In 1963, the British Air Ministry found itself on the receiving end of more than a few UFO reports. The vast majority of them were forwarded by staff to a specific Air Ministry secretariat known as S6. It’s clear from the available S6 files on UFOs that the office was not some super-secret body engaged in the top secret analysis of crashed UFOs and alien bodies. In fact, it was quite the opposite. S6’s mandate was largely to (a) handle reports of UFOs mailed to the Air Ministry by members of the British public and (b) liaise with defense- and military-intelligence personnel, to try and determine what the witness(es) saw.
Within the UK-based UFO research community, debate has raged for years (decades, actually) concerning the extent to which elements of the British Ministry of Defense has investigated UFO activity. On the one hand, there are those who take the view that the MoD’s interest has always been minimal. At the other extreme, however, there are those researchers who believe that offices such as S6 were specifically out of the loop when it came to the really important UFO data and reports. But, that’s a debate for another day. Today, I’m focusing on an interesting situation that S6 found itself in – specifically as a result of the significant number of UFO reports S6 handled in 1963.
In September of that year, the Air Ministry noted that: “The Associated Rediffusion program, ‘Here and Now,’ who will transmit on October 1, a valuable program on the Officers and Aircraft Selection Center at Biggin Hill, have asked us for help in connection with another program which will be recorded next week at their Kingsway studios.” The Air Ministry continued: “The program will deal with ‘Flying Saucers’ and they will have a number of the so-called ‘experts’ explaining why they are sure such objects exist.”
One R.C. Moody, who penned the document, said that he had “discussed” this particular issue with “Mr. Langton of S6.” Records show that Langton “naturally would have preferred it if we were not asked to take part at all.” Nevertheless, Moody added: “Since the T.V. company have said that if an official cannot be made available they would like a statement of Air Ministry views, Mr. Langton is prepared to agree that it might be better to appear willing by providing someone to speak (to a prepared brief) rather than appearing to dodge the issue.” The files add that Langton “would agree to take part,” but he also suggested that perhaps “Flight Lieutenant Bardsley of Air Intelligence” would be an ideal person for the job.
It seems the Air Ministry was fine with either man handling the situation, providing that “the official should be recorded apart from others taking part in the program, he does not have to meet the ‘experts,’ [and] he is not named.” The Air Ministry’s justification for this was as follows: “[W]e do not wish to get into an unreasonable argument with these ‘experts’ and we do not want them to know who deals with the subject at Air Ministry so that telephone calls and letters are addressed direct to these officials or officers.”
Now, some might say that the Air Ministry’s statement that it did not wish the UFO research community to “…know who deals with the subject at Air Ministry,” has an air of conspiracy attached to it. But, it really doesn’t. An examination of all the now-declassified files of S6 from the time-frame in question shows that the office considered the study of the UFO subject a complete waste of time. For example, in internal (and now-declassified) files, S6 made comments about booze and the potential states of the livers of witnesses, wrote sarcastic poems about them (yes, really!), and found dealing with the UFO community to be a tedious and time-wasting matter.
So, S6’s concerns about Flying Saucer investigators learning which offices handled the subject had zero to do with high-level conspiracies, and everything to do with concerns about being inundated with calls and letters from the UFO investigators of the day. Moody continued: “I feel sure we could gain something from taking part by explaining some of the known causes of sightings. By educating at least part of the public we might cut down some of the reports we received. There is no doubt that if we do not do something to mitigate the effects of the program, S6 stands to receive a further flood of letters on the subject.”
Some might interpret those words “mitigate the effects of the program” as evidence that the Air Ministry was trying to manipulate the nature of the show for conspiratorial reasons. I have to disagree. I think the reason was far more down to earth: the worry that S6 staff would arrive at work a couple of days after the show aired and find themselves overwhelmed with inquiries about Flying Saucers.
It’s important I note here that I do personally conclude there has been a conspiracy of sorts in the British Ministry of Defense. There is data that demonstrates British Intelligence has played a role in the UFO subject. And there are notable accounts suggesting the likes of S6 were not cleared to see everything of a UFO nature that reached the Air Ministry. That said, however, the documentation cited above shows that, behind closed doors, there may be multiple reasons why government agencies and offices do not wish to discuss UFOs with the public.
As the S6 files reveal, this particular office wasn’t hiding anything. They just didn’t want to be bothered with questions about little green men. And when they were, they spent their time moaning about it, writing limericks, and making veiled comments about UFO witnesses being alcoholics (see this link for examples of one such comment about someone’s liver, and one such limerick when, in 1964, the new S4 department got involved).