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Observations placeholder

Mechanical malfunction on a flamboyant scale



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Art of Dying – Drs Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick

Mechanical malfunction on a flamboyant scale is described by Ron Baker, who sent us the following account. Ron says that it has been the only odd experience of his life, and has intrigued him ever since.

In 1954 I was serving in the RAF at a radar establishment at RAF Fairlight, near Hastings in Sussex. On a Bank Holiday weekend, when most of the camp was on a 72-hour pass, I was duty officer for the whole weekend, when only a skeleton staff was on the base. Late in the evening . . . I was sitting in the PBX having a late cup of coffee with the duty operator. At exactly 11 p.m. the switch board shut down and even the green light which indicated that the board was on mains power went out. What should have happened then was that a red, light should have lit, indicating that the emergency power supply had cut in. However, no red light showed and the switchboard was absolutely dead. The teleprinter which, like the PBX board, operated from a dedicated CPO landline, was also out of action. This meant that the station, one of the Chain Home radar watch units which protected our coastline during the then very worrying Cold War, was out of contact with all other units and therefore causing a break in the radar network, an extremely serious situation.

While the PBX operator carried out every possible check on the equipment, I went to the guardroom to report the problem and to arrange for someone to travel into Hastings to report the problem to the GPO emergency service.

This all took half an hour, then at exactly 11.30 the switch-board came back to life. This allowed us to call in the GPO engineer, who carried out a complete check without finding any fault at all. So, beyond making a report of the happening to our parent unit Duty Officer, no more could be done.

But at 9 a.m. the following morning a telegram arrived for the Station Commander from the family of an airman named Brown, one of the PBX operators who had gone home on leave, saying that he had been taken suddenly ill and had died the previous night at 11 p.m.!

Further checks by the GPO and by our own technical staff failed to find any fault with the landline or the switchboard or teleprinter, and the problem never occurred again.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps