MAPIT

An investigation of a strange vision 97 crewmembers of the LST-410 ship had during World War II, whilst in the Mediterranean. Below is a letter to the National Geographic Society from Mr. S. Barnes (crewmember).

Washington DC, USA  /  Dated : August 1992...

 

 

From Mr. S Barnes.

 

Dear Sir,

A few days ago I came across a small advert in the National Geographic Society Magazine. This prompted me for the first time to put into writing after nearly 50 years, an experience I, and the crew of a Tank Landing craft, had in the Mediterranean during the last war, bordering on the supernatural. This was directly related to an article in the National Geographic Magazine. I still have no rational explanation of what we saw. Why didn’t I write earlier ?  My only excuse, I was always going to write tomorrow or later, I was in no hurry, I had no fears about forgetting details about what I saw, and 98 of the crew of the Landing Ship Tank 410. So I contented myself from that day to this, telling people, my wife, family and friends, but never writing till now. What also prompted this letter is that I am nearly 71 years of age, if I don’t write, then this fantastic experience will never be known. On our return from the Mediterranean to England, I read an article in the National Geographic Magazine which not only confirmed what we saw, but gave dates and details of similar sightings from years ago. It was the information in your article which prompted this letter and the expression - bordering on the supernatural. I drafted on rough notes, the full story many years ago, these I use now.

 

My story starts in New York docks in 1943, where I first saw the ship I was to serve on for the best part of the last war. The ship was an American built Landing Ship Tank, its number 410 (LST 410). The ship was commissioned by the Royal Navy crew of which I was a petty officer electrical mechanic, the ships company totalled 98 officers and men. Some weeks later, we left New York and arrived in the Mediterranean at the close of the North African Campaign. The piling material for our first invasion. Sicily on ‘D’ day, July 10th 1943. This was followed by the invasion of Salerno on ‘D’ day, and later the invasion of Anzio again ‘D’ day. A few months later it was back to England and the ‘D’ day invasion of France, June 6th 1944. It was approximately July 1943, whilst in the Mediterranean the following occurred. We were steaming at our normal speed of 10 - 11 Knots, position East of Malta, (well out of sight of any land). At approximately 9.00 am I left the dynamo room which was in the bowels of the ship and made my way to the upper deck, to see what the weather was like. It was a beautiful day, the sea was calm, the sky a deep blue colour, except for a low bank of cotton wool clouds which formed an unbroken wall on our starboard side. A few moments, and back to the dynamo room where a faulty governor on one of the diesel generators was producing varying voltage. Approximately one hour later, a clattering on the iron ladders, told us someone was coming into the dynamo room. It was one of the seamen from the upper deck, who attempted to convey some information to us by pointing excitably upwards with a pointing finger, and attempting to shout over the roar of the diesel generators.

 

After several attempts at lip reading and putting our ears to his mouth, we took the message to imply ‘had we seen the City in the Sky’. More excited gestures and he was gone. With visions of cloud formations which vaguely resembled a city, the long climb up the vertical ladder, a second climb onto the upper deck, the opening of a water-tight hatch and the job in hand, I stayed in the dynamo room. Some 20 minutes later, another visitor, this time one of the engineers from the engine room, who extremely excited mouthed ‘go on the upper deck, see the City in the Sky’. This definitely indicated something different. Collecting my steel helmet, life belt and respiration, I climbed from the dynamo room and was soon in brilliant sunshine on the upper deck - completely blinded, after the dim lighting on the ladder. As I regained my sight I saw 40 - 50 of the ships company lining the guard rails on the starboard side, all gazing up to the sky at an angle of approximately 40 degrees, likewise the gun crews on the gun platforms, the lookouts and the bridge personnel. On the starboard side resting on the top of the cotton wool clouds, was the most beautiful city I'd have ever seen. The city looked about one mile away, in full colour, like a gigantic colour television screen, but approximately one mile wide. (My original notes did not contain the words colour television - as they were not invented then). The city was positioned on the clouds with the rear of the city higher than the front so the whole was in elevation. Now the hard part. How to explain in ordinary words how fantastically beautiful the whole city was. There were ‘buildings’ the very, the very name an insult, these were glistening white palaces with turrets and castleated walls in white marble, sat in fantastic gardens and tree studded parkland, bordered with lawns, flower beds, fountains and pools all in fantastic colour.

