Friday, October 19, 2018

Jessie Roestenburg’s 1954 UFO Encounter and Beyond



Jessie Roestenburg’s Oct. 21, 1954 encounter with a UFO might have been forgotten had it not been chronicled by Gavin Gibbons in his 1956 book, The Coming of the Space Ships. I provided the basis for almost all the subsequent accounts throughout ufology. Charles Bowen based his entry in the Flying Saucer Review Special: The Humanoids, 1966, on it, and the short version below is all that most people know of the story.

Bowen  compounded an error, calling the witness Jennie, instead of Jessie, and misspelled the location of Ranton. Gibbons had spelled the family name RoestenBERG, but it should have been BURG. Most UFO literature since has followed his version. Throughout, we’ve corrected quotes using “Roestenberg” to the proper Roestenburg.

It’s a famous sighting, one of the best-known early UK cases, but few know that her family experienced at least six UFO sightings, with Jessie being involved in all but one. Like her first, most of the additional sightings involved multiple witnesses. 

L, drawing by Cherry Hinkle of the Ranton humanoid type.
R, art by Mike Rogers based on the abduction story by Travis Walton.

The Original Incident: Eye Contact

In 1954 Jessie Roestenburg, her husband Tony and three young children lived in a cottage at Vicarage Farm, Ranton, Staffordshire, England. It was an old house three and a half miles from Stafford, and without the modern conveniences like electricity or indoor plumbing. It was almost like they were quietly living in the past, but that all changed on October 21, 1954. 

Vicarage Farm
Mrs. Roestenburg was inside with her two-year-old daughter, Karin, and her two sons, eight-year-old Anthony and six-year-old Ronald were just home from school and playing in the garden.
The time was 4:45 p.m.

The Wolverhampton Express and Star Oct. 22, 1954: 
Midland Woman says flying saucer terrified her
Ranton, near Stafford, A woman today told the “Express and Star” that she and her two children had been terrified by a flying saucer, carrying “two long-haired human-like creatures in tight-fitting jerseys.”
The machine landed in the garden, she stated.
When she heard a noise like a crashing aircraft, yesterday, Mrs Jessie Roestenburg, of isolated Vicarage Farm, ran out into the garden. 
She found her two children lying prostrate and terrified. 
The next house to Vicarage Farm is about two miles away.
Above the children was a huge, saucer-like object with a dome, the front part of which was transparent, stated Mrs. Roestenburg.
Staring at the children from the machine were two “unsmiling, human-like creatures, with long faces and long hair.”
Mrs. Roestenburg told our reporter that she ran to the back of the house in fright. The object then  moved over the house, hovered for about 15 seconds, and then shot off at high speed.
From another section of the story, she’s quoted as saying the object was "about 15 to 20 feet in diameter.”
Captions from the Wolverhampton Express and Star:
This is a sketch, made today by Mrs. Roestenburg, of the object that she states she saw in her garden, It appeared to be of “a dull silver metal,” and the outer rim seemed to be revolving.

Mrs. Roestenburg, with her two sons keeping close beside her, points to the place where, she says, she saw the flying saucer hovering above her home.


The Coming of the Space Ships

Gavin Gibbons’ 1956 book, The Coming of the Space Ships, covers the flap of UFO sightings that began in June of 1954 in the Stafford area, and devotes two chapters to the story of the Roestenburgs, which he regarded as the “the most informative and, in some ways, astounding of all the sightings...” Although Gibbons provides the best documentation on the story, he was a linguist and scholar, not a journalist, and with his own UFO experience approached things as one of the awakened. As his title suggest, Gibbons regarded flying saucers as extraterrestrial space ships, and was persuaded by the reports from the Contactees. Wishing to retire the phrase “Flying Saucer,” Gibbons preferred the Atlantean/Sanskrit term “vimanas” (chariots of the sky) for disc-shaped scout craft. He invented other UFO terms to match, such as vunu for cigar-shaped spaceships.


Based on his interviews with the family, Gibbons gave a more detailed account of the Roestenburg story and what was seen:
...they looked very like Earthly men, with white skins and long hair down to their shoulders. Their foreheads seemed immensely high, with the features almost entirely in the bottom half of their faces. Their heads were enclosed in what appeared to be some sort of transparent helmet and they were dressed in clothes of turquoise blue that resembled ski suits that Mrs. Roestenburg had seen.
The saucer’s exit:
It was hovering over the house! Very low and completely silent, a queer round thing was standing in the air immediately over the little cottage... Their heads were in a whirl... As Jessie Roestenburg watched, appalled, the vimana began to move, flashing a purply blue light from the front of it as it did so. At an angle of 45° it started to ascend, making no sound as it moved, but continuing the flashing the whole time. With a gasp of relief Jessie ran into the house, intent on finding pencil and paper to sketch what she and the children had seen. As she looked for the stub of a pencil, the boys called out again from the garden. With fear returning once more to her heart she ran outside to see the Saucer coming back again, this time from north to south. It circled the house in an anti-clockwise direction one and a half times and then streaked skywards. It had gone at last.

The section of Gibbons book describing the sighting was excerpted as an article in Model Aircraft magazine, March 1957, “Space Ships ‘a Coming.” It’s archived, found on page 39 of the PDF, at

However, like most accounts, it only covers Oct. 21, not the subsequent events or the other UFO encounters of the Roestenburg family.

