|Churchill and US General Dwight Eisenhower, left, are alleged to have discussed how to deal with a UFO encounter.|
Churchill and Eisenhower 'agreed to cover up RAF plane's UFO encounter during WWII', secret files revealAugust 4, 2010
The Daily Mail
Sir Winston Churchill was accused of covering up a close encounter between an RAF aircraft and a UFO during the Second World War, newly-released files reveal today.
The former prime minister allegedly ordered that the unexplained incident over the east coast of England should be kept secret for at least 50 years because it would provoke 'mass panic'.
The claim, made by a scientist who said his grandfather was one of Churchill's bodyguards, is recounted in declassified Ministry of Defence UFO files made available online by the National Archives.
Allegations of the cover-up emerged when the man, from Leicester, wrote to the government in 1999 seeking to find out more about the incident.
He described how his grandfather, who served with the RAF in the war, was present when Churchill and US General Dwight Eisenhower discussed how to deal with the UFO encounter.
The man, who is not named in the files, said Churchill was reported to have exclaimed: 'This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic amongst the general population and destroy one's belief in the church.'
The incident allegedly involved an RAF reconnaissance plane returning from a mission in France or Germany towards the end of the war.
It was over or near the English coastline when it was suddenly intercepted by a strange metallic object which matched the aircraft's course and speed for a time before accelerating away and disappearing.
The scientist said: 'This event was discussed by Mr Churchill and General Eisenhower, neither of whom knew what had been observed.
'There was a general inability for either side to match a plausible account to these observations, and this caused a high degree of concern.'
He added: 'During the discussion with Mr Churchill, a consultant (who worked in the Cumbria area during the war) dismissed any possibility that the object had been a missile, since a missile could not suddenly match its speed with a slower aircraft and then accelerate again.
'He declared that the event was totally beyond any imagined capabilities of the time.
'Another person at the meeting raised the possibility of an unidentified flying object, at which point Mr Churchill declared that the incident should be immediately classified for at least 50 years and its status reviewed by a future Prime Minister.'
The scientist said his grandfather did not talk about what he heard, other than to tell his daughter when she was aged nine.
He added: '(He) remained convinced until his death in 1973 that technological capabilities existed that were not generally known to the public or indeed even to world leaders.
'He would occasionally hint that our flight technologies were far inferior to the possible limits of development without elaborating on the events that he witnessed during the war.'
Whitehall officials investigated the claims but could find no records of the discussions between Churchill and Eisenhower, the newly-released documents show.
An MoD official wrote back to the man in September 1999: 'It was generally the case that before 1967 all UFO files were destroyed after five years as there was insufficient public interest in the subject to merit their permanent retention.
'Therefore, any UFO report files from the WWII era would most probably have been destroyed.'
And a month later a civil servant in the Cabinet Office told him: 'In your letter, you say that the discussion between Churchill and Eisenhower on the UFO sighting should have been recorded.
'We have had a look through our lists of material for this period, and I am afraid that we cannot immediately see anything on this subject. Neither do we have any filed on this matter which remain closed.'
Churchill is known to have expressed an interest in UFOs.
The newly released files also revealed that UFOs were once taken seriously enough to be discussed by intelligence chiefs in 1957.
The latest batch of UFO files from the National Archives includes details of a memorandum on 'aerial phenomena' prepared for a meeting of the Cabinet Office's Joint Intelligence Committee in April 1957.
And the files show that modern reports of UFO sightings reached a peak in 1996.
According to an Air Ministry note included in the 'Red Book' - the weekly intelligence survey - four incidents involving UFOs tracked by RAF radars remained "unexplained".
It said it received one UFO report a week on average, and that six out of the 16 sightings it had learnt about since January 1 1957 were either unexplained or still under investigation.
One of the six unexplained sightings was accounted for by lack of evidence and another was thought to be a weather balloon.
The note stated: 'The remaining four incidents still under investigation are all radar sightings.
'In each, unusual behaviour of the radar blips in terms of course, speed and heights were reported.
'Attempts are being made to trace the cause of these sightings to aircraft known to have been near, inexperienced operators or spurious echoes of unexplained origin.'
The files contain dozens of UFO sightings reported to the Ministry of Defence between 1995 and 2003, including more than 600 reported sightings in 1996 alone.
Dr David Clarke, author of The UFO files and Senior Lecturer in Journalism from Sheffield Hallam University said: 'These papers demonstrate how far official policy towards UFOs changed after the Cold War.
'In 1957, some officials were so concerned by a spate of incidents involving UFOs the subject was placed on the agenda of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC).