 

Walking, playing, sitting on the lawns and fountains were many people and families, even children and dogs. Although the ship was out of sight of land, it seems strange, we could see people, let alone identify children and dogs, but as previously stated, we were looking at a city one mile away. The people although very small could be identified as men, women, and children. The ladies were wearing long black skirts which reached the floor like those in Victorian times. On my original report I have made two drawings, one of the city and another of the size of the people. The dog was running all over the place. Through the centre of the city ran a beautiful wide thoroughfare with side roads on each side. Each side road were fringed with fantastic lawns, vivid flower beds, flowers and wonderful palaces. The wide thoroughfare was aligned exactly with the starboard side of the ship, we were all looking along it as it tapered to nothing in the distance. (Even the name thoroughfare or roads are crude in trying to explain how wonderful everything looked). Along the side roads and main thoroughfare, ran a constant stream of traffic, fine looking cabs drawn by a horse, an open coach, drawn by two horses. A type of London scene, but like a Victorian scene. These would stop at the side of the roads or thoroughfare, passengers would disembark, others would enter and the cab or coach would join the main stream. At this point, the comment of the ships company give a much better impression than trying to put this in writing. Such as :- ‘Look at that coach near the two fountains, four people have just got out. That tiny dot must be a dog, its running about’. ‘See that big fountain on the left near the marble entrance on the left, there’s a group sitting under the trees, on the grass. They must be having a picnic’.

 

And many, many more… Suddenly from the starboard Oerlikan gun platform by one of the gun crew, a remark caused complete silence. ‘Hey, there’s no army transport, it’s war time and there’s nothing’. This remark started a flood of similar observations :- ‘Hey, there’s no motor cars or trucks or lorries of any kind’. ‘There’s no bicycles, buses or trams’. ‘Where are the houses, shops or hotels’. There’s no telephone poles or wires, not even posters or signs’. ‘There’s no theatres or cinema's’. ‘Have you noticed?, there’s no concrete or bricks or slate roofs’. Being an electrical mechanic I looked for the power station or pylons. Nothing! Likewise, gas works or rubbish tips. None! No railway lines, stations or docks. Only the marble buildings or palaces, glistening white, set in fantastic colour, as far as the eyes could see. Now a remark that really describes what we were looking at :- ‘It’s like peace time, but its not modern’. For some three quarters of a hour we stood and gazed and wondered. The city had not changed one fraction. I left the upper deck for the dynamo room (duty called), to check how things were going. Some half an hour later I again stood on the upper deck, the city was still there, just as before. Duty again called, and down to the dynamo room again, to receive another visitor clattering down the ladder after 30 minutes or so, with the mouthed words ‘Come up top - the city is breaking up’. On deck the city had indeed started to break up, just like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, with some of the parts missing, not from the edges but all over. Some 20 minutes after all that remained was a few pieces, an odd flower bed, some people, a palace, and a carriage, each piece just as bright and colourful as earlier. It was most strange to see, a beautiful blue sky dotted with little coloured irregular shaped pieces, with moving people in some of them. Shortly all was gone, the sky and cotton wool clouds as before. The city became a memory, as we were recalled to England, for the invasion of France ‘D‘ day.

 

We were given five days leave after one and a half years action. On arriving home I was soon telling my adventures during the invasion in the Mediterranean, and of course, the City in the Sky. My mother and father and wife well remember this. Then came ‘D’ day France and then, later, another five days leave. It was on this leave, or the previous leave, which would be approximately two months before or after ‘D’ day, that my father, who was a caretaker in a Manchester Technical College, brought into the house a pile of magazines. These were National Geographic Magazines, going back some 12 months. The college had these delivered to the staff room each month. After they were finished with they were given away. As he handed them to me he said, ‘You can read these, there’s some good reading’. I read several magazines till I came to one, which on the page, had a heading which seamed extremely interesting. ‘Legends of the Sea’; or something similar. I know that just before the heading, was a reproduced old map, with little cherubs in the corners, blowing air into sailing ships sails. The article contained, (I’m thinking many years ago), the Flying Dutchman, Sea Monsters, Giant Octopus, The Sea of Dead Ships (Sargiasso) etc, But one title stood out which I remember) :- The City in the Sky. This certainly made me sit up! It read, ‘For many years, Ancient mariners sailing in the Mediterranean, have reported seeing a most beautiful City in the Sky’. I think there was a description, there was certainly a list of dates when the City was seen. The sightings read, 50 years ago 75 years ago, 110 years ago, and even 150 years ago. These dates are as near as I can remember. This of course was fantastic; to hear that the crew of the LST 410, were not the only ones to have seen this ‘City’. But not as fantastic as the next few lines which hit me straight between the eyes. This simply stated that in all the sightings of the City in the Sky, each ancient mariner reported that ‘It was a City not of their time. A City at least 100 years in the past’. I was shaken, as again I recalled the words of the crew of the LST 410, ‘Hey there’s no motor cars or lorries etc etc’. Also the ladies in their long Victorian type skirts, Cabs and London type horse drawn coaches and ‘It’s like peace time, but it’s not modern’. No power stations, railways, or gas works. Surely any city or mirage of our time, would in the three or more hours on viw have at least some present day aspect. There was none! Not even the modern motor car. To conclude with a technical question, which to me, is just as fantastic as the above :-

 

On reading this report, the city was in view from approximately 9.00 am till 12.30 pm, when it finally broke up. As stated previously the city was positioned with the main thoroughfare pointing directly at the ship on our starboard side. The city was in view for approximately three and a half hours. The LSTs speed was approximately 8 / 9 Knots. Total distance would be approximately 40 miles. At no time did we see the city in any other position or angle; but from the first sighting at 9.00 am, the main thoroughfare pointed exactly at the starboard of the LST 410 and remained like that for the whole duration. At 1.00 pm when the city finally broke up, one would have expected to see the city in the distance (if at all); but it wasn’t. It was still in the same positon on our starboard side. I freely admit, that if I had received a letter as this one, a city 100 years or so in the past, which was capable of keeping pace with a warship, Id have very serious doubts, but then again, what about the many previous sightings, the ancient mariners. I wonder did it keep pace with their ships? Why did this city position itself so exactly on the clouds, that we saw it from its best viewing point - straight through the centre? And, as we steamed at right angles to the city for 36 - 40 miles - for the city to have been in the same position, could only mean one thing. The sighting must have turned to keep itself aligned with us, or moved with us? The latter seems more feasible. If the city had turned, we would have seen the city as it broke up Astern! To conclude : I have no explanation at all for what we saw, only that the above is a true and exact account of what myself and the crew of the LST 410 saw. Unfortunately due to the excitement of the invasion of France, the original National Geographic Magazine was mislaid (Circa 1944). I would dearly like to have any information in your archive regarding the sightings before and after and the dates. What would really be fantastic, would be to match these accounts with any you may have. As previously stated, this account was copied from my original. I have a pencil sketch of the city also, showing the layout. A final thought - could this sighting is added to the others (old mariners sightings). I am aged 71, the sighting was nearly 50 years ago. Does this make me an old mariner?

