The British National Archives released a large selection of documents this week dating back to the 1950s which provide a fascinating window into the level of fear that overcame Prime Minister Winston Churchill when the Royal Air Force alerted him of airborne encounters with enormous, fast-moving metallic objects in the skies above the United Kingdom. There is a good chance that the files would never have been released had it not been for the grandson of one of Churchill’s personal bodyguards who wrote to the British Ministry of Defense in 1999 hoping to learn more about the incident. The account of this man’s grandfather, along with Churchill’s reaction, indicate how serious this encounters were taken not only by Churchill but also by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower:
The letter describes how the man’s grandfather, who served with the RAF in World War II, was present when Churchill went to discuss a UFO sighting with Dwight Eisenhower. The incident involved an RAF reconnaissance plane, returning from France or Germany, that was said to have been intercepted by an unidentified metallic object near the English coastline. “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.”
A Defense Ministry official’s response from September, 1999 was also among the files. It reads: “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.” According to another note found among the new files, however, such claims were taken extremely seriously by Churchill and his staff. By 1957, ministers were commissioning weekly reports on UFO sightings from a committee of intelligence experts. The documents reveal a total of 16 UFO incidents from the time period.