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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Flying Saucer Review part 4

Waveney Girvan

In the early 1960s, Charles Bowen – the cashier based at the South African Embassy – was still balancing his account’s books. With his attention having been drawn to its existence by articles offered in the “national dailies”, he too had subscribed and had been an avid reader of the Flying Saucer Review right from its very beginning. For good reason, Bowen now comes back into the story, and although neither a date nor a place is given, the following quote speaks of a time when Girvan must have already taken over the editorship of FSR:
It was just by chance that I met Waveney Girvan. I remember how I had been discussing some small official matter with a colleague, when to my surprise I saw a copy of the Flying Saucer Review among some papers on his desk Surprise indeed, for that particular gentleman was a sceptic if ever there was one! ‘When he learned that I had been a regular reader of the Review since 1955, my colleague observed that it was high time I met the editor. My expression must have betrayed that I expected a leg-pull, for he hastened to add that the editor of the Review had at one time published a book for him.
"Small official matter" has the feel of a workplace discussion, and the colleague was almost certainly someone Bowen worked with at the South African Embassy. Waveney Girvan's publishing days had resulted in the publication of hundreds of books under a variety of imprints (Westaway Books, Carroll & Nicholson, T. Werner Laurie). But back to Bowen:
He was as good as his word: Waveney accepted his invitation, and we spent two convivial hours discussing every aspect of the flying saucer mystery.
    It was a wonderful evening for me, for I had long been an admirer of Waveney’s work, particularly after he had taken over as Editor of the Review in 1959. When it was time to go, I was delighted to find that our guest and I had to catch the same train from Waterloo!
    That was a few years ago, and since that day we travelled together much of the time . . . until August this year.
The above was written by Charles Bowen following the untimely premature death of Waveney Girvan who had been only 56 years old. It seems fitting to pause the Flying Saucer Review story and pick up the Waveney Girvan story for a moment, as there is one mystery about Girvan that has yet to be resolved.

From the general viewpoint of Odhams Press, and the four titles published by the Juvenile Publications department,  Eagle, Girl, Swift and Robin in particular, the previous few years had been tough. The original Eagle publisher had been bought out twice times: in 1959 when Lord Hulton had sold the papers to Odhams Press, who continued them under their Longacre Press imprint, and again in 1961 when the Mirror Group bought out Odhams. The four periodicals had also been obliged to move lock, stock and drawing-board twice. The first move – admittedly not all that far – from the main Hulton House building to an extension at the rear known simply as “The Annex”, and, two years later, a rather more major relocation almost a mile to the west . . . to 96 Longacre.

Charles Bowen speaks of Waveney Girvan as having been “a chartered accountant, a distinguished author, a successful publisher, founder and chairman of the West Country Writers' Association, literary executor to the estate of Eden Phillpotts, an inventor, an latterly, a top executive of a great publishing house”. It is a relatively easy task to establish the truth of all of these statements, as indeed we did for the most in an earlier chapter. His credits as an inventor include a series of patents for improved methods of united the ends of metal band straps and making pipe joints. The latter claim is still something of a mystery.

For much of the 1950s, Girvan had been chief editor for T Werner Laurie at No 1, Doughty Street, London WC1. It is not known just when he left Laurie, but they were known as a publisher of risqué titles and, in May 1954, T. Werner Laurie, the printer Northumberland press and author Mrs. Kathryn Dyson-Taylor all pleaded guilty to publishing an obscene book, Julia.

Werner Laurie's former editor and director Gordon Greenfield and Alan Palmer Caldicott, director of the printers, pleaded not guilty (although he changed his plea on one summons in court). Publisher, printer, authoress Taylor and managing director Caldicott were all fined; Greenfield was found guilty on one summons and discharged absolutely on payment of five guineas costs.

In June 1955, there was more embarrassment for T. Werner Laurie when Alfonso Barda, a Tripoli businessman was able to prove that he had been libelled in the book Guns, Drugs and Deserters, published in 1954. Barda also successfully sued Odhams over an article that had appeared in John Bull.

Soon after, in February 1957, the publishing firm was bought out by Max Reinhardt Ltd., which had also recently acquired John Lane and The Bodley Head in December 1956. The three imprints were to be retained but the firms would be run as one with the same editorial, production, sales and publicity departments, which would result in considerable economies. It seems likely that this was probably the time when Waveney Girvan parted company with T. Werner Laurie.

There is a possibility that Girvan joined Odhams Press at around the same time that he took over the editorship of FSR. In the late 1950s, Girvan  had moved to The Oast House, Dogmersfield, Basingstoke, Hampshire, but was still commuting into London in the early 1960s, as recalled by Charles Bowen. 

For the staff of Juvenile Publications, the on-going interference by the higher-ups in the Mirror Group's own juvenile publications department, had been unnerving. Privately it had been deemed advisable to keep one’s head down, speak to no-one you didn’t know and just get on with the job you’d been given.

Into this environment came Waveney Girvan. A "new boy” himself, he had been allocated a small, obscure office to the rear of one being occupied by the editorial staff of Girl magazine. In that room were Chief Sub-Editor Shirley Dean, Sub-Editors Anne Littlefield and Linda Wheway, and Designer Roger Perry. Girvan’s comings and goings from that back room had – for at least a year – been acknowledged with little more than a “Good morning” or a “Good night”, but due to his quiet unobtrusive manner, his austere attire of black jacket, striped trousers of narrow grey and black, neatly rolled umbrella and a bowler hat, plus the fact that he often only appeared once or twice a week . . . well, he was not someone who one really wanted to know. It was assumed that he had something to do with accountancy. It was only when Juvenile Publications was forcibly relocated to the Old Daily Herald building in Longacre in November 1963 – Girvan having been relocated along with everyone else – that he began to be accepted as not being a spy from the dreaded Daily Mirror camp after all.