 

Finally, just a few points which later come to mind :- The city during its total sighting time did not fade, shimmer or move in any way. The people cabs dogs did move. Very solid with no fancy colours. Square construction in general. The palaces were constructed of marble or similar, with walls terminated at the top as sketched or similar. There were no :- 1. Flagpoles.   2. Signs.   3. Posters.   4. Seaside.   5. Docks.   6. Ships.   7. Round Towers.   8. Apex Roofs.

9. Brickwork.   10. Concrete.   11. Spires.  12. Minarets.   13. No colours of any kind on the buildings. On reflection : the direction of the traffic was on the left! As it is in Britain. The sighting took place whilst in the Mediterranean. It is impossible to convey the massive size of the city when drawing it on an A4 piece  paper. There were hundreds of people in the city moving. All moving!  A few years back I contacted our first lieutenant, aged 93 and nearly blind.

 

‘HE REMEMBERED THE CITY’ !!!

 

Mr. S. Barnes BEM BSc Hons.

Ex PO Electrical Mechanic.

LST 410.

 

 

 

During the latter part of January 1998, I was confronted with an investigation regarding one of the most profound things I have ever heard. Mr. Sid Barnes, was an Electrical Mechanic on board the LST (Landing Ship Tank) 410 during the second World War. Whilst in the Mediterranean during 1943, he and 97 crewmembers witnessed a huge vision in the sky for over three and a half hours. Mr. Barnes, remembers reading of such phenomena in a National Geographic Magazine sometime in 1944 which has prompted him to attempt to relocate this article and any subsequent information. As you have read, Mr. Barnes set a rather detailed letter to the National Geographic Society in August of 1992. Unfortunately, the National Geographic Society were not very helpful... Well….. You can imagine the work we had ahead. To begin with, I thought it best to become well acquainted with temperature inversions, often called mirages. I finally came across several interesting cases:- A mirage is usually defined in terms of an atmospheric distortion and an optical illusion. Light from an object may be bent (refracted) or reflected by air, and the mind of the beholder is liable to see something which is not what it appears to be. For example, a thirsty traveller in the desert may be looking at the sky reflected on a layer of hot air over the sand. The mind, however, sees instead a pool of water and may even add to the imagined scene the palm trees of a surrounding oasis. Some Canadian scientists have used "mirages" to explain lake monsters being nothing more than a piece of wood floating on a placid lake or a UFO as a bright planet seen through a turbulent sky. Although this may be true sometimes, I would rather see some explanation as to how a vast and detailed image of a city might be projected into the sky, if it is only a mirage.

 

In the Transactions of the British Association for the Advancement of Science of 1847, Dr. D.P. Thomson reported that "during the exhibition of a panoramic model of Edinburgh, in the Zoological Gardens at Liverpool, on Sept. 27, 1846, about 3 P.M., an erect image of Edinburgh, depicted on the clouds over Liverpool, was seen by two residents in the Great Park at Birkenhead, for a period of forty minutes." Edinburgh is about 325 kilometers north of Liverpool.  Another extraordinary mirage was reported in the London Times as having occurred on July 28, 1846, at 3:30 A.M., near Stralsund (then part of Pomerania and now Germany). During a short walk from the city on the Baltic shore, witnesses saw in a pale blue light the image of Stralsund looming over the Isle of Rugen on the opposite shore for a period of 15 minutes. The image was clear enough that details of the facade of the Gothic church of St. Mary could be "distinguished with ease."  An American prospector, Mr. Willoughby, claimed he heard an Indian legend of a city appearing in the sky each summer near Mount Fairweather, on the Alaska-Yukon border. Mr. Willoughby said he first saw the mirage in 1887 and offered a photograph as proof that the phenomenon was real. In 1889, the New York Times reported that 'the city in Willoughby's photograph had been identified as Bristol, England'. This story and the photograph were included in a later edition of 'Miner Bruce's Alaska'. Two other cities were said to have been seen over the Muir Glacier in Alexander Badlam's Wonders of Alaska. Badlam reprinted Willoughby's photograph, which depicts a view of a city from a hillside with house fronts and church steeples clearly visible; and, if not claimed to be photographed in Alaska, it could readily be accepted as a photograph of Bristol.

