THE DRURY UFO FILM AFFAIR: A STUDY OF A CELEBRATED AUSTRALIAN CASE....PART 2
In a letter Stone wrote to the Director of Air Force Intelligence in 1973 he stated “ The original film was much clearer to view when shown on a screen and I can only presume that the use of them by the bodies of the USA Air Force, then their Navy Dept. plus our own Air Force and Navy caused them to get into the state they were when the blow up copies were made. I might add that I kept my promise to the official at the time when I was interviewed in Melbourne regarding same and they have never been shown publicly and only to executives of UFO Groups and Societies and then on a very select basis...”
During my January, 1982, file inspection of DAFI UFO files, I came across an envelope in part 3 of the 574/3/88 enquiry file series, amongst 1973 material. The envelope was stamped “Photo Section Base Sqn. RAAF Base. Fairbairn, ACT”. The envelope had written on it “DRURY FILM PRINTS AND NEGATIVES.” There were no prints in the envelope. Five separate print negatives were present.
I requested copies of prints, along with asking DAFI to send copies to Tom Drury. Eventually the negatives themselves were sent to me, from which I produced my own copies, and then returned the negatives to DAFI. The 5 prints are reproduced as an appendix.
I have earlier described how these prints came about via the RAAF borrowing Fred Stones copies during 1973. Stone had originally received the 5 prints back in 1955, from the RAAF. 94 prints of allegedly each frame of the footage returned from the United States in 1954 were copied for Edgar Jarrold. The DAFI files indicate he was sent 94 prints during July, 1954. If Jarrold wanted to keep any, he was to be charged for them. Jarrold, in a letter to William McMahon, Minister for Air, dated August 10th, 1954, stated that the 94 Drury prints “have been studied closely, upon which it has been found that, as you stated, but little actual details can be learnt of the object’s composition.” Jarrold selected 5 particular prints “which are considered to contain most details”, and the balance of 89, according to his letter, were returned. Of the prints, Jarrold indicated “none are numbered, or possess distinguishing features capable of description.” The RAAF formed the opinion that the 89 prints had not been returned and requested payment. Jarrold disputed this and indicated he had only retained the 5 specified in his letter of August 10th. Finally Jarrold returned the 5 prints. These were no doubt the 5 prints (or copies of them) that were sent to Fred Stone in 1955.
In correspondence with New Zealand researcher Harold Fulton dated July 12, 1954, Jarrold wrote he had received a letter which contained “the most favourable news we have ever received.” Jarrold indicated the letter was a lengthy communication from the Department of Air in Melbourne, which included prints of the Drury film. Curiously he added, “The Port Moresby prints were despatched to us from the Dept. of the Navy in Melbourne, simultaneously.” Why Jarrold would receive prints from both the Air and Navy departments is puzzling. Rather enigmatically he wrote, “The contents of the official Dept. of Air communication are highly confidential in their nature, and cannot be discussed by me in detail at present.” The reality was a little more prosaic. The July 7th letter came from the Minister for Air, Bill McMahon, in which he said of the Drury film prints, they “are of very little value in establishing any details of the object.” McMahon also rejected Jarrold’s earlier suggestions of “official liaison” between the RAAF and AFSB, due to the precedent possibly leading to “some embarrassing requests (which) would be difficult to refuse.” However, McMahon wrote, “I think however it might well be of mutual advantage if unofficial liaison could be established, and I suggest that perhaps when next you are in Melbourne, you would like to call at Air Force Headquarters to discuss the subject with the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence.” Jarrold wasted not time in taking up McMahon’s suggestion and a meeting occurred on July 19, 1954, with DAFI representative, Squadron Leader Birch. According to Jarrold, the Drury film was not specifically discussed, but he later stated, in a statement about the meeting, “The possibility of test missiles being involved in some sightings was strongly discounted by Birch, who ridiculed a suggestion that such aerial objects, if launched, for instance, from Woomera, would be seen over far distant inhabited areas.”
Jarrold outlined the behaviour of the Drury object to Fulton, in a letter dated July 25, 1954, claiming the Department of Air still regarded as “unexplained”. “The object’s behaviour alone rules out that of any conventional terrestrial object, including a meteor.” He made the drawing below, specifying “the object as recorded on the film itself, behaved thus, - as it emerged from a small, suddenly formed cloud, disappearing off the edge of the film as it raced from sight.” Given that none of the photos were numbered, it is difficult to see how he could be certain about the right angle turns he indicated. The cloud would have been the only reference point in an otherwise clear sky, and apparently Jarrold indicated that the cloud had disappeared off the edge of the film.