For Charles Bowen, this re-location to Longacre suited him admirably, for not only was it now little more than a ten-minute walk away from his place of work, but that the three people he most wanted to see – Albert Cosser (Sub-editor of Boys’ World), Dan Lloyd (Chief Sub-Editor of Eagle) and Waveney Girvan (Editor of Flying Saucer Review) – all had offices just yards away from each other. It was particularly perfect as Bowen was in the process of providing the recently-launched Boys’ World comic with a series of sporting scripts.

He was writing a series called Sports Star Specials of which 37 episodes had centred around sporting heroes from football to cricket and from rugby to speedway such as Stanley Matthews, Jimmy Greaves, Freddie Truman, Colin Cowdrey, Jack Brabham and Bobby Moore. These articles were innovative insofar that the illustrated biographies were in continuity-strip form with the occasional photograph being thrown in – meaning that the artists chosen had to be capable of capturing the individual’s likeness. Paul Trevillion (who later went on to fame as the artist who illustrated You Are the Ref) drew 34 of these episodes while Roland Davies and Harry Lindfield illustrated the other three.

While calling in to deliver the latest script, it would have been a simple matter of walking just four offices down the corridor to call in and pass the time of day with Girvan. But this had been almost an unnecessary exercise . . . as Bowen’s obituary on Girvan explains:
For me, the drudgery of London commuting vanished from the time I met Waveney Girvan. Ufology was certainly not our only topic of conversation, but at times it was the most exciting one. And amusing too when we considered the evasive antics of authority, and the stuffiness of sceptics! Well I remember the "kick" we had from Aimé Michel's letter and article about Vauriat, and the discovery of global orthoteny. I remember too how proud Waveney was of the new-look cover which appeared on the May-June issue of 1963, an issue which he considered one of the best ever – until others even better came along! Perhaps the most exciting time of all was at the height of the Charlton crater affair, which culminated in Waveney's debunking of "Dr." Randall. I'll always treasure the memories of those evenings in the train.
Girvan himself recalled 1960, 1961 and 1962 as "particularly dark".
As far as general interest was concerned, the saucers might as well have disappeared from our skies. While it was true that local reports kept coming in, the public got it into their heads that the subject was indeed nonsensical and that it was nothing more than an out-of-date newspaper stunt. Thanks to the Charlton Crater mystery of 1963, and despite officialdom's attempt (unsuccessful as it happened) to write it off in terms of a meteorite, and other efforts made by exhibitionists to jump on the bandwaggon, the public began to resume an interest in UFOs. The particular issue in which the Review dealt with the Charlton Crater quickly sold out although we had ordered a larger than usual number of copies. This brought in a healthy increase in readership. There is really only one thing  that brings us a larger circulation and that is publicity in the press. How can one expect large numbers of new readers if the general public has been brainwashed into believing that saucers do not exist?
Aimé Michel was a former teacher and radio journalist, born in St. Vincent-les-Forts in 1919 to a modest farming family. He had suffered from childhood polio which left him with lifelong physical effects, his lower limbs being stunted, although he overcame his handicap by undertaking difficult mountain climbs during his youth. Michel published two early books on flying saucers, amongst the first in France, entitled Lueurs sur les soucoupes volantes (1954) and Mystérieux objects célestes (1958).

Michel's chief claim to fame was the development of orthoténie, a theory that flying saucers flew in straight lines and that sightings of UFOs were aligned along paths that were large circles centred on the earth. Bowen's first article on UFOs speculated that the reason why we were seeing Aimé Michel's orthoteny lines was that, in order to time-travel, UFOs could only use certain physical routes. Bowen went on to say that the minimalist true communication by UFOnauts was to avoid "changing the future" by imparting usable information, this being his variation of the "grandfather paradox". (In the "grandfather paradox”, a time-traveller goes back in time to a time before his grandfather married. The time-traveller kills his grandfather and, therefore, is never born. If he is never born, then he is unable to travel through time and kill his grandfather . . . which means he would be born . . . and so on and so on.)

When Girvan and the entire Juvenile Publications staff moved to Longacre in November 1963, he brought with him a secretary, Margaret ("Madge") Harman. For reasons not explained, Madge was given desk space in an office already occupied by Eagle’s Chief Sub-Editor Dan Lloyd and Eagle designer Brian (Benny) Green. Madge Harman was a closet ‘psychic’.

An example of her extraordinary sixth sense came to light when one of Lloyd’s drinking pals called into the office late one morning to find out if Dan was free for lunch. In those days, Lloyd would regularly meet with five friends from all walks of life; on this occasion, Lloyd introduced Harman to his flatmate Peter Henderson, and as they shook hands, Harman had suddenly gone quiet and in a disheartened voice had murmured: “Oh dear, you’ve had some bad news this morning . . . I’m so sorry.”

Lloyd had no idea what she was talking about; shortly after, Henderson admitted that, just that morning, he had received a letter from his fiancée in Paris with news that she was breaking off their engagement. The letter had been tucked away in Henderson’s inside jacket pocket.