 

However, a second photograph is presented with an African or Asian city superimposed upon another of a glacier. Badlam writes that the photographer had captured the mirage's image by aiming his camera into a pan of quicksilver and that the city seen in the sky was believed to be sunken in the waters of the bay in front of the glacier. The third city was supposedly sketched from a photograph, but the fanciful spires and towers of the artist more closely resemble the looming mirages of Arctic icefields or the Fata Morgana of the Straits of Messina than anything else. Badlam's stories are as hard to swallow as a plate of "snow worms" set before a tenderfoot in Alaska, yet the stories of cities in the sky were repeated by other witnesses. One of the members of the Duke d'Abruzzi's expedition to Mount St. Elias, C.W. Thornton, told Miner Bruce he saw what looked like a city in the summer of 1897; L.B. French was quoted by the New York Times in 1889 as seeing houses, streets, and large buildings, either mosques or cathedrals, near Mount Fairweather; and, a correspondent of London's Weekly Times and Echo returning from the "Yukon Goldfields," saw a city in the sky in June of 1897 and wrote: "...whether this city exists in some unknown world on the other side of the North Pole, or not, it is a fact that this wonderful mirage occurs from time to time yearly, and we were not the only ones who witnessed the spectacle." Phantom cities may have loomed over Alaska, but the fact that no sizeable city could be found within a thousand kilometers of Mount Fairweather did not deter the scientists of the time from speculating that some extraordinary property of the atmosphere would show a scene from distant Bristol. What other evidence apart from the testimony of witnesses and Willoughby's photograph would offer any credence to cities being seen above the wilderness of Alaska?  The same phenomenon exists in Ireland. The "Duna Feadhreagh," or fairy castles, have long been reported. On the coasts of Antrim, Donegal, and Waterford, enchanted islands have been seen rising from the depths into the skies.

 

The Chronological Description of Connaught, written in 1684, says: "There is, westward of Arran in sight of the next continent Skerde, a wild island of huge rocks; there sometimes appear to be a great city far off, full of houses, castles, towers, and chimneys, sometimes full of blazing flames, smoke, and people running to and fro. Another day you would see nothing but a number of ships, with their sailes and riggingsa; then so many great stakes or reekes of corn and turf."  At Rathlin, in 1817, a green island was believed to arise out of the sea every seventh year upon which could be distinctly seen people "engaged in various other occupations common to a fair."  At Youghal, a walled town was seen distinctly in October of 1797. By June of 1801, the mirage had grown into an unknown city with mansions and forests behind. Such marvels were recounted by Dr. Thomson in his Introduction to Meteorology and before the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1852 by Mr. M'Farland (who had witnessed a fairy island arise from the ocean off Portbalintrea in June of 1833). Sir Charles Lyell, the distinguished geologist, wrote of seeing a mirage of Toronto in the sky over Lake Ontario during his second visit to North America. What I find intriguing is that such accounts of extraordinary mirages take on forms which are recognisable, they are seen on repeated occasions, and sometimes a panorama of images and events are observed. Not only have phantom cities been seen in the skies, but also armies and ships, described in detail. Such phenomena may have less to do with atmospheric conditions than with displays of a ghostly nature on a vaster scale. In the British science journal Nature, accounts of mirages in Scandinavia, such as the one here in May of 1882, may have helped prompt an earlier acceptance of tales from a sourdough in Alaska and the legends of the Irish:

 

