March 4, 2011

British UFO Files: Over 8500 new pages released by The National Archives

The National ArchivesThe National Archives yesterday released their largest batch of UFO information to date, with over 8500 new pages now available to download at their website.

Following on from six previous releases, the last one being in August last year (2010), the latest files cover the years 2000-2005 and contain information regarding sightings and reports and document “how UFOs became a global issue, discussed by the highest levels of government around the world, including the United Nations, the US Central Intelligence Agency and Britain’s House of Lords.”

The files have been sorted into categories and are supplemented by a Highlights Guide and a Research Guide by Dr. David Clarke. it is largely thanks to the efforts of Dr. Clarke and other researchers that the Ministry of Defence were persuaded to release their UFO files starting back in May 2008 – an action that has since been replicated by other Governments and agencies throughout the world.

The Categories

• Files released under the Freedom of Information Act

• Parliamentary interest in UFOs

• Government Policy on UFOs

• UFO sightings and Reports

• Sighting reports by geographical location

Help I’ve been abducted

One of the more amusing reports contained in the files concerns a London man who believed he had been abducted by aliens. The man had apparently witnessed an aircraft hovering above his house one evening in October 1999.

He awoke the next morning and realised he had experienced some missing time during the night.

“The MoD responded to his letter stating the aircraft was likely to have been an airship and that the clocks had gone back an hour that night which would account for him gaining an hour”.

[File DEFE 24/1999 (p106)]

Another report details a student hoax from 1967 which involved Four police forces, bomb disposal units, the army and the MoD’s intelligence branch. Engineering students from Farnborough Technical College had come up with the idea as part of their rag-day celebrations. [File DEFE 24/1986]

Close to home

One of the files grabbed my attention, when I realised it dealt with my very first UFO sighting as a twelve year old back in 1978! Some friends and I witnessed what appeared to be something burning high up in the atmosphere. A lot of people gathered outside in the street to see but no one had any idea what it was. Being young and naive, we decided it must have something to do with aliens and thought no more about it. Actually that’s not true, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve often wondered what it was but thought I’d never find out. Thanks to this latest release, it turns out the sighting can be put down to space “junk” re-entering the earth’s atmosphere and causing a flurry of UFO reports in the process. [DEFE 24/2048 (p108-138)]

It’s a conspiracy!

Along with the “usual” standard UFO reports contained in the files, there are some that will give plenty of ammunition to the conspiracy theorists who believe there has been a cover-up by governments around the world with regard to the UFO phenomena.

The HMS Manchester UFO

One of these such cases details an alleged UFO sighting by crew members of HMS Manchester and other Royal Navy ships during an exercise off the coast of Norway in 1998/99. In a letter to the Ministry of Defence on 24th September 2002, (now deceased) Lord Hill-Norton writes:

Dear Lord Bach,
You will know of my keen interest in reports of incidents involving unidentified aerial
craft, especially where such incidents involve the military, and are self-evidently
therefore of defence significance.

I have recently been informed of one such incident which involved HMS Manchester.
Apparently the ship encountered an unidentified craft during a naval exercise, with
several hundred people in Manchester and other HM ships witnessing the event. At
the same time, personnel on a Norwegian naval ship tracked the object on radar and
were openly discussing the incident on the Operations Room communications

The ex-RN person who has recounted this incident is unsure of the precise date on
which it occured, but is reasonably certain that it fell between either 26th October and
6th November 1998 or 8th February and 3rd March 1999.
I ask, therefore, that you arrange for HMS Manchester’s log to be searched for
reference to this incident, and for copies of any such pages to be sent to me.

Aside from the fact the ex Royal Navy person could not remember if the incident happened a couple of months before or after the Christmas of only four years previous, it is surprising that mention of the alleged incident had not made it into the mainstream already. Several hundred witnesses is a lot more than is usually the case for UFO sightings and the odds on them all having kept quiet will be very high indeed.