The Rest of the Story

Gavin Gibbons was not a detached journalist or scientific observer - he became part of the story. Gibbons spoke Mr. Roestenburg’s native language, Dutch, and it drew them closer, and he became friends with the Roestenburgs, making frequent visits to their home, educating and advising them on the topic of UFOs. In the narrative, he introduces Mr. Roestenburg first and regards it as Tony’s story, not Jessie’s. 

2nd Sighting: Tony’s Cigar

The second sighting was around 2:30 on the next Sunday, Oct. 24, 1954. The Roestenburg’s had a friend visiting, man whose name was not given. According to Gibbons, Tony thought there was a slight possibility that the saucer had dropped something on their roof. “He had a queer hunch, too, that it was his turn to see something.” From an upstairs he made his way to the roof, but found nothing, but remained to scan the skies.
“Suddenly he caught his breath and stared hard at the sky towards the south-west. His premonition was right after all. There, flying slowly along in a great semi-circle, was an enormous, cylindrical, sausage-shaped object.”
Tony called for Jessie and she and their guest  ran out to see “the huge machine looming in the sky, not more than a mile away, and watched with him as it carried on its curved course, eventually disappearing into a bank of cloud to the north.”
Mr. Roestenburg came down and asked Jessie if it was what she’d seen, but she said, no, that this was colossal, the saucer-shaped machine she’s seen was much smaller. the three discussed the sighting, but at first the friend said that he had thought that he had seen dark patches where wings might have been, but after careful thought he withdrew this idea.  Gibbon reports that Tony “became intensely interested in the subject of U.F.O.’s and kept a careful watch from then on, scanning the sky at every possible moment he could spare and hoping with all his heart to see another visitant.”

Gibbons was of the opinion that Jessie had seen a disc-shaped scout ship and aliens just as George Adamski had described, while Tony had seen the massive cigar-shaped mother ship.

3rd Sighting: Tony’s Fireball

Another hunch.  On or about December 15, 1954, Tony’s skywatching paid off. He saw a ball of fire slowly, silently moving at an angle of about 45° above the horizon. It was about two or three inches across when measured at his arm’s length, but when he went around to the other side of the house to follow its path, “It was now about eighteen inches at arm’s length!” It seemed to be moving lower and slower until it was almost stationary. As he watched, he heard the sound of an airplane coming from the east, and as the plane got closer,” the fireball suddenly moved, shooting northward at incredible speed and disappearing from sight within a few seconds... He had seen another Flying Saucer!”

The Family’s Transformation

The aftermath of the sightings on the family is discussed in chapter 8, Gibbons’ book. Jessie told him that afterward, her daughter Karin seemed to cry constantly and the two boys had become unruly and disrespectful. “I can see a tremendous change in them. Whether it’s a reaction after their fright or what, I don’t know, but they are much naughtier now than they ever were before it happened.”
Jessie herself was stressed, and had a blotchy rash on her skin, “It’s on my face and arms and I don’t know what it is.”
Her condition had developed sometime after the sighting, and Gibbons asked if she knew the cause.
“Just nerves. The same as my edginess and bad temper.”
Gibbons noted, “nervous strain will do peculiar things to the human body. I hoped that these bad after-effects would soon wear off, for, as I explained to Mrs. Roestenburg, I was sure that the men in the saucer had no intention of frightening her and the children.”

Jessie made no mention of having any other symptoms or of receiving any medical treatment.

When Gibbons visited the Roestenburgs in their new home southern edge of Stafford in March and May of 1955, he found them all changed for the better. He asked Mr. Roestenburg what had made the difference, and Tony almost sounded like they were fleeing a haunted house.
“That old cottage,” he answered without hesitation. “Ever since that U.F.O. hovered over it, something snapped there and almost made us snap, too... The move has made a different family of us and that’s a fact!”
Asked if he’d seen any more UFOs, Tony replied, “Not since that last one, but I’m still looking.”

Gibbons could see no motive for a hoax, and he was convinced of their sincerity.
“I have gained some new friends. I often visit them in their new home and we talk over the happenings of the day when the Saucer came. The children, and it is best so, have forgotten the incident, but for Jessie and Tony Roestenburg... it is a good memory. Now that the fear has gone and they are....almost beginning to wish that the vimana would pay them a second visit. Almost, I think they said, almost....”
Caption from Gibbons' book:
Mr. and Mrs. Roestenburg and their children,
May 21, 1955, seven months after they had seen the vimana.


1956 - 1957: More Flying Saucers 

Gavin Gibbons briefly returned to the Roestenburg case in his follow-up book, They Rode in Space Ships (1957), but continues the story, describing the lesser-known aftermath and further sightings by the family.

“Tony Roestenburg could hardly be said to court notoriety - he got more and more weary of references to his experiences... He certainly did not seek money-he and his family have gained nothing from an experience now largely forgotten by the children.” 

After summarizing both the original sighting, Tony’s rooftop sighting of the cigar-shaped UFO, Gibbons states, “He was to see another Space Ship later on, probably a vimana, but this has no direct bearing on the argument.” An asterisk leads to a footnote about three further sightings by the Roestenburgs, even after they moved from Ranton to Stafford. In the first one, the Roestenburg’s daughter instead of the boys, takes on the role of sounding the summoning cry:

“Sightings in the Stafford area are still taking place. On 5 December, 1956. Mrs. Roestenburg was called into the garden of their Stafford home by Karin. A bright orange disc, probably a vimana or scout ship was overhead! Seen by neighbours, it disappeared in the direction of Seighford. On to January, 1957, an orange glowing cigar-shaped vunu was seen by many people flying northwards over Stafford towards Stoke-on-Trent. Witnesses included Tony, Jessie, and Karin Roestenburg and Mrs. Daniels, wife of Wilfrid Daniels, the Stafford U.F.O. expert. On 13 May, 1957, a silvery vunu was seen over the west of Stafford by Mrs. Roestenburg, a near neighbour, Mrs. Violet Wilding, and several other witnesses in the area.” 

