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Monday, December 18, 2023

Decemystery (2022.3) 18: The Air Battle Above the Netherlands


Something I’ve been meaning to do is cover older mysteries from medieval times and even before that. Unfortunately, when it comes to them, documentation can be spotty at best. At worst, it’s close to non-existent. That’s to be expected, though, given these are reports from centuries ago. It’s amazing there are even accounts of strange happenings at all; I would have thought everyone who said they saw lights in the sky would be burned at the stake.

Still, for this year, I wanted to finally stop telling myself I’d do that and, you know, actually cover an older mystery. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done since, as I said, a lot of stories are very scarce when it comes to information. You’d be amazed at how many cases tend to be a few sentences long. One story I found was a whopping four words long.

Luckily, after some digging around, I found some stories that were more than just “lights were seen” or “a weird animal was spotted.” It took me a lot longer than I care to admit, but I digress. For today’s Decemystery entries, we’ll be taking a time machine back to the 17th century—the first time we’ll have done that on this blog, oddly enough.

For our first case, we’ll be taking a trip across the Atlantic and visiting the beautiful kingdom of the Netherlands, the home of the Dutch and host to a lot of fascinating stories. It’s here where we’ll find quite possibly one of the most fantastical UFO sightings I’ve ever come across. It reads like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster, but that can’t be the case because this was actually satisfying to read and didn’t leave me feeling like I’d wasted 11 bucks on a movie ticket, along with 2 hours of my life. Nay, this was fulfilling; come along as we dive into the tale of The Air Battle Over the Netherlands!

The Sky’s the Limit

I found today’s stories on the ever-so-amazing Think About It Docs, specifically on the page that compiled UFO reports from 1600–1649. The original source for the story was a book entitled “The Chronicle of the UFO” by Michel Bougard. I couldn’t find a copy of the book online (like on, say, the Internet Archive), but from what I can gather, Bougard is a ufologist who’s written a lot about UFOs. I believe he’s French; the books he’s written are in French, anyway, though the hyperlinked website—Euro UFO—denotes him as being from Belgium. Regardless of where he’s from, Bougard’s book—which was written in 1977 and compiled various old UFO reports, its original title being La chronique des OVNI—is the only one that documented this case.

Our story occurred in May 1646 in The Hague, Netherlands—and to anyone wondering: yes, it is called The Hague. I checked because I’d never heard of this city, but that’s apparently its name. Anyway, on what I hope was a lovely day, the denizens of The Hague were out doing whatever they did in the mid-17th century, presumably being peasants or pompous high-class nobilities.

At some point, their day—and likely their whole world—was flipped on its head. What happened exactly is hard to discern on account of how Think About It Docs worded it—though it’s possible it’s the fault of the translation of Bougard’s original text. Either way, what I believe occurred was that the people of The Hague saw “strange people and animals” in the sky. That’s what Think About It Docs says, and I’d just like to say that I envisioned a bunch of galleons with a steampunk aesthetic and mechanical dragons when I first read that; it’s so cool.

My mental image aside, the sudden arrival of these sky-people and animals weren’t the only oddities above The Hague. Southeast of the city, a “significant fleet” of airships with “many sailors” had also appeared. What followed was a large-scale battle between the two parties. How long it lasted isn’t said, nor is it stated if any collateral damage was sustained. I find the lack of information on the latter particularly odd because you’d think that a battle over a city would result in catastrophic damage; just look at what happened with The Battle of Los Angeles. That didn’t even involve a dogfight, yet the number of artillery shells caused damage to the surrounding area!

I digress, though. The battle between the two factions raged on for an unknown amount of time until “a great cloud appeared” and presumably enveloped the sky-beings. Once it did, they disappeared to someplace; if I had to guess, I’d say they went to the nether or another dimension.

That’s where the story effectively ends, and while it’s short, it’s not the only account like it. In 1561, a mysterious “celestial phenomenon” occurred over Nuremberg, Germany. Five years later, in 1566, another unexplained “celestial phenomenon” took place in the skies above Basel, Switzerland. In the case of the former event, the UFOs fought each other, just like with the event over The Hague.

Throughout history, there have been reports of UFOs duking it out in the sky; why, exactly, they feel the need to fight in our airspace is beyond me. The cases mentioned above are but two of them; others exist, and most have explanations. These range from cases of mass hysteria to the stories being tampered with in order to fit an agenda. While the latter may sound wild, it’s worth noting the era in which these events took place.

With that in mind, I believe it’s time to dive into the theories. There are quite a few for us to go over. So come along as we return to the present to discuss them!


