In a blog post dated 14 June 2016, I advised that I had found a file in the National Archives of Australia (NAA), file series A4090, control symbol 529/1/16 Part 1, titled 'DSTO records of unidentified aerial phenomena.'
The file had only been registered with the NAA on 30 September 2015, and originated with the Australian Department of Defence (DOD). The file was listed as 'closed,' with the reason given,being 'withheld pending advice.' This usually means that the file is still with the originating agency, being examined by them for 'sensitivities' before being opened.
I immediately asked the NAA to have the DOD complete their examination of the file; knowing that once the file status changed from 'closed' to 'open,' that I would be able to order a copy of the file.
While waiting for this process to be completed, I wrote to the DOD and asked an obvious question. If this was part one of the file, was there a part two? The DOD responded that there was no part two. In addition, I checked to see if the NAA RecordSearch had a part two, it did not.
In addition, also while waiting, I wrote a second blog post dated 20 June 2016, gathering together what I could find out about any DSTO involvement with UAP in Australia.
Time passed, until I was advised on 26 June 2017, that the file had been digitised for me. At this point, I wish to acknowledge UFO Research (NSW) Incorporated, who donated half the money needed to purchase a digital copy of this file. Many thanks for your generosity.
The file itself
|The new front cover|
The digitised file is 201 pages in length. The blue DOD file cover is stamped 'Confidential,' and the file number is shown as DST 529/1/16 Part 1 titled 'DSTO records of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.' However, inside this blue cover, is a fawn covered sheet which suggests it was a previous file cover. This sheet states the file is 'Unclassified.' Then 'Defence Science Branch file, Department of Defence.' Subject: 'Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.' The next sheet on the file is fawn in colour and says 'Superseded file series notification file no. DST 529-1-16 Pt 1.' I deduce from all this, that there was an original files belonging to the Defence Science Branch DOD, that on 18 January 1980 became a newer, DSTO, DOD file.
|The original front cover|
What is on this file?
I think the best way to record the details of the contents of the file is folio, by folio, with some explanatory comments by myself, to allow readers to explore the context of the documents.
Is a letter, dated 28 November 1967 from Allen Fairhall (the then Minister for Defence) to Peter E Norris (President of the Commonwealth Aerial Phenomena Investigation Organisation [CAPIO.] With a copy to the Secretary DOD for attention.
'Mr Hasluck has referred your letter of October 31st to me. I read the attached project note with interest and appreciate your concern in the matter.
If funds were to be made available they should most appropriately be found from the Defence vote for Science Research.
I need hardly say that these are severely limited. However, I will have the matter investigated and will write to you again in due course.'
1. I located NAA file series A703, control symbol 569/5/451 Part1, titled 'Reps on Behalf of Commonwealth Aerial Phenomena Investigation Organization re Unidentified Flying Objects in Australia' which assists in our understanding of the context of folio 2.
2. On 6 March 1967, CAPIO forwarded correspondence to Peter Howson (then Minister for Air), and drew the Minister's attention to the US University of Colorado, which had been granted money by the USAF to study UFOs. CAPIO suggested that similar assistance should be given to some Australian government agency such as the CSIRO, or a university, to study UFOs.
3. Various internal DOD memos discussed this suggestion as documented on the 569/5/451 file; and correspondence went back and forth between the DOD and CAPIO. In the end, the Minister's response was in the negative.
4. While I did manage to locate a copy of the CAPIO letter of 31 October 1967, I failed to find a copy of the 28 November 1967 letter from Allen Fairhall to CAPIO on the 569/5/451 file.
5. Interestingly, on the 529/1/16 file, someone underlined the words 'If funds were to be made available they should most appropriately be found from the Defence vote for Science Research.'
Is a one page, typed sheet to 'Mr Barlow' from 'O H Turner' dated 6 December 1968, and is headed 'Organizational aspects.'
(a) Type, and relations to RAAF ( e.g. scientific analysis before or after RAAF has identified)
(c) How is analytical work to be shared.