See appendix, the chronology: Roestenburg Family Sightings

Spiritualism, Psychic Powers and ESP

Gibbon’s second UFO book contrasts the Roestenburgs with someone he did not find credible, George King of the channeler of the cosmic being Aetherius. Gibbons disapproved of mixing spiritualism with UFOs, saying, “But the greatest danger is that spiritualism so easily leads to involuntary fraud or to misrepresentation by people who are themselves quite honest. Although a lot of people, including several well-known public figures, believe in spiritualism, there are many others who turn from it in disgust. As many of these latter believe in Flying Saucers, George King is doing a disservice to the Space Ship movement by associating spiritualism with Flying Saucers.”

Gibbons makes no mention of Mrs. Roestenburg’s psychic powers and experiences in his books. There’s just the tingling in her nose prior to the first sighting, and her husband’s hunch or premonition prior to the second one. Reading between the lines, there’s some suggestion the  Roestenburg’s felt there was something almost haunted at Vicarage Farm, and they were happy to be away from it.

                                                    
Wilfrid Daniels 

At the same time Gibbons was working the case, so was another. Wilfrid Daniels was a UFO researcher living in Stafford. He reported on the local sightings and interviewed Mrs. Roestenburg and was the first to disclose her psychic or ESP claims in Flying Saucer Review Vol. 1, No. 3, July-Aug. 1955 (page 16), “Flying Saucers and the Psychic” by Wilfred Daniels. Here’s a summary of it by UFO historian Loren Gross:
According to UFO researcher Wilfred Daniels, Mrs. Roestenburg had for years felt she was a “psychic,” and that for a number of hours prior to the “space ship appearance,” she had a “queer feeling” something was about to happen, at least that was her peculiar claim. Years before during a seance a medium directed a comment to Mrs. Roestenburg, pronouncing her a psychic of considerable ability, a compliment she never forgot. While denying she was a full-blown spiritualist, Mrs. Roestenburg said she did experience on one occasion a “spirit manifestation of the spectral sort.” Her aunt, she admitted, was a practising “psychic healer.” 
In Gibbon's mind, and to any UFO buff worth his salt, the possible flaw in the “strange affair at Ranton” was that it had a George Adamski smell, the American who at that time was the darling of England's occult society. 

Gross took Mrs. Roestenburg's claims of having psychic powers and supernatural before her sighting as a negative, but in the FSR article he quoted, Wilfrid Daniels thought it might be just the opposite. He speculated that these were exactly the kind of earthlings the spacemen wanted to visit:
But could it not be that just because of their peculiar powers of mental perception, spiritualists, and those with “psychic” sensibilities, maybe the very people better equipped than anybody else to be sought out, or inspected at close quarters, but alien visitors in flying saucers?
Gibbons worked closely with Daniels on the Stafford sightings and must have known about Mrs. Roestenburg's psychic stories. Due to his distaste of missing spiritualism with saucers, it appears he chose to censor it from his account of the Roestenburg case.


Jessie’s story became part of UFO literature, especially in the volumes devoted to Contactees and close encounters. Jessie had made contact with aliens - only eye contact, but still historic. However, for many years, her tale just circulated by repeated versions of Bowen’s 1966 short summary of the encounter.

The 1970s UFO Revival

The public’s interest in UFOs after the Pascagoula Abduction story caused a revival of media coverage, and that included reviewing old cases. 


The comic book, UFO Flying Saucers No. 7, August 1975 published by Gold Key (Western Publishing Company, Inc.) featured a brief adaptation of the first Jessie Roestenburg sighting,  “The Unsmiling Men,” a four page story illustrated by John Celardo.  It’s chief departure from the original account is in the depiction of the saucer occupants, drawn here as weird aliens, not the beautiful angelic astronauts Jessie described. One interesting thing the story does well is to demonstrate is the peculiar angle the saucer would have to tip forward in order for the occupants and witnesses to be able to see each other.

TV Coverage

In 1976, Hugh Burnett was preparing a UFO documentary for the BBC, and he approached Charles Bowen and Gordon Creighton of Flying Saucer Review. They gave him the contact information for Jessie Roestenburg. The documentary was titled Out of this World, and it was first broadcast May 10, 1977 on BBC 1. It’s largely responsible for reviving interest in the case, and today, most people are probably familiar with Jessie Roestenburg’s story via the YouTube clip of her from the program. It’s often shared with comments noting how genuine, sincere and credible she appears. 



She describes the saucer as looking like a Mexican hat, and says occupants, says were beautiful people with long golden hair, wearing  coverings over their heads like a “transparent fishbowl.”
“They just looked, and I was absolutely paralytic with fear. I couldn’t move, although my mind was taking over. And they seemed so sympathetic that I was mesmerized, seemed to be - oh, ages, but it could have only been seconds. After checking on her boys, “I looked up and it was gone.” 
Asked about the size of the object, she says it was “massive,” that it was larger than the roof of the house. She said they saw the object again in the distance, that it circled them three times then it shot off.
A spaceman in a fishbowl helmet, as seen in The Man from Planet X, 1951
More fishbowls from The Net, 1953
Mrs. Roestenburg appeared in another UFO program a few years later, and told her story again on the episode, “U.F.O.s” of Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, which was broadcast Nov. 4, 1980. It’s interesting to contrast it with her previous clip from the 1977, Out of this World. Her description of the events are very similar,  sometimes word for word. In both she's quite animated, but here she’s far less emotional, and perhaps convincing. 