The frequent observations of the mirage in the south of Sweden is very remarkable. From time to time we are told that whole landscapes, cities, and castles, with moving objects, have been observed reflected on the sky for hours, and we again learn that a similar display of the forces of Nature was seen one afternoon last month over the lake of Orsa, in a remote part of Dalcarlia, lat. 61 degrees, which is stated to have reflected a number of large and small steamers, as if plying on the lake, and from whose funnels even the smoke could be observed to rise. Later on the scene changed to a landscape, the vessels now taking the form of islands in the lake, covered with more or less vegetation, and at last the mirage dissolved itself in a haze. The phenomenon, which lasted from 4 to 7 o'clock, is said to have furnished a most magnificent spectacle. As for the ship... Landing Ship Tank, abbreviation LST, naval ship specially designed to transport and deploy troops, vehicles, and supplies onto foreign shores for the conduct of offensive military operations. LSTs were designed during World War II to disembark military forces without the use of dock facilities or the various cranes and lifts necessary to unload merchant ships. They gave the Allies the ability to conduct amphibious invasions at any location on a foreign shore that had a gradually sloped beach. This ability permitted the Allies to assault poorly defended sectors, thereby achieving operational surprise and in some cases even tactical surprise. The National Geographic replied to Mr. Barnes during September 1992. This is what they had to say:-  

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Barnes,

 

First of all, thank you for a captivating letter. I scoured the Society’s library and comprehensive index for any mention of the phenomenon that you reported, but have come across precious little – not even the National Geographic article that you say that you read. In our comprehensive index, I was excited to find mention of a brief reference to the phantom ship ‘The Flying Dutchman’. Unfortunately, the reference – in an August 1942 article about South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope – did not include information on the ‘City in the Sky’, or the other sea legends that you mention. Enclosed is a copy of that brief reference. The Subject Guide to Books in Print, an index of American magazines, did not list any articles by the title ‘Legends of the Sea’ between July 1934 and April 1947. (I checked the guide thinking that there was a possibility that you saw the article in another publication). Next, I turned to our library’s books of maritime folklore. Though these books yielded much information on phantom ships and the like, I did not find one mention of the ‘City‘.  Nevertheless, I have enclosed excerpts. Finally, I checked the Society’s extensive collection of clippings from various newspapers, magazines, etc. Although I found articles on an interesting and slightly similar phenomenon, there was nothing about the ‘City’ - and nothing to challenge its drama. A couple of questions occur to me Mr. Barnes. Have you had recent contact with any of your shipmates? Did any of them attempt to photograph this event? It might be worth-while to try to track down some of your shipmates, as they might have come across information that is eluding you and me. Although I have only superficial knowledge of the following organisations, perhaps they will be able to provide some helpful information:

 

The Centre for Short Lived Phenomena. Post Office Box 199, Harvard Square Station, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02238, U.S.A.

 

The Society for the Research and Investigation of Phenomena. 73, Old Mint Street, Valletta, Malta.

 

The International Fortean Organisation. P.O. Box 367, Arlington, Virginia 22210-0367, U.S.A.

 

The Society for the Scientific Exploration Department of Astronomy. P.O. Box 3818, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903 U.S.A.

 

The World Institute for Advanced Phenomenological Research & Learning. 348 Payson Road, Belmont, Massachusetts 02178, U.S.A.

 

The Institut Metapsychique, Int’l, 1, Place De Wagram, F-75017 Paris, France.

 

The International Collectors of Unusual Data. C/o Raymond Nelke, 2313, Shields Avenue, Saint Louis, Missouri 63136, U.S.A.

 

The Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained. P.O. Box 265, Little Silver, New Jersey 07739, U.S.A.

 

I am disappointed not to have found references to the ‘City in the Sky’, especially since I was fascinated by both the story and by your compelling account of it. I am keeping your letter on file and returning a copy to you, in case you did not keep a copy. Please let me know if you come across any further information, Mr. Barnes. I do hope that the information I have provided will prove helpful.

 

Thank you for writing.

Yours Truly,

 

Patrick J. McGeehan

Research Correspondence

September 24th 1992.

