Sunday, 10 January 2016

UFO Cases Galore:  Thirty-Three New Australian Newspapers Digitised

Recently, a very impressive quantity – a total of 33 in fact – of digitally scanned newspapers have been added to the National Library of Australia’s (NLA) “Trove” archive. Like most other newspapers of old, these new editions are contain articles, editorials and opinion pieces about UFO’s and other unusual aerial phenomenon, Including material that appears to be new to us. Some of these newspapers date back to 1910. For those of you who don’t know, “Trove” is an online library “database aggregator” and “free faceted-search engine”. It successfully brings together content from libraries, newspapers, museums and other research organisations and helps users explore them. For us, Trove’s digitised newspaper section is what is most valuable. The NLA states:

“The digitised newspaper zone is the most heavily-used part of Trove, and no wonder – more than 100 million newspaper articles, documenting more than 150 years of Australian history. And it’s growing all the time. All digitised, all free, all for you.”

Searching Trove, and presenting some of the material, even if it is just a small fraction, has become a recent habit of mine. Again, I present some new material using 40 different keywords, or combinations of keywords, that I used tonight to discover some novel hitherto unseen newspaper articles.

The first one that jumped out at me was a 1954 article, Monday the 18th of January, titled “TO BE BELIEVED, PEOPLE MUST DEFINE SAUCER’S NOISE”. The newspaper this appeared in “The Evening Advocate” based in Innisfail, Queensland. The article reads:

“MELBOURNE. – If you see a “flying saucer” you’ll have to describe some sort of accompanying noise if you want your claim to be taken seriously by aeronautical scientists. Superintendent of the Commonwealth Aeronautical Research Laboratories L. P.. Coombes said that a flying object would emit some noise.

A flying saucer would have to have some sort of engine, either internal, combustion, jet or turbine, and any of these would make considerable sound. But what if the engines were turned off and the plane was gliding? There would still be noise, said Mr. Coombes.

No matter how aerodynamically perfect the plane was, its passage through the air would set up eddies which would emit sound waves. And what sort of sound would a gliding flying-saucer make? Mr. Coombes said he didn’t know. On the other hand, Department of Civil Aviation Superintendent of Air Traffic Control in Melbourne R. M, Seymour asked all people who had seen unidentified aerial objects to tell the department.”

This is a very early example of some form of official involvement, even if fleeting, from the Australian scientific community. Lawrence P. Coombes was Chief Superintendent of the Australian Aeronautical Research Laboratories (ARL) from 1938 until 1964. The ARL was, originally, under the umbrella of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In 1949 the ARL was transferred to the Research and Development Branch of the Department of Supply (DOS), becoming one of the Defence Science Laboratories. Some of you may know that the DOS was involved with the UFO matter in Australia. I wonder if some of that involvement started with Chief Superintendent Lawrence P. Coombes? The article itself is imaged below.          

The second article worth a good look is also from the “The Evening Advocate”. The date was Friday, 26 September, 1952 and Page 7 was where it was to be found. The heading is “Flying Saucer in Proximity to Cairns?”. It reads:

“CAIRNS — Was a flying saucer near the north on Tuesday night? This question has arisen as a result of a sight seen eastwards offshore on Tuesday night by people residing along the Esplanade in Cairns. The period of their observation extended from 10 p.m. to midnight, when the mysterious apparition suddenly disappeared. Those who saw the phenomenon report that it was similar to a huge star, surrounded by a great mist, with the star brighter by far than any others to be seen in the sky at the same time. This brilliance changed in intensity from time to time. Extending from the central light was a fan-like object on the left hand side, whilst there were two long shafts on the left. Periodically, one of these would alter its length and degree of its illumination. Throughout the period of its sighting from 10 pm to midnight, the apparition moved slowly and steadily northwards. It was seen by people whose standing and sobriety are beyond question. All descriptions of its appearance were more or less similar except for minor details.

The article breaks with the sub-heading “ANOTHER ONE” and continues:  

“Recent world-wide reports of the presence of flying-saucers established amongst those who saw the sight the general belief that it was another such visitation. These accounts of the mystery light are given by two eye-witnesses: They come from Mrs, M. Southwell, a Sydney resident who has been visiting Cairns for some weeks as a result of ill health, and Miss Marcelli Southwell her daughter who has been accompanying her mother. Both have been guests at the Strand Hotel, from the verandah of which they sighted and observed the mystery light. Another guest whose name IS not known was with Miss Southwell for part of the time when the light was being watched whilst the interest of others was also aroused.”

