Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cold case - 26 February 1942 - Australia

Hi

This post will continue my look at older Australian UFO cases. This one has appeared in numerous global UFO publications e.g. English Flying Saucer Review Volume 3 Number 6, dated Nov/Dec 1957. It is said to have occurred on 26 February 1942 in the Timor Sea to the north of Australia, at midday.

I have now located a typed copy version of the witness' original letter to the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society(AFSRS) in 1957, in the files of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF.)

Research:

I requested the National Archives of Australia to digitize file series A703 control symbol 580/1/1 part 1, titled "Reports on Flying Saucers and other aerial objects" in order that I could read the full documentation.

Pages 87-88 of the digital version are a letter dated 6 April 1957 from UFO researcher Peter Norris to the Secretary of Air, advising that Norris' society was running a radio segment on UFOs, and asking the Secretary if an officer of his agency would appear on the radio program. The letter stated that some good reports had come about because of the radio show, and as an example attached a typed copy of a letter from one William Methorst.

The text of this letter from Methorst reads as follows:

"Dear Sir

After listening to your program on Flying Saucers on Wednesday evenings, I thought I would write you and tell you of an experience I had while in the Timor Sea on Thursday 26th February, 1942.

This happened while on watch for enemy aircraft just after noon.

I was scanning the skies with binoculars when suddenly I saw a large aluminium disc approaching at terrific speed at 4,000 or 5,000 feet above us. This proceeded to circle high above our ship, the cruiser "Tromp" of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

After reporting it to the officer on duty, he was unable to identify it as any known aircraft. After keeping track of this object for about three or four hours still flying in big circles and at the same height, it suddenly veered off in a tremendous speed (about 3,000 to 3,500mph) and disappeared from sight.

I have an account of this in notes made the same day in a diary which I still have in my possession.

Hope you will find this of aid to your investigations.

William Methorst."

Where was the Tromp?

Where was the ship "Tromp" on 26 February 1942?

I checked on the internet for information on the Tromp (click here) This site was invaluable. The Tromp was a cruiser of the Royal Netherlands Navy, and on 20 February 1942 was involved in action with Japanese forces, where it was damaged by Japanese destroyers. On 23 February 1942, the ship left Soerabaja, and went into the Indian Ocean via Madoera Strait and Bali Strait. It arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia on 27 February 1942. A search of the net showed Surabaya (formerly Soerabaja) is now Indonesia's second largest city and is situated at latitude 7 deg 16 min South, longitude 112 deg 45 min East.

It is therefore probable that on the 26 February 1942 the Tromp would have been in the vicinity of the Western Australian coast, sailing south to Fremantle, and not in the Timor Sea which is to the north of Australia.

Was there a Methorst on the Tromp on that date?

I was unable to locate a crew list of the Tromp. I therefore sent an email to the contact person for the website http://www.neverlandsnavy.nl asking if they knew of any way to locate a crew list for the Tromp for 1942? I received a response from Jan Visser. Jan checked his files, but could find no-one by the name Methorst who had been a commissioned officer in the Royal Netherlands Navy in World War 2. However, that still left non-commissioned officers and enlisted men to check.

Jan suggested a number of internet forums on which I could post a request for information on Methorst, which I did. To date, no-one had responded that they have located Methorst on the Tromp. However, I did receive a response from a Paul Joosten on 31 January 2011, who advised that he had located an account of the event which gave the witness' names as William J Methorst.

Further research:

I located Peter Norris, the Melbourne based UFO researcher, whom Methorst had written to about the event. Unfortunately, Peter has retained no papers on the incident.

I conducted a name search on the website of the National Archives of Australia (NAA). I failed to locate any records of a William Methorst or a William J Methorst. However a search of the NAA's "Passenger Arrivals List" located a William J Methorst who had arrived in Australia on 1 May 1949 on board the ship Maetsuycker at Fremantle, Western Australia (source: NAA file series K269 control symbol Methorst, William J.)

I did confirm there was a William Jan Methorst (carpenter) and a Ruth Methorst (home duties) listed as living at 7 Eisenhower Street, Reservoir East, Melbourne (the same address given on the Methorst 1957 letter on the RAAF's file) in the 1959 Commonwealth of Australia, Division of Darebin, state of Victoria electoral roll. The 1961 roll showed the same details. The 1962 roll was not available in the State Library, and the 1963 and 1964 rolls for Reservoir East do not list the Methorsts.

In the Australian Telstra electronic white pages I located 12 individuals with the Methorst name. I sent each one of them a letter seeking information on a William Methorst. I received a phone call from a Jan Methorst of Tasmania, who advised that he was not aware of any William Methrost in his family line. Jan mentioned also that he knew most of the Methorst listed in the phone book. I later received an email from an Andy Methorst of Tasmania, who advised that he was not aware of any William Methorst and that he had checked with other family members in Holland and no-one knew of a William Methorst. In addition several other response letters told the same story.

Conclusions:

It would appear that the Tromp was not in the Timor Sea on 26 February 1942 but sailing down the coast of Western Australia in the Indian Ocean.

I have not been able to confirm or reject the fact that there was a William Methorst on board.

I have not been able to locate a still living relative of William Methorst, nor any signs of his diary said to detail the event.

