The Flying Saucer Working Party was set up in October 1950, but operated under such secrecy that its existence was known to very few. Nevertheless, there were two clues that such a study had been carried out. One of these clues was obvious, but the other was more obscure.
The first clue was in the Secretary of State for Air’s response to Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s famous 28 July 1952 memo in which he enquired “What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth? Let me have a report at your convenience”. The response, dated 9 August 1952, began “The various reports about unidentified flying objects, described by the Press as “flying saucers”, were the subject of a full Intelligence study in 1951”.
The second clue was in a minute dated 29 May 1959, written by an official in S6 (a now defunct MOD division whose responsibilities for researching and investigating UFOs were latterly taken on by DS8, Sec(AS) and now DAS). This minute contained a sentence which read “The subject was reviewed by the J.I.C. some years ago and their views agree with a more extensive review carried out by the Americans”. This minute can be found at the PRO in file DEFE 31/118.
There was some considerable discussion and debate about the terms of reference of the Flying Saucer Working Party. The final version read as follows:
1. To review the available evidence in reports of “Flying Saucers”.
2. To examine from now on the evidence on which reports of British origin of phenomena attributed to “Flying Saucers” are based.
3. To report to DSI/JTIC as necessary.
4. To keep in touch with American occurrences and evaluation of such.
The five man working party was chaired by Mr G. L. Turney from one of the MOD’s scientific intelligence branches. All the members were specialists in the field of scientific and technical intelligence. One member, Wing Commander M. Formby, Assistant Director of Intelligence (Technical) at the Air Ministry, also chaired the Guided Missiles Working Party.
The working party’s conclusions were set out in a document dated June 1951 and bearing the designation DSI/JTIC Report No. 7. It was entitled “Unidentified Flying Objects” and classified “Secret Discreet”. The report comprises six pages (including the cover sheet) and is reproduced here, in full. We obtained it last year under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (as did a number of other researchers) and it was subsequently made available at the Public Record Office on 1 January 2002. Some of the key PRO file references containing the Report and related DSI/JTIC discussions are DEFE 10/496, DEFE 41/74 and DEFE 41/75.
As the report is reproduced here, in full (aside from some material in paragraph 4, relating to liaison with the Americans, which has been withheld) we do not propose to do much more than give a brief summary of the document, as we believe it speaks for itself. The following commentary should be viewed in conjunction with Graham Birdsall’s analysis in the January 2002 issue of UFO Magazine.
written by Nick Pope