UFOs - An Official History - Part 2
This world exclusive article provoked exactly the sort of debate that we expected, with all sorts of comments and questions being raised. We thought it would be helpful to pick up on a number of these points, make some other more general observations and update readers on what is an ongoing area of research.
Flying Saucer Working Party’s report (DSI/JTIC Report No. 7) was stamped
“Secret Discreet” and a number of people have asked about this.
Secret is of course a classification, one below the highest UK
classification of all, namely Top Secret. Discreet
is what is known as a caveat. This
is used in conjunction with a classification and places further restrictions or
conditions on the distribution and/or release of a document.
Tellingly, given what we discovered about the US influence on the Flying
Saucer Working Party, Discreet was defined as follows:
classified military information of US or joint US/UK origin, which may not be
passed to a third country without the permission of the US Government”.
term is now obsolete and has been replaced by “UK/US Eyes Only”.
is a popular misconception that Anglo-American relations during and after the
Second World War were rosy. As we
explained in our previous article, they were not. But with specific reference to UFOs, if the Americans did
know something sensational, would they have told the British authorities?
In considering the answer to this question, it is as well to note the
difficulties that arose with regard to the sharing of nuclear secrets.
The McMahon Act of 1946 precluded the US from passing technical data to
any other countries, and in 1949 a British scientist, Klaus Fuchs, had confessed
to having passed US nuclear secrets to the Soviets.
To what extent this had a bearing on the undoubted US influence on the
Flying Saucer Working Party is unclear, but the fact that the Fuchs affair broke
just before we sought US help on the UFO issue should be borne in mind.
The defection of Burgess and Maclean in May 1951 rapidly made matters
worse. This is an area of ongoing
first of the Top Secret DSI/JTIC minutes that were published last month listed a
number of divisions that it was agreed should be represented on the Flying
Saucer Working Party. Mention was
made of M.I. 10 and several people asked for details of this now defunct
organisation. M.I. 10 was a
division within the War Office’s Directorate of Military Intelligence.
It had been established during the Second World War and its remit was to
analyse technical intelligence from the enemy.
After the war, it continued to look at technical intelligence, but in the
context of the Cold War.
have been asked whether there are further DSI/JTIC minutes available, aside from
the three pages that were published in the last issue of the magazine.
There are. Previously, we
published those minutes relating to the setting up of the Flying Saucer Working
Party and those dealing with its dissolution.
We felt that these were the most significant, and of most interest from a
historical perspective. However,
there are others, relating for the most part to discussion over the precise
wording of the working party’s terms of reference.
By popular demand, these additional papers are published here for the
our previous article we cited Appendix V of the Condon Report as being one
source of information concerning Professor R V Jones’ interest in UFOs.
We’ve been asked whether this is the same material as was contained in
Jones’ article The Natural Philosophy of
Flying Saucers (Natural Philosophy is the old term for physics) which
appeared in Volume 19 of Physics Bulletin,
published in July 1968. It is
indeed the same material. For sake
of completeness, we should point out that it also formed the basis of a lecture
that Jones had given to the Newcastle upon Tyne Astronomical Society, on 23
November 1967. The conclusion of
this material is perhaps the best summary of Jones’ view on the UFO issue, and
is worth quoting in full:
own position has been that if at any time in the last 20 years I had had to take
a vital decision one way or the other according to whether I thought that flying
saucers were fact or fantasy, Russian or extraterrestrial (why has China never
been credited, by the way?); I would have taken that decision on the assumption
that they were either a fantasy or an incorrect identification of a rare and
unrecognised phenomenon; and while I commend any genuine search for new
phenomena, little short of a tangible relic would dispel my scepticism of flying
should perhaps have made it more clear that although Jones was sceptical in his
approach, he was certainly interested in all manner of mysterious phenomena.
Unlike most of his scientific colleagues, who generally dismissed the
paranormal out of hand, without bothering to do any research, Jones was at least
prepared to look into such matters himself.
His personal papers, held at the Churchill Archives Centre (not currently
available due to a refurbishment project), show that he took an interest in
subjects including the Loch Ness Monster and Uri Geller.
Although Gellar is best-known for his alleged psycho-kinetic abilities,
he claims to have seen numerous UFOs, as Andrija Puharich’s book Uri
makes clear. It is Jones’
interest in UFOs that stands out from his private papers, the catalogue of which
contains the sentence “Jones was very interested in reports of unexplained
aerial phenomena”. This interest
lasted long after his official involvement with the subject was over, and
included specific cases such as Robert Taylor’s 9 November 1979 close
encounter at Livingston, Scotland.
Jones is a fascinating and controversial figure, whose influence on wartime and
post-war policy concerning scientific intelligence cannot be overstated.
In our previous article we highlighted his links with the CIA, so we
should point out that he had also been a scientific adviser to MI6.