On 16th October, 1999, I visited the Australian Archives in Canberra. The main reason for my visit was that I had confirmed via an internet data base search, the presence of the file 114/1/197, with a data range of “Oct.53-Apr55”. This I immediately realised was the long missing first part of the DAFI/RAAF UFO files. 114/1/197 Part 2 was recovered under the 580 series Part 1 started in 1955. Searches by DAFI itself in 1966 & 1969 failed to locate the missing part 1. It was not found during my file access during 1982 - 84, so it was a real surprise to see it turn up in the Australian archives.
Attached to the inside front cover of file series 114/1/197 Part 1, were 3 pages of handwritten points on minute sheet stationary. A number of these refer to the handling of the Drury footage: (Right)
The Bluebook file (case 2689} on the Drury case is scant and the cover form contradictory. Initially it has Photos with “No” typed over (XX - presumably to indicate photos were involved), then in texta “Yes” is “X-ed over with the annotation “Not recd”. (ie. not received). (Page 7 Top Left)
Comdr ATIC requested a copy of the Drury footage dated 21 1430Z SEP 53 with replies to be referenced to TIC-5209. Lt. Col. H.C. Johnston, USAF, chief, Electronics branch authorised the request for the film, which was originated by A/lc Max G. Futch. There was a 10 Sep 53 telex apparently from Col. John Sullivan, USAF US Air Attache, Melbourne, to Lt. Col. George Uhrich, ATIC WPAFB re the Drury footage.
Recently via my review of RAAF DAFI files in Canberra I found Sullivan’s 5th March 1954 communication to DAFI which stated “Returned herewith is the 8mm film belonging to Mr Drury which you were so kind to lend this office (The Foreign Service of the USA -Office of the Air Attache American Embassy -BC). It would be very much appreciated by my Headquarters if you could obtain for this office a copy of this film for permanent retention in Washington.”
DAFI responded 24/2/54 (sic? Must be 24/3/54): “Extensive enquiries in Melbourne reveal that possibly the only country in the world which is capable of making a copy of the film is the United Kingdom, and therefore some difficulty would be experienced in getting a copy made for your Headquarters. This would explain the apparent oversight by your own people in not making a copy when they had the film available.”
Stills were offered instead. It seems astonishing that while in the USA a copy may not have been made? This confirms the footage left Australia in the last week in November, 1953, and was sent to Headquarters, USAF, by “normal USAF service channels.” So this establishes the film, or a copy of it, was in US hands from end November, 1953 through to 5th March, 1954.
The Drury film - the “holy grail” of ufology?
The original Drury film, which allegedly held the UFO image, became something of a “holy grail” for Australian ufology. A number of efforts were made over the years to secure the film and further information about the affair. All largely met with failure. The Victorian UFO Research Society sought information about the film in 1966. In the DAFI UFO files, I examined in 1982, there was clear evidence that a serious attempt was made to track the film down. A previously confidential RAAF document handwritten in 1966 and entitled “Summary of the effort made to rediscover present whereabouts of the allegedly ‘excised’ frames of Mr. T. Drury’s Famous 1953 movie film of the Port Moresby ‘UFO sighting’”, concluded: “The upshot is that the ‘excised’ frames either still in DAFI archives, have been destroyed or (perish the thought) have been lost.” (Right)
At the time the Secretary of the Department of Air (the forerunner of the Department of Defence (Air Office)) chose instead to advise the Victorian UFO Research Society that the file and film had been destroyed. This clearly seems to have been a politically motivated move designed to discourage further enquiries. If it was intended to be that, it failed. Enquiries would continue, such was the fascination and sway of the Drury film saga.
The RAAF document indicated, “Co CPE states that there are several RAAF & ex RAAF photographers who remember handling negatives of the 1953 Port Moresby film. But that, at CPE, there is no record of the negatives having been absorbed into the CPE system.” The document writer, Squadron Leader B.W. Fearon, felt that DAFI must have passed the negatives over to CPE for reproduction as required. The JIB photo also checked its records with no results. Sqd. Ldr. Fearon wrote that he had seen enlarged versions of the Drury frames. Other officers who may have seen the film were listed as Wing Commander Gilson, DFC and Wg. Cdr. Paget.
Further civilian enquiries in 1973 prompted yet another file search. This time DAFI determined that they had made available prints of the film to civil researchers back in 1954.
Through Fred Stone the RAAF managed to gain a copy of the same prints the RAAF had provided him back in 1954. It is these third generation copies of prints from several frames of the Drury film that now reside in the RAAF files. I arranged for the RAAF to send copies of the prints (albeit poor in quality) to Tom Drury. The affair does not speak highly of the much vaunted “cover-up” claims.
Extracts from “Fire Across The Desert” of Possible Relevance to the 1953 Drury UFO Film Incident
Source: The Australasian Ufologist Magazine Vol.5 No.2 Pgs 4-13 (Illustrated/Photos)