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Royals & UFOs – Lord Dowding, the spiritualist general (Pt.2)

Lord Hugh Dowding (image credit: RAF)
Lord Hugh Dowding (image credit: RAF)

Note: Part I of this report can be read here.

In a previous article I discussed the subject of British royalty and UFOs, identifying the figure of Lord Louis Mountbatten, last Viceroy of India and uncle to Prince Philip—the Queen’s husband and Duke of Edinburgh—as the royal ufologist for at least a while in the decade of the fifties. Prince Philip has indeed acknowledged his own interest on UFOs was first awoken by his uncle and fellow naval officer. In this second part we shall examine some extraordinary stories and claims made by senior military figures, many of whom had close links to the royal family.

Lord Hugh Dowding (1882-1970) is a famous Air Chief Marshal of the Royal Air Force Fighter Command (RAF) during the crucial period of the Battle of Britain in World War Two. He made important public statements on UFOs in 1954, a year when a flying saucer wave hit Europe hard. Author Colin Bennett has called him “a very great Briton of truly mythological status.” Hugh Caswall Tremenheere, 1st Baron Dowding, was also a well known spiritualist, ghost hunter, vegetarian, and humanitarian, who published several books on psychic phenomena like Many Mansions (1943), Twelve legions of angels (1946), The Dark Star (1951), and God’s magic: An aspect of spiritualism (1960). Despite his eccentric beliefs, Lord Dowding had an impeccable military career and was a key of figure in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Born in 1882 in Moffat, Scotland, he graduated at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich in 1899, serving in various locations of the British Empire in Asia prior to World War I, when he joined the new Royal Flying Corps and was eventually promoted to Brigadier General. He served in several key RAF positions in the period between the wars and was one of three officers representing the Air Council at the funeral of King George V. In 1936, Dowding was appointed commanding officer of the RAF Fighter Command, where he conceived and oversaw the so-called “Dowding System” for the air defense of Great Britain using the new technology of radar, which the English were just developing for the first time. Quoting from his biographical profile from

God's Magic book cover
God’s Magic book cover

“As Air Member for Research and Development he was in a position to oversee the development of the eight gun fighters (Hurricane and Spitfire), but even more importantly his previous experience in wireless experiments gave him an excellent insight into possibilities of it’s use in the detection of aircraft.  He was able to take these preparations to their logical conclusion when given command of the newly formed Fighter Command in July 1936.  He immediately set about developing a system able to make best use of his limited resources and it was this system as much as anything that ensured success in 1940.  He established the coastal chain of radar stations (then known as RDF), but the success of radar really lay in the reporting and control system he set up which allowed aircraft to be placed in the right place at the right height in time to meet the threat.”

Dowding retired from the RAF in 1942 as he was not skilled in dealing with political maneuvering at the RAF and Churchill’s cabinet—he was nicknamed “Stuffy”—and his public adherence to spiritualism probably also affected his military career. Retired, Dowding could now concentrate on his spiritualist writings and other eccentric activities like being a member of the Fairy Investigation Society and the Ghost Club. When the flying saucer wave hit Europe in 1954, London’s Sunday Dispatch published a long statement on UFOs by the former Air Chief Marshal on July 11, which we quote in part:

“More than 10,000 sightings have been reported, the majority of which cannot be accounted for by any ‘scientific’ explanation, e.g. that they are hallucinations, the effects of light refraction, meteors, wheels falling from aeroplanes, and the like…. They have been tracked on radar screens…and the observed speeds have been as great as 9,000 miles an hour…. I am convinced that these objects do exist and that they are not manufactured by any nation on earth. I can therefore see no alternative to accepting the theory that they come from some extraterrestrial source…. I think that we must resist the tendency to assume that they all come from the same planet, or that they are actuated by similar motives. It might be that the visitors from one planet wished to help us in our evolution from the basis of a higher level to which they had attained.”

Sir Hugh Dowding with George VI and Queen Elizabeth (image credit: RAF)
Sir Hugh Dowding (far right) with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, in Bently Priory,Sept. 1940. (image credit: RAF)

The Adamski Factor

You can find further extracts of this famous 1954 Sunday Dispatch article in Tim Good’s Above Top Secret, where he also quoted from a 1957 letter from Lord Dowding to the Italian diplomat and ufological pioneer, Dr. Alberto Perego. “What I am interested in is accounts of intelligible contacts between human beings and the occupants of interplanetary ships,” wrote Lord Dowding in that letter. Not surprisingly, in the late 1950s the air chief marshal took an interest in the UFO contactees that were then causing a lot of excitement and controversy in the press. Colin Bennett reveals in his biography of contactee George Adamski, Looking for Orthon, that Dowding “had been fascinated by Flying Saucers Have Landed [the book co-written by Desmond Leslie and Adamski], and he had arranged for Adamski to give a lecture in Turnbridge Wells on April 21, 1959.” Leslie himself gave a lecture for the local Flying Saucer Club in Turnbridge Wells, a town in west Kent, in 1955, where he was “introduced by the indefatigable Lord Dowding,” writes Bennett.

