- The Public Record Office files in London
contain a wealth of information about UFO-type sightings over the British
Isles during the 1914-1918 period, ranging from mystery lights to "phantom
- Researcher Granville Oldroyd found records
of hundreds of reports to the War Office both from police and Intelligence
Units, which led to an official investigation and a conclusion that 89
percent of the reported cases could be explained (PRO Air 1/565/16/15/89:
'Special Report on Aircraft Rumours, 6-7 September 1914).
- These sightings were taken so seriously
during 1916 that the Royal Flying Corps even dispatched a pilot, Lieutenant
Hucks, to fly over the Pennine hills of Northern England in a bid to locate
the base it was believed was used by the Zeppelin airship which was thought
to be responsible.
- An article I wrote on the 1916-17 sightings
was published in UFO Brigantia some years ago, but the following is a summary
of the material which appeared in a book I co-wrote with Andy Roberts,
Phantoms of the Sky (published by Robert Hale, London, in 1990):
- "Strange lights were [also] observed
by members of the Royal Flying Corps defending London from Zeppelin raids
on the night of 31 January 1916, just as many pilots observed similar unexplained
aerial phenomena during the Second World War. On the night in question,
orders were sent to the fighter aerodromes to the effect that Zeppelins
were approaching London. At 7.40pm Lieutenant RS Maxwell arose from Hainault
Farm Aerodrome, near Romford in Essex. At 8.25 his engine was "...missing
irregularly and it was only by keeping the speed of the machine down to
50mph that I was able to stay at 10,000 feet.
- It was at this time that I distinctly
saw an artificial light to the north of me, and at about the same height.
I followed this light northeast for nearly 20 minutes, but it seemed to
go slightly heigher and just as quickly as myself...and I eventually lost
it completely in the clouds." (PRO Air 1/611 16/15/288).
- "At 8.45 pm another aeroplane, piloted
by Flight Sub-Lieutenant JE Morgan, may have observed the same UFO after
arising from an aerodrome at Rochford, some twenty-two miles east of Hainault
Farm. Morgan reported [in an official report to the War Office] that at
5,000 feet he had seen, about a hundred feet away from his aircraft, 'a
row of what appeared to be lighted windows which looked something like
a railway carriage with the blinds drawn.' In the belief that he had chanced
upon a Zeppelin, Morgan fired at the object with his Webley Scott pistol,
whereupon "the lights alongside arose rapidly" and disappeared!
- "As on that particular night none
of the raiding [German] airships came as far south as Essex, what was it
that these two pilots independently reported in the sky in the same area
and at the same time?"
- Unfortunately, Morgan's original report
has not been located in the War Office files from the period, and we have
to reply upon a second hand account of it.
- I would be interested to hear from anyone
who may have details of other WW1 era sightings, both in Europe and further