Friday, July 17, 2015

The mystery of classified file 1969/4393

Hi all,

In a recent post (click here) about "Unidentified Flying Objects and mysterious happenings in Papua New Guinea," I mentioned that a number of papers on National Archives of Australia (NAA) file series A452 control symbol 1969/4393, were missing according to a count of the folio numbers. These papers amounted to almost 20% of the file I received from the NAA.

On the track of the missing papers:

I submitted a request to the NAA asking "How I may submit a request to access the "classified" part of file series A452 control symbol 1969/4393?"

On 14 July 2015, William Edwards of the NAA advised me that "The file as it exists in our collection, has been fully opened. No material  on the file has been withheld, so what you see in the digitised copy is the full extent of the material it contains.

"Page two of the digitised copy includes a hand written note stating "confidential part file cancelled 15/2/71." I assume this means that part of the file was destroyed in 1971 while it was in the custody of the controlling agency, the Department of External Territories.

"I will consult the Department's file registration and movement cards for the period to see if I can find any more information about this cancellation of confidential material."

On 15 July 2015 William Edwards advised "I have checked the file movement cards from series A1250 that refers to file 1969/4393. It doesn't really tell us much, but I have attached a scan of the card to this message."

The scanned card, lists files in the series 69 4381-4395. Control symbols 4392, 4393, and 4394 are all originally "classified" with no file titles showing. However, for 4393 the word "classified" has been crossed out and the words "UFO & mysterious happenings in PNG" have been written in.

I checked NAA's RecordSearch database and there is nothing there for control symbol 4392. However, control symbol 4394 formerly "classified" according to the record card, is on RecordSearch with the title "Discussions between Nauru and Partner governments under terms of Nauru Phosphate agreement."

So what happened to the missing pages on 4393?

In short, we do not know. One can speculate that they were correspondence with the USAF, the UK government, or were Australian Security Intelligence Organisation documents, but we will never know.


  1. Nothing I see with a quick look in the Project Blue Book files. However, according to one project officer when the Project Blue Book files were transferred to the Air Force Historical Research Agency those items which were classified by another agency (specifically the Navy) and could not be declassified by the USAF were destroyed. I don't know if this has any bearing with correspondence with Australian intelligence sources. It does explain why some US Navy cases are not in the Project Blue Book files. The Navy Intelligence specifically stated in 1973 that UFOs were consider of no intelligence value by the Navy and any such material was forwarded to the USAF.

  2. Hi Jan,
    Thanks for looking in the Project Blue Book files.


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