She describes discovering the flying saucer:
“To my amazement there, suspended on the top of the roof of this old farm, was this object that I can only describe as a huge Mexican hat. It was that shape, without the bobbles. It must have been fifteen to twenty yards from where I stood. It covered the roof, so in circumference it must have been about sixty feet, it was enormous.  The people in the space-craft were just looking out, I could see them from the waist to the top of their heads. They were very beautiful people. They had long golden hair... (but no mention of the fishbowl helmets). and they just looked at us. Their eyes - the expression in their eyes - were full of compassion.”
“And then all of a sudden, I felt the tension leaving me and I felt movement, and I turned around to touch my children and when I looked again it was gone.” Moments later, her younger son pointed it out then, “it circled round the farm three times, then it just shot straight up and away.”
“U.F.O.s” episode of Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World  (link)

How Big was the UFO?  

The account from the two shows differ from the original version documented by Gavin Gibbons on several details, and none of the other subsequent events or sightings were discussed. The part about Jessie seeing the saucer ascend, then running inside to look for a pencil was dropped, and instead she remains outside for the entire sighting. Also, when seen again, the saucer makes not 1 /1/2 circles, but 3 around the farm on its exit, but perhaps that’s an unimportant difference. 


The biggest difference seems to be the size of the UFO. The figure Jessie gave for the saucer’s size in the first account was, "about 15 to 20 feet in diameter,” which matches the drawing she made for the newspaper. In her sketch, it depicts the saucer as room-sized, not house-sized. In the Jul-Aug 1955 FSR, investigator Wilfrid Daniels gave the size as “a 25-ft. saucer.” In her later television interviews the spaceship was described to be enormous,  large enough to cover the entire roof of the cottage. 


Thirty Years Later, New Details Emerge

Excepts from Jenny Randles’ Abduction (aka Alien Abductions), 1988, pages 68-70, Chapter 5, “Alien Abductions - The British Catalogue”
Type II: Contact Cases 
21 October 1954 - Ranton, Staffordshire This case is legendary in UFO circles, having featured in several books during the 1950s, but no one seemed to have looked at it recently, so on 6 August 1987 I interviewed the chief witness, Mrs Jessie Roestenburg. She was in her late twenties in 1954 and had two children, Anthony (aged eight) and Ronald (six). They do remember the events, but only vaguely. Jessie had felt 'tingles' all day, prior to 4:45 p.m., when the incident occurred. (Recap of sighting.)
“It felt like hours passed, but it must have been seconds. Time was suspended. I was also paralysed. It was like I was in a vice. But my mind was working overtime.” 
“...nothing Jessie said indicated to me that she was familiar with UFO cases...”Since then she has often thought about it: 'This was something absolutely marvellous. The saddest part to me is that I have never been able to fully understand the greatness of this thing.'
However, she says that she has since had a 'great, almost extreme, development of ESP. I know things about people. I understand situations. All this probably sounds crazy, but it is true.' Some of the things that have happened include seeing the aliens again in her house '. . . out of the corner of my eye .... But I think it could be a "thought thing". It could be my imagination'. 
These contacts have implanted feelings into her mind about the aliens: 'I think they'll be here when I need them .... They are surveying us. They're afraid that we might panic. But some of them are living amongst us.’
Jessie Roestenburg impressed me because she had not become a 'UFO nut' and had seemingly read no books on the subject since 1954. She had seen the Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind but in typical fashion said about it, ‘I remember thinking whoever did this film has a good understanding of the subject. But when those little funny aliens came on I almost stood up and shouted, "They're not like that!" I don't believe in little green men. Not after what I've seen." 

Excerpts from the interview were carried in an article in The Star, Feb. 29, 1988,


1998
Timothy Good’s  Alien Base, 1998, contains an interview with Jessie Roestenburg that offers details I’d not found documented elsewhere, health problems following her first sighting.

Jessie‘s health began to deteriorate. ‘I went to see my doctor, who had read about what happened,’ she said, ‘but he thought I was round the twist. I insisted on seeing a psychiatrist and he said: “There’s nothing wrong with your mind but you do you need to go to hospital.” He took me himself and they did a blood count. [It] was so low they couldn’t understand how I was still alive. They said they wouldn’t be surprised if I was suffering from radiation sickness. For a while, I was in a terrified mess but gradually got better.

Good quotes Jessie from the news story by reporter Neil Thomas in the Staffordshire Newsletter, August 30, 1996, which gives her name as “Jessica Roestenburg.” She said, “To this day I don’t know what they were, I don’t believe they wanted to do us any harm. They are far more intelligent than we are.”

2011 (probably from 2006)
Sadly, Jessie Roestenburg passed away on May 12, 2017. Luckily John Hanson was able to interview her a few times in her later years for Haunted Skies.

