During the course of Disclosure Australia Project research into the involvement of Australian government agencies, we looked at the former Department of Supply (DOS.)
This Department came into being on 17 Mar 1950. It was responsible, among other things for:
* the control of materials used in producing atomic energy (1950-1953)
* operation and management of space tracking stations (from 1959)
* participation in firing of European Launcher Development Organisation rockets at Woomera (from 1962)
* operation of the Joint United-Kingdom-Australia Weapons Research Project
* operation and management of space tracking stations and certain other facilities on behalf of the government of the USA.
Between 1950 and 1969 Melbourne was the location of the DOS Central Office, after which it moved to Canberra. The Department was abolished on 12 Jun 1974, and most of its functions passed to the Department of Manufacturing Industry.
A number of DOS UAP files were located by the DA Project. These were:
1. NAA file series D174 control symbol SA5281 titled "Unusual Occurrences Flying Saucer at Woomera." The file has a date range of 1952-1955. It belonged to the Long Range Weapons Establishment, South Australia. The 25 page file, documents a number of observations made at the Woomera test range.
2. NAA file series D250 control symbol 56/483 titled "Reports on unidentified aircraft, strange occurrences etc" with a date range of 1952-1968. The file originated with the Weapons Research Establishment, South Australia. The 139 page file contains numerous reports from Woomera about unidentified aircraft near the range, as well as observations of UAP.
3. NAA file series D174 control symbol SA 5644/2/1 titled "Sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects" with a date range of 1966-1974, registered to the Weapons Research Establishment, South Australia. This 114 page file contains a number of inquiries from members of the public and some observations of UAP at the Woomera range.
4. NAA file series A6456 control symbol R029/284 titled "Weapons Research Establishment (WRE) -Salisbury - Dept of Supply - Maralinga Project - General Policy and Administration." It is a 45 page file and contains 7 pages on a 1960 observation of an UAP.
5. NAA file series D250 control symbol 56/3568 Part 1 titled "Scientific, Technical and Astronomical Research Society." This 100 page file relates to the fact that between 1966 and 1968, there was a group of individuals at Woomera interested in the subject of UAP, who formed an organisation, STARS, to look at the subject.
Central Office DOS files?
You will note that none of the above files is a DOS Central Office file. Was the DOS Central Office keeping track of UAP reports? The answer is yes, and we know this because:
1. According to a memo on file SA5644/2/1 dated 13 Dec 1967 there were two UAP reporting systems in place. Reports from the Woomera range were sent to the RAAF; while reports from locations outside Woomera went through the DOS Central Office, for transmission through the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs to the US Embassy in Australia. This latter system was established in 1962 after the US had asked for observations which might be used in the identification of space vehicle fragments.
2. In addition, according to file SA5644/2/1, following a series of observations in 1967 by Woomera staff, there was an exchange of correspondence between the Deputy Secretary R & E, Supply, Melbourne and the WRE.
3. Scattered over the various files are references to DOS files Y123/3/12; Y111/12/1 part 4; Y121/1/1; Y123/3/17; YA26/9/2; Y10/5/1; A12/3/2; A12/3/3; 6/12/1; 5/110/Z; 6/121/1; 8/10/2; 5/126/5 and D5492/1/1. From the context these file references were used in, some appear to be DOS Central Office UAP files.
There are also indications that someone in the DOS Central Office, Canberra, was interested, in 1971, in the subject. This is known because:
1. NAA file series A703 control symbol 554/1/30 part 2 pp 30-31.
There is a memo on the RAAF UAP policy file dated 27 Jul 1971 from the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence to S/AIR/SS - and includes the following. "You spoke to me recently on the matter of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and you mentioned that the Department of Supply may be interested in investigating this subject. This minute provides a brief historical sketch of this subject and my reaction to the proposal." There is nothing else on this file about this subject.
However, another file not released until much later, does add to the above information.
2. NAA file series JIO63 control symbol 3092/2/000 titled "Scientific Intelligence - General - Unidentified Flying Objects" was a file with a date range 1957 to 1971, held by the Joint Intelligence Organisation, Department of Defence.
In a memo dated 27 May 1971, from JIO Director R W Furlonger to Deputy Secretary B, we read in part:
"The Department of Supply has personnel with an appropriate range of scientific and technical expertise and laboratory and field facilities that could suitably be employed on UFO investigations.
I suggest that Department of Defence should consider passing responsibility for investigation of Australian UFO sightings from the RAAF to the Department of Supply..."
No other documents have yet surfaced to clarify what, if any, further discussions occurred between the Department of Defence and the DOS. In addition, the only DOS Central Office individual named on any files I looked at, is a "Morrison." A search to locate further information on Morrison has been unsuccessful. If any blog reader has additional information on Morrison it would be appreciated.
A DOS link to Westall?
Do we have any sources which indicate that the DOS was more deeply involved in research into UAP than suggested by the material outlined so far in this post? Indeed we do.
At the May 2012 AURA seminar held in Adelaide, Canberra researcher Shane Ryan presented a large volume of material about the 6 Apr 1966 Westall High School case. One area of the presentation was "A summary of the Local, State and Federal government agencies' responses to the Westall incident."
One of the agencies listed was the Department of Supply. Shane's slide included the information "Assistant Controller of Aircraft, Weapons and Guided Missiles involvement at Westall, and his department's response. Information supplied by man's children."
A keyword search, by me, of the text of all the known publicly available documentation on Westall, reveals no mention of the DOS. No one at the time of the event, or for years later, suggested the involvement of the DOS.
So, there is a suggestion out there that the DOS was involved somehow in the Westall "flying saucer" incident. However, the sole source of the suggestion of DOS involvement in Westall, comes through Shane's source, stated at the AURA seminar, namely the children of the Assistant Controller of Aircraft, Weapons and Guided Missiles, DOS. It would be nice to be able to locate some independent line of evidence that this was so. I would welcome any information from blog readers which could point us in the direction of any independent confirmation that the DOS was definitely involved in the Westall event.
My review of DOS files has also thrown some light on the subject of an earlier blog post. On 29 Feb 2012 I mentioned that "James E McDonald wrote to Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society member , Paul Norman, on the eve of McDonald's trip to Australia...in regard to some intriguing sightings, involving staff at scientific facilities in Woomera..." McDonald's Australian trip commenced on 25 Jun 1967. In the post I wondered what Woomera sightings, around Jun 1967 were being referred to, and failed to come to any firm conclusion. However, I believe I now know the answer.
You will recall, that earlier in this post, I mentioned the STARS group of scientific personnel based at Woomera who started up a UAP group. According to NAA file series D250 control symbol 56/3568 part 1, an Apr 1966 memo from Colonel J D Honeysett, STARS was "...to be associated with ...Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society." This link between Woomera scientific staff and VFSRS could explain how McDonald knew of sightings "at scientific facilities at Woomera."
Were there any significant sightings just prior to Jun 1967 at Woomera? Indeed, there were.
NAA file series D174 control symbol SA5644/2/1 gives details about a series of observations made on 28 Apr 1967 during a Skylark rocket launch. Multiple observations by experienced tracking staff were made, of a dull white, saucer shaped object. Members of STARS documented the sightings which were also a source of discussions between WRE Adelaide and Central Office, DOS in subsequent weeks.
It therefore seems highly likely to me, that these were the sightings of which McDonald was aware.
Areas of the former Department of Supply, as did many other government bodies, kept files on UAP. Whether this had any deeper meaning is difficult to ascertain based on the information to hand.
Can any readers, perhaps former employees of the Department of Supply, provide any additional information?