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From the Roswell Conspiracy to Sherlock Holmes

Every now and again people will contact me on the subject of my two Roswell-themed books, Body Snatchers in the Desert and The Roswell UFO Conspiracy. Mostly, people want to know if there is any new material. Well, yes, I do continue to get new leads that add weight to the theories and data presented in those aforementioned books. And, that’s what I’m going to talk about today. Between 2001 and 2004 I interviewed a number of military old-timers (and a retired nurse) who told me that the Roswell incident of July 1947 did not involve aliens. And it didn’t involve crash-test dummies, either. The highly controversial story was that Roswell was actually just one of seven or eight secret, near-identical experiments undertaken in New Mexico in the summer of 1947. They involved human guinea-pigs in high-altitude, balloon-based tests. Most of the experiments ended badly. Not only that, German Paperclip scientists (who had more than a few Nazi scum in their ranks) were involved, as were personnel working for Japan’s Unit 731 – a crazed, evil, deranged bunch of nutjobs who had a team working on the construction of huge balloons. Those balloons were planned to be far more advanced than the Fugo balloons that the Japanese sent across the Pacific to the United States during the Second World War. These new ones were huge, sturdy balloons that U.S. intelligence was interested in. So, when the war was over, the U.S. got its hands on the plans for these balloons. Some of this technology was used later: in New Mexico in July 1947.

On top of that, some of the people used as guinea pigs in these high-altitude tests were physically handicapped and mentally handicapped. A few were dwarfs. I should stress the only reason why those particular people were used in these controversial tests was, to quote one of my sources, because “they wouldn’t be missed.” That’s to say, they lived out their lives in hospitals, facilities and asylums. Until, that is, they were secretly brought into the program against their wills and were never seen again. All of this brings me to the matter of an issue I have been quietly looking into for some time.

Billy Wilder

In 1945, the acclaimed film-maker Billy Wilder – whose movies included Some Like it Hot, Stalag 17, and The Seven Year Itch and who died in 2002 at the age of 95 – directed the English language version of a documentary called Death Mills. It was a film produced by the U.S. Department of War’s Psychological Warfare Department. Death Mills is a harrowing, but acclaimed, production that graphically revealed the sheer, horrific extent of the Nazi holocaust of the Second World War. The Pentagon describes psychological warfare as: “The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives.” It transpired that plans were afoot for Wilder to make a similar production for the PWD. The subject? To show to the world the atrocities undertaken by none other than Japan’s Unit 731 during the Second World War. The latter, however, also a documentary, ultimately didn’t come to fruition. What did come to fruition, however, was Billy Wilder’s 1970 movie, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, which starred Robert Stephens, Geneviève Page, Christopher Lee, and Colin Blakely. In a very strange fashion, it has a connection to what we know about Roswell.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is part-adventure, part-comedy, and part-conspiracy. Early in the story we learn of the mysterious disappearance of a circus act of dwarfs called the Tumbling Piccolos. Only later on do we discover that this act is central to the strange plot. Things really take off, however, when a Belgian woman, named Gabrielle Valladon, is pulled out of the River Thames, London, after almost drowning. It’s up to Holmes and Watson to figure out what happened to Mrs. Valladon – which is not easy as she has lost her memory. The story soon takes Holmes, Watson and Mrs. Valladon on a quest to try and find her scientist husband, Emile. Holmes’ talents soon take the trio to Loch Ness, Scotland. Not only that, the three  – on a dark night on the loch – encounter the legendary monster at very close quarters. In fact, the creature overturns their boat and heads off to Urquhart Castle, where many sightings of the Nessies in the real world have been made. As the story progresses, we learn that Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, has been secretly keeping an eye on Holmes, Watson and Mrs. Valladon. The purpose? The “monster” is actually nothing of the sort. Rather, it is what is termed “a submersible.” An early submarine, in other words, that has been built to look like a monster. The top secret craft is designed to be used in the event that the U.K. might go to war with Germany. And, making the submersible look like the legendary beast of the loch – when it is being tested in Loch Ness – ensures that the truth of the monster will stay hidden. Mycroft is one of the primary figures in the development and overseeing of the project. He does his best to keep Sherlock away from the truth.

The crew of this ingenious, advanced craft are the Tumbling Piccolos. They were clearly given a better financial offer than performing in a circus, which were their previous jobs. Dwarfs are chosen because of the small size of the craft. During one of the tests of the craft in Loch Ness, two of the Piccolos are killed in an accident. Their bodies are put into child-sized coffins and buried in a local churchyard. A regular sized coffin contains the body of Emile Valladon, who was working on the submersible program, and who also lost his life in that same accident. The movie ends with (a) a demand from Queen Victoria that the submersible is scuttled; and (b) the revelation that Mrs. Valladon is actually a German spy, Ilse von Hoffmanstal, who has deceived Holmes throughout, and who is later executed while working undercover in Japan.

So, let’s take a look at all of the above, and in relation to the Roswell case. We know that Billy Wilder made a documentary for the U.S. government on the Nazi holocaust. We also know that Wilder was briefed on the secrets of Unit 731 by the U.S. Department of War’s Psychological Warfare Department – for a documentary that failed to take off. Taking into consideration what we know about Wilder and his deep connections to the government, I suggest he may have heard of the true story of Roswell (no, not the UFO angle!) and decided to use specific aspects of the truth for his movie – albeit with certain alterations, of course. For example, in Wilder’s movie, we have a highly advanced craft (the submersible) that is disguised as a monster. In the real world with Roswell, we have a high-altitude, top secret, balloon-based test disguised as a “flying disc,” as UFOs were known in the summer of 1947. Dwarfs were used in the Roswell events. The crew of the submersible were the Tumbling Piccolos, who happened to be dwarfs, too. In the movie, two of the Piccolos are buried in small, child-sized coffins when an accident occurs. That sounds almost identical to the very controversial stories that have surfaced since the late 1980s, to the effect that when the Roswell incident occurred, personnel from the local military base wanted to know if the staff of the local Ballard Funeral Home had any child-sized coffins. And, we have Ilse von Hoffmanstal: before her execution, she was secretly roaming around none other than Japan for secret information. And, in both the movie and in the real world, the experiments ended very badly. Could all of this just be a bizarre coincidence (or, more correctly, a series of bizarre coincidences)? Sure, it could. On the other hand, though, perhaps there is far more to it all. I continue to dig. And I’ll continue to keep you informed.

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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