From John Hanson 2006, Haunted Skies-Vol. 1. Photo by David Sankey
Excerpts from the Haunted Skies blog by John Hanson and Dawn Holloway
“Special Blog to celebrate Volume 3”

Jessie’s religious disclosure
“I seemed to be in some way drawn, or compelled, to the top of the garden - almost as if I was being manipulated by an outside influence, of which I had no control. I glanced around and saw the amazing sight of this flying saucer shaped object hovering 40-50 feet above the roof of the house. Inside the ‘saucer’ I could clearly see what looked like two humans, wearing long golden hair down to their shoulders. I felt a mixture of emotions - amazement and fear run through my body, followed by the thought, ‘God will wipe away all tears’. Immediately, all the tension left me, (something I have never disclosed to anyone before because of its religious significance). I turned to my sons and asked them if they had seen the ‘flying saucer’. They replied, ‘yes’.”

Expanded Account of the Medical Treatment 
After the sighting, she felt revitalized, for a short time, until discovering a strange rash covering her face and front part of the body, accompanied by a considerable loss of weight over a relatively short period, which gave rise for concern. Jessie sought the advice of her Doctor, who was well aware of the UFO incident and intimated there was something wrong with her mental health.
Offended by this suggestion, Jessie contacted a Psychiatrist - Dr. Wilson, who confirmed, after a medical examination, there was nothing wrong with her mental state of health. “He asked me if I had been given a chest x-ray and blood tests. When I told him this had not been done, he personally escorted me to hospital, where a chest X-ray was taken but found to be clear. Unfortunately, blood tests showed the blood count was very low. The haematologist said to me, ‘If it didn’t sound so ludicrous, l would say you have been exposed to a massive dose of radiation’. I was given injections of iron, twice a week, which caused all sorts of problems before the correct dosage was established.”

A short clip of Jessie Roestenberg when aged 90; recorded in 2015 by John Hanson and Dawn Holloway of Haunted Skies.

Although the Roestenburg children were involved in several of the UFO sightings, they were treated as bystanders in the news coverage and UFO literature. Gavin Gibbons played with the children in his visits with the family and talked to them about the events. At the time, Karin was two and inside, but Anthony Jr. , eight, and Ronald, six, were outside and as close to the spacemen in the UFO as Jessie. A year or so later, somewhat incredibly,Gibbons noted it was “an experience now largely forgotten by the children.” If they’ve commented on the family’s UFO sightings as adults, I’ve been unable to locate a credible source. Beyond Gibbons book, there seems to be nothing recording Tony Roestenburg’s sightings. Only Jessie’s story really lives to carry on.
. . .


For readers who'd like more information on the Roestenburg story, check out the sources below and the BBL page of additional material, including:


Epilogue: The Forgotten Witness 

Appendix:
Roestenburg  Family Sightings 

Bad UFOlogy: Jennie and Apocrypha

Jessie Roestenburg’s 1954 UFO Encounter and Beyond: The Extras


Online Sources and Links to Further Information

They Rode in Space Ships by Gavin Gibbons, 1957 (Online at Daniel Fry.com)

The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse: UFOs: A History 1954 October by Loren Gross
“The Roestenburg case” (pages 75 - 76)

There was an excellent discussion of the case by Kandinsky from Dec. 2011, on the site Above Top Secret (ATS) that provides a good background on the Roestenburg events. 
“BBC Out Of This World Program (1977) Re: Staffordshire 1954 Sighting”

Flying Saucer Review  Vol. 1, No. 3, July-Aug. 1955 (page 16)
“Flying Saucers and the Psychic” by Wilfred Daniels

Flying Saucer Review  Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan.-Feb. 1957 (page 9)
“Flying Cigar at Stafford”

Flying Saucer Review, Sept./Oct. 1957. Vol. 3, No. 5.
“World Round Up,” Europe, Great Britain. (pages 5 & 6) 
‘’Stafford in the news again.

Flying Saucer Review, Vol. 38, No. 1, 1993 carried an article recounting the case, “The Roestenburg Story (1954)” by Gordon Creighton. (pages 6 -9)

Out Of This World - UFO Interview - My Body Language Analysis. Staffordshire 1954 CJB
Craig James Baxter, the author of Unmasked: A Revealing Look At The Fascinating World Of Body Language made a video examining the clip of Mrs. Roestenburg from Out of this World.
His analysis is interesting, and he seems to believe she was sincere. However, his conclusion that there’s a tear shed at the close of the video seems to be in error. Compare the scene with a clip from the original program. No tear is evident. (https://youtu.be/58R7JAQm_yQ?t=37s)

UK newspaper story from 1954 - fragment the Wolverhampton Express and Star Oct. 22, 1954

Stafford and Mid-Staffs Newsletter, 5/2/5?, “Staffordian’s Opinon on Flying Saucers,” a profile on Wilfrid Daniels, who discusses investigating the Roestenburg sighting.


. . .

Friday, July 13, 2018

UFO History: The Saucers from Atlantis



Many of the articles at BBL and STTF begin with a question, and this piece is no exception. Ufology inherited much about exploring the unknown from those who had gone before, from Forteans, science fiction fans - to mystics and spiritualists. When asking how a UFO-related concept originated, it’s often a bit like the chicken or the egg conundrum. The topic in question was prompted by a high-profile UFO interview.

One of ufology’s most prominent figures was awarded the title “UFO Researcher of the Year” in February 2017, and the following October, he was interviewed on The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan asked where the alien Greys come from, and the guest replied: 
“I don’t know. I do know that there’s connections to -umm, eh, you won’t even f***ing believe it... Atlantis... There’s a connection... a very advanced group that left after a catastrophe and hung around in a small outpost here, and throughout time would push civilization forward, and that’s who the Greek gods were... and that’s why it’s very interesting when the Roswell wreckage, there’s Greek writing... It’s online, type in Roswell wreckage... Roswell I-beam, you’ll see it, and it’s got these Greek markings...