Footnote:

The so called "Battle of Los Angeles" took place on the night of 24/25 February 1942
(click here.) Some UFO sources for example, (click here) have suggested a link between the cases.

Update: 7 April 2016:

I received an email from a blog reader, Daniel Ferguson, who advised that he had been unable to post a comment here, due to a technical problem with blogger. I therefore paste in his comment here.

"I have reason to believe that William Jan Methorst and Willem Jan Methorst are the same person.
 
_x=1&msbdy_x=1&msbpn_x=XO&msbpn__ftp_x=1&msrpn_x=XO&msrpn__ftp_x=
1&msydy_x=1&msypn_x=XO&msypn__ftp_x=1&gskw_x=1&_83004002_x=1&cpxt
=0&uidh=000&cp=0&gl=35&gst=&ghc=50&geo_a=r&geo_s=au&geo_t=au&geo_v=2.0.0&o
_iid=41020&o_lid=41020&o_sch=Web+Property>. 
 
Notice that there are listings for both names, but more importantly, look at how Ruth's area of residence consistently correlates with both names. Ruth - who is presumably his wife from what I can discern in the above said passage ("I did confirm there was a William Jan Methorst (carpenter) and a Ruth Methorst (home duties) listed as living at 7 Eisenhower Street, Reservoir East, Melbourne (the same address given on the Methorst 1957 letter on the RAAF's file) in the 1959 Commonwealth of Australia, Division of Darebin, state of Victoria electoral roll.") - is listed as living in the same places at the same time as both of the William Jan Methorst and Willem Jan Methorst listings (see below).
 
The following information was taken from Australian Electoral Roles 1903-1980.
 
NAME: William Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1954
SUBDISTRICT: Preston East
STATE: Victoria
DISTRICT: Darebin
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1954
SUBDISTRICT: Preston East
STATE: Victoria
DISTRICT: Darebin
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: William Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1963
SUBDISTRICT: Fortitude Valley
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Brisbane
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1963
SUBDISTRICT: Fortitude Valley
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Brisbane
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Willem Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1968
SUBDISTRICT: Ashgrove
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Ryan
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1968
SUBDISTRICT: Ashgrove
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Ryan
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: William Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1972
SUBDISTRICT: North Brisbane
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Brisbane
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1972
SUBDISTRICT: North Brisbane
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Brisbane
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Willem Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1977
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Bowman
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1977
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Bowman
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Willem Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1977
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Griffith
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1977
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Griffith
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Willem Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1980
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Bowman
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1980
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Bowman
COUNTRY: Australia
 
See a Pattern Here?
 
These records seem to indicate that they lived together and remained thus as they moved from place to place. One can only assume either that he interchanged the spelling of his name on the ballots between 1968-1972 before finally deciding to stick with Willem prior to the next registered ballot in 1977, or that the printing of the name was an error on the part of the person(s) who maintained the records. Regardless of which is the case, it's beside the point.
 
My point is that if his & her descendants could be tracked down & contacted, it's not unlikely that they would have kept the journal as memorabilia of their father. Assuming that the journal does exist and has survived being stored away up until now, radiocarbon dating could prove a useful method to assert the time in which the journal was printed; or possibly even when the entry was made. 
 
Still, this doesn't confirm that he was on the Tromp on February 26th, 1942; however, the carbon dating method could help prove the plausibility of his claims if the journal can predate this time. Furthermore, family kept military records could potentially reveal whether or not he was on the Tromp during its passage from Soerabaja (now Surabaya), India to Fremantle, Australia between February 23rd & February 27th, 1942. At any rate, I hope this helps."

7 comments:

  1. Good work. It appears something compelled Mr Methorst, or someone who knew him, to fabricate the story. It's a fair game making allowances for misremembering a date years later, but being so inaccurate in a diary isn't.

    I looked at 3 subsequent issues of FSR and there are no follow-ups, although the first Reinhold Schmidt article appears. Two deceptive people with wholly different motivations?

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  2. His name was Willem (dutch) Jan Methorst not William and he has passed away. He is survived by his son Berend Jan Methorst who lives in Canberra. He also had 2 daughters. Eva Methorst who lives in Melbourne and Christina Lollo who lives in Townsvile.

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  3. Interesting someone with such intimate knowledge just randomly came across a familiar name & happily posts details online. Maybe there's a reason they're hard to contact?
    Re white pages listing comment in later post. They can be difficult to get deleted and if he moved and changed number (can't imagine why) may nit have bothered to remove. Anon seems to know how to contact them. Just let them know about this & maybe it can be cleared up? - assuming there's no AVO of course ��

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  4. I have a copy of a letter in which Paul Norman said that Merthorst appeared on a local radio program with Peter Norris. (Can't immediately put my hands on it.) However, if so, I wonder if a tape recording was made of the radio show?

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Curious as to why my comment was removed by blog administrator? Please explain

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vance,

      It contained a private email address for you. I do not like to publish private emails in case Internet trolls descend upon that person.

      I was very pleased to hear from you, and sent an email to your gmail address to follow up your kind offer of photos. If you have not received it, I may be contacted on keithbasterfield@gmail.com or keithbasterfield@yahoo.com.au

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      Delete