Monday, January 9, 2017

Newly discovered Australian report from 1947


Introduction:

The modern UFO phenomenon is said to have started on 24 June 1947, with the well-known observation by pilot Kenneth Arnold in the United States. Australian newspapers quickly started publishing local reports; e.g. Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 9 July 1947 page 1, ‘Sydney people still say They’re seeing “Flying Saucers’; and Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Thursday 10 July 1947 page 1, ‘”Saucers” over Melbourne.’

Reports from 1947:

What is less-well known, is that there were three reported Australian sightings, well before the 24th June 1947. The first and second sightings, were reported on the same day, namely 5 February 1947, from South Australia and recorded in contemporary newspaper accounts.

The ‘Advertiser’ (Adelaide, South Australia) dated Friday 7 February 1947 on the front page, carried the following account:

‘Strange objects reported in sky.’

‘While working in the yard at the Commonwealth Railways workshop yesterday morning Mr Ron Ellis and two workmates claim to have seen five strange objects in formation pass across the sky from north to south.  

‘The objects were white or light pink and shaped like an egg.   Mr Ellis said that he could not give an accurate estimate of the size of the objects, but they were casting shadows and judging by his experience with aircraft in the RAAF during the war he considered they were about the size of a locomotive.  

‘Although the objects kept on a direct course at a height of about 6000 feet they appeared to be quivering he said.   Owing to their great speed they were out of sight within a few seconds.

‘Any question of the phenomenon being an optical illusion was dispelled by the fact that a few minutes later both Mr Ellis and his companion gave an identical description of what they had seen.   Their description was verified by another member of the workshop who said he had also seen the objects.’

The next day, Saturday 8 February 1947, the ‘Advertiser’ carried a second article:

‘Objects in sky not meteorites’

‘Commenting yesterday on a report from Port Augusta that several men working in the yard at the Commonwealth Railways Workshops at about 9am on Wednesday had seen five strange egg shaped objects in formation pass across the sky at a height of about 6000 feet the Government Astronomer Mr G F Dodwell said that the phenomenon did not fit in with anything astronomical and was a complete mystery to him.   


Mr Dodwell discounted the probability of the objects being meteorites.   He said that meteorites being so small and travelling at such high speeds did not cast shadows whereas the report stated that the objects had cast shadows about the size of a locomotive.   The presence of falling meteorites would have been accompanied by a deafening roar.


My research:

1.   I had known about these newspaper articles for several years, thanks to Adelaide resident Darryl Tiggeman. I visited the State Library in Adelaide on 27 January 2011 to check a copy of the ‘Adelaide Advertiser.’ I found that the ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ did indeed carry these articles on the dates quoted.

2.   I searched for additional information on the event in other South Australian newspapers.   In total I checked the ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ between 1 and 19 February 1947; the ‘West Coast Sentinel’ (based at Streaky Bay, 320kms W of Port Augusta) between 5 and 19 February 1947; ‘The Recorder’ (based at Port Pirie, 80kms S of Port Augusta) between 7 and 14 February 1947; Adelaide’s other daily newspaper ‘The News’ between 5 and 11 February 1947; the Adelaide weekly ‘The Mail’ for 8 February; ‘The Quorn Mercury’ (based at Quorn 22 kms NE of Port Augusta) between 6 and 20 February 1947.

3.   I found that ‘The Quorn Mercury’ of 13 February, page 3, carried the exact same account as that of the ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ dated 8 February 1947.   However, more importantly ‘The Quorn Mercury’ of 20 February 1947, page 3, also carried an additional report of a sighting.

‘Writing in the Advertiser, Mr F W Flavel of Lock, Eyre Peninsula states: ‘I saw objects in the sky between 7 and 8 o’clock the same day as you record a report from Port Augusta.   I was walking in a north-westerly direction to the house after feeding the pigs.

‘There were five of the strange objects and they seemed to be coming up out of the sea like a shadow with smoky grayish color around them.   They were oblong with narrow points.   I saw them quite plainly.   They seemed to be floating in the air from north-west to south-east and caused a shadow.’

4.   I then found a letter to the editor in the ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ of 17 February 1947, page 2 from Mr Flavel.   It read:

 ‘Strange objects in the sky.’

‘I saw objects in the sky between 7 and 8 o’clock the same day as you record a report from Port Augusta.   I was walking in a north-westerly direction to the house after feeding the pigs.

‘There were five of the strange objects and they seemed to be coming up out of the sea like a shadow with smoky grayish color around them.   They were oblong with narrow points.   I saw them quite plainly.   They seemed to be floating in the air from north-west to south-east and caused a shadow.’

‘I called the wife to have a look at them and she did so.   It was a sight.   I wish I had watched them longer as others had seen them and Port Augusta men did so an hour later.   I have never seen anything like this before, and after reading what others saw I thought I would let you know that my wife and I both saw these objects.’

