UFOs in History: The Foo Fighters-The RAF Experience> [prev ¦ 1 ¦ 2 ¦ 3 ¦ 4 ¦ next]


This report was one of a series produced throughout the war by the Air Ministry. Although aircrew believed that the Intelligence departments were not taking the matter seriously enough, report after report was being carefully collected and thoroughly analysed. Documents recently discovered in the Public Record Office convincingly demonstrate that, rather than causing the Air Ministry to believe they were being visited by a strange and unknown phenomena, the reports were treated soberly and with caution. Just as today’s Ministry of Defence analyses UFO reports for their defence implications, so the besieged Air Ministry was concerned that the WWII sightings may have represented some new Axis weapon and they monitored the situation accordingly.

However, several well known UFO writers have suggested there was a top secret study conducted by the Air Ministry during WWII and which was the genesis of alleged ‘cover up’. We have conducted an in depth study of these claims and found them to be without foundation. Even the great UFO enthusiast and wartime pilot Air Marshall Sir Victor Goddard did not believe any such study existed, writing in 1978:

‘This implies Treasury sanction; it suggests that in the middle of the War against Germany when we had our hands full and it was far from certain that we could survive, the Air Ministry was concerned that a UFO menace existed: it most certainly was not….’

Yet the response by Air Intelligence to aircrew who reported UFOs during the wartime years appears baffling. Why did they appear to take so little interest? Why was there no detailed de-briefing of the witnesses? Why did they not send up observers to film or observe the phenomena for themselves? These and other questions frequently came up during our interviews with RAF aircrew who witnessed these phenomena. But the documentary evidence at the Public Record Office shows that the RAF had been taking a great deal of interest in the sightings. Files in the PRO reveal that Air Intelligence had a wealth of information on all kinds of unusual radar trackings, ‘mystery’ aircraft and unusual rockets and flak, gathered from all branches of the RAF. Each sighting was carefully analysed in the context of known weaponry, enemy tactics and the psychological problems of misperception.

The attitude displayed in these documents is best summed up by the late comedian and former Goon show star Michael Bentine:

‘When I was an intelligence officer in Bomber Command in the winter of 1943-44, I debriefed several crews about some lights that had attacked them when they were over the Baltic. They fired at the lights, which didn’t shoot back. These lights didn’t seem to do anything, just pulse and go round. We put it down to fatigue, but later, after I had sent the reports in, an American G2 Intelligence Officer told us that their bombers saw lights in the sky - ‘foo-fighters’ he called them.’

In another interview Bentine described how he debriefed a Polish bomber unit based in England. They claimed that silver-blue balls appeared near their wing on six missions during the autumn of 1943. These tailed the planes as they raided the Nazi V-weapons base at Peenemunde. The crews told Bentine it must be a new weapon. ‘But what did it do to you?’ Bentine inquired. ‘Nothing,’ they replied. "Well it was not a very effective weapon, was it?" he pointed out. Bentine’s last statement accurately sums up the conclusions reached by the Air Ministry during their study of these phenomena – whatever the ‘foo-fighters’ were, they did not constitute a threat to aircraft.

So, it seems that there has never been a ‘cover-up’ by the British Government of information about WWII UFOs, just a collection of baffling reports consigned to the dusty shelves of the Public Record Office. It is interesting however that some of the personnel who were involved with WWII UFO analysis, such as the Sir Henry Tizard and the Air Ministry’s Director of Intelligence, Dr R.V. Jones, were also involved in studies of Ghost Rockets in 1946 and the ‘flying saucer’ sightings from 1947 to the mid 1950s. Using their rigorous techniques of analysis, borne out of wartime necessity they continued to view UFO sightings with interest but ultimately regarded them as a modern myth based on misperception. Researchers who wish to trace the roots of the MOD’s current attitude to UFOs should seek out the files held by the PRO to discover how the conclusions which have endured for over fifty years, were originally formulated.

Witness accounts and documentary evidence indicates that the majority of WWII UFO sightings were of small spherical objects. However, two RAF sightings have come to our attention which indicates huge objects were also being seen by aircrew. Whilst it is possible that other foo-fighter sightings may have been new types of flak such as ‘scarecrow’, designed to mimic an aircraft in flames, flak tracer or jets such as the ME262, none of these prosaic explanations can account for the following sighting, which took place on the night of 28 November 1942.

The sighting was thought to be of such significance that it was sent to the headquarters of Bomber Command Recorded in a document, stamped ‘SECRET’. The covering letter, from the Air Vice Marshal of no. 5 Group. RAF, read, ‘Herewith a copy of a report received from a crew of a Lancaster after a raid on Turin. The crew refuses to be shaken in their story in the face of the usual banter and ridicule.’ »

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