(And other Strange Objects in Wartime Skies!)
This section should be read in conjunction with
Pilots Sightings on this website.
In the second half of 1941 allied pilots, returning from missions, began to report the sightings of strange “balls of light” which hovered close to their aircraft. The concern of Allied military chiefs began to grow when these reports not only increased in numbers but even stranger, included reports of disrupted electrical equipment in aircraft in the direct vicinity of these unidentifiable objects.
The sightings of these “balls of light” were not restricted to aircrew. One evening in September 1941, seaman Mar Doroba, aboard the SS Pulaski (an old Polish vessel being used as a carrier for British troops) observed “a strange globe glowing with greenish light, about half the size of the full moon”, in the skies over the Indian Ocean. He reported that the object seemed to follow the ship for about an hour and estimated its altitude at 1,500 metres.
On 26th February, 1942, Seaman William J. Methorst also sighted a similar object whilst on board a ship in the Timor Sea. Methorst reported seeing a large illuminated disc whilst scanning the skies through binoculars for enemy aircraft. He reported the object to be flying at “terrific speed” to the officers on the bridge who were unable to identify it as any known aircraft. They kept track of the object for approximately four hours, whilst it maintained height and circled, before it suddenly veerering off and disappearing at great speed.
As reports of the “balls of light” continued to come in from all the arenas of war, Allied army intelligence began to suspect that they were some form of secret weapon developed by the German or Japanese. They nick-named the objects “Foo Fighters” after one of the sayings of Smokey Stover, a popular cartoon character of the day.
The British Military grew progressively more concerned about the potential threat of Foo Fighters and set up a special group to investigate them. This group was allegedly headed by Lieutenant-General Massy (a very shadowy person himself) and was quite successful in collecting several hundred first-hand accounts of encounters with Foo Fighters and other strange objects over the coming years.
Most reports of Foo Fighters described them as almost shapeless lights which lacked any form of substance. These reports included:
U.S. Marine observes W.W.2 UFOs
ON 12TH August, 1942, Stephen J. Brickner was serving as a sergeant with the U.S. Marines on the island of Tulagi in the Southern Solomons, west of the island of Guadalcanal. He reported:
“It was a bright tropical morning with high banks of white, fleecy cloud. I was cleaning my rifle on the edge of my foxhole, when suddenly the air raid warning was sounded. I immediately slid into my foxhole with my back to the ground and my face turned up to the sky.
I heard the formation before I saw it. Even then I was puzzled by the sound. It was a mighty roar that seemed to echo in the heavens. It didn’t sound at all like the “sewing machine” drone of the Jap formations. A few seconds later I saw the formation of silvery objects directly overhead.
They were flying very high above the clouds…. The formation was huge, I would say over 150 objects were in it….. This formation was in straight lines of 10 or 12 objects, one behind the other. The speed was a little faster than Jap planes and they were soon out of sight.
I couldn’t make out wings or tails. They seemed to wobble slightly and every time they wobbled they would shimmer brightly from the sun. Their colour was like highly polished silver.
All in all it was the most awe inspiring and yet frightening spectacle I have ever seen in my life.”
28th November, 1942: The crew of a Lancaster piloted by Captain Lever reported the sighting of an unidentifiable object whilst on a raid over Turin (Italy). The object was thought to have been 200-300 ft. long and forty to fifty feet wide. It travelled at 500 m.p.h. and had four pairs of red lights along its body.
December 1942, B.C .Lumsden reported two Foo Fighters whilst piloting an RAF Hurricane over France. Lumsden was flying over the mouth of the River Somme (France) at 7,000 ft. when he observed two steadily climbing orange-coloured lights, one slightly above the other. He realised that they were not flak because of the fact that they were moving slowly. When they reached 7,000 ft. they stopped climbing, staying level with his aircraft. Somewhat worried Lumsden tried to evade the objects but they followed his every move and kept level with him, even when he dropped to 4,000 and then 1,000 ft.
Only when he pushed the speed up to 260m.p.h. did he leave the lights behind.
In 1943, U.S. Bomber aircrew flying from Burma to China reported being “buzzed” and circled by “glittering” objects. They also reported that the aircraft instruments failed to operate until the object flew off.
26th/27th May, 1943, Sgt. Pilot G.N. Cockcroft of the Halifax Bomber Squadron reported the sighting of a “long cylindrical object, silvery gold in colour hanging in the sky at approximately 45 degrees”. The object had evenly spaced portholes along its length.
14th October, 1943, U.S. B-17s of the 348th Bomb Group had started a bomb runn over Schweinfurt (Germany) when they were surrounded by a formation of “scores of small, silver disks” which were about 1 inch thick and four inches in diameter. Major E.R.T. Holmes reported that when one of the objects hit the aircraft it had no effect.