5.   I checked the weather forecast for Wednesday 5 February 1947.   The state forecast was:
‘Unsettled, with scattered rain and thunderstorms.   Cool on part of the coast, elsewhere
Warm to hot and sultry.   SE to NE winds.’ The weather map was shaded over Port Augusta indicating rain was expected.

Sunrise was 0539hrs.   Moonrise 1925hrs.   Full moon 6 February 1947.

Adelaide’s actual temperature (300kms S of Port Augusta) for 5 February 1947 was minimum 73.8F at 0545hrs; maximum 98.3F at 1245hrs.

5.   Lock (latitude 33 deg 34 min S; longitude 135 deg 45 min E) is a small country town 225kms SW of Port Augusta, and is inland.

6.   As the 7 February issue of the ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ stated that Mr Ron Ellis has been in the RAAF during the war; I checked the National Archives of Australia service records for World War 2 looking for a Ron Ellis whose details might match the witness’s.   I found there was a service file for a Ronald Ernest Ellis, born 5 November 1920; at Port Augusta, South Australia.  

7.   After I posted the above information on the Magonia Exchange forum on the net, Chris Aubeck, who lives in Spain, sent me the following items:

(1) From the Adelaide Advertiser Thursday 10 July 1947 p2.  

‘Seeing things’

Early in February, some queer egg-shaped objects, pink and slightly luminous, were seen to pass across the sky near Port Augusta, but this phenomenon was hardly so much as a nine day’s wonder, for a South Australian amateur astronomer was ready with a plausible theory about meteors, which most people promptly accepted.   We now know that, in the slang of the moment, Port Augusta ‘started something.’ The egg-shaped apparitions about which South Australia was mildly excited five months since, were plainly the harbingers of those ‘flying saucers’ that have been creating such a sensation in America.

Our trans-Pacific cousins have seldom given their imaginations so much play.   Multitudes of people have seen the new hosts of heaven flying across the sky in the likeness of saucers; and those who have seen nothing, have been ready to make amends by offering explanations of ever increasing fantasy.   It was left to a Sydney physiologist to point out that ‘flying saucers’ are likely to be nothing worse than red corpuscles in the eye of the observer, and several American and British scientists having hastened to agree that this is a valid theory, the greatest known epidemic of ‘seeing things’ may fairly be supposed to be on the wane.’

(2) From the Adelaide Advertiser Tuesday 25 February 1947 p2.   Letters to the Editor.

‘Slow meteors’

Sir – Perhaps an amateur astronomer may be allowed to voice an opinion about the strange objects recently seen passing across the sky at Port Augusta.   Usually, any meteor entering the atmosphere is travelling at the terrific velocity of forty miles per second.   This compresses the atmosphere ahead of it and raises its temperature, as the piston of a diesel engine compresses and heats the gases in the cylinder, but whereas the diesel piston merely raises the temperature to ignition point, the tremendous pressure caused by the meteor raises the temperature thousands of degrees, and in this cap of incandescent gas the meteor is burned up in a matter of seconds.  

At rare intervals, however, meteors enter the atmosphere at comparatively slow speeds.   Some years ago a whole ‘procession’ of such slow meteors was seen to pass across part of the USA, finally ending their flight in the waters of the South Atlantic.   These slow meteors have a very different appearance from the swift blaze and trail of fire of the fast ones.   Friction with the air does no more than heat them until they glow, as the giant V2 rocket is heated on its flight.   As high-speed camera photographs of bullets in flight reveal, anything passing swiftly through the air creates both shock waves and turbulence which, by reflecting light rays passing through them, register distinctly on the photographic plate and, if the object is large enough, on the eye also.  

It is this turbulence in the air which is seen when a slow meteor passes across the sky in daylight.   The actual meteor may be quite small, weighing not more than fifty pounds in some cases, but the area of compressed and disturbed air is much larger, giving the impression that the object is of huge size and casting a visible shadow as it passes.

It also explains why many observers have described what they saw as ‘resembling a swimming fish’ on account of the way in which the ‘tail’ of the object seemed to wave to and fro.   I suggest, therefore that the objects seen were meteors travelling at what is a slow speed for such visitors from the depths of space.   If they were heading inland and we could obtain cross-bearings from observers to plot their course, it might be possible to find what is left of them, just as Sir Kerr Grant found the Karoonda meteorite a few years ago.’

H A Lindsay Cross Road, Highgate.


