The Vancouver Sun, BY ANDREW HOUGH AND PETER HUTCHINSON, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH AUGUST 4, 2010 12:02 PM
Winston Churchill was accused of ordering a cover-up of an encounter between a UFO and an RAF aircraft in the Second World War because he feared a "panic" and a loss of faith in religion. (Photograph by: Vancouver Sun files)
Winston Churchill was accused of ordering a cover-up of an encounter between a UFO and an RAF aircraft in the Second World War because he feared a "panic" and a loss of faith in religion, according to newly-released secret files.
The wartime prime minister allegedly banned reporting of the incident off the English coast for 50 years. He was said to have made the order during a meeting with Gen Dwight Eisenhower, the U.S. commander of Allied Forces, in America during the latter part of the war.
The claim is contained in files on UFOs declassified Thursday by the National Archives. The files, covering 1995 to 2003, are made up of more than 5,000 pages of reports, letters and drawings.
The allegations involving Churchill were made by the grandson of one his personal bodyguards, who wrote to the Ministry of Defence in 1999 inquiring about the incident after he learned of the details.
According to the letters, a reconnaissance aircraft was returning from a mission when it was shadowed by a metallic UFO near the coast of England, possibly over Cumbria. Its crew photographed the object, which they said "hovered noiselessly" near the aircraft.
The letter writer, a physicist from Leicester whose details are redacted in the documents, claimed that his grandfather, an RAF officer, overheard Churchill talking to Eisenhower about the incident.
The two men were said to have become so concerned that the prime minister ordered it to remain secret for 50 years or more.
During the meeting, a weapons expert dismissed suggestions that the object was a missile because the event was "totally beyond any imagined capabilities of the time".
Another person raised the possibility of a UFO, at which point Churchill ordered the report to be classified.
"There was a general inability for either side to match a plausible account to these observations, and this caused a high degree of concern," wrote the physicist.
"Mr Churchill is reported to have made a declaration to the effect, 'This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic among the general population and destroy one's belief in the Church.'?"
The bodyguard was said to have been "greatly affected by his experience" and told few people. The physicist was told by his mother.
Stressing he was not a "crackpot", he said he wanted to investigate the science behind the incident after his grandfather remained convinced that the object was technology being tested by a foreign power. An MoD official said there was no evidence to support the claims as all "UFO files before 1967 were destroyed after five years" due to insufficient public interest.
Churchill had a known interest in UFOs, even asking for a report in 1952 on "flying saucers".
Spotters often drew what they saw and sent pictures to the MoD