It was during those early months at Longacre that a second strange occurrence had taken place.

Through a mixture of visits by Charles Bowen and the flow of conversations and information between the secretary and her boss, Dan Lloyd’s interest in the paranormal was steadily rising. Lloyd not only become well-acquainted with the editor of Flying Saucer Review but, when he went on holiday, he took with him Girvan’s book Flying Saucers and Common Sense, written nine years earlier.

Part way through – in chapter four - Lloyd was suddenly brought up with a start; that chapter included a personal letter written by Earl Mountbatten in 1950 and sent to the editor of the Sunday Dispatch. Girvan commented that this letter had followed an earlier article concerning a wave of UFO sightings in America, particularly of one seen in the town of Orangeburg. The letter said:
These extraordinary things have now been seen in almost every part of the world – Scandinavia, North America, South America, Central Europe, etc. Reports are always appearing and the newspapers generally try to ridicule them. As a result it is difficult for any seriously interested person to find out very much about them. I should therefore like to congratulate you on having had both the intelligence (and, incidentally, the courage) to print the first serious helpful article which I have read on the Flying Saucers. I have read most other accounts up to date, and can candidly say yours interested me the most.
Lloyd could hardly wait to return to his place of work so that he could confirm this story—because it was to Lloyd, who, as a 19-year-old stationed aboard HMS Liverpool, that Mountbatten had dictated the letter.

Astounded, Girvan bore Lloyd off to his club near Whitehall where, Lloyd found himself obliged to make a hasty, impromptu talk in front of a large gathering of dedicated followers and believers, verifying Girvan's claim over Mountbatten's interest in the flying saucer question.

(* The photograph of Waveney Girvan  is from Flying Saucer Review v.10 no.6, 1964.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Launch of Flying Saucer Review part 3

The Flying Saucer Review continued to appear on a quarterly and then bi-monthly schedule. Using Waveney Girvan's contacts, the paper was produced efficiently and economically. The general harmony and enthusiasm of the group – plus the unstilted provision of individuals’ time and energy – became a pleasurable memory. Nobody ever talked about remuneration.

There were, however, still many moments of difficulty to face over the years. One major problem was that in their attempt to give serious thought and study to the subject of UFOs and to collate as much information as they could, the paper was also covering the claims of hoaxers and the deluded. 

“I met George Adamski at this time," recalled Derek Dempster many years later (FSR v.56 no.3, 2006). "I could see how terribly keen everybody was to embrace people like him who claimed he had travelled to Venus. I was less sure of him, and wished to remain objective. What we were all living on then was hope and expectation.”

Adamski, whom Desmond Leslie had visited in 1954, published a follow-up to Flying Saucers Have Landed in 1955. Entitled Inside the Space Ships, it detailed his trips around the solar system with, amongst others, Orthon the Venusian, a Martian named Firkon and Ramu the Saturnian. The book carried an introduction by Leslie.

Derek Dempster remained in the position as editor of Flying Saucer Review until the position became untenable in 1956. “We kept being shot down due to the activities of the lunatic fringe, who began to attach themselves to ufology. I had to leave FSR because of the effect it had on my business interests in the aviation industry; apart from that, I was being regarded as a ‘nutcase’, whose opinion in aviation matters was in question.”

Dempster continued to work in the aviation industry, remaining a Flight-Lieutenant in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force until 1956. At the same time he was editor of the B.O.A.C. aircrew magazine and the weekly B.O.A.C. News, a position he retained until 1959. He continued to work in publishing (as Skylink Ltd. he published Skytrader International) and as an advisor and consultant through a number of firms inclyding Economic Liaison Services, Airport Publishing Co., and Interface Publishing Consultants.

He continued to have an interest in UFOs and, fifty years after the founding of the Flying Saucer Review, said:
As I have matured I have looked for explanations for what we were reporting, the question of dimension and time in all this. Also I have thought of them just passing through our dimension rather than specifcally coming here for any purpose. I make the analogy of sitting in a car sideways rather than straight ahead. As another car passes you, you see something pass through your time dimension. As it speeds on, it leaves your position in space and we have no control over its passing. I believe the answer to everything exists if you have the right questions.
The editorship of  Flying Saucer Review passed to Brinsley Le Poer Trench, who remained in the post from September 1956 to 1959. Under his watch, the magazine developed a reputation for being an uncritical periodical. In 1957, a second founder disappeared from the roster.

Denis Montgomery, one of the chief catalysts in the birth of the magazine, had taken on the administrative role of Company Secretary. His original plans to create a library or institute for the study of UFOs never materialised due to a lack of funds. In 1957, his commercial career took him back to Africa and for the next six years he was an area petroleum sales manager and manager for the rubber purchasing and processing department for the United Africa Company in Nigeria. Returning to South Africa he worked as a stock distribution and production planning controller for Southern Africa, later working as a manaement consultant in South Africa, as commercial director for an eco-tourism project in Mozambique and for engineering and textile manufacturing companies in Brazil and England.

Brinsley Le Poer Trench's departure in 1959 occurred with little fanfare and with no reasons given. There is some uncertainty to the date of Trench's leaving and Waveney Girvan's taking on the task of editing. Charles Bowen, writing on the occasion of the magazine's tenth anniversary (FSR v.10 no.6, Nov/Dec 1964), recalled, "I had long been an admirer of Waverney’s work, particularly after he had taken over as Editor of the Review in 1959." In the paper's 25th anniversary issue (v.26 no.1, June 1980), he specifies September 1959. Eileen Buckle (who, some nine years later, became heavily-involved in the production of the magazine) believes the change came in 1960. “From the back issues I can tell you [going by details on the masthead] that Waveney took over the reins either from the March/April 1960 issue or the July/August 1960 issue (these two crucial issues are missing from my files) but his name appears as editor in the Sep/Oct 1960 issue.”

