By Nick RedfernIt was during the early hours of 6 January 1966 in the Cheshire, England town of Wilmslow that extraordinary, and perhaps even other-worldly events were unfolding. Police Constable Colin Perks had begun his night-shift at 10,00 p.m. and had no idea that he would shortly thereafter find himself implicated in a face-to-face encounter with what might very well have been visitors from another galaxy.
The UFO Iconoclast(s)
The UFO Iconoclast(s)
In a stunning two-page report filed with his superior officer in the aftermath of the incident, P.C. Perks stated: "Sir, I have to report that I have been in the Police Force for almost four years. I am 28 years of age, a married man and I reside with my wife and child in [witness’s address]. I am in excellent health and I have no worries of any description."
The officer continued: "On the night of Thursday/Friday the 6th to 7th January 1966, which was a cold clear night and started [sic] with a full moon which made visibility good. I commenced duty at 10pm on the 6th and due to finish duty at 6am on the 7th. At 1.15am on the 7th I had my refreshments at Wilmslow Police Station where I resumed normal patrol at 2am on this date where I commenced walking around the village. I was alone on this occasion.
"About 4am on the 7th I was checking property at the rear of a large block of shops which are situated off the main A34 road (Alderley Road) Wilmslow. At 4.10am I was still checking property and facing the back of the shops when I heard a high pitched whine, for a moment I couldn’t place the noise as it was most unfamiliar to the normal surroundings. I turned around and saw a Greenish/Grey glow in the sky about 100 yards from me and about 35 feet up in the air. I stopped in my tracks and was unable to believe what I could see. However I gathered myself together after a couple of seconds and made the following observations. The object was about the length of a bus (30 feet) and estimated at being 20 feet wide. It was elliptic in shape and emanated a greenish grey glow which I can only describe as an eerie greeny colour. It appeared to be motionless of itself, that is there was no impression of rotation. The object was about 15 feet in height. The object had a flat bottom.
It disappeared from view very quickly. When it started moving it did not appear to rotate but moved off sideways with the 30 foot length to the front and rear. It is possible the short side given as 20 feet may in fact be longer as I was looking underneath the object and may have been deceived.
"About 500 yards away from where I was standing there is an electric railway line but the noise I heard was nothing to do with either electric or diesel trains. About 50 yards from where I was standing is a transformer belonging to the Electric Company. This is a sub-station and the noise I heard is of no comparison to the hum from this.
"There is no doubt that the object I saw was of a sharp, distinctive, definite shape and of a solid substance. However I did not notice any vents, portholes or other places of access. The glow was coming from the exterior of the object and this was the only light which was visible. I checked with Jodrell Bank and Manchester Airport shortly after the incident but they could not help or in any way account for what I had seen."
After having received Police Constable Colin Perks’ X-Files-like report, his Deputy Chief Constable moved to contact the Ministry of Aviation and from there the report was forwarded to the Ministry of Defense (MoD) at Whitehall, London.
Interestingly, from the publicly acknowledged ‘UFO Office’ at MoD Main Building, the report was sent to a covert division of the MoD’s Defence Intelligence Staff known as DI61.
Perhaps aware that this was no run-of-the-mill report, DI61 duly dispatched agents to Wilmslow to interview P.C. Perks and to investigate the area where the UFO was seen. "Constable Perks was interviewed by DI 61e(AIR) on 1st February 1966," reported Flight Lieutenant M.J.P.H. Mercer in a Restricted memorandum drawn up in response to the DI61 investigation. "He was questioned on a number of points arising from the statement he made on the 8th January."
"What sort of noise did the UFO make?" "What was its speed when it began to move?" "What was its altitude?" asked the DI61 agents. Impressed by Perks’ conviction, DI61 headed off for the site of the UFO encounter.
On arriving at the location where PC Perks had seen the UFO, the DI61 team noted that on the morning following the incident "some glass like substance" was found on the ground below where the UFO had been seen. Whilst DI61 felt that there was not enough firm evidence in hand to make a definite connection, it is worth noting that their investigation was extremely meticulous.
Having interviewed the P.C. at length, scrutinized his report and visited the area of the sighting, DI61 stated in their final analysis of the case that while "...it is not possible to arrive at any concrete conclusion, there is no reason to doubt the fact that this constable saw something completely foreign to his previous
With that surprisingly frank – albeit very carefully worded - statement, I wholeheartedly concur.
Two weeks after these remarkable events occurred, P.C. Perks was granted permission to relate the details of his encounter to the Media; however, until the official files were declassified, there was never any inkling that Perks had been visited by the authorities. Had he, perhaps, been advised by his superiors or the MoD to omit this part of the story when speaking with the Press?
It was largely thanks to the publicity afforded the Perks affair that a number of people contacted the MoD offering corroboration for the officer’s account. "I do not want any publicity at all!" wrote one such person to the MoD. It was twelve months prior to P.C. Perks’ encounter, she explained, when an unusual - looking object loomed into view at her hometown of St. Helens, Lancashire.
"It was towards the end of March 1965 [at] 4.00pm on a fine, windy day," she began. ‘I was in the garden when I heard a very high whining sound. Realizing it didn’t sound like an ordinary plane (which pass over very often) I looked up."
On doing so, she received the shock of her life. Moving across the sky at high speed was an object totally unlike anything that she had ever seen before. Egg-shaped and very much like the UFO seen by P.C. Perks, the craft traversed the Lancashire skies with ease.
"Then to my amazement," she continued, "and without slowing down, it stopped dead in its tracks and stayed completely still for about 3 minutes. Then instead of keeping its straight journey it moved up into the sky until it just disappeared. The object did not rotate in any way and it did not zig-zag up, but it was just as though it was being pulled up by a piece of string.
"I know this story sounds fantastic," conceded the witness to the Ministry of Defense, "but I am not given to seeing things that are not there, and I firmly believe this object to be from another world."
She closed her letter: "Please, please let me know if anybody else reported seeing anything like it, or if I was seeing things, because it just couldn’t have been mistaken for a plane, however 'supersonic.'"
Like P.C. Perks’ encounter, this particular one was filed ‘unexplained.'
And still further testimony in support of the constable’s report flooded into Whitehall. In a one-page report (forwarded to DI65, a Defense Intelligence Staff department associated with DI61), the witnesses – a Mr. D. Winstone and his girlfriend - reported that at 10.50 p.m. on the night of 4 February 1966, they viewed in the vicinity of London [Author’s Note: now Heathrow] Airport an "egg shaped" object that was "bright green in color". In this particular case, the couple’s account was reported to the MoD before aspects of P.C. Perks’ encounter were made public – effectively ruling out a hoax.
There was also the husband and wife who contacted the MoD to report that they, too, had an account to relate – this time involving a UFO that gave off a practically-identical "whine" to that described by P.C. Perks. In this case, however, the couple’s experience had occurred in Switzerland!
In other words, whatever the true nature of the UFO seen by Constable Perks, it seems it was most active in early 1966. But, precisely who, or indeed what, was flying the curious device is a matter that remains unfortunately unresolved more than forty years later...
National Archive file: AIR 2/17983. Evening News, 2 March 1966.
Daily Sketch, March 1966. Sun, 3 March 1966.
Daily Mirror, 3 March 1966.
Daily Sketch, 17 May 1966.