The Australian UFO Research Network UFO Disclosure Project



Combining the resources of all
Auspiced by the Australian UFO Research Network 
PO Box 738, Jimboomba, Queensland 4280

Tel 07 55487205 

Secretariat: the Australian UFO Research Association
PO Box 786, North Adelaide, South Australia 5006


We continue our analysis role by focussing on reports coming out of one geographic area, namely Papua New Guinea which at the time, before its independence, was administered by Australia.

At 1200hrs on 23 Aug 1953 Mr T. Drury, the then Deputy Director of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) for Papua New Guinea, was in Port Moresby. In the cloudless south-western sky he noticed what seemed to be “cloud building up” which grew in intensity for several minutes. Suddenly, an object appeared from one side of this cloud and climbed fast in a north-west direction. In size Drury said it seemed “slightly bigger than a pin head.” The soundless object left a clearly defined vapour trail. It “finally disappeared with a rapid gain of altitude.” Drury had a movie camera with him and filmed using a telephoto lens. The film was examined both in Australia by the RAAF and in the USA.

The dramatic events of the reported June 1959 CE3 events at Boianai, Papua New Guinea are well documented in the UFO literature. What is far less known is the flow of UFO reports from that region as documented in Federal Government files. In this Newsletter we will concentrate on the years 1958-1960, and supplement this with an attachment listing sightings between 1958 and 1971.

It all started with a memo from the Secretary, Department of Territories (DOT) (1) to the Secretary, Department of Defence (DOD) dated 17 Jun 1959 informing Defence of a “Reported sighting of falling object.” At 1900 hours on 24 May 1959 a UFO was reported to the west of Baniara, which descended erratically to the south-west. Brilliant blue in colour, alternating to red, it disappeared at 2015 hours.

The DOT again wrote to the DOD on 4 Aug 1959 (2) recording a number of other sightings in Papua. Copies of the memo were also sent to the Department of Air (DOA); DCA; Department of National Development and the CSIRO. Two internal DOT memos were attached.

It is understandable why copies should have gone to DOA and DCA, but why CSIRO? We had previously located two CSIRO UFO files, so we cross checked these. A copy of the 4 Aug 1959 DOT memo was found on CSIRO file series A8520 control symbol HM1/30. The copy had simply been filed on the CSIRO file titled “Miscellaneous Enquiries – General - UFOs” with no apparent action or further analysis/comment undertaken. Also on the file were copies of six other DOT memos containing reports from PNG; no action noted on the file.

Who was the Department of National Development, and why was the DOT forwarding them copies of UFO reports? National Australia Archives “agency notes” on that Department indicated it was created on 16 Mar 1950 for the planning and co ordinating the development of national resources on a national basis. It was abolished in 1972. We have no idea why UFO reports were being sent to them.

Back to the reports in the 4 August 1959 DOT memos. Bishop Doyle of Sideia reported that in Jun 1958 a round, pale blue object the size of the Moon, was seen and emitted brighter light than moonlight. It approached and hovered over the Mission. After five minutes it moved north and disappeared in mid-sky.

In late Oct/early Nov 1958 at about 1900 hours a white light travelled from north-west to south-east on two evenings. On the second evening the light flashed on and off at two second intervals.

In May 1959, nine school boys reported seeing a large, green elliptical object moving rapidly across the sky.

On 13 Jun 1959 at 1815 hours, twenty boys reported a fast, green, elliptical object travelling east to north-east.

Mr E Evenett of Samarai was at Giwa, 8 miles from Baniara in Goodenough Bay on 26 Jun 1959. Some time between 1915 and 1930 hours he went outside to see an object approaching from the north or north-east. It descended then hovered an estimated 500 feet above the ground at an angular elevation of 45 degrees. He estimated it to be 60 feet long and in shape was described as like a “rugger football.” It had a “… kind of ring around it with about four semi-domed portholes.” A glow came from the ‘portholes.” After hovering for four minutes it disappeared rapidly to the south.

Finally, on 27 Jun 1959 at 2030h hours, two men noted a half-Moon sized object, in the western sky which moved slowly over a ten minute period.

One of the accompanying memos went on to discuss the possibility that Venus was unlikely to be the cause of the events. It closed by stating that “The Regional Director, Attorney General’s Department has been kept fully informed of these reports.” From the phrasing, this suggests ASIO was the agency informed. We do know that other agencies were keeping files on “unidentified aircraft” over PNG. For example:

File series MT1131/1 control symbol A31/1/133 is titled “Unidentified aircraft Papua & New Guinea.” The date range is 1958-1959. The controlling agency at the time was The Department of Army
File series A452 control symbol 1969/1630 is titled “Flights by unidentified aircraft over Papua New Guinea.” The date range is 1958-1970. The controlling agency was the Department of Territories 1958-1968; the Department of External Territories 1968-1970.

