the ghost had been seen many times. However nobody knew who he was.

On another night a security officer was walking the perimeter with his German Shepherd guard dog when the parachute was spotted. The man and the dog looked up and watched the headless man fall towards the earth. The dog had seen enough and broke free from the handler. When the animal was finally found, it was crazed, and eventually had to be put down. In his book “Ghosts of the Air” author Martin Caidin stated “The animal saw the headless figure descending beneath the parachute. Perhaps he saw more than that”. Dogs do have better eyesight than we do, so perhaps he did see something more. I don't believe it was ever discovered who the unfortunate man was when alive, or why he keeps repeating his final descent minus his head.

Ghost Soldiers

Adak Island in the Alaskan Aleutian island chain is a place of bitter cold and harsh constant winds. A U.S. military base was established there during the second world war, and stayed active until it's closure in the mid 1990s. The Japanese military had invaded the Aleutian chain in 1942, and had an active presence there until they were driven out by American forces in 1943. While the military was still on Adak, servicemen stationed there began reporting seeing Japanese soldiers marching on the island.

A marine on guard duty had the best sighting of all, watching a couple lines of Japanese World War 2 era soldiers making their way towards Toothpick Bridge. The soldier observed them for some minutes before the marching soldiers suddenly faded away. He noted that he could not see their feet as they moved forward, only from the knee up. Why the soldiers began appearing the early nineties is unknown. Nobody had reported them before that. Were the Japanese soldiers marching towards the battle of Attu Island where they were defeated, and kicked out of the Aleutians? Or were they just trying to finally get back home? We will never know for sure.

The Orang Ikan

In 1943, an advance Japanese surveillance unit landed on one of the Kei Islands in Indonesia. The island had quiet beaches, and a peaceful lagoon, and the group of soldiers settled in for a few peaceful weeks before reentering the battle raging around them. During their time on the island, the soldiers began spotting what seemed to be creatures that looked to be part fish and part man swimming in the lagoon. A few of the soldiers even saw a couple of the strange things on the beach. The Sergeant in charge of the surveillance group Taro Horibe had seen these odd fish people himself, and tried to discover just what it was they were seeing.

The local inhabitants were familiar with the creatures, and called them 'Orang-Ikan”, or “Man-Fish”. The chief stated that if one was caught or found while the Japanese were on the island, he would let the sergeant know. Not long after, Sergeant Horibe was notified that a dead Orang-Ikan had been discovered on the beach. The sergeant went to the chief's house, and the creature was laid out in the yard.

Horibe looked over the “man fish”, and saw that the face and neck were covered with spines. A lip less mouth revealed a row of small sharp teeth. Much of the facial features were human, or at least ape like. It was about 5 ft long, and had arms and legs, as well as a mane of reddish brown hair. The fingers and toes were webbed, and the thing was pinkish in color.

Sergeant Horibe was perplexed at what he had seen, and couldn't make out what kind of animal it could be. After the war was over, Horibe, still disturbed by what he had found tried to get a few zoologists interested in going to the Kei islands to see for themselves. However in the aftermath of the war he found no takers.

What was it that these soldiers saw? Did they actually run into a completely unknown species that if found would rock the scientific world? Or was it just some clever manipulation by the islanders to drive them off the island? Sadly after all these years we will likely never know.

Ghost Bombers of World War 2


Caidin, M. Ghosts of the Air (2014)- Galde Press


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