According to allegations contained in a trove of newly published secret government documents, Churchill became concerned over the morale-sapping influence of extraterrestrial invaders in the latter years of World War II, when he was told of an alleged close encounter between a Royal Air Force (RAF) plane and a metallic UFO over the east coast of England. He reportedly ordered the sighting to be kept secret for 50 years, declaring: "This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic amongst the general population and destroy one's belief in the church."
That, at least, is the allegation put to the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense by the family of a senior British military aide who claimed to have been present at a meeting in which Churchill and U.S. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower reportedly discussed "foo fighter" sightings by Allied aircrews.
This bizarre wartime incident can be found alongside hundreds of other reports of unexplained celestial phenomena -- from a supposed UFO crash in the Welsh mountains in 1974 to a fast-moving "rocket" buzzing a Boeing 737 at Manchester Airport in 1995 -- released today by the London-based British National Archive. The documents are part of a collection of 11,000 UFO files accumulated by the Defense Ministry since the end of World War II, which are released in batches. The latest set can be downloaded free from the archive's site within the next month.
This will happen just before the European Union may reveal to the rest of the world whether or not it has top-secret UFO files. AOL News recently reported how Mario Borghezio, leader of the ultraconservative Italian Northern League party, has urged the 27 member EU governments to publicly release any UFO information.
The Churchill file, though, stands out amid this mass of crackpot-penned letters. It opens in 1999, when the military aide's grandson contacted the ministry, asking if it had any information on the alleged wartime episode. The grandson -- whose name has been redacted, but who describes himself as an astrophysicist -- says his grandfather told him he had been present at a meeting between Churchill and Eisenhower that focused on an RAF crew's reported sighting of a mysterious flying "metallic" object as they returned from a reconnaissance mission over mainland Europe. This vessel "appeared to hover noiselessly relative to the aircraft for a time" and then "very suddenly disappeared, leaving no trace of its earlier presence."
"This event was discussed by Mr. Churchill and Gen. Eisenhower, neither of whom knew what had been observed," the grandson added. "There was a general inability for either side to match a plausible account to these observations. ... Another person [at the meeting] raised the possibility of an unidentified flying object, at which point Mr. Churchill declared the incident should be immediately classified for at least 50 years and its status reviewed by a future prime minister."
An official wrote back saying the ministry knew of "no closed records dating from World War II on this subject." However, the ministry did note that Churchill himself was so intrigued by the flurry of post-war UFO sightings in the U.K. and U.S. that he wrote to the Air Ministry in July 1952 and asked: "What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth?"
Sadly for alien watchers everywhere, the files don't reveal if the cigar-chomping leader ever got an answer. The truth, it seems, is still out there.