Saturday, November 18, 2017

Committee members of the VFSRS/VUFORS : 1959 - 1972


Between 1959 and 1972, there were over thirty individuals who served on the committee of the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society/ Victorian UFO Research Society. In this post I identify these individuals and the committee positions which they held, and provide information about a number of them which will be new to most blog readers. 

Some individuals such as Peter Norris; Paul Norman and Judith Magee, played a major role in the development of the society during these years. Others came and went. Sadly, I am aware of a number of such people as Judith Magee, William (Bill) Stapleton, and Paul Norman who are deceased.

Judith Mary Magee

Committee, Dec 1959 – Nov 1962; Vice President  & Programs Officer, May 1964 – Dec 1965; Secretary, Dec 1966 – Dec 1967; Vice President, Oct 1968 – Dec 1972.

‘Vice President: Mrs Judith Magee has been a member of the V.F.S.R.S. since 1958 and a committee member since 1959. She completed a secretarial course at Brighton Technical School and worked in a Melbourne radio station and bank prior to joining the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service in March 1944. After demobilisation in 1946 she joined Australian National Airways as an air hostess and in 1947 became the only woman finalist in the Sun flying scholarship. Since her marriage in 1948 she has worked as a diathermy operator, mannequin and saleswoman.

Mrs Magee believes that flying saucer research should take a ‘middle-of-the-road’ attitude and be accurately presented to the public in a factual manner.’

[Source: Australian Flying Saucer Review No 4, Dec 1965.]

Magee wrote a number of articles for magazines, including:

‘”Nests” and “Landing pads.” AFSR No 2, Jul 1970, pp 12-15.

‘Are the UFOnauts gradually revealing their presence?’ AFSR Vol 1, Mar 1970, pp 8,9 & 14.

‘UFO activity along the NE coast of Australia.’ Flying Saucer Review (FSR) Vol 11 No 5 p14.

‘Queensland again.’ FSR. 1966. Vol 12 No 2, p26.

‘UFO over the Mooraduc Road.” FSR 1972. Vol 18 No 6 p6.

Paul Norman

Investigations & Sightings Officer, May 1964; Public Relations Officer, May 1965- Dec 1970; Public Relations Officer & Sightings Investigations Officer, Feb 1972. Public Relations Officer, Dec 1972.

‘Public Relations Officer, Mr Paul Norman was born and educated in the United States. With the exception of six years in the U.S. Navy and a short period as a Publisher’s Representative, he served in various positions up to Hydro-Electric Power Project Superintendent with the U.S. Corps of Engineers and is Charge Engineer in Thermal-Electric Stations.

He has been interested in the U.F.O. phenomenon since 1953, after observing one of the mystery objects hover over a power station in Middle Tennessee. His interest was intensified when Major Keyhoe was cut off the C.B.S. Coast to Coast Television network, while trying to tell American people about U.F.O. investigations and a few moments later an Air Force spokesman stood before millions of TV viewers and said “You Air Force would not withhold the facts.” At that time, Mr Norman joined the fight to end the policy of public deception.’

[Source: Australian Flying Saucer Review No 7, Dec 1967.]

Paul Norman had interactions in the USA. According to Ann Druffel's book 'Firestorm' (2002) about the late professor James E McDonald, ‘Paul Norman corresponded with McDonald shortly after McDonald's public entry into the field, and the two exchanged UFO reports and other material. In early May 1967 Paul Norman came to the states to visit relatives and made arrangements to visit McDonald in Tucson. Norman first visited Allen Hynek and Vallee in Chicago, principally to discuss a couple of UFOs which had been taken by reliable witnesses in Australia, then went on to Boulder, Colorado where he met with some of the staff of the Condon committee…for Condon’s staff had staff also had interest in cases worldwide.

Norman brought key Australian cases with him, discussed them in an eight hour meeting, and let the staff photocopy them. The next day, a Saturday, he discussed the cases for another ten hours with Dr David Saunders, a psychologist on Condon’s staff, then he went on to Tucson.’

Norman instigated the visit to Australia, in 1967, of Professor James E McDonald. Norman and other VFSRS committee members arranged for McDonald to interview a number of witnesses to Australian sightings. For summaries of these Australian McDonald interviews, click here. 

Norman wrote a number of magazine articles during the period 1959-1972. Included amongst these were the following:

‘The Condon Report in Bits and Pieces.’ AFSRS Vol 1, Mar 1970 (Vic) pp 2, 3 & 19.

‘A fierce new look at Unidentified Flying Objects.’ AFSRS Vol 2, Oct 1964 pp 15-18.

‘The electro-magnetic effect of the UFO.’ AFSRS Vol 4, Dec 1965, pp 3-5.

‘UFOs and the mystery signals from outer space.’ AFSR No 8, Oct 1968, pp 2-3.

‘Gravity powered objects.’ FSR 1965, Vol 11, No 2, p20.

Norman investigated a number of Australian cases, including: Burkes Flat (1966); Frankston (1972); Eaton Ridge (1965); Zanthus (1968,) including numerous Victorian sightings. He forwarded Australian sightings onto NICAP in the USA, some of which appeared in the NICAP ‘UFO Investigator.’

Peter E Norris

President 1959 - 1972.

'Mr Peter E Norris, LL.B has headed this society since its foundation in 1957. He was born in 1932, educated at Wesley College and graduated Bachelor of Law from Melbourne University in 1958.

He is an elected councillor of the City of Chelsea and a member of at least six other civic bodies in that City.

