- Military giants don't come much bigger than Air Marshall
Sir Peter Horsley.
- A war hero who flew Mosquitoes against the Germans, he
has held one of the highest ranks in the RAF and has been an intimate adviser
to the Queen and Prince Philip.
- He has also, he claims, met a visitor from another galaxy.
Sir Peter has kept his close encounter with the mysterious man he calls
Mr Janus in a London flat a secret for 43 years. But now, at the age of
76, he is ready to go public.
- Fixing me with a steely gaze, he says: "We talked
for hours about travelling in space and time. I don't know what or who
he was. He didn't say he was a visitor from another planet but I had that
impression. I believe he was here to observe us. I never saw him again.
I have no qualms about the reaction to my experience with Mr Janus. I don't
care what people think - it was what happened."
- His extraordinary testimony - in his autobiography, Sounds
from Another Room, to be published in the autumn - and his uncompromising
belief in Unidentified Flying Objects will no doubt ruffle the sangfroid
of the men at the Ministry. For, incredible as it seems, it is the evidence
of a man who once ran the country's front line defence at RAF Strike Command
and was a Buckingham Palace aide for six years.
- At his riverside cottage in Hampshire, where Christmas
cards from the royal family hang in the lavatory, he discusses the presence
of alien spacecraft with unswerving nonchalance.
- "I would say they come from another planet somewhere
in the universe but not in our galaxy. They are benign, not aggressive
and, like us, are explorers", he says.
- His interest in UFO's began, he says, in 1952 while he
was an equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh and was sparked by newspaper reports
at the time. He joined the Royal Household in 1949 as a squadron leader
who had been decorated for his work as personal pilot to Major General
Sir Miles Graham during the Normandy Invasion. Sir Peter says he talked
to Prince Philip of his interest in UFO's.
- "He was quite interested. As always his mind was
open. He agreed I should do a study on the subject in my spare time as
long as I kept it in perspective and didn't bring the Palace into disrepute.
He didn't want to see headlines about him believing in little green men."
- Sir Peter started by interviewing people who had claimed
to have seen UFO's and invited a BOAC captain to visit him at Buckingham
Palace. His own encounter came in 1954.
- "At the end of my tour at the Palace, I had a very
strange experience", he recalls with charming understatment. He says
he was introduced to a General Martin who arranged for him to visit the
Chelsea home of a Mrs Markham. Sir Peter cannot remember the date or the
number of the flat in Smith St. - nor can he describe the man he met there
- but he is adamant the encounter took place.
- "Janus was there, sitting by the fire in a deep
chair. He asked: "What is your interest in flying saucers?"
- And then he gave a Wellsian account of space travel at
the speed of light with spare body parts in the luggage.
- When Sir Peter went back to the flat it was empty. But
his interest in the paranormal stayed with him during his rise through
the ranks to the crucial post of Deputy Commander in Chief of RAF Strike
Command in 1973.
- Sir Peter insists: "I don't think I am a crank about
it at all." But at the Ministry of Defense in Whitehall, jaws are
dropping. As one former senior officer put it: "Oh God. How unfortunate
that the public will learn that the man who had his finger on the button
at Strike Command was seeing little green men".
- Sounds From Another Room
is published by Leo Cooper in October.