Kevin Randle wrote about the source of the visual evidence:
“... about Greek writing found on the Roswell wreckage... The photo they bring up at that point is a shot of the I-Beam... created by Spyros Melaris as part of the alien autopsy hoax.” A Different Perspective, Oct. 31, 2017
The Greek inscription was part of a hoax, but what about the rest - was it based on any better evidence? Even some scientists have given some support to a hypothesis that there is a connection between UFOs and Atlantis.


Dr. Eric Davis works with Dr. Hal Puthoff at EarthTech, formerly a sub-contractor to Robert Bigelow for the Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Application Program run by the DIA, often referred to as the “Pentagon UFO Study.” On June 24, 2017, Eric Davis was interviewed on the radio show Coast to Coast about his role in the project. Host George Knapp asked if the study found the answer to the “big questions” about UFOs. Dr. Davis replied:
We know what they are not... They’re not made here, George, but we don't know where they come from. Hal (Puthoff) has a favorite hypothesis, he calls it the Ultraterrestrial Hypothesis. They could be advanced technology - aerospace technology that are produced by a group of evolved hominins that split off from the main human race and they might be that fourth unidentified hominin that was discovered and announced in the news over the last couple years, they are the fourth one after the Denisovans. So yeah, you have Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals, and you have the Denisovans, and there's the genetic evidence of a fourth hominin, and so maybe they split off and they became very advanced, they could be the basis or the foundation for the legend of Atlantis, for all we know. And they saw the human race arising, they didn't like our warlike nature and they probably went underground and shielded themselves with their advanced technology to protect themselves from us, and they're the ones who have the Tic Tacs and other UFOs. ...that’s a hypothesis.
That ultimately set the question in motion, and I wondered:

How did flying saucers get connected to Atlantis?

The myths and arguments about Atlantis itself are not the question; we’ll just be looking at how it was tied into UFOs. In The Coming Race, the 1871 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, there was a hidden race who were descended from people who in ancient times, escaped “the flood,” by taking refuge in mountain caverns which led to “the bowels of the inner earth.” They created a technological utopia, and their greatest achievement was  mastery of the force, the “Vril,” an energy that could be used as a weapon or to heal. The story has been incredibly influential and laid the foundation for much since, from science fiction to spiritualism and ufology.

As to Atlantis itself, Ignatius Donnelly is to blame for reviving and popularizing it. A passage from his presentation of Plato's History of Atlantis from The Antediluvian World, 1882 by Ignatius Donnelly:
“Now, in the island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire... shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind; for she was the first in courage and military skill...”
The Atlantean civilization was said to have art and science beyond the rest of the world, and as the legend was retold, it was updated with more miraculous technology to keep ahead of the present day.
Atlantis was embraced by mystics, and they were the ones to connect Atlantis to outer space, but in a dreamy, quasi-religious sort of way. Gareth J. Medway wrote that Madame Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, in her
“...key work Secret Doctrine was taken up with the theory (derived in some obscure way from Hindu scripture) of the seven "root races" of humanity, of which we are the fifth. The fourth race had lived on Atlantis, and the Third on Lemuria, these two being lost continents of the Atlantic and Pacific respectively. Atlantis, whose legend goes back at least as far as the time of Plato, had recently been publicised in a book by Ignatius Donnelly... 
In 1883-6 Frederick S. Oliver, then a teenager living with his parents near Mount Shasta in northern California, penned a lengthy manuscript entitled A Dweller on Two Planets... an entity called Phylos the Tibetan had dictated it to him... More than half the narrative concerned the author's past life as Zailm, an Atlantean, with many details of that civilisation. They had developed "vailxi", aerial ships of torpedo shape which could travel at hundreds of miles an hour (an incredible speed in the 1880s)."
"Beyond the Reality Barrier, Part One: Many Mansions,” Magonia 94, January 2007

Atlantis and Space Ships

 There was a widespread interest in Atlantis without the spiritualism, and it was assimilated into popular culture. The immensely popular newspaper comic strip Buck Rogers by Philip Nowlan and Dick Caulkins featured a serialized that began in 1930, the “Sunken City Of Atlantis.” 



Science fiction to millions of readers, was Buck Rogers. In the story, the Atlanteans had advanced technology, even flying machines, but after surviving the sinking of the island they lived in secret, but sent expeditions out monitor and influence civilizations on the surface world. The Atlantis serial can be read at the Roland Anderson site, Old Comic Strips: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.


The story was adapted into a Big Little Book in 1934 as Buck Rogers in the City Below the Sea, and also part of a Buck Rogers game, as “Search for the Secrets of Atlantis.”

Peeling the Aquatic Onion

Frederick G. Hehr was a Fortean and “deeply learned in occult matters.” Using his initials as F.G.H., he was a frequent contributor to Meade Layne’s Round Robin, the journal of the Borderland Sciences Research Association (BSRA) which accepted “a great mass of psychic and occult data as factual, as established...”

Hehr was talking about spaceships, Atlantis and extraterrestrial seventeen years before the big Kenneth Arnold story broke in July of 1947. Here’s a portion of his letter of criticism to the early science fiction magazine,  Air Wonder Stories, May 1930, edited by Hugo Gernsback.