'But by the 50th anniversary of the 'flying saucer' mystery in 1997 the MoD was no longer interested in UFOs as a defence problem but as a purely public relations issue.
'This inevitably led to the closure of the MoD's public UFO hotline at the end of 2009.'
Among hundreds of reports of sightings, 'UFO crashes' and other close encounters, the files also reveal details of several unusual incidents which landed on the MoD's 'UFO desk' - Sec(AS)2 - before it was eventually closed in 2009 .
These include the unlikely tale of a peeved punter from Leeds who believed his 100-1 bet on alien life being discovered on earth before the end of the century was a winner.
The punter had £17 placed with Ladbrokes on extraterrestrials being found dead or alive by the end of the 20th century.
But the bookie said it would not pay up because the United Nations had not confirmed the existence of aliens.
Asked to intervene, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) agreed there was no evidence of visits by lifeforms from other planets and backed Ladbrokes.
The man, from Beeston, Leeds, who is not named in the files, placed a successful £2 bet on West Germany winning the 1990 World Cup at 6/1.
His winnings were added to a £3 wager on 'aliens to have landed (dead or alive) on Earth before December 31 1999' at 100/1, meaning he stood to win £1,700 if extraterrestrials were found.
But Ladbrokes refused to pay out, writing to him in April 1999: 'We advise that at present your bet is not a winner as the United Nations, who we use as our source of authenticity, has not yet confirmed the existence of aliens.
'However, as the bet stipulates 'before December 31 1999', should the United Nations confirm this before that date we will be only too pleased to make payment to you.'
The punter made a complaint 'as a last resort' to the minister for sport, which was passed to the MoD.
He said he had found 19 books in Leeds Central Library reporting the famous Roswell incident, in which an alien spaceship was reported to have crashed in New Mexico in the US in July 1947.
He wrote: 'I placed my bet on facts, Ladbrokes hide behind government propaganda weighted heavily to prevent public alarm and panic.
'Which I agree with it (sic). I do not want the media reporting my wager, but I should be paid out. My bet is a winner.'
An MoD official replied on July 23 1999: 'The MoD does not have any expertise in respect of UFO matters or to the question of the existence of extraterrestrial lifeforms, about which it remains totally open-minded.
'However, to date the MoD is not aware of any evidence that might substantiate the existence of alien lifeforms and therefore supports the view that your bet should not be upheld.'
He approached the government for evidence to support his claim after Ladbrokes refused to pay out. While the MoD said they were open-minded about extra-terrestrial life they had no evidence of its existence.
Another file relates to the infamous Rendlesham Forest Incident in Suffolk in December 1980.
Often described as 'Britain's Roswell', the incident began with a sighting by US Air Force (USAF) security police of bright lights descending in Rendlesham Forest, outside the perimeter fence of RAF Woodbridge.
Three patrolmen claimed they saw a UFO in the forest and investigations found marks on the ground and on trees and allegedly higher than expected levels of radiation.
Two nights later Lt Col Charles Halt, the deputy base commander, and other USAF personnel reported seeing more unexplained lights over the forest.
The MoD file on the incident was first released in 2001 but some papers were withheld.
Reports of mysterious sonic booms and an aircraft crashing into the Peak District hills, on the border between South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, triggered a search of moorland by the police, RAF and mountain rescue teams in 1997.
No wreckage was found and no aircraft reported missing. An RAF police investigation concluded space debris or meteorites may have been responsible.
Further highlights from the files include also a 'psychic premonition' of a terrorist attack on an RAF base in Stanmore in 1990.
A mountain rescue team called to investigate a 'crashed UFO' in the Berwyn Mountains in Wales in 1974. The incidents was later attributed to a minor earthquake in the region.
Dr David Clarke continued: 'These files reveal that before the collapse of the USSR in 1991 RAF aircraft were scrambled on average 200 times a year to investigate unidentified objects on radar, the majority of these turned out to be Soviet reconnaissance aircraft.
'However, between 1991 and 1996, no scrambles were recorded. In contrast during the same five year period the MoD received almost 1200 reports of sightings from members of the public, most of which were filed away
'In 1996 alone there were more than 600 reports, 343 letters from the public and 22 enquiries from MPs, perhaps related to the popularity of TV shows such as The X-Files at the time."
There are 18 files in total, released today as part of a three-year project between The National Archives and the Ministry of Defence.
The files are made up of more than 5,000 pages of UFO reports, letters and drawings drawn from correspondence with the public and questions raised in parliament.
The files are available to download for free for a month from the website www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufo.