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ACUFO:

ACUFO is my comprehensive catalog of cases of encounters between aircraft and UFOs, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ACUFO catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file.

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The Bass Strait, Australia, in February 1944:

Case number:

ACUFO-1944-02-00-BASSSTRAIT-1

Summary:

In the Australian Saucer Record, bulletin of the A.F.S.R.S. ufology group in Australia, of the first quarter of 1957, a sighting report dated February 1944 was published, wihout indication about its origin.

The report stated that at 02:30 a.m., Mr. T.R.H. Royal, a bomber pilot of Scarborough, Queensland, was travelling over Bass Strait "when this dark shadow appeared alongside and kept pace for about 18-20 minutes. This object appeared to have a flickering light, and belched flame from the rear end."

The altitude "was 4,500 ft. and only part of the object was visible was the rear end" which was about 15 feet "owing to the reflection of light of the exhaust. "It kept a distance of 100 - 150 ft. from the bomber and then accelerated to approx three times the speed of the Beaufort speed which was 235 m.p.h."

The bulletin stated that this incident was "reported to the base upon the return, but the whole incident was laughed at."

The bulletin adds that during the sighting, "all radio and direction finding equipment refused to function."

The Disclosure Australia Project mentionned the case in their bulletin of February 2004, asking for the declassification of RAAF file for the period. They obtained documents, but apparently nothing that related to this case.

In 2005, Australian Ufologist Keith Basterfield reported the case and the lack of success of the 2004 Disclosure Australia Project; he explained that a researcher in Canberra went to the National Archives and obtained permission to inspect Mr Royal’s personal service records. These records indicated that he was a Non Commissioned Officer Pilot with No 1 O.T.U. (Operational Training Unit) in early February 1944; however, there was no record of his name in the Squadron Dairies or any indication that he had flown over Bass Straiht.

The only mention of his name was came from the RAAF Historical Records, Russell Offices in Canberra, and related to when he was with No. 8 Squadron in September 1945. He then flew his first sortie on the 30 September 1945 on an unarmed reconnaissance mission over the Sepic River area in Papua New Guinea.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: February 1944
Time: 02:30 a.m.
Duration: 18 to 20 minutes.
First known report date: 1957
Reporting delay: 13 years.

Geographical data:

Country: Australia
State/Department: Victoria
City: The Bass Strait

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Ufology bulletin.
Visibility conditions: Night.
UFO observed: Yes.
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: Yes.
UFO action: Follows, goes away.
Witnesses action:
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Sensors: [X] Visual: 1
[N/A] Airborne radar:
[ ] Directional ground radar:
[ ] Height finder ground radar:
[ ] Photo:
[ ] Film/video:
[X] EM Effects: radio and radiogoniometry failure.
[X] Failures: radio and radiogoniometry failure.
[ ] Damages:
Hynek: ?
Armed / unarmed: Armed, 7.62 mm machine guns.
Reliability 1-3: 1
Strangeness 1-3: 3
ACUFO: Possible extraterrestrial craft, possible invention.

Sources:

[Ref. asr1:] SAUCER BULLETIN "AUSTRALIAN SAUCER RECORD":

Map.

FEB. 1944. Time 2.30 a.m.

Sighting by T.R.H. Royal of Scarborough Queensland.

Mr. Royal was a bomber pilot travelling over Bass Strait (Victoria) when this dark shadow appeared alongside and kept pace for about 18-20 minutes. This object appeared to have a flickering light, and belched flame from the rear end.

Altitude was 4,500 ft,. and only part of the object was visible was the rear end which was about fifteen ft. owing to the reflection of light of the exhaust, It kept a distance of 100 - 150 ft. from the bomber and then accelerated to approx three times the speed of the Beaufort speed which was 235 m.p.h.

This incident was reported to the base upon the return, but the whole incident was laughed at.

A factor which hold interest, is that during the sighting all radio and direction finding equipment refused to function.

[Ref. bcr1:] BILL CHALKER:

Scan.

AUSTRALIAN A. F. UFO

By BILL CHALKER
APRO Representative for Australia

[... other cases...]