It could simply be that ASIO, like other Government Departments, was keeping an eye on “unidentified aircraft” over PNG.

Another of the attached memos told of yet more sightings:

27 Jun 1959. Baniara. At 1940 hours Mr R Smith and two others saw a bright, white spherical light. It was initially stationary and then slowly moved to the west. Red and green lights were seen on the object. It cast light on the water. At 2025 hours a “bronze coloured disc” was seen below and to the right of the light. It was lost at 2045 hours below low cloud low in the west
28 Jun 1959. Baniara. 1820 hours. Mr and Mrs Orwin saw the same light as on the 27th. At 2001 hours it traversed a distance in one minute which took 30 minutes the previous night. It was in the western sky where it disappeared low down at 2115 hours
7 Jul 1959. At 0500 hours Mr R Smith noted a very bright light. After 15 minutes an object like a falling star came from near the object and shoot earthward at speed. Five minutes later another falling star was seen. After a total of an hour it moved westwards.

What is absent from these reported observations is any mention of the 26 and 27 Jun 1959 Boianai CE3 events which do not feature at all in the reports from the DOT.

It appears that it wasn’t until 12 Sep 1959 when Peter Norris of the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society (VFSRS) wrote to the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) (3) that DAFI became aware of the Father Gill sightings. Norris wrote “My society has been undertaking investigations into the alleged sightings of unidentified flying objects reported by the Reverend W B Gill of Boianai Anglican Mission, Papua, New Guinea.” Norris wrote that Gill et al had reported humanoid beings on the object and “…these sightings, once established as authentic, appear to furnish the much-coveted proof that the UFOs are intelligently guided machines.” Norris asked DAFI if they had inquired into the Gill sightings and if so what were their conclusions?

In an undated response letter, Squadron Leader Gilson from DAFI replied “We have no official information on any sightings by Gill in New Guinea, but we are now making inquiries into the matter.” (4)

By replies dated 20 Oct 1959 VFSRS gave DAFI Gill’s current Victorian address (5) and on 16 Nov 59 (6) VFSRS forwarded a copy of their 15 page report (7) on not only the Gill sightings but others from PNG. VFSRS again asked DAFI if they had received official information and could DAFI please respond to their letter of 12 Sep 59’s questions re DAFI’s conclusions?

On the 25 Nov 1959 five of the main Australian UFO groups sent a joint letter to the Right Honourable R G Menzies-providing a copy of the VFSRS Gill report. The groups wrote that one possible explanation was that the Gill sightings were caused by a secret weapon of a foreign power. “We feel strongly that an investigation should be made…” (8)

On the 26 Nov 59 DAFI responded to VFSRS that “We have initiated enquiry into Father Gill’s claims, but it is too early to have reached any conclusions.” (9) Despite two statements by DAFI that they had initiated enquiries into Gill’s account, there is no evidence on their files of any such enquiries.

Interestingly, out of all the time which DAFI could have chosen to undertake their next action, DAFI chose 26 Nov to also write to the DOD’s RAAF liaison in both London and Washington with a question. The question was for the liaison staff in each country to ascertain the latest views of the respective governments on the issue of UFOs. (10)

Politics entered the scene at this point, on the 15 Dec 59 when the Secretary for the DOD advised the Secretary of the DOA that the Minister for Defence had received a letter from VFSRS. The Secretary DOD asked for a report on the subject of Papuan UFO reports which were received some months ago. (11)

On the 16 Dec 59 the DOD forwarded the PNG reports contained in the 4 Aug 59 DOT memo to the Australian Embassy in Washington. These reports were then forwarded to the “Aerospace Technical Intelligence Centre” for evaluation (USAF).

The question arises as to whether DAFI in the DOD or some other area in the DOD requested the evaluation? There are no copies of correspondence from DAFI on this topic in the files we have seen. The memo reference involved was W.183/59 and this isn’t the style used by DAFI. It does appear that while DAFI was dealing with questions re Father Gill’s report; someone else in the DOD was dealing with the other PNG reports, seeking an evaluation of their cause in the USA. Left and right hand syndrome at work?

Although they had had Gill’s Australian address since October, it wasn’t until 18 Dec 1959 that DAFI wrote to Father Gill, who was by then in Victoria, asking if a Squadron Leader Lang could interview him. (12)

On the day before Christmas, a reply came back from London to the effect that 90 % of all UK UFO reports could be explained and that the remaining 10% “…only remain unexplained because of lack of reliable information about them.” (13)

Following the Secretary DOD’s request for a report, Squadron Leader Lang interviewed Father Gill. On 8 Jan 1960 Sec DOA forwarded a copy of this two page report to the Sec DOD. The report, solely based on the interview, and lacking any attempt to check with PNG sources, concluded “It seems probably that the lights observed by Mr Gill were natural phenomena.” With a Defence orientation the memo concluded “In the light of our own and overseas military experience, the reported sights by Reverend Gill do not contain sufficient additional evidence to warrant any firm opinion that illegal flights by alien countries are being made over Australian Territory.” (14) A copy of this report was also sent to the Prime Minister’s Department on 8 Jan 1960. (15)

