A few days ago I was interviewed by BBC radio on the subject of UFOs in the UK. One of the issues that surfaced concerned the extremely controversial matter of what we might term a "British Roswell." The host wanted to know if there were any rumors of such events in the UK. "Well, yes," I said, "there are. But, that's the problem: they're rumors." The field of crashed UFOs in the UK, I explained, is littered with unverified tales, distortions of far more down to earth events, good-humored hoaxes (see page 16 onward of this PDF link), and cases of mistaken identity. There is, however, one case which - while not exactly jaw-dropping - is certainly interesting.
In part, it came from a man named Gordon Creighton, a long-time editor of Flying Saucer Review magazine. In his obituary in the UK's Times newspaper, in 2003, the following was stated: "Government service occupied most of the working life of Gordon Creighton, but he perhaps made his greatest mark as an authority on unidentified flying objects. His conviction that extraterrestrials were visiting Earth seemed oddly at variance with the more orthodox worlds of diplomacy and Whitehall."
The obituary, titled "A diplomatic approach to alien visitors," continued: "Creighton's interest in UFOs was stimulated in the summer of 1941, when he saw 'a white disc with a piercingly bright bluish light on top racing through the sky in the far west of China, near the eastern marches of Tibet'. At the time he was with the British Embassy in China's wartime capital Chungkung."
On more than a few occasions Creighton spoke about his interest in one - alleged - crashed UFO event. It was said to have occurred in the UK during the Second World War. According to Creighton's perhaps inevitably unnamed sources, the event took place during the final stages of the war. And, as a result - with the Allies still trying to bring crazy Hitler to his knees - the recovered wreckage, along with several dwarfish things of unknown origin, was simply stored away. Everything was preserved to the best abilities of scientific personnel attached to the world of air-intelligence, and put on ice until after Hitler was finally defeated. So we're told.
Creighton believed that further confirmation of this story came from the late US journalist and TV regular of the 1950s and 1960s, Dorothy Kilgallen. In 1955 Kilgallen and her husband, Richard Kollmar, went on holiday to England. While there, she heard a fantastic story. In Kilgallen's own words: "I can report today on a story which is positively spooky, not to mention chilling. British scientists and airmen, after examining the wreckage of one mysterious flying ship, are convinced these strange aerial objects are not optical illusions or Soviet inventions, but are flying saucers which originate on another planet. The source of my information is a British official of cabinet rank who prefers to remain unidentified."
Kilgallen's source allegedly told her: "We believe, on the basis of our inquiry thus far, that the saucers were staffed by small men - probably under four feet tall. It’s frightening, but there’s no denying the flying saucers come from another planet."
Kilgallen continued: "This official quoted scientists as saying a flying ship of this type could not have possibly been constructed on Earth. The British Government, I learned, is withholding an official report on the 'flying saucer' examination at this time, possibly because it does not wish to frighten the public. When my husband and I arrived here from a brief vacation, I had no premonition that I would be catapulting myself into the controversy over whether flying saucers are real or imaginary."
This was not, however, Kilgallen's first exposure to the UFO phenomenon. In February 1954, she wrote: "Flying Saucers are regarded as of such vital importance that they will be the subject of a special hush-hush meeting of the world military heads next summer."
But who, exactly, was Kilgallen's ufological Deep Throat? Creighton believed he had the answer: "I had no doubt at the time as to who he was - a great leader and servant of our country who had represented us well both in one of the highest of our military posts in World War Two and in the political sphere during the early post-war era. Our assumption at the time, and in later years, was that the official was Lord Mountbatten. I wrote to Dorothy Kilgallen at once, seeking further information, but never got a reply from her, and she died a few years later. We may take it as certain that she had been effectively silenced."
The story is fascinating, but - just like so many UFO cases - in the final analysis it proves very little. In fact, it proves nothing. Dorothy Kilgallen died in November 1965, at the age of fifty-two. Lord Louis Mountbatten was assassinated by Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorists on August 27, 1979. And, as we have seen, Creighton passed away in 2003. On top of that, we lack the name of Kilgallen's source. It was only Creighton's assumption that Mountbatten was Kilgallen's talkative insider. Kilgallen stayed forever quiet on the real name of her source - Mountbatten or someone else. And, it's important to note that Kilgallen made no reference to the crash she knew of having occurred during the war. That, too, was Creighton's assumption.
I have copies of Kilgallen's slim CIA file and her hefty FBI file. Neither of them make any kind of mention of UFOs. Although, it's a fact that concern was expressed that Kilgallen had an uncanny knack of securing sources and ferreting out government secrets. Her connection to the matter of the Warren Commission, that investigated the November 1963 shooting of JFK, being one high-profile example.
Anonymous informants and assumptions are hardly the best kinds of "evidence" to work with in a case like this. Of course, that doesn't mean the story definitely lacks merit. What it does mean, however, is that if a case is to be made for a Second World War-era UFO crash in the UK, then it will require far more data than that which is presently available. Anyone up for a lot of detective work?