"Then your space flying stories, every one of them is based on cheap excitement raised by the introduction of war. As it is self evident that the rulers of the universe would never permit the knowledge necessary to conquer space to get into hands morally unfit to hold them. Please read up on the legends about the flood and Atlantis and about former visitors from space and you may detect a certain law pertaining to the distribution and use of power. 
May I add for the peace of mind of timorous souls that a malevolent incursion from space is an impossibility and that benevolent incursions will came as soon as we are morally fit to entertain visitors, from space. I wish I had the writing ability as I would like to write a story based on actual conditions on the planets of our solar system. "

Hehr was not alone in this type of thinking. In 1943, Richard Shaver wrote to Amazing Stories magazine with “Mantong,” a lost ancient alphabet and language, which was supposed to be “definite proof of the Atlantean legend.” From there, Shaver wrote "A Warning to Future Man," and editor Ray Palmer rewrote it and published it as “I Remember Lemuria.” Thus, "The Shaver Mystery" was born, which was the stepping stone between Theosophy and the imaginative side of Ufology. Shaver’s story was about ancient extraterrestrials, the Titans and the Atlans who had lived under the surface of the earth in Lemuria. The backdrop for Shaver’s stories were a virtual blueprint for tales of ancient aliens.

When the flying saucer wave hit, Frederick G. Hehr was ready with an explanation. He sent a letter to Meade Layne who relayed it to BSRA members in a postcard on July 13, 1947. As FGH, Hehr stated that the flying saucers were flown by: 
“an old Atlantean Arcane Order, which has held them in caches; their present mobilization is for trial and for training of crews; they will be used for emergency rescue craft and to gather key personnel and material. They have gravity control, and a speed up to 4000 mi./ hr. above the atmosphere. They become invisible by bending the light rays around them, and are invulnerable to attack by our own forces."The Mystery of Unidentified Flying Objects: 1896—1949, Loren Gross (1971) page 308. 
The BSRA opinion only circulated amongst their members, but early ideas of an Atlantis-saucer connection were mentioned in the newspapers, but as just one of many ideas circulating.
Utahns sure sky saucers no delusionThe Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), July 6, 1947, p. 8A:"Flying saucers" continued to confound sky-gazing Utahns... Explanations for their strange and fleeting appearances ran the gamut from “Atlantis” to “atomic”... 

Putting it into the Mainstream

Desmond Leslie (1921 - 2001) was a British writer who went on to co-author Flying Saucers Have Landed with George Adamski in 1953. In an advertisement from the British Book Centre he was described as “Desmond Leslie, Historian,” and it states that, “He spent years in research gathering information about flying saucers from ancient times to present." Leslie said he was inspired by finding a copy of The Story of Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria by William Scott-Elliot, which described “airships” that he thought sounded like flying saucers. See the clip from UFOs: The Contacts – The Pioneers of Space by Michael Hesemann, 1996.


From The Saucers That Time Forgot:


Leslie began researching the connection and asked Meade Layne if he had seen the
“... detailed occult account of the VIMANAS or ancient aircraft in Scott Elliott’s “ATLANTIS”: the exciting Sanskrit reference to an ‘airlift’ to evacuate Atlantis in (Helena Blavatsky's) SECRET DOCTRINE Vol III,  their use in war in the ancient Indian poems such as the RAMA BHARATA,  also an account of a working drawings seen in James Churchward in his MU books.” 
The Meade Layne - Desmond Leslie Correspondence by Håkan Blomqvist, Dec. 1, 2017
Leslie went on to say that he’d been obsessed with the subject, "for over two years ever since I first read a flying saucer report and realised it was synonymous with accounts of the VIMANAS as the disks were called in the Sanskrit.”

Leslie’s discovery led him to write Flying Saucers Have Landed, and title a chapter, “Saucers in Atlantis.” The connection made in Desmond Leslie’s mind of flying saucers to Atlantis is directly responsible for giving us the “Ancient Aliens” version of ufology. It might not have mattered if it hadn’t appeared in a best-selling book, but it was a tremendous influence.


 Leslie’s use of the term, “Vimanas” for saucers was embraced by many followers and the notion of ancient ET visitations became a given, a canonical UFO belief, and later popularized by Erich von Däniken. Leslie’s connection of Atlantis to saucers, however, was less widely accepted, but there were some notable converts.

George Hunt Williamson and Daniel Fry
George Hunt Williamson’s 1953 book, Other Tongues, Other Flesh, shows that he was an early adopter.
“...during the catastrophes that struck both Lemuria and Atlantis, groups of people were evacuated from the Earth and taken to other planets. Especially Mars and Venus.”
Williamson also said, “The Vril Stick was used in Atlantis and later in Egypt.” 

Daniel Fry, author of The White Sands Incident, told his story at the first annual international Flying Saucer Convention in 1954, how he’d taken walk in the desert one night and encountered a landed flying saucer. A voice from it spoke to him, the voice of a spaceman operating it by remote control from a parent ship. The Herald Express reported:
The spokesman, whose name was A-Lan, told Fry his ancestors originally came from earth. They got away in a hurry after the big battle in which Atlantis and Mu destroyed each other with weapons that would make the hydrogen bomb look sick. Now A-Lan’s people were figuring on another descent to earth. They needed samples of our air and the bacteria it contains to see if they could take it.
- The Los Angeles Herald Express, June, 5, 1954, “Space Pilots Give L.A. Smog Wide Berth”

Gavin Gibbons’ 1956 book, The Coming of the Space Ships, covers the flap of UFO sightings that began in June of 1954 in the UK and he was on board with Leslie’s notions of saucers from Atlantis. As his title suggests, Gibbons regarded flying saucers as extraterrestrial space ships, and like Leslie, Gibbons preferred the Atlantean/Sanskrit term “vimanas” (chariots of the sky) for disc-shaped scout craft, and notes:

In 30,000 B.C. Lemuria was destroyed... The few survivors of this cataclysm founded Atlantis. Some survivors from the Atlantis disaster are believed to have escaped disaster by fleeing in machines to another planet, from whence they now send out their patrols to scan the Earth for signs of further atomic activity.