My research indJcates that extraordinary violations of our national airspace, beyond known enemy activity, were apparently occurring before even the RAAF started its own study. The following two accounts were reported to civilian sources.

[... other case...]

At about 2:30 am, one night during February 1944, a Beaufort bomber flying at about 235 mph (375 kph), at 4500 feet (1350 metres), over Bass Strait, gained a most unusual aerial companion. A "dark shadow" appeared alongside the plane and kept pace with it, at a distance of only some 100 to 150 feet (about 50 metres). The object appeared to have a flickering light and flame belching from its rear end. Only about 15 feet (5 metres) of the rear end of the "shadow" was visible to the bomber crew, apparently due to "reflection of light from exhaust".

The strange object stayed with the bomber for some 18 to 20 minutes, during which time all radio and direction-finding instruments refused to function. It finally accelerated away from the plane, at approximately three times the speed of the bomber. Upon landing the pilot reported the incident to his base superiors, but he claimed he was only laughed at. This alleged reaction seems extraordinary in retrospect, since Beauforts figured heavily in the large number of military planes that went "missing" (presumed lost) in Bass Straight (8 out of 17) during the war years. No enemy action was apparently ever confirmed in Bass Strait during World War II.

[... other cases...]

[Ref. bcr2:] BILL CHALKER:

During february 1944, at 2:30 am, the crew of a RAAF Beaufort bomber flying at about 1,400 meters above Bass Strait gained a most unusual companion. A "dark shadow" appeared alongside the plane and kept pace with it, at a distance of only 35 meters. The Beaufort was travelling at at about 400 kilometers per hour. The object appeared to have a flickering light and flame belching from its rear end. Only about four and a half meters of the rear end of the UFO was visible to the bomber crew, apparently due to reflection of light from the exhaust. The strange object stayed with the bomber for some 20 minutes, during which time all radio and direction finding instruments refused to function. It finally accelerated away from the plane at approximately three times the speed of the bomber.

[Ref. lwr1:] DR. LOUIS WINKLER:

Scan.

1944 Feb/Victoria, Australia/FSM (1957 n. 27), Story

A dark shadow appeared along side of the airplane for 18-20 min. as it flickered and belched flames. It accelerated to thr.ee times the speed of the airplane at an altitude of 4,500 ft. The airplane's radio and directional instruments failed in the presence of the object.

[Ref. gvo1:] GODELIEVE VAN OVERMEIRE:

1944, February

AUSTRALIA, Bass strait (Victoria)

The pilot of an RAAF Beaufort bomber flying at 4,500 feet saw a black shadow flying alongside him, only 100 to 150 feet away. Flames were coming from the end of this thing. For 18 to 20 minutes the bomber's radio and other onboard instruments refused all service. It ended when the UFO accelerated and disappeared. (Janet and Colin BORD: "Modern Mysteries of the World" - Guild Publishing London 1989, p. 310) [This part in French in the original.]

February, 1944, 2:30 Bass Strait, Australia (39°30 S / 145°50 E) During february 1944, at 2:30 am, the crew of a RAAF Beaufort bomber flying at about 4,500 feet above Bass Strait sighted a "dark shadow" which appeared alongside the plane and kept pace with it, at a distance of only 35 meters. The Bristol Beaufort was travelling at about 235 mph. The object had a flickering light and flame belching from its rear end. The strange object stayed with the bomber for some 20 minutes, during which time all radio and direction-finding instruments refused to function. It finally accelerated away from the plane at approximately three times the speed of the bomber. (Sources: The OZ files, Bill Chalker, 1996 p.35; Beyond Top Secret, Timothy Good, 1998, p.152) [This part in English in the original.]

[Ref. jsr1:] JOHN F. SCHLUESSER:

In 1944 a Beaufort bomber crew reported a "dark shadow" flying within 100 feet of their plane for 18 to 20 minutes, causing radio and ADF malfunction before zooming away at three times the speed of the bomber.

