Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Moreland Revelations

Other priorities prevented me from examining the New Zealand government UFO files at the time of their recent release. So I had a cursory look and saw the various reviews. It was however Dr. Michael Swords' excellent blog "The Big Study" post from September 14, 2011 "More Than Meets the eye with Moreland??" that drew me back to the New Zealand files with an enhanced level of fascination.

The files revealed that there was indeed much more to the classic Eileen Moreland CE3 incident. All previous material on the case had revealed this New Zealand case from 13 July 1959 as a striking low level UFO encounter in which the witness Eileen Moreland had observed 2 entities inside, seemingly "encased in silvery suits.... (with) headgear ... like divers helmets which glittered very brightly. They appeared to be normal sized people." One of the figures appeared to stand up and lean forward on its hands , possibly examining something between it and the other figure. The entity then returned to its original position, the object tilted slightly and started to rise, disappearing at high speed into cloud clover. The early morning encounter was apparently short lived but may have had some enduring effects.

Fred and Phyllis Dickeson reported the case in their NZ Scientific Space Research Group Journal soon after it occurred. It was a case that would split the tight pro-Adamski group alliances that were a dominant force at the time. The case and sketches based on material from Mrs. Moreland, confirming the limited entity features, were reproduced in the special 100th issue of SATCU XENOLOG magazine in 1975. The Dickesons' son Bryan revisited the case in the Australasian Ufologist magazine in 1999, but again the details were basically the same as reported in 1959 and 1975. I described the case in my 1996 book "The OZ Files" as I saw it as a striking case, happening so soon after the famous Father Gill Boianai Papua New Guinea events.

With the December 2010 New Zealand government UFO file release there were file holdings on the Moreland case, along with quite a number of pages blank with the typed explanation: "This document has been withheld from release to the public to preserve personal privacy in accordance with the official information act section 9 (2) a." The attached vetting statement for File number 244/10/1 Vol. No.1 elaborated, "While downgraded place caveat on Privacy/Medical grounds - informant was given assurance of confidentiality. Informant was 42 in 1959 so born 1917. Apply 70 years from last sensitive document = 1979. Public release 2040."

The main body of the Moreland papers, with the censored folios, still revealed fascinating further detail, and tantalising allusions to sensitive details. In fact as the 1959 investigation progressed the CONFIDENTIAL classification had been changed to TOP SECRET. A close reading of the folios and material showed the case was drawing renewed media and researcher attention in 1979 which highlighted fascinating dimensions to the case.

Mrs. Moreland's case file included her initial statements and drawings given to the local Blenheim police. There is 2 page statement she gave to Commanding Officer Group Captain A.P. Gainsford of Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Station Woodbourne. He appointed Flt. Lt. C.M. Jennings (Tech(E)) to receive all information and conduct further investigations as required. Flt. Lt. Jennings "had no previous interest in matters of this nature and commenced his task with an opened mind," according to Gp Cpt. Gainsford. Based on officer Jennings' investigation and "of the matters revealed (apparently only known to Mrs. Moreland and officers Gainsford and Jennings) the classification of the material" was raised "as a pecautionary measure." Because of the symptoms reported Mrs. Moreland agreed to confidential medical testing at the military station. It was also determined that radiation testing would be undertaken. Commanding officer Gainsford added in his 20th August 1959 communication to the Air Department in Wellington, "Flt. Lt. Jennings has spent considerable private time on this matter, is convinced that Mrs. Moreland is genuine, and is an extremely worried person. He is prepared to turn out at any hour of the day or night to personally investigate further incidents."

Officer Jennings undertook a detailed interview with Mrs. Moreland on 23 July 1959 preparing a 5 page hand written report. Therein annotated to his conclusion that, "Mrs. Moreland gave every evidence of being completely sincere ..." Jennings apparently later added "Can I get more out of her??" Well, later evidence detailed from 1979 internal RNZAF commentaries certainly revealed that he did indeed get "more" out of her, and it was this material that changed matters for the military, raising the investigation to TOP SECRET, but the actual documents involved were censored from the 2010/11 file release. What remained in the immediate 1959 folios were tantalising. Folio 15A shows a human type figure in a bulky suit with the large helmet described in the earlier material, but now with some suggestions of facial detail, and various items shown (see the TOP SECRET sketch). Officer Jennings various "NOTE FOR FILE" folios that are uncensored refer to the medical for Mrs. Moreland was for the purposes of checking "for exposure to radiation." Further they mention than on Thursday 13th August Mrs. Moreland had again detected the "smell of burnt pepper" that had been noted during the 13th July encounter. Officer Jennings was planning to visit the area the following Thursday "at about 0330 - 0400 hours and remain until daylight. I shall take a geiger counter with me."