The article breaks with the sub-heading “NIGHT PORTER SAW IT” and continues:  

“Mr. Bob Peach, night porter at the Strand Hotel, who was on duty at the time, is also reported to have observed and studied the height.  “It was about 10 pm. when it happened, to look up at the sky” said attractive blonde Miss Southwell, “and there I saw what appeared to be a huge star lying directly eastwards of the hotel verandah, on which I was standing. “It was immensely btight — too bright, in fact, to be a star. Round, fish-like fins were shooting from one side, and from the other, two shafts were projecting, one of which would go out and then come in, for all the world as though it were signalling. I drew the attention of another guest at the hotel and asked if he would make the same observations as I did.”

Again the article breaks with a sub-heading “CONFIRMATION”, then carries on:

“I described what i could see to him and he confirmed that he could see a similar sight. Then whilst we were standing watching the light, a huge white mist appeared. This seemed to come at intervals and obscure the brilliance of the star, which you would not see for about three minutes.

Again a break with “SEEN FOR OVER TWO MINUTES” and on with:

“Then the light would emerge again and disappear once more. Next, the light would remain for five or ten minutes before the mist came again. The light appeared to disappear at intervals of three or five minutes. This went on from 10pm until after midnight, when the light passed from sight, and I went to bed. Meanwhile the light was moving slowly. It seemed that it was going northwards. A feature of the occurrence that aroused my interest was that the light was so bright that you could not look at it continuously. It was so bright and had such a strong influence on the eyes that you had to turn away. This caused me to conclude that it was not a star.”

This article continues on in the same fashion for another column. It can be found using the above information for anyone who wishes to read the whole thing. 

This next article really stood out to me, and was printed 26th of May, 1950 in, once again, “The Evening Advocate”. Page 1 carried the headline “Was strange object in the sky near Sydney a “Flying Saucer””. It’s not a case that’s new to us, but, this particular article is.

“SYDNEY. — A strange object in the sky was seen by the crew of a DC3 air freighter about 30 miles from Sydney last night. Captain Gordon Savage, and the First Officer, Frank Hastilow, both of Melbourne, said it could have been “a flying saucer”. The plane was flying at 6000 feet and Captain Savage said the strange light was seen about 2000 feet below the aircraft. Thinking the light could have been the navigation light of a plane, we contacted Mascot aerodrome, but were assured there were no planes in the vicinity.”

With the sub-heading “ONLY PINPRICKS” it goes on with:

“There was a remote possibility it could have been a ship, so we flew out to sea, and sighted some vessels, but their lights were only pinpricks compared with the light of the object. If it had been a star it would have stayed in a fixed position on the windscreen when we changed our altitude, but as we climbed it rose too.”

The sub-heading “VANISH IN MIST” leads into:

“When we attempted to approach it, it seemed to vanish in a protective mist, so that it appeared as a dull white glow. At this time there was no natural mist or fog about.”

Final sub-heading “IN FULL VIEW” begins the last part of the article:

When we switched our navigation lights on it came into full view. It was a definite object. I am certain of this, although I could not distinguish its shape.”

Below is an image:

Now, Finally a new newspaper. “The Daily Mail”, in Brisbane, ran a 12th March 1921 story on Page 8 titled “MYSTERIOUS LIGHT OCCURRENCE OF 1902”. Legibility is an issue with this one, but the first, and most important, half reads:

“The time of happening was, I think, in 1902, about 3.45 o’clock in the afternoon of a summer’s day. There was not a cloud in the sky. At the time I was in charge of the school on the Queensland side at Mungindi, on the NSW border.   was seen to pass across the heavens from north-east to south-west, accompanied by a rumbling noise like thunder. Quite a number of persons saw it, and the noise was heard over a distance of several hundred miles, as reports afterwards proved. Mr. A. Leslie, the then postmaster at Mungindi on the NSW side, was out with his buggv and pair of ponies line inspecting. The meteor pasted almost overhead, and his ponies stopped dead, and then bolted for several (illegible)

The article continues on describing the event more as a meteor than anything else. Below is an image.

In the good old “The Evening Advocate”, a Page 5, Tuesday, 13th of June, 1950 article had the headline “Flying Saucer Report In SA”. It reads:

“ADELAIDE — Two Bordertown men said that they had seen an object in the sky that might have been a flying saucer. Mr. J. C. Tippett and Mr. P. Grainger, painting contractors, said that, while they were working on Taunton Station, at Wirrega, they saw a round object which appeared to be many miles up in the sky going at high speed towards the north-east. The object, they said, was shaped like a tadpole and had a glowing tail similar to a jet aircraft.

The article is imaged to the right

“The Evening Advocate” ran a long 12th of February, 1954 piece on Page 7 titled “MAN WITH FLYING SAUCERS VERY MUCH ON HIS MIND”.