It would make sense that Trench's attentions were distracted during the period 1959-60, as his first book, The Sky People, was published in 1960. Confusion reigns (albeit mildly). If Bowen’s date of “1959” is correct, did it really take a further year for anyone to notice that the masthead had been wrong for the previous four or five issues?

However, having said that, 1959 had been a pretty difficult year for many connected to the publishing industry generally. In addition to many companies having been bought out, masticated and swallowed whole by some of the larger conglomerates, during May and June, there had been a disastrous six-week-long national print strike that had had the throttling effect of killing off so many periodicals that had been struggling-financially anyway. The Flying Saucer Review survived by issuing an emergency roneoed edition

But on a happier note, in a report emanating from the other side of the world, things appeared to be fairing far rosier. A missionary and many aboriginal natives had seen several UFOs on the 26th of June with one seemingly in the throws of being repaired by four human-like occupants. The report went on to say that the witnesses and the aliens had waved to each other! . . . now wasn’t that nice?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Launch of Flying Saucer Review part 2

Gordon Creighton, a foreign diplomat from the Ministry of Defence, recalls seeing proposals to publish a journal about Flying Saucers reported in London newspapers.
I was back in England [by] then, and I made contact at once and received the subscription form from Brinsley le Poer Trench, later Lord Clancarty. My knowledge of a number of languages gave me the opportunity to begin contributing straight away, and my first [translated] piece appearing in the second issue of FSR (May/June 1955).
Creighton would play a most important part in the Flying Saucer Review story and deserves a closer look.

He was born Gordon William Creighton in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, on 26 April 1908, the son of William Creighton Jr., a Scottish-born travelling salesman who lived with his father, a farmer, at Piper's Farm, Rickmansworth, and his wife Mabel (nee Maloney). William and Mabel's marriage was brief and they divorced in January 1913 (William was later married again, in 1933, to Doris Storey).

Paul Whitehead, in an obituary for Creighton in 2003, said:
He ran around barefoot for a few years, on the farm – with his grandfather standing in for his parents. He used to drink milk straight from cows – which is how he contracted tuberculosis.  His friend died from the disease, but Gordon survived after an operation.
    When he did eventually go to school (age 11?), it was discovered that he had a bent for being multilingual and academic. This combination led him to a career in the diplomatic service, with elements of the secret service thrown in.
Creighton's late start did not prevent what The Times (16 August 2003) called "a conventional education" at Bishop's Stortford College, Cambridge University and the École Libre des Sciences Politiques in Paris.

His first posting was as an attaché to the British Embassy in Beijing. He subsequently served as H.M. Vice-Consul at Tientsin and H.M. Vice-Consul at Chungking before becoming First Secretary at Beijing. Further posts included periods in the Far Eastern Department of the Foreign Office in London, then as H.M. Consul at Nanking and at Shanghai. In Shanghai he survived the shelling by the Japanese at the outset of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937. Creighton, like many embassy staff, moved to Chungking, the Chinese provisional capital, and was stationed there during the early 1940s.

When he eventually returned to the UK, he had two very fortunate escapes, as recalled by Paul Whitehead:
He had to leave China, and went to Sydney. A ship that he was due to leave on for England (but didn't) san en route – sunk by the Germans . . . He instead caught a boat that sailed east from Sydney to South America. This sailed up the east coast of South America; Gordon had to disembark (in Brazil, I think) and was airlifted to the US because he was very ill. In a storm, the ship that he had been on broke up, with large or total loss of life.
After World War II, in 1947, Creighton married Joan Karthlyn Felice Dudley (1922-1997) before taking up a post as H.M. Consul at Recife, Brazil, where his wife gave birth to twins, Philip Gordon William and Rosamund Lilian Margaret, in December 1948. The family returned to the UK when the twins were 15 months old.

After spells as Consul-General at Antwerp, Belgium, and New Orleans, USA, Creighton researched maps in oriental and other languages with the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names. His work was aided by his talent for languages; he studied twenty, including Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetian, Mongolian, Burmese, Arabic and Russian.

He then spent eight years as an intelligence officer on Russian and Chinese affairs at the Ministry of Defence. He reputedly worked directly below the top secret department at Whitehall where the Air Ministry and RAF studied UFOs. This was a subject Creighton had become interested in during the summer of 1941 when he saw what he described as "a white disc with a piercingly bright bluish light on top racing through the sky in the far west of China near the eastern marches of Tibet".

Not that he liked the phrase "UFO", which he thought a monstrous term, deliberately introduced by American authorities, that was meekly accepted by American civilian researchers, followed by "all the others, like a flock of sheep".