In 1957, The Case for the UFO, M.K. Jessup said: 
"The traditions agree that "Atlantis" or its equivalent, was destroyed about 9,000 years or so BC. ...we are interested in showing that such an antiquity did exist, and that it is conceivable that some very early race, 200,000 years ago or so, may have developed space flight, and after the cataclysm of 12,000 years ago may have chosen to stay in space, thinking it a safer habitat than this uncertain planet.” 

The Atlantis-UFO meme was transmitted to and from such figures as Harold T. Wilkins, George Van Tassel, Brinsley Le Poer Trench Ruth Norman of Unarius, and even Charles Berlitz, the mainstream best-selling author, connected Atlantis to UFOs - and the Bermuda Triangle. Today, it’s mainly up to the Ancient Aliens camp to keep up the Atlantis-UFO connection vital.
. . .

Epilogue: Another Warning to Future Man

In the September 1946 Harper's Magazine, William S. Baring-Gould took a look at science fiction and its fandom in “Little Superman, What Now?” He highlighted a passage from Thomas S. Gardner’s article in Fantasy Commentator, bringing the criticism to a much wider audience. It was a scathing condemnation of proto-Ufology, of Ray Palmer’s “Shaver Mystery” in Amazing Stories - and of the readers who bought it.
"The crackpots, as they are usually called, number at least a million in the United States.  ... A great many harbor seriously delusions of ancient civilizations superior to ours, believe in pyramidology and the like. Indeed, there are today in this country several esoteric societies based on Lemuria, Mu, Atlantis... In fact, these groups are in a way semi-religious... and some have gone so far as to state that they abhor mathematics and allied modern sciences because they disprove their beliefs…Nevertheless, these crackpots constitute a large potential buying-power... To capture these readers it is only necessary to publish... stories which propitiate these crackpots’ views...  Palmer has instituted this very trend.”
Harper's Magazine, Sept. 1946
Ray Palmer left Amazing Stories shortly thereafter, but went on to create Fate with Curtis Fuller in 1948, a non-fiction magazine devoted to just the stew of esoteric topics that Gardner had railed about. In Fate, ghosts, telepathy, reincarnation and Atlantis were regarded as scientific fact, right along with flying saucers. Seventy years later, not much has changed.
. . .


Sources and Further Reading 

Frederick G. Hehr, for more information see:

Of Biographical Interest,” by F.G.H., Round Robin April 1947

BSRA Principles (Letter to Roger Graham, Oct. 1946)

Many of Ufology's concepts had their origins in 19th century mysticism. Here's a discussion of those occult ideas from Astounding Science Fiction, May 1947, "Pseudoscience in Naziland," by Willy Ley. https://archive.org/stream/Astounding_v39n03_1947-05_AK#page/n89/mode/2up

Desmond Leslie, “Desmond Leslie, George Adamski, and Ancient Aliens”

On Atlantean airships and ancient astronauts: “How to Write a Bestseller” by Gareth J. Medway, Magonia 81, May 2003
“When Atlantis became popular in the late nineteenth century...”
http://magoniamagazine.blogspot.com/2014/01/bestseller.html


Coast to Coast, Dr. Eric Davis interview, "Pentagon UFO Study,” June 24, 2017.

Also, a special thanks to: 

Roberto Labanti,  author of “Totò e i dischi di Atlantide”
UFO - Rivista di informazione ufologica No. 43, Sept. 2017 pps. 38-43

Isaac Koi, for his preservation of UFO documents.
. . .


Bonus: A Book Review of Venus Speaks


From Uranus Vol. 1 No. 2, Oct. 1954edited by E. Biddle, a review of Venus Speaks by Cyril Richardson, Regency Press, 1954:

It is claimed that the contents of this little book were obtained by direct telepathy from the Chief Scientist of the planet Venus! It is a book which will appeal to some, while others will be strongly repelled by it. 
The Venusians, we are told, were originally natives of Earth and lived here in the days of' Atlantis and the old Inca civilisation of S. America. Until one day strangers filled with greed came to the land of the Incas (we are not told who the strangers were but it was evidently long before the days of the Spanish conquistadores). Where upon the Incas took to flight in spaceships and after finding the Moon unsuitable, went on to Venus, where they settled and lived in peace and harmony, despite what must have seemed a very trying climate. From time to time they kept an eye on the Earth and of late have been very active in the Flying Saucers. Their motives are wholly friendly and they promise us instant and decisive help should an atomic war start. If, however, their help is on a par with their scientific knowledge as expounded in this book, we should do well not to rely too much on it! 

The latter part of the book contains interesting remarks on Diet, Sound Vibrations, the Power of Thought etc. 

Quite fantastic and entirely contrary to elementary scientific facts, however, are many of the statements regarding the origin and end of worlds, conditions on other planets (including Venus!), the past history of the Earth, etc. 

Indeed, I find it impossible to take this part of the book seriously, though others may think differently, of course. If you have an inclination towards the hazier forms of Theosophy, Occultism, Spiritualism, etc you may be glad to have this book. If, on the other hand, these things are anathema to you, you will do better not to listen to the voice of Venus....  
E.B.