Wednesday, July 8, 2015

"Unidentified Flying Objects and mysterious happenings in Papua New Guinea" - a file emerges

Hi all,


Last year, I located details on the National Archives of Australia (NAA) RecordSearch database system, of a previously unknown UAP file. I submitted a request for the file to be examined for release. It has taken until now for this request to be processed, and for a PDF copy of the file to be made available to me.

The file cover gives the title as "Unidentified Flying Objects and mysterious happenings in PNG." The PDF file contains 107 pages of documents. Interestingly, the file cover bottom right hand side, says "PART File 69/4393," and the inside cover, states "Confidential part file cancelled 15/2/71." The end cover of the file goes on to state, "Unclassified part of 69/4393." Later on  in this post, I will provide my interpretation of the meaning of all these comments.


The first sighting on the file is dated 6 Dec 1957 from "Patrol post, Vanimo, Sepik District."... where two corporals reported a nocturnal, bright, white light descending apparently to the ground, for a ...muffled impact was heard." The corporals were Royal Australian Engineers. Due to time and financial limitations, a decision was taken to do nothing about the report.

A memo, dated 12 Feb 1958, from the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research organisation (CSIRO)  to the Department of Territories (DOT) concluded that the object was most likely a meteor. A Department of Defence (DOD) memo, dated 26 Feb 1958 included (we) "...would appreciate being informed of any similar observations in the future. It is not, however, considered that a search would be justified from the Defence aspect in this particular instance."

Mysterious explosion

Image 98 of the digitised file is an encrypted radiogram addressed to "Territories Canberra" received 8 Jul 1958. Image 97 decodes the cable. Three people reported a "mysterious light explosion" between 1900-2100hrs July 2nd. Later papers reveal that the location was "South of the Shortlands."

Fallen object

A June 1959 radiogram to Canberra reported a UFO at 1900hrs Sunday 24 May 1959. Looking westwards, high in the sky, an object was seen to descend "...erratically in SW direction. Colour was of a brilliant blue." Disappeared at 2015hrs. A DOD memo dated 29 Jun 1959 noted they had copied the report to both the Departments of Air, and Civil Aviation.


The next set of papers involves a series of observations from Baniara, Milne Bay District. An unidentified light was seen on various dates. There was debate about whether or not it was the planet Venus.

An unknown

Another sighting came from Giwa, on 26 Jun 1959, 8 miles from Baniara in Goodenough Bay. An object appeared at about 1915-1930hrs from the north to north-east. It descended, then hovered at an estimated 500 feet. It was at a 45 degree angle of elevation.

"It had the silhouette of a rugger football, and had a kind of ring around it with about four semi-domed portholes visible in the side that I could see. A glow was coming from these portholes. It remained hovering for about four minutes and then disappeared rapidly in a southerly direction. The following morning I went across to a village just below Boianai, and there the natives asked me if I had seen the 'new American Air Force' that had appeared the previous evening." (image 86.)

The memo reporting this sighting ended with the words "The Regional Director, Attorney General's Department has been kept fully informed of these reports." This is a reference to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO.)

Reverend Gill

Blog readers familiar with the 1959 Reverend Gill incident, will now start to take interest in this part of the file.

A gap in the file

At this point in the file, I noticed that the folio numbers on the top right hand corner of each page, which so far were numbered 1-24, suddenly jumped to folio number 33. There is a gap where folios 25-32 are missing.

UFOlogists unite

Image 83 is dated 25 Nov 1959 and is a letter addressed to "The Honourable PMC Hasluck, MHR, House of Representatives, Canberra." The letter is signed by five leaders of Australian UAP research groups. It forwards a report on "...a series of recent factual sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen over New Guinea."

By way of a memo dated 30 Nov 1959, the Secretary, DOT wrote to the Administrator of PNG, forwarding a copy of the letter and attached report. A list of recent PNG sightings was given and then "I should be glad if you would let me know whether any investigation of these reports has been undertaken by the Administration and, if not, let me have your views on the practicability of doing so."

Images 66 to 80 are of a "Report on Unidentified Flying Objects: Boianai, Territory of Papua and New Guinea 1959 by W B Gill, Boianai 14/7/59." which has appeared over the years in dozens of UAP publications.

Australasian Post

The October 13 1959 issue of the magazine "Australasian Post" article on the Reverend Gill and other sightings are shown at images 59-62.


A memo dated 31 Dec 1959 from the Administrator, PNG to the Secretary DOT stated "The District Officer, Samarai, has been requested to comment on the reported sightings...He has also been asked to refer the matter on to an officer in the immediate that local natives may be questioned..." (image 58.)

The response, dated 18 Jan 1960 advised that  " fresh reports of sightings have been made at Baniara...It is noted that Rev N Crutwell of Menapi had new sightings reports, and had passed these on to the "... Brisbane branch of the "Flying Saucer Review" an English Journal...Other than officers observing and reporting on these sightings, it does not seem practical for this Administration to take other action."