"Flying Saucers" as a term also had its own problems and Creighton recorded (FSR v.39 no.2, 1994):
[I]t was not long before we began to find that quite a lot of our readers – particularly the native Brits, who are well known for their traditional nervousness about "what the neighbours might think" – showed distinct squeamishness about signing cheques made out to "FLYING SAUCER REVIEW". Evidently they were pretty concerned about what their bank-manager might think of such politically incorrect behaviour! So, in the summer of 1971, I persuaded the other Directors that we should apply to the Registrar of Companies for our name to be switched from the ridiculous "FLYING SAUCER SERVICE LTD.", to "FSR PUBLICATIONS LTD." The bank-managers wouldn't have a clue as to what that meant, and would-be readers of FSR need no longer hang their heads in shame.
Creighton had no shame about what his neighbours thought. The Times noted:
For 30 years, commuting daily from Hertfordshire to London, he "made a special point of carrying and reading FSR in the train up to Baker Street and then on the Underground". He was pleased to recall that "it must have happened on at least a dozen occasions that complete strangers would step across the gangway to me and say: "Flying Saucer Review! Where can I get that?"
(* Photograph of Gordon Creighton in Shanghai, 1938, is from Flying Saucer Review (v.46 no.4, 2001).)

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Launch of Flying Saucer Review part 1

As with any history that involves more than one person, there are conflicting versions of how Flying Saucer Review began. There are sketchy references to regular meetings having taken place during the latter half of 1954. According to Derek Dempster (originally published in FSR v.51 no.2, Autumn 2006), "We held meetings at Westminster, Caxton Hall, near Scotland Yard." Caxton Hall, originally used as a Town Hall during the Second World War, had been used by the Ministry of Information as a venue for press conferences held by Winston Churchill and his ministers.In succeeding years, it became a popular register office for high society celebrities and for those who had required a civil marriage and was the regular home of bi-monthly comic marts during the 1970s and 1980s.

There are no details as to whether these meetings had taken place weekly or monthly, nor as to whom or how many enthusiasts had actually attended. There is mention though of two highly-placed allies:

"We believed these things were coming in from outer space, and we were trying to prove this with science. We had some allies, such as Peter Horsley, who had been Station Commander at North Weald and was then Equerry to Prince Philip. Also, we received collaboration from Henry Chinnery, who was Horsley’s successor."

Squadron Leader Horsley had joined the Royal Household as an Extra Equerry in 1949, rising to Temporary Equerry to the Queen in 1952 and full-time Equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1953, a role he retained until 1956. Squadron Leader Chinnery, in the RAF since 1941, replaced Lieutenant-Commander Michael Parker as the Duke's Air Equarry when the latter departed suddenly after separating from his wife.

Both Horsley and Chinnery were eager in keeping the Palace fully informed – particularly in light of Lord Louie Mountbatten’s well-advertised personal interest in the subject of flying saucers. The Admiral of the Fleet was known to have kept several lever files containing collected newspaper reports, jotted notes and UFO photographs on the bridge so that he might show these off to visitors at times when he was at sea.

At the next Caxton Hall meeting, Waveney Girvan – having been thoroughly fired up from the ideas Denis Montgomery had floated only a matter of days before – had introduced his new friend, and then announced their combined thoughts about floating a bi-monthly magazine, the subject of which would be entirely devoted to UFO phenomena.

With mounting enthusiasm, Derek Dempster, Brinsley le Poer Trench, Oliver Moxon (former RAF fighter pilot, charter pilot, publisher and author) and Lewis Barton (managing editor of the illustrated magazine This Week and author of two books for T. Werner Laurie) had all approved of the idea and had agreed to put in a bit of cash. It was agreed that a limited company should be formed and that Derek Dempster would become the magazine’s first editor – not as daunting a task as it might sound for he was already acting as editor for BOAC's monthly house magazine. Working out of No. 1 Doughty Street, Waveney Girvan would be on hand to assist in giving him all the necessary typesetting, repro house and printing contacts, and he would have the commercial expertise as offered by Lewis Barton. With everything agreed, they all adjourned to a nearby pub to celebrate.

Gordon Creighton later recalled (FSR v.39 no.2, 1994), "Meanwhile, on December 15, 1954, the "Founding Fathers" of FSR had held their first meeting at 4 Berners Street, London W.1. The participants were Waveney Girvan, Derek Depster, Desmond Leslie, Benjamin Harrington, Oliver Moxon, Lewis Barton, Desmond Judge and Denis Montgomery.  On November 12, 1954, the company Flying Saucer Service Limited had been registered at Companies House, based at the 1 Doughty Street, London WC1 address of T. Werner Laurie. "Anyone seeing this weird title must surely have thought that it was some sort of cosmic minicab firm!" Creighton joked. Montgomery, who was company secretary, later revealed that:
The company was named Flying Saucer Service Ltd in order to portray its role as something more than a magazine publisher. It was a firm intention that it would eventually provide a service to researchers and other publishers and interested bodies with co-ordinated information, and to investigate sightings and happenings. It was hoped that with improved financial viability the company might expand into other related commercial activities.
Volume 1 Number 1 of Flying Saucer Review, although dated Spring, appeared in January 1955 and had a startling diagrammatic cover by Castle. For its first 83 issues (until v.14 no.6, 1968), the cover title was Flying Saucer Review in full. The magazine was bold, unashamed and enthusiastic about its subject matter; Derek Dempster, the editor, set the tone on page one:
[Flying Saucer Review]'s aim is to obtain and analyse as many reports and photographs as possible and to publish those considered authentic and important. Unpublished accounts and pictures analysed will be classified and filed for reference purposes."
This could almost be Denis Montgomery's vision come to life.