There were other sightings in the wake of the original encounter, but only one reference was noted in the 1959 folios to a possible corroborating event on the same early hours of 13th July. A Mr. Haldaway (sic?) about 3 miles east of the Moreland property at about 0430 to 0500 hours reported being awake and seeing "a bright light shining through the window .... (which) appeared to be of a whitish orange colour." The light reached "a high intensity and then gradually faded away without any accompanying sound." The witness thought it might have been car lights but the absence of sound appeared to have negated that thought. This observation was reported by Flt. Lt. Young of RNZAF Station Woodbourne to Sgt. H. Fulton of RNZAF Station Whenuapai, as well as a comment that "the grass field" in the Moreland incident "has not become discoloured and has not been ploughed since the event nor has Mrs. Moreland been unwell since the incident." Sgt. Fulton was director of a civilian UFO group, C.S.I.

We have to move on to 1979 folios in the NZ government UFO files to get some of the other more tantalising details. A civilian researcher Colin Emery had pressed Mrs. Moreland and the Ministry of Defence for the release of files on the Moreland case, citing a coverup, and claiming "the government has had confirmation of the sighting from the Air Force and (was calling) for the findings to be made public." The official files do not reveal what Amery's "confirmation" consisted of, but this aspect is alluded to in Peter Hassall's 1998 book "The NZ files - UFOs in New Zealand" “(Amery) received information from two sources who refused to be identified. They both worked at Blenheim’s Woodbourne airbase in the 1950s and had been sworn to secrecy. One claimed that the wife of a squadron leader heard a jet engine-type noise between 5.30 and 6.00 a.m on 13 July 1959. Checks later showed no aircraft had taken off that early. Had she heard the UFO Mrs. Moreland saw as it departed? The other retired airman said he saw a blue light that descended from the sky about 5.00 a.m. the same morning. He reported it to his superiors after the furore broke over Mrs. Moreland’s report. Twenty years later they were still too scared to speak openly due to the possible legal penalties.” Mrs. Moreland’s encounter took place between 0530 – 0545 on Monday 13th July 1959.

The 1979 Defence file note referring to the Amery enquiry (and one by Radio NZ) had a handwritten internal note: “Mrs. Moreland was the lady who sighted the U.F.O. in 1959. Airforce person also reported the sighting.” Is this last note confirmation of the Amery claims? The Defence UFO file folios do not confirm that, but the internal deliberations about whether to respond to the mounting public enquiries about the case in 1979 reveal some of the censored 1959 details! In a memo dated 1 March 1979 by Air Marshal R.B. Bolt, Chief of Defence Staff wrote to the Minister of Defence revealing the following fascinating detail:

“3. (Mrs. Moreland’s) initial story was to the effect that she had only seen a craft descend, hover and then ascend. She subsequently told the investigating officer (presumably officer Jennings – B.C.) about the landing of the man, who she described as “like any other man” as far as she could tell, though his left hand was “missing below the wrist”.

“4. Mrs. Moreland claimed to have smelt the peppery smell on several subsequent occasions and to have seen the light again in March 1960…. A rash of small “blisters” which appeared on her some days after her encounter on 13 July was examined by an Air Force doctor in order to determine whether it might be radiation-induced; the doctor, however, concluded that it was probably allergic in origin.

“5. The evidence suggests that Mrs. Moreland was in an emotionally unstable condition at the time. She was also the subject of considerable publicity much of which was of a derogatory nature, due in part to a press statement which she issued herself.”

Air Marshal Bolt had prepared some further briefing material for the Minister of Defence which summarised the fuller and previously suppressed information about the Moreland encounter:

“On 13 July 1959 a woman living near Blenheim reported that between 5-6 a.m. that morning she had seen an oval-shaped object, measuring 20 yards across and 4 or 5 feet through, descend before her. She was caught in a green light produced by two beams shining from beneath the vehicle and was unable to move. The vehicle was manned by two men, wearing silvery suits and helmets, one of whom descended from it and came over to her. He shouted at her in a foreign language. In a fright she hit out with her torch and ran for nearby trees. The man reboarded the vehicle, which was hovering some 10 -12 feet from the ground. It then ascended straight up into the sky emitting a high-pitched whistle and leaving a patch of hot air and a smell like that of burnt pepper. Another witness later reported seeing an unidentified light at about the same time.”

