The National Archives DEFE24-1206

Work / Publication

Inside the archives of the Ministry of Defence’s UFO desk

It may sound like a story fresh from the pages of Harry Potter, but the Ministry of Defence’s UFO desk was actually established under Winston Churchill. For 60 years, the UFO desk collected and archived witness accounts of unlikely airborne objects from members of the public.

Combing through the vast national archive of letters, reports, paintings, drawings and photographs with a carefully-honed eye for a story is Dr David Clarke, reader and principal lecturer in journalism at Sheffield Harlem university and the man behind UFO drawings from the national archives.

The stories narrated and documented in UFO drawings from the national archives came from far and wide, among them a pie-shaped object spotted by a 13-year old schoolboy doing his paper round in Surrey, January 1976. In 1976 a 29-year-old mechanical engineer made a UFO sighting when out walking his dog at 6am in Oxmoor near Huntingdon. In 1981, an estate agent with a private pilot’s license spotted two silver and black discs near Worthing in Sussex, which he photographed using an Olympus 35mm camera fitted with a 200mm lens.

Published by Four Corners as part of their modern history-focussed “Irregulars” series, and designed by the John Morgan studio, the publication considers the UFO phenomenon and the power of the public imagination.


UFO Drawings From The National Archives


The National Archives AIR-20-12058


The National Archives AIR2-0-12058


The National Archives DEFE24-1967


The National Archives DEFE24-1983


The National Archives DEFE22-1999


The National Archives DEFE24


UFO Drawings From The National Archives