WWI British Pilot UFO
Sightings Described
From David Clarke <>
The Public Record Office files in London contain a wealth of information about UFO-type sightings over the British Isles during the 1914-1918 period, ranging from mystery lights to "phantom airships."
Researcher Granville Oldroyd found records of hundreds of reports to the War Office both from police and Intelligence Units, which led to an official investigation and a conclusion that 89 percent of the reported cases could be explained (PRO Air 1/565/16/15/89: 'Special Report on Aircraft Rumours, 6-7 September 1914).
These sightings were taken so seriously during 1916 that the Royal Flying Corps even dispatched a pilot, Lieutenant Hucks, to fly over the Pennine hills of Northern England in a bid to locate the base it was believed was used by the Zeppelin airship which was thought to be responsible.
An article I wrote on the 1916-17 sightings was published in UFO Brigantia some years ago, but the following is a summary of the material which appeared in a book I co-wrote with Andy Roberts, Phantoms of the Sky (published by Robert Hale, London, in 1990):
"Strange lights were [also] observed by members of the Royal Flying Corps defending London from Zeppelin raids on the night of 31 January 1916, just as many pilots observed similar unexplained aerial phenomena during the Second World War. On the night in question, orders were sent to the fighter aerodromes to the effect that Zeppelins were approaching London. At 7.40pm Lieutenant RS Maxwell arose from Hainault Farm Aerodrome, near Romford in Essex. At 8.25 his engine was "...missing irregularly and it was only by keeping the speed of the machine down to 50mph that I was able to stay at 10,000 feet.
It was at this time that I distinctly saw an artificial light to the north of me, and at about the same height. I followed this light northeast for nearly 20 minutes, but it seemed to go slightly heigher and just as quickly as myself...and I eventually lost it completely in the clouds." (PRO Air 1/611 16/15/288).
"At 8.45 pm another aeroplane, piloted by Flight Sub-Lieutenant JE Morgan, may have observed the same UFO after arising from an aerodrome at Rochford, some twenty-two miles east of Hainault Farm. Morgan reported [in an official report to the War Office] that at 5,000 feet he had seen, about a hundred feet away from his aircraft, 'a row of what appeared to be lighted windows which looked something like a railway carriage with the blinds drawn.' In the belief that he had chanced upon a Zeppelin, Morgan fired at the object with his Webley Scott pistol, whereupon "the lights alongside arose rapidly" and disappeared!
"As on that particular night none of the raiding [German] airships came as far south as Essex, what was it that these two pilots independently reported in the sky in the same area and at the same time?"
Unfortunately, Morgan's original report has not been located in the War Office files from the period, and we have to reply upon a second hand account of it.
I would be interested to hear from anyone who may have details of other WW1 era sightings, both in Europe and further afield.