“SYDNEY. — Flying saucers have been keeping a Sydney man awake until midnight in recent months. He is the president of the Australian Flying Saucer Bureau, Mr. Edgar Jarrold of Fairfield. From about 8 o’clock until nearly midnight every night Mr. Jarrold answers his flying saucer correspondence from believers and sceptics at home and abroad. He has had 1,300 reports of saucers and many encouraging letters in the last two and a half years. “Of course, I find the Interest in saucers very gratifying, but its hard work,” he said. “I put the kids to bed as soon as I can after dinner and then I settle down for a night’s work. “My typewriter is a bit faulty at the moment and that doesn’t help things.”

A sub-heading “IS CONCERNED” appears, and the article continues:

“Mr. Jarrold is a spare, soft spoken, worried-looking man in his middle thirties. He is convinced that his flying saucer investigation is front-line research work. As with all true investigators he keeps an open mind, and he is unwilling to dismiss any theory unless it affronts his commonsense. He became interested in flying saucers one night in May, 1951. “I saw something very unusual in the night sky,” he said.

A sub-heading greets us reading, “TWO OF THEM”, then the article goes on:

“There were two of them — flying saucers I mean. They appeared as fast-moving yellow lights. One followed’ the other. I rang the papers about it and found that many other people had seen saucers about the same time. Well, I’m not a reader of science fiction or anything like that. But I saw that this flying saucer business was something to be watched. I formed the Flying Saucer Bureau with myself as president. I got in touch with organisations in other States and overseas. I felt I should make myself as well read as possible on the subject.”

Another sub-heading reading “MUCH ACTIVITY” leads into the second last section of the article:

“I found that some of the organisations In America were particularly active. They were very good to me. They sent me copies of their publications. I wanted the bureau to be a clearing station for information on flying saucers. Anyone can be a member, although I’d sooner not say just at the moment how many members we have.”

A final sub-heading reads “WATCHERS” then the article finishes with:

“I’m trying to organise a group with one official observer watching for saucers in every town in the Commonwealth. I have a few good observers already. I’m the official one for Sydney.”

I have, as usual, imaged this impressive piece.

Mystery In ‘Hail’ Fall” was the heading on Page 17, the “Brisbane Telegraph” on the 27th September, 1949. It states:

“SYDNEY: Residents of Point Street. Pyrmont, were mystified today when they looked outside and saw what appeared to be hail falling, although the sky was clear. They found a jelly substance, each piece the size of a pea dropping on the rooftops, foot path and roadway and setting like glue. The mystery is also baffling the Weather Bureau. A spokesman said “The only explanation I can give is that the sub stance must have fallen from a plane”. But no aircraft was seen near the area.

Again, I image the article to the right.

Another discovery possibly worth a look, is from the “Johnstone River Advocate and Innisfail News”, Queensland, Friday 25 November 1938, Page 2. The heading is “UNUSUAL SIGHT” with a caption below reading “Movement in the Sky”. The article says: 

Not only people who were out of doors, but many who were awakened from their sleep, saw or heard, an unusual phenomenon on Wednesday night, several dull booms, which shook the earth, following on the brilliant illumination of the sky by what is believed to be a meteor. At about 11:15 the sky and earth was lighted by the unusual action, and from three to five minutes later there was the noise of the concussion and then the earth trembled. Prior to this the rain clouds had cleared away and overhead stars dotted the darkness, making a perfect vision. Soon after 11:15 many people witnessed a happening which has the Far North, talking. One eye witness said that he saw a flash of light, the movements of which could be likened to the mythical sea serpent. There seemed to be a fish like head, above which was a bright object that could be likened to a star. The body tapered off in snake like fashion, and appeared to move along as one would imagine a serpent would wend its way through the water. Then the tail opened fan like, throwing out the bright light. The party in question was near to home at the time, but it was not until he was indoors that the noise took place. The building shook as a result. That is must have taken three minutes from the flare to the concussion could be gauged from the fact that a certain distance had been walked. Others also average the time from two to four minutes. Reports from all over the district are to the effect that the houses rocked, the degree varying from a slight quiver, to a violent movement. There were two explosions, a loud one being followed by a lesser one in quick succession. Several people stated that the direction of the movement in the air seemed to follow was towards the hinterland, and this is borne out by reports from the Evelyn Tableland that the light was very brilliant and the explosion was most marked. Herberton people believe that south of Innisfail, or thereabouts, was the point it passed off the coast. That the meteor, if it was one, struck earth a good way from Innisfail is evident. Even if only a few minutes elapsed from the time it was seen to the concussion, sound travels a long way in a second.”

So there you have it. These are but a few of the new articles that Trove has to offer. Dozens more stood out, but time and space permits only a sampling. Till next time.  


  1. Excellent investigative and reporting work.

  2. There is a large cache of UFO reports waiting in that mass of Australian newspapers. You are to be commended for getting this into the public arena for our consideration.

  3. Great work Paul. Very interested in your results.

  4. The UFO as sea serpent in the sky is simply spectacular. Thanks for sharing yor findings. Good hunting.