(d) D.S. Establishment
2. New form
(a) Prepare envisaged new versions or talk to old form plus modifications?
(b) Do we have meeting with DAFI in Defence building or Air Force building
(c) Any need for any preliminaries, e.g. prior issue of suggested amendments?'
1. Mr Barlow is George E Barlow of the Defence Science and Technology (DST) area, within the DOD. He was the number two man in DST.
2. O H Turner was Harry Turner, then working in the Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence (DSTI) in the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) area of the DOD. The JIB was later renamed the Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO) and later, again renamed the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO.)
3. Sydney researcher, Bill Chalker has described, in a number of references, that in 1969 there was a proposal generated by Harry Turner for a DOD rapid investigation team to investigate UAP. When interviewed by both Bill Chalker, and by the Disclosure Australia project, Turner confirmed that George Barlow was also to be involved in this project.
4. In 2008, I obtained a copy of a JIB UAP file, NAA file series JIO63, control symbol 3092/2/000 titled 'Scientific Intelligence - General - Unidentified Flying Objects.' I rechecked if a copy of folio 3 was on this file, but it is not.
5. 'New form' probably refers to the fact that there was a suggested update to the RAAF's Unusual Aerial Sightings (UAS) pro forma questionnaire sent to UAP witnesses.
Is a newspaper clipping from the 'Herald' of 9 December 1968 about 'Just space junk.'
Folios 5 and 6
Are a memo dated 12 December 1968 from G E Barlow to Mr R L Brooks, Defence Science Attache, Australian Embassy, Washington. In part it read:
'One of the more exotic tasks of my office is to provide scientific 'guidance' to RAAF interest in UFOs...' It goes on to seek information from NORAD about satellite re-entry predictions. '...Finally, because of the emotional connotations of any sort of work on UFOs, I suggest the reason for our interest be kept from the US authorities at this stage...'
|Part of the 12 December 1968 memo|
Is a telex, dated 15 January 1969, from R L Brooks to Barlow. It states that copies of satellite prediction data are already sent from the US to the Australian Department of Supply and to the Weapons Research Establishment.
Is a handwritten note from Harry Turner to George Barlow, dated 20 January 1969. It is a follow up to a phone conversation between the two. It notes that the Condon report was released 9 January, and provides a list of suggested dates for correlating possible re-entries.
Folios 9 to 12
Is an article from the 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,' 4 April 1969, about the Condon report.
Folios 13 to 24
Are a 'Report on investigation of UFO sightings in Perth, 5-7th June 1969.' A handwritten note by George Barlow, dated 25 June 1969 says 'Chief Defence Scientist. A "sanitised' version has been passed to RAAF.'
|The beginning of the 1969 Perth report|
Due to a large number of UAP reports from the Perth, Western Australia, area of Australia, received via the RAAF; the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) who were in charge of investigating such reports, asked Defence Science for assistance. JIB were requested to supply an investigator to conduct on site research.
1. This is one of the very few times where a comprehensive DOD investigation of a series of UAP reports was conducted. This investigation is documented in this report, folios 13 to 24.
2. In part the report reads 'There is a clear need for continued investigation of UFO reports, particularly from the viewpoint of scientific analysis.'
3. The report is signed by O H Turner, and dated 20 June 969. Turner was the unnamed investigator from JIB.
4. Although some details of the contents of this report have been described before, e.g. by Bill Chalker, I do not recall the whole report turning up on any previous Australian government UAP file.
Is an undated newspaper clipping 'Seeing things in Western Australia,' written by Don Smith in Perth.
Folios 26 to 42
Are a report titled 'Ground marks on Sydney Golf courses.'
1. This is a very comprehensive report, by an unnamed author, on usual markings found at two Sydney golf courses, at the end of June 1969, investigated on 31 July 1969.
|A sketch of the layout of some of the marks|
2. Some of the details about these marks, and indeed, this investigation, are known from other sources. These sources suggest the investigators were Harry Turner (DOD) and Dr Michael Duggin (then working for the CSIRO.)
(Continued in part two.)