Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bougainville Reef - 28 May 1965 - cold case investigation -part two

Hi all

Part one of this post ended with details of the aircraft involved. Here, I describe my efforts to locate the pilot and DCA officer said to have been involved in the event.

1. Captain John Barker.

I emailed the TAA museum in Melbourne. Their membership is said to consist of individuals who were former pilots, former flight attendants and other former employees of TAA. I sought information on anyone who had recollections of the Sydney to Port Moresby flights of 1965. I received no useful information from this source.

I posted an item on one of the Internet forums of the Professional Pilots Network website, titled "Where are they?" which looks to locate former aircrew. I received a very nice email from a man in the UK. He advised me that his late father was a pilot, and had known a Captain John Barker, an Australian pilot, who flew here in the 1950s and 1960's. Unfortunately, Barker, according to a relative in Brisbane, had passed away.

I was unable to locate any further information on Captain Barker.

2. William Orr.

I looked at the Queensland electoral rolls in the South Australian State Library for 1966 (they did not have the 1965 rolls.) Listed in the division of Herbert, sub-division of Townsville was the following entry:

13432. Joseph Willam Orr. 22 Latchford Street, Pimlico. Townsville. Com. Officer. male.

This appeared to be the correct Orr. He was not listed in the equivalent 1972 roll.

A lengthy check of all volumes of the 2009 Queensland electoral rolls located only one Joseph William Orr. I sent him a tactful letter merely indicating that I was seeking a 1965 DCA officer from Townsville, and asking if he recalled a report of a DC-6 aircraft pilot reporting a UFO to him?"

On 1 August 2012 I had a telephone conversation with Orr, some 47 years after the events described.

The only sighting of an unusual object which he could recall was of a great, moving cloud across the sky, very, very high up. No-one knew what it was. It was letting out a long streak behind it. He checked with the RAAF who advised him that it was a Canberra bomber aircraft.

I asked if he could recall an event where an airline pilot had radioed him to report seeing a UFO? He said he could not recall any such event.

I asked if he could recall the 1965 DC-6 flights between Sydney and Port Moresby? He said he could, and went on to provide some details about them including the reporting points which the pilots had to observe. I asked if the Port Moresby flights were day or night? He told me that they left Brisbane in the dark with the idea of getting to Port Moresby when it was light.

I asked him if he could recall knowing any detectives at the CIB in Townsville He said he could not. I then asked him if the name John Meskell meant anything to him? He said it did not. However, he did recall a Townsville DCA Air traffic Controller with a similar name. Orr told me he had accidental recently run into this individual in a local shopping centre only a little while ago. The DCA man is now living in Brisbane, after retirement and has 12 children and this is why Orr recalled him.

Orr is now aged 85, and although sounding a little frail on the telephone, was lucid and clear in his recollections to me.


1. The sole source of this intriguing account is cited as DCA operator William Orr, through John Meskell, a detective at Townsville CIB. However, in a recent telephone conversation, Orr stated to me that he had no recollection of the event described in this post; no recollection of dealing with detectives, and no recollection of the name John Meskell. Of course, all of this, might be due to Orr's age and state of memory.

2. Meskell was interviewed by Dr James E McDonald in June 1967, when McDonald was here in Australia. Meskell was also interviewed by Sydney researcher Bill Chalker in 1982. However, to my knowledge no-one has ever tracked down and interviewed, or published direct interviews, with either Captain John Barker or DCA operator William Orr, until now.

3. The RAAF denied any knowledge of the event.

4. Bill Chalker's examination of DCA files, revealed no apparent knowledge of the case on their behalf.

5. In short, although it is an intriguing account, it remains a second-hand story, which lacks real documentation. I'd certainly appreciate hearing from anyone who has secured first hand details. However, I fear that the passage of time now means we may never locate such information.

John Meskell:

Only a few days after the Bougainville Reef event, Meskell reported his own UFO sighting to the RAAF.

On 3 Jun 1965, Detective Constable 1st Class J Meskell, Townsville Police Station; Clarence Edward Meskell of Newcastle and Eric Finsch of Newcastle were on a fishing boat at 20 09 S 148 26E for the first two sightings at 1900k and 1903k.  A third observation, at 2000k occurred at 20 03 S 148 26E. Each observation lasted for one minute.

They reported seeing objects like a white light, growing larger in size as it descended, to about 20,000 to 30,000 feet, at about the same height as a Boeing 707 travelling north that they saw at 032100k.

The RAAF investigating officer, R J Roberts, stated on the RAAF's UFO report form. "The first observer is a Townsville Detective used to making observations, also is well read on UFO's material, therefore made accurate notes of directions and times etc. He was able to recall most of the important sightings of flying objects that have occurred throughout the USA over the past ten years or so, by names and locations."

A search of the Internet revealed that in 2009, Meskell had a book published (click here)  titled "UFOs: Food for Thought" published by Zeus Publications. ISBN 192157420. The plot line is given as "Maxwell Carter is a government investigator who, with his partner, starts to unravel facts from around the world on UFO sightings and abductions."

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting story, I'm surprised though that you do not seemed to have checked the contemporary newspaper reports for the relevant time period, despite the claims of censorship from whoever originated the first report of this incident, surely the passengers (I'm assuming this was not a freight flight) would have noticed this also and talked.

    Given some of the evidence you've uncovered (eg. No Air Force file), I'd suggest the first step would be to try and find out just where NICAP & Richard Hall got their information from and work from there. Though given the length of time between the claim and the present day, their might not be much out there.


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