 

 

So far, I had obtained an overwhelming amount of information regarding Mr. Barnes, the LST 410 and Temperature Inversions. To begin with, it was necessary to confirm Mr. Barnes actually served on the LST 410. This was the easy part. I obtained Mr. Barnes Service Records, stating that he served as an E.M. Electrical Mechanic.

 

Further information obtained consisted of:

LST photographs, The original LST Naval Training Videos from the Central office of Information, Maps of the Mediterranean and the LST 410 routes, drawings of the City in the Sky by Mr. Barnes, Generator Diagrams, Photographs of Anzio, and crewmembers of the LST 410, LST commissioning documents from the Ministry of Defence Naval Historical Branch, Operation Shingle documentation, Operation Husky documentation, LST 410 movements from August 1943 – April 1944, Documentation regarding the study of the Brocken Spectre, The LST 410 plans and specifications, LST load and unload data, letters to and from other crewmembers of the LST 410, Recommendation for decoration for several crewmembers, LST 410 movements from June 1943 – September 1944, references to the ‘City in the Sky’ or ‘Cities in the Sky’, The LST Association details and information, LST plans and video and audio recordings. The list goes on and on… But what of the real important stuff I was needing? Ship and Deck Logs, Muster Rolls and Crewmember Lists, and of course, as much information on this type of anomaly as we can find… I have conducted some lengthy research in hope of finding the old National Geographic article that mentioned the ‘City in the Sky’. I conducted an in depth search through all of 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944 of the National Geographic and unfortunately only found a small piece regarding the ‘Flying Dutchman’ in April 1944 National Geographics Supplements.  I also quickly realised that such temperature inversions that take place in the Mediterranean such as Fata Morganas would obviously show an inverted image of a city and certainly not in its up-right normal position. Inverted thus  taken from the word Inversion…

 

It was not until a year later I found my answer... Some phenomena can be explained in scientific terms, others still remain a mystery, often due to the lack of reported incidents, the rarity, or the simply lack of funding to support a scientific based investigation. As suspected a rare type of Fata Morgana (superior type) mirage was responsible. Castles in the air is a term often used to describe imaginary constructions, it can also be used to describe a very real optical phenomenon known as the fata morgana effect, in which different levels of hot and cold air distort the appearance of objects on the horizon to make them look like, well,... castles in the air. The term first entered English usage in 1818, when it was used to describe an occurrence of the phenomenon in the Strait of Messina, a narrow body of water between Sicily and the region of Calabria in southern Italy. Technically, fata morganas are a type of mirage, related to those visions of water in the desert, or less exotically, to those seeming pools of water on the highway on a hot day. However, the latter two are examples of inferior mirages, while fata morganas are classified as superior mirages. It’s not that fata morganas are inherently better than the others; the difference lies in the way each mirage is produced. What Mr. Barnes and his crewmembers witnessed was a rare form of Fata Morgana which is known to take place in the very location they were in. A matter of being in the right place at the right time. An atmospheric phenomenon that is rarely seen twice in a lifetime. As for the strange image in the sky, it must have been of a place which existed somewhere, even though it looked as if it was Victorian like. If such a city was real, then it most certainly would have looked as if it was from the past. I have tried to find such a city which would resemble the descriptions given, but have found nothing vaguely similar. If the crewmembers had seen something from the past, then we may be dealing with a completely new type of unknown phenomenon, one which stores images and many year later, projects them into the sky... Truly strange!

 

For now, I'm more than happy to conclude a rare form of atmospheric phenomena and close the case on a mystery that's lasted over half a century...

 

Compiled by Steve Mera.

Special Thanks to Stewart Greenslade.

 

 

Photographs:

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THE CITY IN THE SKY

Corporate Investigation: Case No. 26416

An Unusual Atmospheric Phenomenon

Specialists in confidential corporate investigation & research

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Corporate Investigation

Case No. 26416

Investigation on behalf of:

The British Maritime Museum &

the clients.

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