The man was wearing slip-on shoes, a dark coat and white shirt with collar when he was last seen. Nothing unusual about that maybe.

But he was a mile up a 1,500 peak known as Indian's Head on Saddleworth Moor in Lancashire when the park rangers last saw him at dusk striding out towards the summit as heavy, cold, rain fell.

The landlord of the village pub had told the man earlier that he would be mad to go out there at this time of the year especially in what he was wearing.

He was found dead the next day carrying no ID and with £130 in his pocket.

For the last six weeks police have struggled to identify the man, believed to be in his 70s, or form any theory about what he was doing up there.

He has been spotted on CCTV at Euston Station in London and then boarding a train to Manchester.

Yesterday a new theory emerged. As he disappeared into the gloom was he on a last pilgrimage to join loved ones who died more than 65 years ago?

Was it time to meet up with those he lost when a British European Airways Douglas Dakota smashed into the hillside in 1949 killing 24 people including eleven women and four children, three of them less than two-years-old?

Were his parents or siblings on that fateful flight? Police are now re-examining the casualty list for clues.

To those of us who know little of the place Saddleworth and the surrounding Pennines have always felt accursed.

When Brady and Hindley took the lives of those sweet children the hue of those hills would forever become as black as the darkest night.

But the unforgiving landscape around greater Manchester has been claiming life for a long time. Many of its victims are unheralded, forgotten, until someone like our mystery man in a shirt and collar comes along to revive their memory.

Many of the ghosts high up there are the kind it is now thought he was going to meet. Air passengers in the days when navigation was rudimentary and flying into peak-surrounded Manchester relied on fallible eyes and ears.

The 1949 Dakota was carrying passengers from Belfast when it smashed into a mist covered hill just after midday.

A doctor first on the scene who had served in both wars said he had never seen so shocking a scene as he ran between the dead and dying.

Navigational errors and failure to ascertain height before beginning descent were found to be the reasons for the tragedy. The pilot, a former RAF man called Frank Pinkerton who had been posted missing during the last war, died with his plane.

Like shrapnel wounds under the skin, parts of aircraft pepper the hills of this part of the world, each with a tragic, but fast fading, tale to tell.

A few years back alongside friends who knew the area well I stumbled across a very small memorial stone in another part of that blasted moor. Another story almost lost in time.

On desolate Winter Hill in the West Pennine Moors near Bolton now stands one of the country's tallest radio masts.

In 1958 workers at its predecessor were confronted by a blood-stained co-pilot frantically knocking at their door telling them of an unimaginable hell that existed in the deep snow just a few hundreds yards away.

So bad had the weather been and so heavy the precipitation that the staff had not heard a Silver City Airways Bristol Freighter lurch to the right and cartwheel into the hill killing 39 people on board. The victims were mostly motor dealers from the Isle of Man excitedly on their way to a show.

But they stood no chance as, once again, mistaken altitude readings on the way into Manchester plunged the plane to the ground too quickly.

The crash took place 21 days after the tragedy that took the lives of Busby's Babes in foggy Munich but while that terrible day has been retold many times Winter Hill, with more fatalities, is forgotten.

Both Indian's Head and Winter Hill are then overshadowed, undemonstrative tragedies. It's almost as if, by playing out up in the middle of nowhere, they were apologising for making a fuss.

My mind went straight back to Winter Hill this week as I read of the mystery man on the moor.

As Saddleworth swallowed up another victim, this time apparently willingly, it felt almost noble that his chosen time and place of death may have served to remind us of the fate of those passengers on that Dakota. And for me the Bristol. Small, terrible, chapters in history that do not deserve to be lost forever.

(new drop cap)

So we wait, fearing the worst. Knowing we will have to go along to see for ourselves but maybe getting ready to watch from behind our fingers.

They were much loved characters you see. Funny and irreplaceable.

When they were around everything seemed to be OK with the world. The forces of darkness could be beaten back by a nice cup of tea, cake and some knock-off nylons.

One pompous the others in turn diffident, stupid, confused, insane, doddery but as a whole the boys that made you proud to be British.

Now someone has decided they must be revived, brought back out of time and context for what will, I sure, be the bafflement of the young and the profound disappointment of the old.

Yup they've only gone and remade Dad's Army for the big screen. It's doomed I tell you. Mainwaring, Wilson, Jones, Pike and the rest belong on their endless loop of 30 minute teatime specials on the small screen not on the red carpet with Catherine Zeta Jones.