Sunday, 11 September 2016

Northern Ireland's Earliest Saucer Sighting?

At 2 am on Friday, 11 July 1947, two anglers, fishing on the River Faughan in Derry, saw an object “like a motor wheel which flashed across the sky and disappeared from their sight with light flashing from its edges.” I had always believed that this was Northern Ireland’s earliest post-Arnold saucer sighting. Recently, however, I found the following letter, published in the Northern Whig of 10 July 1947. On the face of it, it’s a straight account of an earlier sighting. But, like many UFO reports, it’s not as straightforward as it seems.
Dear Sir
In view of the fact that an English lady has seen what she believed to be a Flying Saucer, the following experience of mine may be of interest.
[FI Note: I believe the “English lady” to be Marjorie Hyde, who, at 5:15pm on Monday, 30 June 1947, saw a ring-shaped object while she waited at a level crossing in Sandwich, Kent. 
According to Hyde: “It was moving from left to right – inland from the direction of the sea. It was not very high up or didn’t appear to be. It was not a smoke ring from the passing engine. I’m positive it wasn’t that – it was too perfect in shape and its edges were not blurred but clear cut. It was definitely a ring and not filled in like a saucer. It was going at a fairly high speed. I saw it for about three or four seconds before it seemed to disappear into a cloud.”]
On Tuesday evening, 8th inst., I was bird-watching at Newcastle. My glasses picked up what I thought were a number of gulls flying inland at a great height. As these came nearer, however, I saw what appeared to be about a dozen round white objects in loose formation and moving very fast.
They left in their wake a wispy grey cloud which hung in the air for some time. I have no idea as to their size as it was only with difficulty that I was able to follow their progress with my glasses. They disappeared in a westerly direction.
The letter was purportedly from a W A Nesbitt – who had included his full Belfast address.
And there was a Mr W A Nesbitt living at that address. We know this because he later contacted the Whig to inform them that he had not had a flying saucer encounter. The Whig was happy to apologise: “The letter was published by us in good faith and in expressing our regret we would also tender our apologies to Mr Nesbitt.”
Unfortunately, the Northern Whig did not pursue this incident. Which is a shame. Because, even though the saucer sighting itself was not particularly "sexy," I can't help but wonder if the whole thing was a hoax, or a genuine incident reported - for whatever reason - under a purloined name?
  • The Belfast Telegraph, 11 July 1947
  • Northern Whig, 9, 10 & 11 July 1947

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