[Ref. lhh1:] LARRY HATCH:

490: 1944/02/00 02:30 20 145:40:00 E 39:40:00 S 3313 OCN AUS VCT 8:9
BASS STRAIT,AUSTR:OBJ SUIT BONBARDIER/20min:INSTRUMs EME:PART/700mph:/APRO v30#10
Ref#174 CHALKER,BILL: The OZ FILES. Page No. 35: EN-VOL

[Ref. dap1:] "AUSTRALIAN DISCLOSURE PROJECT NEWSLETTER":

The final item on the above list is one of the few recorded during World War Two, and is worth describing in a little detail to illustrate a report of that era. The case was recorded in the 1957 UFO magazine, “Australian Saucer Review” 3(1):16 from an original report form.

"Mr T R H Royal was piloting a Beaufort bomber over Bass Strait when a dark "shadow" appeared alongside and kept pace for eighteen to twenty minutes. The object seemed to have a flickering light, and belched flames from its rear end. It maintained a distance of thirty to fifty metres from the aircraft before accelerating away. During the event all radio and direction-finding equipment is said to have malfunctioned."

It was therefore with some interest, that a deeper search of NAA electronic records revealed ten files held by the Australian War Memorial which might contain relevant material. The files cover the period 1942-1944.

[No information related to this case followed.]

Note 1: Disclosure Australia had a website at the time, at http://disclosure.freewebpage.org but the website is not existing anymore.

Note 2: It was indicated that elements relating to this case appear in No. 12 of the same bulletin. I have it at hand, but haven't found anything on the case in it.

[Ref. kbd1:] KEITH BASTERFIELD:

1944 Bass Strait

Mr T. R. H. Royal was piloting a Beaufort bomber over Bass Strait when a dark "shadow" appeared alongside and kept pace for eighteen to twenty minutes. The object seemed to have a flickering light, and belched flames from its rear end. It maintained a distance of thirty to fifty meters from the aircraft before accelerating away. During the event all radio and direction finding equipment is said to have malfunctioned. (The Australian Saucer Record. 1957. 3(1):16.)

The Disclosure Australia Project’s researcher in Canberra went to the National Archives and obtained permission to inspect Mr Royal’s personal service records. These records indicated that he was with No 1 O.T.U. (Operational Training Unit) in early February 1944. However, there was no record of his name in the Squadron Dairies or any indication that he had flown over Bass Straight. He was a Non Commissioned Officer Pilot.

The only mention of his name was when he was with No. 8 SQN in September 1945 where he flew his first sortie on the 30 September 1945 on an unarmed reconnaissance mission over the Sepic River area in Papua New Guinea. This information came from the RAAF Historical Records, Russell Offices in Canberra. (Disclosure Australia Project Newswletter 12 April 2004.)

[Ref. dwn2:] DOMINIQUE WEINSTEIN:

Case 31

February, 1944

Bass Strait, Australia (39°30 S / 145° 50 E)

During february 1944, at 2:30 am, the crew of a RAAF Beaufort bomber flying at about 4,500 feet above Bass Strait sighted a "dark shadow " which appeared alongside the plane and kept pace with it, at a distance of only 35 meters. The Bristol Beaufort was travelling at about 235 mph. The object had a flickering light and flame belching from its rear end. The strange object stayed with the bomber for some 20 minutes, during which time all radio and direction-finding instruments refused to function. It finally accelerated away from the plane at approximately three times the speed of the bomber.

Sources: "A preliminary Study of Fifty Seven Pilot Sighting Reports involving Alleged Electro-Magnetic Effects on Aircraft Systems", Preliminary repott, Haines Richard F. et Weinstein, Dominique F., NARCAP, 200 I / Above top secret, Timothy Good / The OZ Files, Bill Chalker / MUFON International Symposium 1987.

[Ref. nip1:] "THE NICAP WEBSITE":

[1944] February, 1944; Bass Strait, Australia

At 2:30 a.m. A bomber crew at 4,500 feet altitude saw a dark shape pull alongside the plane and pace it at a distance of about 100 feet for about 18-20 minutes. A flickering light was visible at its trailing end, which illuminated the rear portion of the object. While the object was alongside all radio and direction-finding instruments on the plane malfunctioned. Finally the object accelerated and sped away. (Ref. 3; Bill Chalker, The Oz Files, 1996, pp. 35-36.)

