On the chilly autumn evening of November 16, 1963, 17-year old John Flaxton, 18-year old Mervyn Hutchinson and two other youthful friends were walking home from a party on Sandling Road in the county of Kent — a region apparently rife with cryptozoological and paranormal activity — when they saw a silent, glowing, orb-like object descending from the heavens.
The unusual, self illuminated, ovoid object, which was described as being just a few meters in diameter, hovered above a field. It eventually made its way behind the trees and settled into the shadow infested foliage of the woods at Sandling Park.
While the teenagers were still reeling from their astonishing sighting, something even more inconceivable would soon grab their attention. Moments after the extraordinary craft apparently landed behind the trees, the teens noticed a shaking in the brush and what emerged was one of the most unique “varmints” ever to be chronicled in ufology.
Later the four horrified eyewitnesses would explain that an erratic, shambling, quasi-humanoid figure emerged from the woods and waddled towards them. The beast apparently looked like a headless bat that was approximately 5-feet tall, with large webbed feet and wings protruding from its back. In Hutchinson’s own words:
“It didn’t seem to have any head. There were huge wings on its back… like bat wings.”
The group of friends, understandably overwhelmed with terror and adrenaline, sprinted away from the freakish bat-thing and made their way to the nearest police station. Once there they related their tale to what one must assume were highly skeptical officers. Flaxton would later state that he had “felt cold all over” during the episode.
Less than a week later, on the 21st of November, a young man named Keith Croucher seemed to confirmed the teens claim of an unusual object soaring over Kent, when he announced that he too had seen a oddly shaped craft hovering over the local soccer field, not far from where Flaxton and his crew had claimed to have their curious encounter with a UFO and its bizarre occupant .
On November 23rd, John McGoldrick decided that the reports coming from Sandling Park were simply too outrageous to be ignored. So, after soliciting the help of an unnamed (yet clearly intrepid) friend, McGoldrick and his cohort made their way to the site of all the unusual goings on, hoping perchance to have a face to face encounter with the strange alien creature.
Once inside the wooded area, McGoldrick claimed that he and his companion discovered no less than three “footprints” — each 24-inches long and nine inches across. He also stated that they had stumbled across a area where the foliage bracken had been flattened, as if by some tremendous weight.
McGoldrick’s claims caught the ear of the local press, who were no doubt eager to feed the public’s ever growing appetite for new information regarding this strange phenomenon. To that end, the newsmen accompanied McGoldrick back to the scene of the “weirdness” on December 11th.
While the reporters did not manage to turn up any new evidence, it was stated that thickets were were still bathed in an eerie glow, which continued for some days before subsiding. The case was reported in scads of newspapers as well as a 1971 issue of “Flying Saucer Review,” under the title the “Saltwood Mystery,” due to its proximity to the area.
In the 1970s, ufologist Chris Wolfe also re-opened the case of this almost AVIAN-ANOMALY. According to records, he interviewed Flaxton and also inspected the scene of the unearthly encounter.
Following his investigation, Wolfe came to the dubious conclusion that what Flaxton, Hutchinson and their chums actually saw was an ordinary crow oddly illuminated by the flashing of an electric train passing not far away in the chilled autumnal air. He apparently did not attempt to explain, however, how the crow managed to appear to be nearly 5-feet in height, web footed or headless. Other skeptics have even more dubiously suggested that the quartet saw nothing more than a scarecrow.
Thus ends the apparent saga of the Bat Beast of Kent, but it has been pointed out by numerous investigators that — as unusual as this creature’s description was — it bears an uncanny resemblance to its British crypto-cousin (and Cornwall’s most famous monster) the OWLMAN.
The headless, bat-like description also begs comparison to a bizarre, yet eerily common, breed of cryptid that includes West Virginia’s MOTHMAN, Germany’s FREIBURG SHRIEKER, China’s MAN-DRAGON and the former Soviet Union’s BLACK BIRD OF CHERNOBYL — just to name a few.
Most of the aforementioned creatures are considered by many Fortean researchers to be “paranormal” entities, essentially oracles of doom, but what makes the Kent case so intriguing is that it marks the first reported association between these bizarre beings and the UFO phenomenon.
While, admittedly, none of the young eyewitnesses saw the thing actually exit the UFO, one would be hard pressed to deny at least some tenuous connection between the unusual aircraft seen landing in the woods at Sandling Park and the monster that soon thereafter emerged from the thicket… and ever after into the lore of both ufology and cryptozoology.