The fuel for this latest conspiracy fire is provided by the answer Lord Hill-Norton received in a reply from Lord Bach at the MoD almost a month later. In it Lord Bach states (in part):

You asked that HMS MANCHESTER’s log [for the periods requested] be scrutinised for references to
unidentified aerial craft sighted by the ship’s company. No such references have been
found in any of the log entries which are available.

Unfortunately, I have to add the rider that HMS MANCHESTER’s log covering the
period 1 Feb until sunrise on 13 February 1999 was lost in Bodo, Norway, during the
deployment. The log was positioned, as is the custom, at the head of the gangway when
the vessel was alongside in port, and an unusually strong gust of wind carried it
overboard. [snip]

The log becoming lost due to a gust of wind is unfortunate. Quite unsurprisingly, this is now being grasped at as evidence that incidents like this are being covered up. The field of UFOlogy is already populated by people who will use anything remotely tangible in order to drive their message home, so the lost log certainly won’t help matters.

However, there is more to this story than some UFO proponents might have you believe. During the course of the search for HMS Manchester’s log, the Directorate Air Staff (DAS) wrote the following on 30th Spetember 2002 in reply to a request for assistance:

As DAS leads on the subject of ‘UFO’, we have checked our database to see if there was any report
made of an incident at sea between 26th October and 6 November 1998 or 8 February and 3 March
1999. We have found no trace of any such incident and would, therefore, be very grateful if you would
undertake appropriate research.

One would expect at least a passing reference in the database for an event that was supposedly witnessed by hundreds. In the “Loose Minutes” communication from DAS to the Ministerial Correspondence Unit, we see that upon discovering the loss of the log, the Commanding Officer of HMS Manchester was contacted by DAS and he “has no recollection of any unusual activity during this or any other depolyment by the MANCHESTER while under his command, that could be construed as involving ‘unidentified aerial craft’.” The same information was given to Lord Hill-Norton in the letter quoted further above. The Loose Minutes document also gives further information regarding the two date ranges given by the anonymous ex-Royal Navy person that triggered Lord Hill-Norton’s request in the first place.

The periods to which Lord Hill-Norton refer cover two seperate naval exercises, between 26 Oct and
6 Nov 98, and 8 Feb and 3 Mar 99. A holding reply was sent by the Minister pending
examination of the relevant log entries by CinCFleet. This search has now been completed.
No reference to any unidentified aerial craft has been found in the ship’s log
for the specified periods. Unfortunately, however, the log for the first part of Feb 99
was lost overboard at Bodo in Norway during the second exercise. The available
record therefore does not begin until 08.26 hours on 13 Feb 99. It is nevertheless well
documented elsewhere that HMS MANCHESTER left Portsmouth on 8 Feb 99 and carried out
weapon training on passage to Bodo in Norway, where she arrived on 12 Feb.

One has to wonder about the motives of the witness who reported the alleged sighting to Lord Hill-Norton in the first place. It was well known in UK UFOlogy circles that the Lord had an active interest in UFOs, having written about them and asked questions about them in Parliament. That no one else – out of hundreds of multi-national witnesses – has ever come forward about the alleged incident is very damaging to the credibility of the “case”, as is the apparent poor short term memory of the witness in question. A UFO incident would certainly stick in the minds of most people. Perhaps this particular witness saw something much less exciting than a UFO fly-by? A log book being blown overboard by a gust of wind, for example. [File DEFE 24/2092 p225]

RendleSHAM Forest Scam: files destroyed

Groan. This is another that is going to run and run. It transpires that a collection of Defence Intelligence files from 1980-82, including files pertaining to the RendleSHAM “incident”, had been destroyed. As if that wasn’t bad enough, other files from the surrounding years had survived.

Officials from MoD warned that if what it called this “apparent anomaly in the records” were made public “it could be interpreted to mean that a deliberate attempt had been made to eradicate the records covering this incident”.

Quite. [File DEFE 2026 p182]

Whichever side of the fence you are on, these files are certainly worth the download. They are available for free for one month, after which a small fee applies.

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