The V.F.S.R.S. has much for which to thank Mr Norris whose skills in manoeuvring the society through the difficulties inherent in such groups has shown intelligent leadership which has done much to gain the respect of the people and made the subject of Flying Saucers respectable.’

[Source: Australian Flying Saucer review No 3, May 1965.]

Norris was an APRO representative, and numerous articles appeared in the APRO Bulletin, which were based on material submitted by Norris.

Peter Norris, Geoff Rumpf and Ray Mountford conducted a field investigation of the 10 March 1961, Albury, NSW sighting. [AFSR No 5, Jul 1961, pp 1-2.] 

Geoffrey S Rumpf

Librarian, Dec 1959; Investigations & Sightings Officer, May 1964; Sightings Investigations Officer, May 1965 – Jul 1966; Vice President & Sightings Investigations Officer, Dec 1966.

‘Vice president and Sightings Investigations Mr Rumpf has been a member of V.F.S.R.S. since the inaugural meeting in February 1957. He was the society’s first librarian and is the society’s first sightings investigations officer. He was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne and has worked at the University of Melbourne as a research assistant and has been employed in many fields of selling.
He is currently employed as a Publisher’s Representative. During the last six years he has travelled extensively overseas. Mr Rumpf is active in the sport of pistol shooting and is president of the Mountain District Pistol Club.’

[Source: Australian Flying Saucer Review No 6, Dec 1966.]

Rumpf investigated a number of Victorian sightings including Hallam (1967.)

Sylvia Suttton

Secretary, 1961 – Dec 1965.

‘Secretary: Mrs Sylvia Sutton joined the V.F.S.R.S. in 1959 and became secretary in 1961. In 1965 she was appointed secretary of the federation Commonwealth Aerial Phenomena Investigation Organisation (C.A.P.I.O.)

Mrs Sutton was educated at University High School and a city business college. Later, she worked in a city insurance company, on ledgers, statistical records and dissection of same, until her marriage in 1941. She is the wife of a bank manager and has a son and a daughter. Other interests have been musical studies and a short course in free-lance journalism.’

[Source: AFSR No 5 Jul 1966.]

Neville Thornhill

Sightings Investigations Officer, Dec 1967 – Oct 1968.

‘Sightings Investigations Officer: Mr Neville Thornhill was born in South Africa and migrated to Australia at the age of fourteen where he continued his education at Brighton Grammar School. He later studied engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and Swinburne Technical College.

His sporting activities have been many and varied and he is currently an active member of the Mountain District Pistol Club. He is married and has two small children.

His interest in U.F.O’s was aroused by his engineering mind and an earnest desire to assist in solving the problem.

[Source: Australian Flying Saucer Review No 8, Oct 1968.]

Thornhill wrote at least one VFSRS article. ‘UFO Investigation’ AFSR No 1, Mar 1970, pp 5,6 & 12.

Other committee members
Aitchison, Harry

Technical Advisor, May 1964- Dec 1965.Committee, Dec 1966; Tape Librarian Dec 1967 – Oct 1968.

Anderson, Albert

Treasurer, Oct 1968.

Anderson, Morris

Treasurer, Dec 1967.

Bezzi, Claude

Committee, Dec 1959 – Nov 1962.

Bristol, Les

Librarian, Oct 1968 – Jul 1970; Committee, Feb 1972 – Dec 1972.

Browning, David

Public Relations Officer, May 1964; Assistant Sightings Investigations Officer, Oct 1968.

Carstairs, Delma

A/g Secretary, Jul 1970.

Coutts, Rodney

Committee, Dec 1959.

Farmer, Dorothy.

Treasurer, Dec 1965 – Dec 1966.

Frances-Williams, Kit

Committee, Dec 1966. Assistant Secretary, Dec 1967 – Oct 1968; Minutes Secretary, Mar 1970 – Dec 1970; Committee, Feb 1972.

Gillman, Dorothy

Secretary, Dec 1959 – Jan 1962; Treasurer, May 1964.

Godden, Ian

Committee, Dec 1959; Librarian & Magazine Editor, May 1964; Librarian, Apr 1960 – Nov 1962.

Hall, Norman

Assistant Librarian, Dec 1959; Committee, Apr 1960 – Jun 1962.

Harrison, June

Secretary, Oct 1968; Assistant Secretary, Mar 1970; Publications Officer, Jul 1970 – Feb 1972.

Leschen, Richard

Sightings Investigations Officer, Dec 1972.

Marrow, Rodney

Librarian, Feb 1972 – Dec 1972.

Mountford, Ray

Committee, Nov 1962.

Neville, Prue

Membership Secretary, Dec 1967.

Shackelford, Jim

Committee, Nov 1962.

Spencer, Ben

Vice President, Dec 1959 – Apr 1960; Vice-President  & Treasurer, Sep 1960- Nov 1962.

Stapleton, William

Sightings Investigation Officer, Mar 1970- Dec 1970; Committee, Feb 1972.

Stapleton wrote at least one piece: ‘The Dartmoor Phenomenon.’ AFSRS No 2, Jul 1970, pp 17-18, and was involved in an extensive investigation into the 1972 Maureen Puddy, Frankston CE3, and possible abduction.

 [Source: Australian Flying Saucer review No 5, Jul 1966.]

Sutton, Wendy

Librarian, May 1965 – Dec 1966.

Tarplee, William

Secretary, Feb 1972 – Dec 1972.

Traverston, Pat

Assistant Secretary, Dec 1972.

Valente, Cathy

Librarian, Dec 1967.

Wilkinson, Albert

Treasurer, Jul 1970; Committee, Feb 1972.

Yates, Clive

A/g Treasurer, Feb 1972 – Dec 1972.

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