The Australian Embassy in Washington responded on 12 Jan 60 advising the latest position on UFOs of the US Government. They referred to “Air Technical Intelligence Centre’s Special report No 14.” (16)

The VFSRS asked, once again (17) on 25 Jan 60 if DAFI had reached any conclusion on the Gill sightings? DAFI replied on 22 Feb 60 “…although it is not possible to reach any positive conclusion, we do not believe that the phenomena observed by the Reverend Gill and his party were manned space vehicles.” (18)

A memo dated 16 Feb. 60 (19) from the Office of the High Commission for Australia in London revealed that it wasn’t only the US Government who had been asked for an evaluation of the 58/59 Papuan reports. This memo from London referred to a DOD letter of 16 Dec 59 ref 128.1.21 and advised “…the reports have been studied by the Air Ministry, the representative of the British Astronomical Association and the Royal Greenwich Observatory.” The Air Ministry’ statement included “I am directed to regret that the investigations, except in two instances, were inconclusive.” The BAA suggested the reports of May 59 and 13 Jun 59 were of meteors. Of other reports they said “In fact I cannot reconcile the descriptions with any known celestial phenomenon, and can only assume that they are either wildly inaccurate, deliberately falsified, or are bona-fide reports of known or unknown objects of terrestrial origin.” Greenwich observed “The only possible astronomical explanation of these various reports would be that they were of the planet Venus. However, some of the observers at least appear to have been aware of this possibility and so this seems an unlikely explanation.”

The USAF response to what could have caused the Papuan reports (in the 4 Aug 59 DOT memo) came in March 1960. Firstly, dated 4 Mar 60 (20) is a memo from the Washington RAAF Intelligence Representative to DAFI. Secondly, dated 24 Mar 60 (21) is a memo from the Sec DOD to the Sec DOA. Attached to both memos was a two page report from ATIC, Dayton, Ohio, USA. Table one presents their conclusions:

Table 1





June 1958



Insufficient information

Oct/Nov 58



Poss aircraft

May 1959



Prob meteor

24 May 1959



Prob Sirius

13 Jun 59



Prob meteor

26 Jun 1959



Prob search light

27 Jun 1959



Prob Venus

27/28 Jun 1959



Prob Venus

On the 8 Mar 1960 the sec DOD forwarded a memo (22) to the Sec DOA attaching the memo of 4 Aug 1959 from DOT. DOD advised DOA that they had forwarded the matter to Head of Australian Joint Services Staff (AJSS) in London and Washington for comment. This is actually the first time details of these reports appears in a DAFI referenced file as opposed to a DOD referenced file. This supports the view that DAFI was dealing only with the Gill sightings while someone else in the DOD was dealing with the other 1958/59 Papuan reports. Why this should be so, when DAFI was recognised as the lead area for the Government’s UFO investigation, is not known from our reading of the files.

Finally, on 14 Mar 1960 the Sec DOD forwarded to the Sec DOA an additional piece of correspondence from the AJSS in London. This included a reply from Bristol University advising that although one of their projects was flying large plastic balloons they knew of no agency flying such balloons in the area of Port Moresby PNG. (23).

Later reports

In total, the Disclosure Australia Project has extracted 49 distinct UFO reports from PNG for the period June 1958 to August 1971 from these files and these are listed in attachment one. The 29 Jun 1970 Sepik River radar case stands out from the rest as one of interest to us. The DAFI file has a single page reporting this event, with no analysis and no follow up, yet it is written off in the Annual Summary as “electro-meteorological” what ever that means!


(1)National Archives of Australia: A703, 580/1/1 Part 2 folio 8B.
(2)National Archives of Australia: A703, 580/1/1 Part 2 folio 9.
(3) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 35A.
(4) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 36A.
(5) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 37A.
(6) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 38A.
(7) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 8B.
(8) National Archives of Australia: A703, 580/1/1 Part 2 folio 19B.
(9) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 unfolio numbered.
(10) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 40A.
(11) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 42A.
(12) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 43A.
(13) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 44A.
(14) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folios 76 & 49A.
(15) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 51A.
(16) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 55A.
(17) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 63A.
(18) National Archives of Australia: A703, 554/1/30 Part 1 folio 57A.
(19) National Archives of Australia: A703, 580/1/1 Part 2 folio 28C.
(20) National Archives of Australia: A703, 580/1/1 Part 2 folio 32A.
(21) National Archives of Australia: A703, 580/1/1 Part 2 folio 30A.
(22) National Archives of Australia: A703, 580/1/1 Part 2 folio 28A.
(23) National Archives of Australia: A703, 580/1/1 Part 2 folio 29A.