1. A dogfight between alien factions

Our inaugural theory is one that’s self-explanatory. There was a momentary conflict between a group of extraterrestrials in the sky that was witnessed by the people of The Hague. This, as I mentioned above, isn’t something novel; there have been reports of battles between aliens in the sky before. Granted, I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of them involving animals. When I read that, I imagine a battle in a steampunk-ish world with mechanical birds or something of that nature, but I digress.

Although there’s a precedent of some kind when it comes to this theory, there is a major flaw with it. Namely, if there was a battle between aliens above a city, there should be collateral damage. While it’s not a guarantee, you’d think that shots being fired, along with the potential for something being blown out of the sky, would result in damage to the world below. Yet, as far as I can tell, no such thing happened.

On top of that, while UFOs are said to be capable of vanishing, what occurred here is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. Two fleets of airships disappearing thanks to a cloud sounds like a magic trick and not a battle being taken elsewhere—if it ever did go elsewhere. If someone who’s more well-versed in the realm of UFOs can offer an explanation, I would greatly appreciate it. Until then, that’s something that doesn’t sound like alien technology.

There are also the other battles that occurred in Europe the previous century; if you want to make up some deep lore about aliens that secretly live on Earth, you could theorize that two factions went to war around this time and were duking it out in the skies of Earth. It wouldn’t be the oddest theory about aliens fighting here on our humble little planet; trust me on that.

Despite those issues, this is arguably the most obvious conclusion—in the sense that we take everything at face value. It was the mid-17th century and there was an aerial battle going on. If we just take that description as is, the clear culprits are extraterrestrials. Who they were and why they decided to fight here as opposed to space or not over a populated area is beyond me; maybe they were environmental conservationists. I’ve heard that aliens like to criticize our preservation of nature; maybe they didn’t want to harm the trees. Anyway, this is but a couple of today’s theories, so let’s get to the next one.

2. A dogfight between interdimensional beings

This is effectively the same theory as the one above, only instead of being aliens from our universe, they were from another one, the large cloud being some sort of wormhole or product of something that sent them back to their reality. If you want to take it a step further, you could merge this theory with the previous one outright, though there are a few differences.

The first and most apparent (in my eyes, at least) is that the airships—along with their occupants—and animals vanishing makes considerably more sense. Interdimensional beings don’t tend to stick around for prolonged periods of time; in this case, their sudden disappearance lines up with other reports of them. Heck, the mysterious clouds are something I’ve heard before.

On top of that, the airships weren’t completely described, but they were said to have “sailors” on them. I’ve heard reports of airships where people said there were passengers on them; there was a rash of airship sightings in the late 19th century. I had plans to cover one from Sacramento, California, but scrapped it since I didn’t think I could do it justice while strapped for time this month. But to give a quick rundown: eyewitnesses said that there was a man pedaling while another person berated them; the description of “sailors” on the airships above The Hague reminded me of that.

Despite those factors working in this theory’s favor, there’s still one major issue, and it’s the same as the previous one: the lack of collateral damage. Unless this lasted exceedingly little time (which it doesn’t sound like that was the case since a battle did ensue), I cannot fathom how nothing sustained any damage. No, I cannot let go of this; if there’s any sort of battle above any place, especially a populated one, I would expect some kind of destruction!

Oh well, whatever. Between this theory and the previous one, I’d argue that this is the more likely. As prevalent as it’s been this month, the idea that these were interdimensional beings is far more likely than aliens in this story’s case. However, there’s still one explanation left to go over, so let’s not jump the gun!

3. A case of misidentification that led to a case of mass hysteria

I originally had this theory divided into two theories, but given they went hand in hand, I just merged them.

Many reports—be they of UFOs, cryptids, or something else—can often be chalked up to cases of misidentification. Heck, the term UFO doesn’t need to be of an alien spacecraft; it’s just something that hasn’t been identified that’s flying through the sky. Though, I imagine most (if not all) of you know that.

Although this may sound preposterous given the fantastical imagery that was reported, there’s one thing that backs it up heavily: the timeperiod. This was 1646, a time when I believe atmospheric anomalies would be considerably more likely to cause mass hysteria—or at least be greatly exaggerated. Even nowadays, plenty of stories are greatly embellished; I believe it was considerably worse centuries ago, but I digress. While it wasn’t explicitly stated in the report, it’s possible that something like sun dogs occurred and someone panicked, causing a chain reaction that led people to think that a great conflict in the sky was happening.

