Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered an alleged UFO incident in the 1950s be kept secret to prevent "mass panic," according to claims made public in the UK on Thursday.
According to reports, the grandson of one of Churchill's personal bodyguards, wrote to the British Ministry of Defense in 1999 hoping to learn more about the incident. His account, along with Churchill's claimed reaction, were among a new batch of files released from Britain's National Archives, though the man'sidentity was not released.
The letter describes how the man's grandfather, who served with the RAF in World War II, was present when Churchill went to discuss a UFO sighting with Dwight Eisenhower. The incident involved an RAF reconnaissance plane, returning from France or Germany, that was said to have been intercepted by an unidentified metallic object near the English coastline.
As the Daily Mail reported, the letter read as follows:
"During the discussion with Mr Churchill, a consultant (who worked in the Cumbria area during the war) dismissed any possibility that the object had been a missile, since a missile could not suddenly match its speed with a slower aircraft and thenaccelerate again.
He declared that the event was totally beyond any imagined capabilities of the time. Another person at the meeting raised the possibility of an unidentified flying object, at which point MrChurchill declared that the incident should be immediately classified for at least 50 years and its status reviewed by a future Prime Minister."
A Defense Ministry official's response from September, 1999 was also among the files. It reads: "It was generally the case that before 1967 all UFO files were destroyed after five years as there was insufficient public interest in the subject to merit their permanent retention."
According to another note found among the new files, however, such claims were taken extremely seriously by Churchill and his staff. By 1957, ministers were commissioning weekly reports on UFO sightings from a committee of intelligence experts.
Six out of 16 reported sightings were still under investigation, though one was dismissed for lack of evidence while another was thought to be a weather balloon.
That note states:
"The remaining four incidents still under investigation are all radar sightings. In each, unusual behavior of the radar blips in terms of course, speed and heights were reported
Attempts are being made to trace the cause of these sightings to aircraft known to have been near, inexperienced operators or spurious echoes of unexplained origin."