Beyond Dempster's editorial, there was an interview with Flight-Lieutenant J. R. Salandin, whose encounter with two circular objects in 1954 has been previously mentioned. Articles appeared signed by W. J. Brown, Leonard Cramp, John Rowland (described as "a recent convert to belief in flying saucers"), "Pisces" ("a prominent astronomer, who does not believe in flying saucers") and The Hon. Brinsley Le Poer Trench.

Leonard George Cramp (1919-2006) was a British aerospace engineer whose Space, Gravity and the Flying Saucer, published by T. Werner Laurie in 1954, looked at the engineering possibilities of flying saucers and included orthographic projections of flying saucer photographs and technical drawings of other UFOs.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bob Bartholomew (1923-2013)

Bob Batholomew, circa 1949, in his red Singer Le Mans sports car.

Bob Bartholomew, best know to the comics' world as the editor of Eagle and Boys' World in the 1960s, died on Wednesday, 9 October, at the age of 90. Bob had been kind enough to share his memories of his days working at The Amalgamated Press, Odhams and IPC over the years. I first spoke to him when I was putting together a history of the old Fleetway educational magazines (Look and Learn and the like) and he was very generous with his time, offering a unique insight into the latter days of The Children's Newspaper, which he helped to re-shape for a new generation. As a sub-editor to Sydney Warner, he introduced a sports page as Warner attempted to make the paper more attractive to children with pop features and fiction.

Bob took over The Eagle during a dark and troublesome time as far as fans of the paper are concerned. Following the Mirror Group's purchase of Odhams, which put Leonard Matthews in control of the Odhams' comics department, it is generally agreed that changes made to update the papers (in Eagle's case the introduction of reprints and the removal of Dan Dare from the front cover) failed miserably. With sales falling, Bartholomew was brought in and tried to regain some of the old style of the Eagle in its heyday. The first strip he helped introduce was 'Heros the Spartan', considered one of the finest strips ever to appear in British comics.

Born in Eltham, South London, on 25 August 1923 and educated locally at Gordon School, Eltham, Leslie Robert Thomas Bartholomew was a keen reader from an early age, sometimes 4 or 5 books a week, with an aptitude for English. He joined the Amalgamated Press as a junior at the age of 14, working on The Children's Newspaper where he mostly running messages, but was able to write the odd paragraph of news, for which he received an additional half a crown. He continued his education with a three year Associated Insitute of Mechanical Engineering Course at the South-East London Technical School, and later studied Maths and French in order to join the Air Force as a pilot. He scored 100% in maths at his entrance exam, and was offered a navigator's training, but insisted that it should be pilot training, although he subsequently served in Liberators as a navigator circling the Atlantic looking for U-Boats.

On his return to Amalgamated Press after five years, Bartholomew worked on The Children's Encyclopedia, scanning the thousands of pages for entries that needed updating and writing for The Children's Newspaper, eventually writing the weekly leader, front pages, sports pages, interviews and whatever else was required.

In 1962, Bartholomew took over The Eagle as editor, and tried to recapture some of the elements of the original paper's prestige, but found his efforts thwarted as decisions were made to bring the paper in line with other Fleetway comics. Bartholomew was also editor of Boys' World  (1963-64), worked on various other Odhams and Fleetway papers – including World of Wonder and World of Knowledge – until 1981. He left IPC in August 1981 to concentrate on freelance work, mostly Disney characters for Gutenberghus, the Danish publishers of Disney Magazine. He retired in 1992.

Bartholomew only wrote a few scripts during his editorial days, including the Dan Dare story ‘Underwater Attack’ (1967-68) and the last few scripts for ‘The Guinea Pig’ (1968-69). He was, however, a regular compiler of crosswords for The Times; it was a Bartholomew-compiled set of cryptic clues that appeared alongside the wrong grid one Easter morning around 1991.

Bob was married to Joyce Theresa Wates in 1950; she died in 2002 but he is survived by their three children: Andrew, Paul and Joanna.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thunderbirds: The Comic Collection review

Thunderbirds: The Comic Collection is a huge hunk of a book that takes me back to my childhood, right back to the late Sixties, when I was just starting to convert my pocket money into weekly comics. First Valiant, then Joe 90: Top Secret when it launched in January 1969 because it had The Champions and Land of the Giants, which were two of my favourite TV shows of the time.

I was also picking up TV21, which meant I caught the tail end of the Frank Bellamy run on Thunderbirds. Now, Thunderbirds was my favourite of all the Gerry Anderson shows, so to have new adventures, in colour, was mindblowing. Later, I could appreciate the skill with which Bellamy depicted the characters and the action, telling the story through an intricate jigsaw of jagged-edged panels, but when I was seven the story and the colour were the key issues.

This might be why I quickly went off the strip after TV21 and Joe 90 merged. As far as I was concerned, Valiant was the most consistently exciting paper I was reading and I drifted away from TV21 when Thunderbirds and Joe 90 disappeared in the summer of 1970, probably so I could spend the money I was saving on icecreams and at the penny arcades of seaside towns we visited.

So re-reading these yarns is like rediscovering a little bit of my childhood that I haven't stumbled across in some while. Ravette reprinted at least some of these stories back in the early 1990s, but I was too busy with other things to pick up every volume. That makes this current collection a real joy: it doesn't contain every story published, but it is a very solid run of strips published between September 1967 and April 1970, with 14 of the 16 stories painted by Frank Bellamy. The remaining two stories by John Cooper from TV21 & Joe 90 have been newly coloured in a style that makes the stories fit perfectly into the book.