Given the lack of devastation on the ground that one would expect when it comes to a large-scale battle in the sky, I think this theory has a lot going for it. However, as is the case, there are some problems. Namely, there’s only one account of this happening, and I feel that’s kind of odd. While I’m not a historian, I would have imagined that there’d be more documentation of this happening; maybe some independent source that also documented it or at least caught wind of it and wrote about it elsewhere. Again, I’m not a historian, but I just find that a little odd, especially if we’re talking about a battle in the sky above a city.

There’s also the lack of detail on how the general populous reacted to the whole thing. This could have been omitted by Think About It Docs (which, if you ask me, would be a terrible move), so I don’t think it’d be too wise to use it against the theory that much, but it does make it harder to label this theory as the correct one.

The final issue is one that goes for the other two theories, but I figured it would be better left being brought up here: there’s no feasible way to actually prove this. This event happened close to four centuries ago; there’s absolutely no way to determine what happened. Given the fantastical description of what went down, determining if this was an instance of sun dogs or some other atmospheric anomaly isn’t difficult; it’s downright impossible.

Despite that impossibility, there’s nothing stopping you and me from speculating, but we still have a meme theory to go over, and dang it, I want to mention it really badly, so let’s get to it!

4. Transformers

Starscream and some Autobots were duking it out. Somehow, in some way, Michael Bay was also there filming it so he could one-up his absurd idea for the Transformers being involved in World War II (also, somehow, Merlin had ties to the Transformers). You know, typing all of that out, I have to wonder how on Earth The Last Knight was greenlit. I haven’t watched the movie (despite having seen the first Transformers films from Michael Bay, plus the most recent one: Rise of the Beasts), but that whole movie’s synopsis reads like a fever dream. I have to wonder what ideas have been rejected; they must be insane!

My Take

Although I’m adamant about the existence of alien life and that it’s possible aliens have visited Earth (though I don’t think they’ve interfered with human civilization or anything of that nature), I don’t believe this was a case of an alien dogfight. No, I think this was a case of mass hysteria; odds are, there was some sort of phenomenon in the sky (perhaps something akin to sun dogs) that resulted in people thinking there was some sort of “fight” going on in the sky. It’s not uncommon for writers from ages long-since past to write things in fantastical and exaggerated ways.

Additionally, I think that if this were some sort of aerial battle, there would have been serious damage done to the city, whether that be due to something crashing or a shot missing and striking a structure. Granted, we weren’t given many details in relation to the battle; that could be due to them not being written in whatever document or book Michel Bougard read or Think About It Docs didn’t convey them in their article. However, if there had been a major battle that resulted in The Hague being attacked from the sky in the mid-17th century, I think we’d know about it.

Despite the lack of details, it is worth saying that events like the one over The Hague aren’t unheard of. I vaguely recall a story from the 6th century or so (I can’t remember, or perhaps the BC era) about a UFO that supposedly fired at a wall and blew it up. I can’t find the story on Think About It Docs, nor do I remember where I read it; I’m sure that, down the line, I’ll find it again. If any of you know what story it is, I would greatly appreciate it if you left a comment telling me!

Ultimately, though, I lean toward this being a case of mass hysteria—or something along those lines. I’m open to the idea of some “tinfoil hat” theories (for lack of a better way to describe them), but as it stands, I think the skeptical angle has a bit more to work with. Even then, however, it’s kind of flimsy since this happened over 400 years ago. Unless we invent time travel or a means of looking into the past without physically going there, there’s no way we’ll ever know for certain. So, in that regard, I think it’s safe to speculate to our heart’s content and think of the wildest possibilities; who’s going to stop us from doing that? The fun police? Psh, they have no jurisdiction here!

On one final note, I want to address it because of what I said during the main story. The way that the Think About It Docs article was written confused me a bit, and a part of me thought that only one wave of airships had appeared (to the southeast of The Hague) and that the “aerial battle” was between those airships and the military forces in the city. Upon rereading it several times (honestly, I read it more than I care to admit), I’m inclined to believe it was between two parties in the sky. However, if I’m wrong and the airships did engage with humans, do let me know, and I’ll revisit this story down the line (if I don’t on my own).


With that, our first foray into the past concludes. Personally, I had a blast covering this story; wild UFO stories like this one are some of my favorites. They’re equal parts crazy and really make me wonder if there’s a rational explanation. I’d love to know if you agree with my assessment here or if you think this was a case of some kind of extraterrestrial or interdimensional conflict that briefly bled into the skies of our little blue planet. Feel free to let me know, and as always, stay happy, stay healthy, and thank you for reading!

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