Sir Winston Churchill was very much aware of and concerned enough about the growing phenomenon of UFO sightings that he wanted "flying saucers" investigated. Declassified documents and the dying words of a bodyguard to famed prime minister are now shedding more light on what appears to have been a top secret investigation into the "UFO files" of the day. And as with any secretive government investigation, there is the hint of an official cover-up as well.
According to a report from the Daily Star on July 30, in 1952 Sir Winston Churchill charged a select group known as the Flying Saucer Working Party to investigate the various UFO stories circulating at the time, including accounts by Royal Air Force (RAF) airmen and sightings seen in Washington, D.C. Although the subsequent report primarily dismissed the UFO sightings as unrecognized regular aircraft, balloons, birds, or other natural entities, or even psychological delusions, not to mention the possibility of optical illusions and psychological delusions being experienced by the witnesses, the Flying Saucer Working Party report did not rule out "aircraft of extraterrestrial origin, developed by beings unknown to us on lines more advanced than anything we have thought of."
As researched by Dr. David Clarke & Andy Roberts for UFO Magazine in 2003, there were many reports by RAF airmen during the war of "foo fighters," Unidentified Flying Objects that had trailed, kept pace with, or streaked past RAF aircraft. These objects, though unnerving, were often put off as advanced German technological weapons (the Germans had developed the world's first guided rocket, the first jet, and were actually working on a saucer-shaped craft when the war ended in 1946). At war's end, when German airmen were questioned, they admitted to also sighting the glowing orbs and other strange phenomena, but they had, like their counterparts, thought the phenomena were new weapons being tested and/or used by their enemies.
Churchill became more concerned after the war, and prompted by two different sightings -- and the scrambling of military jets -- regarding strange objects being detected over the White House (and on radar, no less) just a week apart in July 1952, he launched a top secret UFO investigation into "flying saucers" the day after the second sighting. He fired off a short note -- later known as the "Churchill Memorandum" -- to the Flying Saucer Working Party, which had been set up two years before to look into UFO sightings, and asked for a report on the issue.
"What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth?"
And although the report would conclude that the matter of UFO sightings were, for the most part, due to any one of a number of possible scenarios whereby witnesses could detect an unexplainable flying object, Winston Churchill's bodyguard, in a deathbed confession in 1999, would offer that Britain's wartime leader and prime minister of the nation again from 1951 to 1955 knew about UFOs and had even covered up an incident that occurred during World War II.
According to the bodyguard, an unnamed man who had also once been in the RAF, Churchill had received a report on a reconnaissance aircraft returning from a mission over occupied Europe. The crew reportedly took photos of the "metallic UFO," which was said to have "hovered noiselessly" near the RAF aircraft. Churchill's response: Classify the report for at least 50 years, its release to be determined by the review and approval of a future prime minister.
According to the bodyguard's testimony, Churchill, who was a Christian, found the report might have social implications, including the destabilization of the greater populace's religious faith. Churchill was claimed to have said, "This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic among the general population and destroy one's belief in the Church."
Such stories about governmental decisions regarding the release of UFO files and concomitant information are a staple of conspiracy theories regarding UFO sightings and disclosures. The argument contends that social structures and belief systems would quickly undergo forms of dissolution as well as cataclysmic alterations due to the world discovering that there are extraterrestrials with alien technology and that humans are not alone in the universe. In short, it is posited that governments fear the chaos and loss societal controls that might possibly ensue.
The deathbed confession that Winston Churchill was fully aware of UFOs and might have been part of a wartime cover-up notwithstanding, it seems that the prime minister got his way with regard to the British UFO files remaining classified for five decades. It wasn't until 2008 that the United Kingdom became the first nation to declassify its UFO files. The Ministry of Defense, which oversaw the investigating and recording of UFO sightings, subsequently began releasing the material to the general public through The National Archives.
According to The National Archives website, the Ministry of Defense began shutting down the "UFO desk" that was operated by the RAF in 2009. By December, both the UFO hotline answer phone service and the dedicated email address for UFO sighting reports were discontinued. In 2010, the last UFO desk officer was re-deployed after the last of the UFO files were marked for transfer to The National Archives.
All the UFO files have not as yet been transferred, according to the Daily Star. It is "rumored" that the Ministry of Defense is "preparing to release a new cache of classified UFO files this year."
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