A third 1947 observation:

‘The Murrimbidgee Irrigator’ newspaper, (Leeton, New South Wales) dated Tuesday 8 July 1947, page 2 carried the following account:


‘In May last during the rice harvest, Mr H Nettlebeck was out in the fields when he heard a swishing noise as if a mob of ducks were flying overhead.   On looking up he saw five metal bodies flying in v formation with the sun glistening on them.   They appeared to be about 2000 feet up and each looked to be about the size of a large duck.   He estimated the speed at about 1000 miles per hour.   Mr Nettlebeck states the whole thing appeared too fantastic at the time for him to report the sight, but on reading in the City Press yesterday of the ‘flying saucers’ or radar controlled missiles he sees a similarity.   Mr Nettlebeck would like to know if any other settlers saw the five metal parts whizz through the sky in May last.’


Yet another 1947 account surfaces:

A few days ago, Canberra researcher Shane Ryan alerted me to a newspaper account from the digitised version of ‘The Shepparton News’ (Shepparton, Victoria) dated 2 January 2017. The account read, written by journalist Barclay White, titled ‘Memories of long-ago UFO,’ read:

‘Did an alien spacecraft hover over the streets of Shepparton on a cold winter’s night back in 1947?
A former Victorian policeman has broken his nearly 70-year silence on what he claimed was a close encounter with a flying object not of this earth.

Mr Neil John McIntyre, who would have been just 12 at the time, claimed that he saw an alien spacecraft when he was walking home late one night in June 1947.

He claimed he saw the spacecraft as he was heading home after a night out with his friend, Max Carlos, at a billiard saloon at Wyndham Street.

“It was a Sunday, and it was a cold, dark night” Mr McIntyre said.

“We finished at about a quarter past nine and made our way home.”

According to his recollections of the evening, he and Max saw a UFO hovering above the street, just metres from them.

He claimed that it stayed in the air for a good four to five minutes, as he and Max stood and watched, completely dumfounded by what they were seeing.

“I was not so much scared as surprised,” he said.

“It was a bit smaller than a Melbourne tram, it was similar to flying saucers seen around the world.
“You could clearly see two guys (in the craft) that we called aliens in the front cockpit.”

He claimed that the two aliens had no hair, or glasses and looked humanoid in shape, but not human and were looking at a lamppost in the street.

“Their hands were not in my view, but I got the impression they were controlling some sort of instrument,” he said. “It might have been extracting power from the lamppost.”

As he and his friend looked on in wonder, he claimed the spacecraft then flew away in the direction of Dookie.

After the encounter, he said this friend Max drew pictures of what they claimed to have seen in the sky.

“Maxy Carlos was empathic not to tell anyone,” he said.

Although he does not remember the exact date, he remembered it was a few days after or before the Roswell incident, a famous encounter in UFO folklore where the US Airforce is said to have recovered a spaceship that crashed in the New Mexico desert.

His friend Max Carlos eventually became famous for his feats in the ring as a professional boxer, and because of their friendship, Neil stayed true to his word to not speak of the incident.

Neil eventually joined the Victorian Police Force and is retired and living on the Gold Coast.

With Max having died Neil in his twilight years finally decided it was time to break his silence about what he claimed to have seen in the sky all those years ago.

“All I could say is it’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” He said.

Research:

Shane Ryan contacted both the journalist, Barclay White, and the witness, Neil McIntyre. Neil kindly responded, by email, to a number of questions which both Shane and myself put to him. These are as follows:

A check of digitised newspapers in the National Library of Australia’s TROVE collection, revealed numerous accounts about boxer Max Carlos. One in particular, from ‘The Argus’ (Melbourne, Victoria) dated Thursday 26 June 1952, page 14, records that Max in 1954 was aged 16, making him about 11 in 1947. Another, in the Shepparton Advertiser’ (Shepparton, Victoria) dated Friday 18 May 1951, page 5 spoke of Max Carlos of the Shepparton Boys Club. An internet search revealed that Mx had passed away on 12 May 1996.

Questions 1 and 2: ‘ When did you first go public with the story? Why did it appear in the newspaper now?

Response from Neil: ‘I never bothered, until recently when I mentioned this to my friend John Giliberto, and then it got rolling along.”

Shane added: ‘Barclay first interviewed Neil a couple of months ago, after being alerted to the story by a friend of Neil’s Another journalist, who is now also the Chief of Staff at the Shepparton News, John Lewis, who wrote the article about me and Westall In April 2014, encouraged Barclay to research the story and  to write it.”

I then noted that the Roswell, New Mexico, crashed ‘debris’ was said to have been found on 14 June 1947.

Question 3: ‘When did you first come across the Roswell story?’

Response from Neil: ‘I cannot recall that, it must have been discussions I overheard or talked about, with adults in Shepparton, when that got publicity, because I didn’t read the papers, or listen to radios much.