[Ref. tai1:] "THINK ABOUT IT" WEBSITE:

Date: Feb. 1944

Location: Bass Strait, Australia

Time: 2:30 a.m.

Summary: At 2:30 a.m. A bomber crew at 4,500 feet altitude saw a dark shape pull alongside the plane and pace it at a distance of about 100 feet for about 18-20 minutes. A flickering light was visible at its trailing end, which illuminated the rear portion of the object. While the object was alongside all radio and direction-finding instruments on the plane malfunctioned. Finally the object accelerated and sped away.

Ref. 3; Bill Chalker, The Oz Files, 1996, pp. 35-36

[Ref. get1:] GEORGE M. EBERHART:

1944

[... other cases...]

February

2:30 a.m. An Australian Beaufort bomber is flying at 4,500 feet over Bass Strait, Australia, when it is joined by an object like a “dark shadow” with a flickering flame coming out of its rear. It appears only 100 – 150 feetaway and stays with the bomber for 18 – 20 minutes, during which time its radio and direction-finding instrumentsfail. It shoots away at 700 mph.

(Bill Chalker, "Australian A.F. UFO Report Files", APRO Bulletin 30, no. 10 (October 1982): 7)

[... other cases...]

Aircraft information:

The Bristol Beaufort was a British bomber and torpedo-carrier aircraft. In this case, the aircraft would have been the Australian-built version.

Its defensive armament was four machine guns, in two turrets on the back and one post at the front, or two 7.62 mm Vickers K machine guns in the dorsal turret and 1 mounted in the wing, and a Browning 1919 7.62 mm machine gun in the rear blister.

Below: Beauforts from 1OTU, "No. 1 Operational Training Unit" of the RAAF.

Map.

Discussion:

The Bass Strait is the portion of sea, indicated in the red circle, between South Australia and Tasmania:

Map.

It is historically a fact that from 1942 on, the Royal Australian Air Force No. 1 Operational Training Unit (1OTU) was flying Beaufort patrols for training, practical day and night exercises and Japanese submarine search patrols over Bass Strait.

Between March 1942 and August 1945, 91 airmen lost their lives in Beaufort flying accidents at 1OTU, a number of them very likely due to a malfunction of the elevator trim control.

The case firsts appeared, apparently, in The Australian Saucer Record in early 1957. These were early years of ufology, and the bulletin obviously was not too caution about saucer stories. For example, it reported about the alleged trips on Venus of the US "Contactee" Howard Menger, other other such things.

The bulletin does not explain how they got this report.

Apparently, ther is no trace of the incident in the official file of the Royal Australian Air Force; yet, the pilot existed and was a military pilot in Australia at the time of this alleged sighting.

The report also tells that he reported the incident on returned at the base but "the whole incident was laughed at". Thus I think it is very possible that he did not write anything about it in any Squadron diary or report.

If the report had been invented from scratch, it would be odd that the pilot name was a real pilot name; it would be more logical, I think, that an entirely fake name would have been invented.

Thus, I am not entirely convinced that the incident did no occur; or at least, that the pilot did not claim this sighting occurred.

Now, the claim appeared after 1947. Had there been a trace thereof in 1944, it would have had much more importance. It is noteworthy that instrument failures are totally unreported in such cases during the WWII period, whereas they had become a "feature" of UFO reports in the 1950's.

Evaluation:

Possible extraterrestrial craft, possible invention.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross October 14, 2023 Creation, [asr1], [lwr1], [lhh1], [dap1], [kbd1], [dwn2], [nip1], [tai1].
1.0 Patrick Gross October 14, 2023 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross November 4, 2023 Additions [bcr1], [gvo1], [get1].
1.2 Patrick Gross November 14, 2023 Addition [bcr2].
1.3 Patrick Gross February 1, 2024 Addition [jsr1].

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