The Secrets of Room 801 And Britain’s “Lost” 1950s UFO Cases

First Published: June 11, 2017 Last updated: September 8th, 2020 Written by: Marcus Lowth Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes Posted in: UFOs, Cover-Ups

For years the official British stance on UFOs was there wasn’t one! Much like the United States and other nations, the Ministry of Defense would claim there was nothing to investigate. Of course, we know now that was far from the truth. Not only was the MoD very much interested in UFOs, they were actively investigating and cataloging them.

If not for persistent researchers and whistleblowers, many of the early UK UFO cases might have become lost to history. And who knows how many might have already slipped through the net or are awaiting discovery?

London skyline in the 1950s.

London skyline in the 1950s.

While UFO sightings and accounts have undoubtedly happened for hundreds, if not thousands of years, most UFO researchers agree that following the Second World War, these sightings have increased tenfold. Why this is the case, however, is open to debate, with theories ranging from the mundane to the outrageous.

Before we move on to some of these early UFO cases in the United Kingdom, check out the video below. It features researcher, Timothy Good, who is responsible for many of the accounts that are now in the public arena.


Early 1950s Sightings

Like their American and German counterparts, British Royal Air Force pilots were no strangers to “foo fighter” sightings. The sightings were rife in the Second World War.

The early 1950s is also awash with strange UFO sightings – many of them from trained military personnel. These sightings would ultimately force the British military and government to “officially recognize the UFO” – if only privately.

During Operation Mainbrace, a NATO exercise in September 1952, reports of several UFO sightings surfaced from the very first day. The crew aboard the Danish destroyer, Willemoes would report a triangular UFO over their ship. Remember, this sighting came when reports of triangular crafts were far from common. If anything, they were unheard of.

Another sighting occurred over the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Multiple crew would witness a “silvery, spherical” object seeming to follow their fleet. A reporter, Wallace Litwin, would report on the sighting. He would also capture several clear, color photographs. According to the captain of the ship, Edward J. Ruppelt, these pictures would go for developing straight away and “turned out to be excellent!”

The pictures themselves, however, have since “vanished” and their whereabouts remain unknown. Incidentally, according to Litwin, rumor was rife that President Eisenhower was on board the aircraft carrier at the time of the sightings.

Six days later near Topcliffe in Yorkshire, several RAF personnel – including three pilots – witnessed an object apparently giving chase to a Meteor fighter jet. At one point the object hovered in the air “rotating on its own axis!” As the fighter jets approached, the craft shot upwards at terrific speed. Six British pilots would also report an almost identical object over the North Sea, several days later.

Newspaper cover page from Yorkshire Evening Press showing the Topcliffe sighting.

Newspaper cover page from Yorkshire Evening Press showing the Topcliffe sighting.

The Secret Investigations Inside Room 801

In the best-selling book, Beyond Top Secret, author and researcher, Timothy Good revealed the one-time existence of Room 801 – an otherwise nondescript and ordinary room in what was once the Hotel Metropole in London. It would play host to research and investigations into anything but the ordinary. Within these walls, did the reports of strange lights, “flying saucers”, and any other aerial activity go under scrutiny. Albeit secretly.

In the 16th June 1954 edition of the “London Reynold News”, came the largely forgotten about article (until Good’s book) making brazen mention of Room 801. The piece would state that in this room, “Britain’s Air Ministry is investigating Flying Saucers…..and that’s official!”

What is particularly interesting about the article, are the claims are that “fighter planes are kept ready to intercept” any UFOs that might stray a little too close to British airspace. The legion of declassified files, both British and other countries, prove this to have been very much the case.

The article would go on to state those charged with investigating these claims, had around 10,000 such cases on file. A huge map of the United Kingdom spread out along the walls, with many colored pins marking such sightings.

Strange then that for years following, the MoD would claim these files were all either destroyed or lost.

Interestingly or not, the following month on 16th July in the “Sunday Dispatch”, Air Chief Marshall Lord Dowding would state quite clearly that he was “clear these objects do exist” and that they “are not manufactured by any nation on Earth!” Furthermore, he would propose that there was “no alternative to accepting the theory that they come from an extra-terrestrial source!”

Remarkable statements both, particularly as the government would continue to deny Room 801’s existence.

The Lord Mountbatten Incident

On 25th February 1955, while working as a maintenance man at the home of Lord Mountbatten, Broadlands in Hampshire, retired Army Sergeant, Frederick Briggs claimed to have witnessed a large saucer-like craft hovering overhead.

Furthermore, he would claim to have seen a light “descend from the middle of the object!” Then, a “small, fair-haired humanoid” float down from it. The figure soon noticed Briggs observing him. He claimed a “strange light beam” in the being’s possession would cause his body to go into paralysis.

As the craft left, Briggs regained use of his limbs again and immediately made his way back to the main house. Upon his arrival, Mountbatten’s chauffeur would comment to Briggs on how shaken he looked.

Amazingly, upon hearing Briggs’ account, Mountbatten would produce an array of photographs of UFOs. He asked Briggs if any of them resembled the object he had seen. For his part, Mountbatten firmly believed Briggs’ account. He would state in his own report that Briggs was “not the sort of man subject to hallucinations, or would in any way invent such a story!”

Mountbatten’s account was due to appear in the Sunday Graphic newspaper. However, a decision came to pull the piece at the very last moment so as “not to embarrass” him.

Incidentally, Briggs would claim to have a second encounter with the strange humanoid figure the following day. The being would appear in the middle of a quiet country road Briggs was cycling on. He telepathically spoke to Briggs and invited him to board the craft. He did so, and according to Briggs, it flew to the Pyramids of Giza, and back again in the space of thirty minutes.