The other big bonus is a run of three Lady Penelope stories from 1965 plus on story from that year's TV21 Summer Extra (wrongly credited as Lady Penelope Summer Extra here, and on the story credited to Eric Eden rather than its true artist, Frank Hampson, who is correctly credited on the contents page; while we're noting errors, one of the Lady Penelope stories is wrongly credited to Frank Bellamy when it is actually by Eden).

For the most part the integrity of the colour is pretty good: working from printed copies can be a pain (believe me, I know!) as delicate colouring can easily be lost as you remove the smoky yellow cast caused by age. Volumes where artwork has been restored or rescanned from original boards can give us a far better chance of the colours remaining true in a printed book. But I think Egmont, bar the occasional glitch (e.g. pages 54-55), have done a pretty good job.

Apart from 200 pages of Thunderbirds and 60 pages of Lady Penelope, there are also some very neat features from Graham Bleathman, who provides cutaways and details of launch sequences for all of the craft that can be launched, and a nifty look at how Thunderbird 5 was constructed in orbit, as well as revealing details of both Tracy Island and Lady Creighton-Ward's stately home. These provide a nice break from the helter-skelter action of the stories.

The pricetag for this chunky book is an equally chunky £25.00. But many shops will have the volume on offer and Amazon are offering the book with a 35% discount.

Thunderbirds: The Comic Collection. Egmont ISBN 978-1405-26836-3, October 2013, 288pp, £25.00.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Comic Cuts - 25 October 2013

I haven't much to report on the work front. I'm still plugging away at one or two things that I'll be promoting shortly. One will be the Gino D'Antonio book, which I want to get back to as soon as possible. I had hoped to have it out by the end of the month, but the month has rather gotten away from me.

So... I figured out that the stomach problems I was having wasn't irritable bowel but must have been – must be, as it hasn't quite cleared up – a pulled muscle. I eased back on the exercise I was doing and things have been slowly improving. I'm still on a mixture of walking and using an ancient exercise bike and still burning up roughly 2,000 calories a week above what I used to burn sitting around all day in front of the computer. I haven't weighed myself for a month, so it'll be interesting to see if the bike has made any difference. I might be able to find out in a couple of weeks.

I have been to two gigs since last week's Comic Cuts: we went to see Lucy Porter on Friday. This was her first tour in some years as she has taken time off while her children were very young. It's great to have her back and her Northern Soul show is at least as much fun as her 2008 show, 'Love In'. The narrative had the audience engaged from the moment she walked onto the stage and we learned a lot about the attitudes of her father as she grew up in Croydon, the daughter of a Northern Irish shop owner. We learn, too, why Lucy wanted to attend Manchester University, what it was like working for Richard & Judy and what happened to her when she began on the comedy circuit. There are plenty of laughs to be had as teenage Lucy tries to find her place in the world after deciding that, although born in the south, she is spiritually a Northerner.

If Lucy Porter still hasn't found her place by the end of her tour, maybe she'll consider Colchester. We're not like the rest of Essex. (That should be the town's motto!)

Not that it's perfect . . . and this is a bit of an aside . . . because the council have been screwing around with the bus services again. The latest changes, I suspect, are down to an ongoing problem they had: a dozen different bus routes converged on a single bus stop located just after a point where traffic met from two different directions. At the top of the hour, at least three buses were due and only two could fit into the indent into the pavement where buses were meant to pull in. This, too, was where bus drivers changed, so buses would often sit, unmoving, for five minutes while the third bus waited, blocking all traffic, until it, too, could pull in to deliver or collect its passengers.

So now I have to walk twice the distance to catch a bus back to Wivenhoe from Colchester. It's not a major problem, although I did notice the other day that they've stuck in another bus stop about thirty yards further down the road from the original (still active). Quite how this is meant to help I don't know because there's not enough room to get a car or bus around the parked bus if it stops.

Anyway, back to gigs. Robin Ince would appreciate the irony that I've just looked up the name of his tour on the ticket and it just says The Importance of. Of what, damnit? Aaaaagh!

Of being interested, that's what. Ince asserts that we should never lose interest even if what you're doing seems mundane because that's how things are discovered. Twenty years ago, Richard Feynman spent a happy day snapping uncooked spaghetti and counting the pieces because he noticed that, when bent out of shape, spaghetti doesn't just snap into two pieces, as you would expect, but fragments into three, four or more pieces.

Richard Feynman is one of Ince's heroes: he helped develop the atomic bomb during WWII and helped develop our understanding of quantum physics. Here's his page on Wikipedia where I've just learned that he didn't speak until the age of three. "Why speak now, son?" his parents asked. "Because until now the wheels on the bus would have gone round and round as you described..." replied Feynman. . . no he didn't, it's a joke about Germans adapted for physicists.

Ince's jokes about physicists are better, I promise. He has energy and enthusiasm and a set of slides to present, some of which he has to dash through to fit the show into the allotted time (and it was still a long show). Like the PowerPoint presentation, the subject matter jumps around as each slide sends him off on a topic, whether it is Charles Darwin or naked mole rats. Ince's 5-year-old son, Archie, is a running, and I should say legitimate, meme throughout the show as Ince compare's his own reactions to Archie's. Anecdotes are accompanied by impersonations of Feynman, Mr Magoo, Brian Cox and others, a bit of shouting and a lot of passion. One of the strength's of the show is that Ince throws complex ideas into the mix without feeling the need for complex explanations. The ideas can be marveled at for what they are. I suspect that Robin Ince spends a lot of time marveling at things and we should all be grateful that he tours around the country letting us all have a glimpse at them.