George Adamski
George Adamski

More about Adamski’s visits to the UK is revealed in an important article by former Ministry of Defence [MoD] official in charge of UFO investigations Nick Pope and journalist Georgina Bruni in an article titled, “UFOs – An Official History.” Pope and Bruni wrote that the Air Chief Marshal “was as outspoken as Mountbatten on the [UFO] issue.” After quoting from the 1954 Sunday Dispatch article, they go on to say that, “we have learned from veteran British ufologist Emily Crewe that when contactee George Adamski visited the UK in 1963, Dowding and Mountbatten met him in London and subsequently took him to Broadlands to see the site of Frederick Briggs’ 1955 UFO sighting.” We discussed this CE-III at length in Part 1, providing the actual documents on the case from Lady Mountbatten’s Broadland Archives.

More on the Adamski 1959 visit is revealed in Flying Saucers: A Social History of Ufology, a book written by Dr. David Clarke, an historian and expert on the MoD UFO files, and skeptical ufologist Andy Roberts. According to this book, an attempt was made during this visit for Adamski to meet none other than Prince Philip himself. The arrangements were made by Desmond Leslie, the Irish eccentric aristocrat (his father was first cousin to Winston Churchill), ufologist, author and musician who was also nicknamed the “royal saucerer” because of his contacts with the palace, and who had also served in WWII as an RAF pilot. The go-between Leslie and the royal family was General Sir Frederick (Boy) Browning, another World War Two veteran who served later as the Queen’s Private Secretary and was therefore close to Prince Philip. Gen. Browning’s connections to the aristocracy included his marriage in 1932 to the famous British author and playright Daphne du Maurier. During the war he was in command of the 1st Airborne Division, which played a key role in Operation Market Garden, an allied airborne operation in the Netherlands in September of 1944. After the war he served as Chief of Staff of Lord Mountbatten in India—a link in the ufological bond—and later as Comptroller and Treasurer to Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) between 1948 and 1952.

Elizabeth II with (from left) Prince Charles, Prince Philip, and Princess Anne. (image credit: Encyclopedia Britannica)
Elizabeth II with (from left) Prince Charles, Prince Philip, and Princess Anne. (image credit: Encyclopedia Britannica)
General Browning (image credit: RAF)
General Browning (image credit: RAF)

The Browning-Leslie plan to arrange a meeting between Adamski and the Duke of Edinburgh, however, fizzled and was eventually cancelled for fear that the news would leak. Nevertheless, the fact that this meeting was even planned at one point is quite startling. Dr. David Clarke told Britain’s Sunday Express that, “this alone shows how far these bizarre ideas had penetrated the upper classes and royalty. There’s no doubt from the documentation we have that Prince Philip would have met Adamski if he felt he could have got away with it.”

Finally, there is the interesting testimony of Lord Dowding regarding the case of the extremely obscure figure of the British contactee Cedric Allingham. Allingham was most likely a copycat story of Adamki’s Venusian contacts transported instead to Mars. The biography of the author was kept extremely brief and mysterious and he was said to have died shortly after the publication of his book, Flying Saucer from Mars in 1954. There is rather strong evidence that the true author was a well known English astronomer and science writer Sir Patrick Moore, who published the spoof Can You Speak Venusian?, in 1973 and, incidentally, also coauthored with Desmond Leslie the parody How Britain Won the Space Race. An analysis of the Moore-Allingham allegation goes well beyond the scope of this article, but nevertheless someone—either a real Cedric Allingham or an impersonator—gave a lecture at the same Flying Saucer Club in Turnbridge Wells sometime in the mid-fifities. According to a letter from Lord Dowding to American researcher Len Stringfield, “we got Mr. Cedric Allingham […] to lecture to our local Flying Saucer Club, and we were all strongly impressed that he was telling the truth about his actual experiences, although we felt that he might have been mistaken in some of the conclusions which he drew from his interview.”

In the third and last part of this series on the Royals and UFOs, we will continue to examine the links between high-rank generals connected or serving with the royal palace and the subject of aliens.

Antonio Huneeus

Open Minds Investigative Reporter J. Antonio Huneeus has covered the UFO field from an international perspective for over 30 years. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Japan. He was also the co-author of the Laurance Rockefeller-funded “UFO Briefing Document – The Best Available Evidence” and edited the book “A Study Guide to UFOs, Psychic & Paranormal Phenomena in the USSR.” Huneeus studied French at the Sorbonne University in Paris and Journalism at the University of Chile in Santiago in the 1970s. He has lectured at dozens of UFO Conferences all over the world and been interviewed by many media outlets including The Washington Post, the Sy-Fy and History Channels, Nippon-TV, etc. He received the “Ufologist of the Year” award at the National UFO Conference in Miami Beach in 1990 and the “Courage in Journalism” award at the X-Conference in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in 2007.

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