Other “Royal” Connections

Apparently, Mountbatten dismissed this second account. Perhaps a little strange given the previous faith he had in his employee’s sound state of mind, not to mention his own rabid belief in such matters, a belief that began with his own sighting of a UFO years earlier. Perhaps as strange, is the story in the Sunday Graphic being “pulled” at the last moment.

The incident at Broadlands attracted the attention of Mountbatten’s nephew, Prince Philip, who also had an intense interest in UFOs. Former Ministry of Defense UFO investigator, Nick Pope, states that Prince Philip has a large map of the United Kingdom (like the map in Room 801?) with pins representing the locations of sightings. Furthermore, Philip requests that the MoD send to him copies of their UFO files.

Some even claim that in 1954, Philip requested an audience with self-confessed UFO contactee, George Adamski. Although there is no official record of such a meeting, many believe it to have taken place in secret.

Although it wouldn’t become public knowledge for another four decades, at around the same time as his apparent meeting with Adamski, one of Prince Philip’s closest friends would meet an alien being.

Before we look at that, however, check out the video below. It looks at the UFO encounter of Jessie Roestenberg in Staffordshire, England. What is interesting is this occurred at the same time as many of the above incidents, in 1954. They also share very similar descriptions of the “humanoid” figure described by Frederick Briggs.

The Meeting with Mr. Janus

Perhaps one of the strangest of all claims is that of Sir Peter Horsley, a close friend of Prince Philip. While serving under the Royals, Horsley claims to have received an invitation to meet an extra-terrestrial being. The meeting is claimed to have taken place in a typical London flat, sometime in 1954. He would write about the encounter in his autobiography, Sounds From Another Room published in 1997.

According to Horsely, the being would introduce himself as Mr. Janus. He couldn’t recall any particular features, other than he “fit perfectly into his surroundings!” The meeting occurred in a dimly lit room, and as it progressed, Horsley felt more and more that Janus was reading his mind and “controlling the conversation!” This was something that he said left him feeling “quite disturbed!”

According to Horsley’s memoirs, Janus would inform him of many technologies to come. He would also speak of intricate knowledge of Britain’s nuclear capabilities.

Horsley incidentally, would re-enter the RAF in 1956, and positively shot up the ranks. At the time of his retirement in 1973, he was Deputy Commander-in-Chief RAF Strike Command. Whether his rapid rise has any connection to his time serving the royals or due to his meeting with Mr. Janus is unclear, but given his “stellar” career, resulting in a knighthood no less, would it make sense for him to lie in such a way near the end of his life?

For their part, the Ministry of Defense responded by saying, “How unfortunate that the public will learn that the man who had his finger on the button of Strike Command was seeing little green men!”

Make of that what you will!

The Kilgallen Story

In May 1955, noted journalist, Dorothy Kilgallen, would report on information given to her by a “British Official of Cabinet rank” concerning a recovered crashed UFO in the possession of the British military.

According to Kilgallen, the crashed object had been studied and reverse-engineered in part by the British military and scientists. Furthermore, quoting her source as saying, “It’s frightening, but there is no denying the flying saucers come from another planet!” According to Kilgallen, “the British government is withholding an official report” due to a concern of “frightening the public!”

Most would regard the story as a hoax, and eventually, Kilgallen would distance herself from it somewhat. Was the story fed to Kilgallen as purposeful disinformation? Perhaps to discredit both her as a serious journalist and the UFO phenomenon in one swoop? While it is certainly a possibility, long-time UFO researcher (until his death in 2003), Gordon Creighton, believes not.

Creighton believes the crash Kilgallen referred to happened in the latter years of the Second World War. He also firmly believes that the source of her story to be, Lord Mountbatten. Kilgallen and her husband had been together with Mountbatten in the days before at a cocktail party hosted by the Lord.

Interestingly enough, Kilgallen, who was one of the first to voice loud doubts about the assassination of President Kennedy, died in somewhat suspicious circumstances in November 1965. The inquest into her death would state the cause to be a “fatal combination of alcohol and barbiturates!”

Check out the video below which looks at her untimely death in a little more detail.

Still More Questions Than Answers!

While the Ministry of Defense maintained for some time that no UK files relating to UFOs before 1962 exist, it is obvious that was anything but the truth. As is the claim that they didn’t take UFO sightings seriously.

And given the military connections of such people as Lord Mountbatten and Prince Philip, it would appear their interest in the UFO phenomena came from these files and reports, made available to them upon their request.

If we are to believe Sir Peter Horsley’s claims, along with the claims of Dorothy Kilgallen, and Frederick Briggs, then there is no doubt these sightings are the result of extra-terrestrial beings.

Or might the sightings have been secret military craft, possibly developed from reverse-engineered alien technology? Might such training exercises as Operation Mainbrace have actually been opportunities for these crafts to go through active testing?

Given the overall murkiness of the subject, it might not be surprising if we should learn one day that both theories have a degree of truth to them. Of little doubt, however, is that these UFO sightings did occur. And the UK military – much like their US and Soviet counterparts – kept a very close eye on them. Much like they seemingly still do today.

Check out the video below. It looks at the aforementioned claims of Sir Peter Horsley in a little more detail.


The stories, accounts, and discussion in this article are not always based on proven facts and may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports and accounts available to us as provided by witnesses and documentation.

By publishing these accounts, UFO Insight does not take responsibility for the integrity of them.  You should read this article with an open mind and come to a conclusion yourself.

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About Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years experience. Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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