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


The document referred to an unusual sighting made by the entire crew of aircraft ‘J’, piloted by Captain Lever of 61 Squadron, based at Syerston in Lincolnshire. If a sighting such as this were made by the whole crew of an aeroplane today it would make headline news in every country in the world. As it was it this fascinating report has remained hidden for over half a century deep in the heart of the Public Records Office. Written by an anonymous intelligence officer the account reads:

‘The object referred to above was seen by the entire crew of the above aircraft. They believe it to have been 200-300 feet in length and its width is estimated at 1/5th or 1/6th of its length. The speed was estimated at 500 m.p.h., and it had four pairs of red lights spaced at equal distances along its body. These lights did not appear in any way like exhaust flames; no trace was seen. The object kept a level course.
The crew saw the object twice during the raid, and brief details are given below:-
‘(i) After bombing, time 2240 hours, a/c height 11,000 feet. The aircraft at this time was some 10/15 miles south-west of Turin travelling in a north-westerly direction. The object was travelling south-east at the same height or slightly below the aircraft.
(ii) After bombing, time 2245 hours, a/c height 14,000 feet. the aircraft was approaching the Alps when the object was seen again travelling west-south-west up a valley in the Alps below the level of the peaks. The lights appeared to go out and the object disappeared from view.’

Had this incident been a one-off sighting it could perhaps have been dismissed, although as what we are not sure. But two distinct sightings of what appears to be the same object traveling in different directions raise more questions than answers. Even more baffling was the final paragraph which soberly stated:

‘The Captain of the aircraft also reports that he has seen a similar object about three months ago north of Amsterdam. In this instance it appeared to be on the ground and later traveling at high speed at a lower level than the heights given above along the coast for about two seconds; the lights then went out for the same period of time and came on again, and the object was still seen to be traveling in the same direction.’

It is difficult to know what to make of this sighting. Bomber Command was impressed by the sincerity of the report, and the fact that the crew was bold enough to repeat their fantastic story to their incredulous colleagues. The object resembles no known aerial craft and can not be easily attributed to misperception of astronomical or meteorological phenomena. The case remains one of the most unusual UFO mysteries of W.W.II on file at the Public Record Office.

We discovered another RAF account of a huge UFO in the files of the British UFO Research Association. Whilst this case is not, as yet, backed up by any documentary evidence the detailed account is worth relating here. Sgt Pilot G.N. Cockcroft of Bradford, West Yorkshire, who flew with a Halifax bomber squadron, recalled:

“On the night of 26/27 May 1943 we were to carry out an attack on the Krupps Armament Works at Essen. As I recall between 400/500 aircraft were involved in the raid. We experienced the usual flak, when crossing the Dutch coast….but fortunately sustained no serious damage. The barrage flak in the Ruhr Valley was extremely heavy, particularly in the last few minutes on the approach to the target. The first wave had already bombed and the general target area was well alight.

“It was in the two or three minutes before our final run-in, when we were at approximately 18,700 feet when we saw in front, but slightly to port and about the same height, a long cylindrical object, silvery gold colour, very sharply defined, hanging in the sky at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. There were, evenly spaced along the length of the object, a number of port holes. The first crew member to sight this object was the Captain, at that time Sgt/Pilot Ray Smith of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Besides Ray and myself other members of the crew to see the object, which was called to their attention by the Captain were the bomb aimer, the flight engineer, the mid-upper gunner and wireless operator.”

In fact, the only members of the crew not to see the object were the navigator and rear gunner who were both otherwise engaged in ensuring the bomber didn’t get lost or shot down. Cockcroft continues:

“I think that the first reaction of most of us was amazement because this object just had no right to be there. After a very short space of time, twenty to thirty seconds, it suddenly began moving and, retaining its attitude, climbed rapidly until it vanished from sight. The speed it attained seemed to us completely incredible. It was certainly into the thousands of mph! As it accelerated, the outline became blurred and the shape foreshortened. The size is more difficult to judge but it was very large, certainly very much bigger than our own aircraft, appearing at least as long as a king-sized cigarette or small cigar at arm’s length. We then completed our bomb run and returned to base.

“The intelligence officer de-briefing us was given a description of this object but we were unable to judge what importance was attached to it by the authorities and, quite frankly, it was just another unusual phenomenon which, since apparently harmless, was of far less importance to us than other wartime hazards.”

In their efforts to explain foo-fighter phenomena sceptics have suggested that some may have been examples of very bright, long lasting meteors known as a bolides. This may indeed be the case. But bolide meteors cannot account for the instances where bombers were ‘chased’ for long periods of time by foo-fighters. Perhaps the most remarkable case of an aircraft pursuit comes from the penultimate year of the war.

On the evening of 26th April 1944 Arthur Horton taxied his Lancaster bomber onto the runway at RAF Mildenhall in preparation for a raid to Essen in Germany. It was, he thought, just another routine, if terrifying, mission. When interviewed by us in 1987 Horton claimed he had not heard about any unusual aerial phenomena during the war and as usual was only concerned with the task in hand - find the target, drop the bombs and return home as quickly and safely as possible. He had no idea of the events which would unfold over the next few hours, and how ‘The Thing’, as he called it, would almost cost him and his crew their lives.

The raid went as exactly as planned despite the potentially fatal distractions of Luftwaffe night-fighters and the flak which sought them in the searchlight beams. Bombs dropped, the Lanc. turned for home and the crew allowed themselves to relax slightly. But shortly after leaving the target Horton’s intercom crackled into life with a panicky warning from his rear-gunner. Unidentified lights had appeared out of the darkness and were following the ‘plane. Horton asked the gunner if he was certain. Yes, he replied, four orange balls of light were tailing them, two on each side of the aircraft, accelerating in short, powerful, spurts. According to the frightened gunner they were about the size of large footballs and had a fiery glow to them. Intercom reports made it clear that other crew members could see them now, and Horton realised they must be real and not hallucinations brought on by combat fatigue. One gunner thought he could see small, stubby wings and possibly an exhaust glow from the rear of the objects. Now Horton was getting worried. He had never experienced anything like this before and whilst the unidentified flying objects were not displaying any signs of aggression he couldn’t take the risk. Forty three years after the event Arthur Horton clearly recalled exactly what he did next:

‘I of course immediately dropped the aircraft out of the sky. My gunners didn’t know what they were. Should they fire? By this time I was standing the aircraft on its tail and beginning a series of corkscrews and turns with the things following everything I did - but making no move to attack us. By this time we had the throttles ‘through the gate’, the gunners still asking what they should do. Apart from flying the thing I had to try and answer them. But were they some form of flying contraption that would explode at some specific distance from us, or on contact? Did they want us to fire at them to cause an explosion? Out of the kaleidoscope of thought the only answer was ‘If they are leaving us alone, leave them alone’....’ »

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