I checked with the TROVE digitised newspaper collection, to see when Australian newspapers carried articles about the Roswell incident. Newspaper all over Australia carried accounts around 9th and 10th July 1947. Some reported the finding of a ‘flying disc;’ while most carried the story that the ‘disc’ had been identified as a weather balloon. Examples are; ‘”Flying discs” found in New Mexico,’ The Canberra Times, dated 10 July 1947 page 1; ‘‘’Flying saucer’ was weather balloon,’ Tweed Daily (Murwillumbah, New South Wales) dated 10 July 1947 page 1.

Noting that the newspaper account contained a drawing of ‘two alien’ I asked Neil:

Question 4-7: Can you confirm that Max did the drawing in 1947? Who kept it since it was done?
 Where was it kept? I there anyone else who can verify that it was done in 1947?

Response from Neil: ‘I did many of those sketches in my spare time, but the first one I did on that night when I got home, and Max did the same thing, we met at school the next day & compared those sketches. I have a clear vision of those Aliens, even today, and I have no problems doing sketches of them. My original, what I may call it, was done a few years back, & just put aside, it will be under tight security from now on, as I intend to Auction it later. As I mentioned to you Max couldn’t draw for nuts but I had a natural art ability, and even today 6th January 2017, I have no trouble seeing in my mind those two Aliens, in their UFO, no problems.’

Shane added: ‘The drawing, then, is Neil’s not Max’s, and is not the original one done by Neil which has long since been disposed of. Max’s relative Yvonne Carlos (sister or daughter perhaps) wrote on the Lost Shepparton Facebook page, confirming the story: “I do remember Max believing that flying saucers (as we called them in the 50’s) definitely existed, because he and his friend Macca had seen one had seen one over Wyndham Street when they were quite young after leaving the Mechanics Institute pool room. He never told me about seeing aliens piloting it, but they watched it for a few minutes and it went off towards Dookie.”

Shane asked Neil, other questions:

Question 8: ‘If your sighting was about 100 metres or yards north of the pool hall, perhaps you were somewhere near the Queen’s Gardens, or not far from the Nixon Street intersection with Wyndham Street. Did you ever go back to the location of your sighting wondering if you would see them again?
Question 9: ‘Have you given any thought to doing a drawing of what the craft looked like, and perhaps how it was positioned in relation to the street light pole?’

Responses by Neil: ‘The Queen’s Gardens, that would be correct, across the road, was a Motor mechanics shop, on the corner. My brother Wal worked at that place for quite some time. No, I never made any special visits back to that area to see if I could witness all that again, you see, we probably shouldn’t have been out that late on a Sunday night anyway, it all just happened because we got involved in a few games of Pool, and that it why we upset the Manager of the Billiard or Snooker room, he wanted us out at 9pm. We argued we were only half way through our game, & he took pity on us, and allowed us to finish the game off, which took some ten minutes, over his lock up time, I think.

I’ve done a few sketches of that UFO, sideways, on, it was like looking into a “Myers Shopping Window wide open” if you know what I mean. The two Aliens stood out, right in the middle of the window, cockpit or clear open area, obviously behind glass or what ever material used on the UFO, and as I stated, I couldn’t even from that close, say they were standing or sitting, because their hands, were out of view down out of my eye line, if you know what I mean. So in my spare time over the years I have only really sketched what I was looking at, those two Aliens five feet away, inside a window type cockpit, if you know what I mean. I still “rattle” when I see how close that UFO was to hitting that lamp post, as I quivered, I think I was quivering also, it was soooclose, only an inch or so, from striking the lamp post, in the most awkward, side on, balancing angle, you could imagine. “

After completing this article, I forwarded it to Neil, and asked him to check it for accuracy, as far as the details of his sighting were concerned. This he did and advised me there was one point in the Shepparton News article which needed correction. At the time of the incident, Neil and Max were riding bicycles without lights; not walking. They got off their bikes “when the place around us lit up like a thousand candles.”

Neil kindly consented to allow me to publish the above details.

A further account:

Sydney researcher, Bill Chalker, makes mention of an account from Maffra, Victoria, in the winter of 1947. The details he gave are as follows:

“Driving home with her son, a woman almost collided with a ‘dazzling golden ball’ hovering just above the road.  The woman could not stop the car and found it buffeted by wind.  At the point of impact, the ball seemed to roll to one side over a high embankment and disappeared behind tall maize.  The wind then ceased.”


In conclusion:

There are few known accounts, from Australia, dated 1947. Out of the four given here, only two; i.e. Locke, and Port Augusta, South Australia were published in contemporary newspapers. This author, would be very interested to hear of others from that era. I may be contacted at keithbasterfield@gmail.com 

Note added 10 January 2017

I received a message from Sydney researcher, Bill Chalker, who advised that he had communications with Neil McIntyre, about a decade ago. McIntyre's story at that stage was basically along the lines of the account in the recent Shepparton newspaper. 



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