As an interesting aside he had worked closely on SIGINT with the sister
of Peter Wright (of Spycatcher fame),
an intercept officer in the Wrens. Jones’
influence on government policy concerning UFOs was immense, and one of the few
UFO books to make this connection is The
Missing Times, by Terry Hansen. Graham
Birdsall is currently following up some of the points raised in this book.
people were interested in Adamski’s contacts with Establishment figures and
asked for further information. Adamski’s
first visit to the UK took place in April 1959 and included an appearance on Panorama,
where he was interviewed together with the astronomer Patrick Moore.
Adamski’s first meeting with Lord Dowding took place during this visit
when Adamski spoke at Tunbridge Wells in Kent on 21 April.
Dowding chaired the public meeting.
that a major theme of our previous article was the involvement in the UFO debate
of scientific figures such as Tizard, Lindemann and Jones, we should cite one
bizarre anecdote from George Adamski’s final book, Flying
Saucers Farewell. In Book II,
Chapter 3 he describes his visit to the UK and claims that while travelling to
Weston-Super-Mare he found a man sitting in the compartment that had been
reserved for him. He writes:
my amazement, he was a spaceman working as a scientist on projects for the
British government! He, and
countless others like him, are working in various scientific projects for every
government in the world”.
second visit to the UK took place in 1963.
It was during this visit that he met Mountbatten and Dowding in London,
before travelling to Mountbatten’s Broadlands estate to see the site where
Frederick Briggs (one of the Earl’s employees) had seen a UFO in 1955.
Our source for this is veteran ufologist Emily Crewe, who was present at
a BBC interview Adamski gave, and at a gathering held at Desmond Leslie’s
house, before the trip to Broadlands.
are sceptical of many of Adamski’s claims and offer the above quotation as an
item of historical interest only. For
us, Adamski’s significance was not so much the story he had to tell, but the
way in which senior Establishment figures such as Dowding and Mountbatten were
prepared to meet with him. To what
extent Adamski’s claims were believed by these and other Establishment figures
remains unclear, as does the extent of any influence he may have had over them.
our previous article we alluded briefly to the power struggles that had taken
place between Tizard (whose concerns about UFOs led to the setting up of the
Flying Saucer Working Party) and Lindemann.
We should perhaps say a little more about this and the way in which
scientific intelligence as a whole was beset by such rivalries.
problems between Tizard and Lindemann first flared up in 1936 on the Air Defence
Research Committee (ADRC), when Tizard accused Lindemann of lobbying outside
committee, downplaying Tizard’s views on the importance of radar while
promoting his own areas of interest (e.g. aerial mines on parachutes).
Tizard threatened to resign and the ADRC was temporarily dissolved.
When it reformed, Lindemann was not on the committee.
Tizard had won, but it was only a temporary victory, and it would be
neither forgotten nor forgiven. The
bottom line was that Lindemann was a friend of Winston Churchill and became his
scientific adviser in 1940, once Churchill had become Prime Minister.
When any disagreement arose over matters of scientific policy, Churchill
was most likely to listen to Lindemann, who Churchill referred to as “The
Prof”. From 1940 onwards,
Lindemann was in ascendancy, at least so long as Churchill remained in power.
This may be one reason why in 1952 Lindemann (by then Lord Cherwell) had
the final word on Churchill’s enquiry concerning UFOs.
Once “The Prof” had assured Churchill there was nothing to worry
about, the Prime Minister was content to let the matter drop.
generally, scientists were often regarded by their civil service colleagues as
eccentric and difficult to work with. Wartime
disagreements over the relative importance of specific fields or projects
evolved into post-war arguments concerning the debate over how best to integrate
scientific intelligence into government machinery.
These debates involved the likes of R V Jones, Edward Gollin, Charles
Ellis, Professor P M S Blackett, Francis Crick, Professor David Brunt and Dr B K
factor that explains why things became so acrimonious is the way in which
scientific intelligence did not fit easily into existing military or civil
service bureaucracies. Thus it
became something of a political football, caught up in the wider politics of
post-war power struggles resulting from the major re-organisations that were
undertaken of all government and military structures.
One key difficulty was that each of the three services wanted to retain
its scientific intelligence remit, while modernisers wanted a tri-service
organisation. Jones had returned to
government service in 1952, at the request of Churchill, who had asked him to
address these sorts of difficulties. But
he was unable to deal with all the politics and infighting, and returned to the
University of Aberdeen at the end of 1953, exasperated that these problems could
not be resolved.
is a fascinating area of research in itself and does overlap with ufology,
because the difficulties over scientific intelligence took place at the time the
DSI/JTIC considered the UFO issue. Put
bluntly, while the Flying Saucer Working Party was doing its work, government
handling of scientific intelligence was a mess.
those wanting to do some more general research into some of the scientific
intelligence issues covered here, we recommend the following books:
Secret War, by
R V Jones
by David Zimmerman
by R W Clark
Rise of the Boffins,
by R W Clark
by Richard J Aldrich
hope that this brief update has clarified a few points and expanded on some of
the material covered in less detail in our last article.
The whole issue of the government’s early efforts to come to terms with
the UFO phenomenon is an area of ongoing research.
It is inextricably linked to the wider issue of the way in which
scientific intelligence was managed during the Second World War and, more
importantly, in the Cold War.
By Nick Pope and Georgina Bruni