14th December, 1943, Squadron Leader P. Wells described “Screaming dog-fight with the ‘light’” in his flight log.
26th April, 1944, Arthur Horton reported a terrifying experience with four orange balls of light about the size of large footballs whilst returning from a mission over Essen in Germany.
10th August, 1944, Captain Alvah M. Reida reported that his right gunner and co-pilot both observed a sphere, five or six feet in diameter, whilst flying his B-29 Bomber over Palembang, Sumatra. The sphere was described as “of a very bright and intense red or orange, that constantly throbbed” and calculated that the object was at 14,000 ft. in height. The object followed the B-29 for eight minutes despite attempts to lose it and eventually turned away, accelerating rapidly out of sight.
23rd November 1944, Lieutenant Ed Schlueter was piloting a mission in France when he, along with his crew, observed approximately nine balls of light traveling at high speed. These “Foo Fighters” were undetected by Radar and disappeared only to re-appear soon after before vanishing completely. Similar reports of these strange objects were made by many pilots throughout the rest of the war and it was speculated that the anomalous objects were a secret military device being developed by the enemy.
22nd December, 1944, Whilst on a mission over Hagenau (Germany) Lt. David McFalls of the U.S. 415th night-fighter squadron saw two “huge, bright orange lights” climbing towards his plane. McFalls dived, banked and turned his plane – to no avail, the objects stuck with him for two minutes until they peeled off and disappeared.28th August, 1945, Leonard Stringfied (pictured above) was, with others, aboard a U.S. C-46 aircraft en route to Tokyo when, halfway between Ie Shoma and Iwo Jima, the aircraft’s left engine began to fail. As the aircraft lost altitude Stringfield looked out through one of the windows and saw tree blobs of brilliant white light, each about the size of of a dime held at arm’s length. The “blobs of light” were travelling in a straight line staying parallel with the aircraft until the plane pulled up.
They continued to fly below the aircraft until they disappeared into a cloud bank.
The objects were flying on the left side of the aircraft – the same side as the spluttering engine.
Wehrmacht – Perplexed!
The Allied Military Chiefs suspected that Foo Fighters were, in fact, enemy secret weapons but the Germans were also mystified by the strange objects. In 1944 the German Wehrmacht requested that the Luftwaffe set up a section which would collect information on what the allies called Foo Fighters.
This section was known as Sonderburo 13 (Special Office 13) and was meticulous in its allotted task until the invasion of Germany in April 1945. An impressive amount of data was collected, including the sightings of some rather strange aerial objects:
14th March, 1942, Pilot Hauptmann Fischer was investigating a blip on the radar of a secret air base in Banak, Norway. It was 17-35 hours. At an altitude of around 3,000 metres he observed a strange object and immediately radioed a report back to base. In his report he described an enormous, streamlined craft, approximately 90 metres long and 15 metres in diameter. Fischer called the object “this aerial whale”, reporting that it stayed horizontal for several seconds before rising vertically and disappearing at great speed.
29th September, 1944, A test pilot was flying a new Messerschmitt ME-262 Schwalbe jet when he suddenly sighted two luminous points of light to his right. When he turned the jet and approached the objects at full speed he was staggered to observe a cylindrical craft more than 90 metres long with openings along its side and a long antenna at the front. The test pilot estimated its speed at 2,000 kmph.
Not a very effective weapon
The late Michael Bentine (popular entertainer) was to remark some time after the end of World War 2:
“When I was an intelligence officer in Bomber Command in the winter of 1943-44, I debriefed several crews about some lights that had attacked them when they were over the Baltic.
They fired at the lights which didn’t fire back. These lights didn’t seem to do anything, just pulse and go round. We put it down to fatigue, but later, after I had sent the reports in, an American G2 Intelligence officer told us that their bombers also saw lights in the sky – “Foo Fighters” he called them”.
Michael Bentine also described how he debriefed a Polish Bomber unit based in England. They claimed that silver-blue balls of light appeared near their wing on six missions during the second half of 1943. The lights followed the planes whilst they raided the NAZI V-Weapons base at Peenemunde.
“If it was a new weapon, it was not very effective!”
NAZI Technology, Ball Lightning or UFOs?
Seemingly Foo Fighters continued to be seen during the Korean War and perhaps there is also evidence of similar objects appearing in later years but whatever they were (are?), no satisfactory explanation has been produced.
It is claimed by some that they were, in fact, secret weapons developed by NAZI scientists under code names such as “Feuerball” and “Kugelblitz” whilst others have discounted them as “Ball Lightning”. Certainly the term “Foo Fighter” was adopted some five prior to “UFO” becoming the accepted tag for unidentified aerial objects. Should they be regarded belonging to the same category? Namely, Foo Fighters are UFOs, no more, no less.