ONE evening in the summer of 1958, 20-year-old Edward Bell left his home in Sunderland and took a bus to South Shields, intending to spend the night with his auntie, uncle and two cousins.
He was particularly thrilled because his uncle had promised to take the three boys to a football match the following day.
What actually happened turned out to be far more exciting.
According to Edward’s son, Billy, who related the tale to me, his father alighted from the bus and proceeded towards his aunt and uncle’s house several streets away.
At some point he became aware of a faint but distinct humming sound which “sounded electrical” in nature.
Sensing that the noise seemed to be coming from above his head, he looked up. He probably wished he hadn’t.
“My dad told me that he saw a circular object hovering directly above him,” said Billy.
“It was gun-metal grey in colour and had a blue light in the centre which was pulsing or throbbing.
“He was really scared, and ran for the house as fast as he could without looking up again.”
Billy said that he almost fell through the front door when his aunt opened it for him, and he blurted out his story.
His two cousins were naturally excited and raced outside to see if they could see the object.
To their amazement, they could; it was now hovering directly over a house on the other side of the street.
The humming was still audible, although according to Edward it was fainter. They could also see the blue light, although it was no longer throbbing.
The reaction of Edward’s uncle was interesting.
He was a lay preacher in his local church, and quickly formed the opinion that what they were looking at was “something devilish,” and he ordered the youngsters back inside.
However, he went upstairs into the front bedroom and peeked through the curtains.
The object remained stationary for about a minute, and then “shot off” over the adjoining streets.
Intriguingly, it left behind a faint, white glow which hung over the house for another minute or two before slowly dissipating.
Edward’s uncle told the boys not to mention the incident to anyone, as he was worried that people would think they were “going daft”.
Edward did as he was told, and only divulged what had happened to his own children after his parents, aunt and uncle had died.
There was one other interesting aspect to the case.
Three nights after the incident, Edward had a dream. In it he saw two men standing in front of him.
He recalled that one “looked normal” and had long, blond hair, while the other was completely bald and had skin which was “almost white”.
According to Edward the men were talking to each other in a language he couldn’t understand.
Then the “normal-looking man” turned to him and said: “Don’t worry. You are not to be needed now.”
The dream then ended abruptly. Edward was convinced that it was somehow connected with the strange UFO incident which happened days earlier.
“What stuck in his mind was the way the man in his dream said, ‘You are not to be needed now’.
It was a strange turn of phrase. Dad thought that the chap couldn’t speak good English.”
Edward had no further UFO encounters – or dreams about the odd men – after the incident.
Billy feels uncomfortable talking about it, and only agreed to the story being published if I agreed to give the family a pseudonymous surname.
“I’ve always worried that something similar might happen to me”, he told me.
“I saw a documentary on TV once which said things like this can run in families.
“My niece once saw strange lights in the sky. Nothing has happened to me yet, but I know my dad was telling the truth. He was an honest man.”
I’m sure he was, although the truth behind his experience will probably forever remain a mystery.
* Seen something strange? Tell Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org