Air Marshal Bolt in his ministerial briefing wrote the following “suggested statement” intended for public release:

“On 13 July 1959 a woman living near Blenheim reported that she had seen a flying object which behaved in an unusual way.

“A full investigation of the matter was made by an Air Force officer with technical experience (presumably Jennings – B.C.). The RNZAF’s interest can partly be attributed to the fact that the woman was married to an airman stationed at RNZAF Woodbourne. The material was later evaluated by Air Force authorities in Wellington. They concluded that there was no objective evidence to substantiate the sighting or reason to continue their investigations.”

A minute sheet dated 6/3/79 on the “Moreland sighting” from “RO(H) to D.B.G. McLean, the Secretary of Defence, added, “The security classification of the matter was raised from confidential to secret following (officer Jennings') main interview with her in which she claimed that a man had landed and shouted at her in a foreign language. (The investigating officer (Jennings – B.C.) thought the words she heard might have been Russian!!)."

Disclosure of the material at that stage in 1979 rested on whether Mrs. Moreland would agree to the details being released. Secretary McLean contacted her and she wrote back, indicating she had remarried, and confirmed she did not want her privacy being affected again. She added, “I do not feel that the public should be told everything that is secret, just because someone feels that they should. A lot of harm has been done in the past, throughout the world for just that feeling. If you have knowledge of the full events of that awful morning, you will realise, that to suggest that the U.F.O. people are friendly is a laugh, as I know full well, and there is also the matter of the language. The media would have a ball that’s for sure.” Mrs. Moreland added, after reiterating she did not want the material released “for as long as I feel that it should not be,” “Perhaps in another 20 years it will all be “old hat” and no one will ever remember me or it.”

Well it seems the files remember her and some of the hidden details despite the censorship. Is it likely that the censored files contain further information that may explain more clearly what happened that “awful morning?” Lets hope we don’t have until 2040 to find out! The material so far released suggests there may still be more to learn of the events on the Moreland farm near Blenheim in the south Island of New Zealand back in 1959. Did it involve a close encounter that had a more direct impact on the RNZAF than we directly know to date? Or was it about the fears and concerns of the time. After all, the Cold War was being played out. The Petrov Affair in nearby Australia in 1954 had led to the Russian Embassy being closed and relations severed. This situation thawed in 1959 when relations resumed. Was the Blenheim encounter in 1959 seriously considered as the “Russians are coming!” Mighty strange those “Ruskies” caught up in the web of the Moreland revelations.

Lets hope the New Zealand MOD respond to rational enquiries and release the full details of the Moreland files. Times have changed and the fears of 1959 and even 1979 have ebbed away. Time enough for a fuller disclosure. If Mrs. Moreland is still with us, the sentiments expressed by her in 1979, steep in the concerns of ridicule and confidentiality, may not be as concerning as they were back then. Also I wonder who was the Air Force person who reported the sighting? Is it something that the earnest and worried Flt. Lt. C.M. Jennings could enlighten us on in his investigations and nocturnal return visits to the Moreland farm?

A very curious affair.

When I read the curious detail that described the entity Mrs. Moreland encountered as having no left hand, I immediatedly thought of the strange entity reported in the bizarre Carl Higdon abduction which occurred in Wyoming during 1974. A detailed account of this weird affair was provided by Dr. Leo Sprinkle in "UFOs and the Behavioural Scientist" (1979) edited by Dr. Richard Haines.

Curiouser and Curiouser ....

3 Comments:

Blogger Kandinsky said...

Good post. I thought I'd paid attention to the drawing when The Prof posted it over the Big Study and overlooked the missing hand.

The missing left hand is one of those details that elevates an account to something more intriguing. In other humanoid encounters such details make them harder to dismiss out of hand.

The encounters with folk wearing suits and helmets probably conform more to our expectations of how visitors might appear. They often have the paraphernalia suggestive of 'different' technology and yet also seem Victorian (Jules Verne) in design which adds even more elements of absurdity to an already absurd scenario.

I find them more fascinating than other areas of ufology and feel some sadness that they seemed to have ceased during the 70s. In my opinion, this cessation of encounters lends more substance to their provisional reality as psychological causes are rarely so transient across populations.

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