Newspaper article

The "Pacific Island Monthly" for October 1959 gave an overview of sightings including those of Reverend Gill and others. (Images 55-56.)

Department of Defence

A memo dated 8 Mar 1960 from DOD to DOT advised that copies of PNG reports had been forwarded to "...the heads of the Australian Joint Services Staffs in London and Washington for any interpretation of the reported phenomenon, which they could obtain from the United Kingdom or United States authorities."

"The head of AJSS London has informed us that the United Kingdom authorities were interested in the reports, some of which they considered could refer to meteors. The general feeling seemed to be that with so many independent reports in a fairly short period of time the phenomena could not be dismissed as imaginative observations and it was reasonably certain that something unusual was observed. They were not, however able to offer any explanation but expressed an interest in receiving further reports." No reply yet from Washington.

Another memo, this one dated 24 Mar 1960 from DOD to DOT included "The head of the Australian Joint Services Staff in Washington has forwarded to us an evaluation of the sightings made by the Aerospace Technical Intelligence Center. The Center was able to confirm that none of the sightings were due to known satellites but, on the evidence, considered that some of the reports could refer to the refracted light of stars and planets..."

Phenomena observed

A teleprinter message dated 3 Jun 1960 provides the following. 2320hrs 31 May 1960. Manus island. "Brilliant blinding light followed three to four minutes later by series of heavy explosive sounds." It was passed onto the DOD.

Images 45-51 describe other objects/lights in the sky, including one at 0400hrs 12 Jun 1961 from Azerita Plantation, Northern districts. Duration 15 minutes.

 "...the shiny object approached from the north east and was shaped like the hollow in a new moon, and could have been delta winged. The object was at an estimated height of 15,000 feet and kept moving backwards and forwards to and from the north-east." It was soundless. "Eventually retreated the way it came."

There is then a four year time gap, but no gaps in document folio numbers. Images 24-43 refer to lights seen in the Milne Bay district in July 1965.

1967- 1969

On 17 Mar 1967 at 1445hrs two objects were reported descending from the sky and falling into the sea, near Finschhafen.

At 0500hrs 16 May 1969 three people at Rabaul reported a stationary, bright white light. "It receded slowly in a south-easterly direction and disappeared about 5.30am."

Observation by radar

A memo dated 9 Jul 1970 from the Administrator, PNG to the Department of External Territories(image 13) reported receipt of a sighting from the Regional Director, Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).

"On the 29th June 1970 at 1720hrs EST, Captain E N Keag, pilot-in-command of F.27 aircraft VH-FNK made the following observation from the aircraft radarscope:

Crossing the Sepik River on the Madang-Wewak track, on descent from 12,500 feet he noted echoes appearing on his radar from 60 degrees green to abeam the aircraft. The radar scale was set at 180 nautical miles and the echoes appeared to be about 60 nautical miles from his aircraft and keeping station with him. There were five cigar shaped objects. With the radar scanning on maximum depression or elevation the echoes disappeared.

The DCA has no record of any aircraft in the area at the time."


Images 4-11 refer to sightings of lights in the sky during these years; and declassification of certain papers on the file.


Coming back to the matter of this being a part file and reference to classified papers; I checked the entire file folio numbering system. There are two gaps, namely folios 25-32 and 90-107 are missing from this file. There is a handwritten note at image 24, which states "Folios 90-107 are on classified part."

This does lead me to the conclusion that there is another "classified" part of file 69/4393 somewhere. What it contains is, of course, a mystery.

In summary

What have I learnt from this file? There are numerous papers which have appeared on DOD RAAF files previously uncovered by myself, in the National Archives of Australia. These have been published in a variety of places on the net.

However, this file has some papers new to me, e.g. fuller details of the 29 Jun 1970 aircraft radar observation. Other papers fill in the gaps in my existing knowledge; e.g. the AJSS London comments. The file is therefore worth a read through by readers. Go to the National Archives of Australia website, and use the keywords Papua unidentified  happenings in their search engine. You can then download the entire PDF file.


  1. There is a small file of UFO sightings at the US National Archive II, 52 reports from 1951 to 1961 found at the USAF Intel Command after Project Blue Book had closed. One was an intelligence report from the USAF attaché in Australia on the Father Gill account.. The RAAF had supplied a copy of Victorian UFO Research Society write up on the Father Gill case. It was also mentioned by the RAAF officers that Keyhoe had asked about the case, but they had not provide any information to him. What is interesting to me is that the distribution scheme for each of these 52 cases were attached to each case. Some of the agencies that regularly got such case in multiple copies were noted CIA 6, NSA 3, Navy, Army, various USAF commands, and State Dept. In some cases Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK were on the distribution scheme.

  2. Hi Jan, That is interesting, that in some cases the distribution list included Australia. I am going off to check my files to see if I have ever seen such a distribution list attached to any RAAF files. Re the USAF Attaché in Australia forwarding material, you may recall that I posted some material along these lines a couple of years ago.

  3. For interested readers please see my blog post:


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