OK... the photos... I tried taking a photo of Lucy Porter but there wasn't a single usable picture. Instead, meet Lucy the cat who I see every day as I do for a walk; and I managed to forget my camera when we went to see Robin Ince, which is annoying as we hung around after the gig and had a brief chat. As I don't have a picture of a Robin to hand, this is Fluffybum, who popped in for a visit a couple of weeks ago. I tend to carry the camera around with me and end up taking photographs of all sorts of rubbish. For instance, the road has been closed off nearby so some new pipes can be laid. I have photos of the road closed sign, the trench that was dug... why? Who knows. Every now and then I get a shot I'm happy with, such as the graveyard shot taken this (Thursday) morning. There was a low mist which layered the gravestones. It just looked nice.

The column topper was a series a four photos taken out of the upstairs window of a bus on Saturday... there's a lot of building going on around Wivenhoe and it's nice to see that there are still some views that are unbroken. Shame the weather wasn't better. We do get some big skies in Wivenhoe. The photo above was taken earlier this month down at the quay.

Well, that was a chatty column. We should have a book review tomorrow and we're back with those Magnificent Men and Their Flying (Saucer) Machines next week.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Commando Issues 4647-4650

Commando issues on sale 24 October 2013

Commando No 4647 – Dead Shot

Young Jason Stringer was an excellent shot. Almost as soon as he joined up his potential to become a top sniper was immediately spotted…and carefully nurtured.
   Such was his skill that he soon became a propaganda figure — the almost mythical “British Bite”. A quiet man, Jason wanted no fuss and to keep his identity secret. But that would prove impossible when the Germans set their own super sniper against him.

Story: Dominic Teague
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4648 – Crash Dive!

In 1943 there wasn’t a single matelot in the Royal Navy who hadn’t heard of HM Submarine Dauntless. She’d sent more Japanese ships on the downward trip to Davy Jones’ locker than any other vessel in the Pacific.
   Skipper of the Dauntless was the legendary “Mauler” Mathieson — tough as the plates of steel that welded his sub together, and surly as a wounded bear.
   So when young Harry Barton was posted to the Dauntless, he reckoned he was just about the luckiest lieutenant in the Navy. But that was before he found out there could only be one officer aboard the Dauntless…“Mauler” Mathieson himself!


The front cover of this issue hints at tension and drama underwater but if you’re expecting a suspenseful 63 pages, you’ll be disappointed. This is an action-packed tale that cracks along like a line of Spanish fire-crackers. Perhaps it has something to do with the two Spanish artists whose work you can appreciate her. Chaco did a number of covers — though this is the only one with muted underwater colours — while the black-and-whites are supplied by one of the clan of superb Commando illustrators, the de la Fuentes.
   And don’t forget the story, it’s a real fire-eater.

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Bingley
Art: Fuente
Cover: Chaco
Originally Commando No 87 (Oct 1963)

Commando No 4649 – Blood Red Desert

Stu McBride, decorated war veteran turned prospector, had quite often been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Somehow he’d always managed to get out of it, though.
   But this time was different. This time he was in the middle of a top secret rocket range in the red centre of Australia with the Army and the Air Force after him. As if that wasn’t enough, there was a bunch of heavily armed Soviet special forces men just dying to get their hands on him too.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4650 – Secret of The Sea

The Japanese gunners pushed shell after shell into the red-hot breech of their deck-gun, desperately trying to bring down the huge Mariner flying-boat as it roared in on another attack, machine guns blazing, bombs ready.
   The submarine commander knew he was trapped — caught in shallow water off a coral reef. Yet he had to try to escape, for in his boat he carried a deadly secret…


All artists have things that they really like to draw, things that bring out the best in them. Such was the case with Jose Maria Jorge and aircraft. I don’t think there can have been many he didn’t illustrate during at some point in his long Commando career. He would also draw figures in his crisp, precise style and yet impart them with a real sense of movement. The figures running and dodging through the jungle in this story really are dodging and running.
   Allan Chalmers will have been well pleased to see his tale of sea, submarines and secrets so competently realised…as will you when you read the story.

Calum Laird, Editor

Story: Allan Chalmers
Art: Jose Maria Jorge
Cover: Ian McIntosh
Originally Commando No 2154 (January 1988), re-issued as No 3635 (July 2003)

John Bull gallery 7

This is the last John Bull gallery for now. If anyone has copies of John Bull or similar illustrated magazines that they want to donate, drop me a line – my e-mail address can be found under the photo top left. A huge thanks to Mike Ashley for these copies.

Ken J. Petts

Edwin Phillips

John Berry

(* John Bull © Advertising Archive Ltd.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Denis Montgomery

Over the preceding pages, we have detailed the three leading characters in the story behind the Flying Saucer Review—four if you include Desmond Leslie and the impetus his book gave to the notion of setting up a place for the serious study of UFOs. But in practical terms the creation of the paper was the responsibility of Waveney Girvan, Derek Dempster and Brinsley Le Poer Trench.

But there is, in fact, a genuine fourth. At around twenty years old, he was not only the youngest of the group, but perhaps he was the most influential in the way that, through him, the lives of those around him had been considerably altered.

Denis Montgomery was born in a farmworkers' clinic on a tea estate in Kearsney, Natal, in South Africa in 1934, the son of an Irishman who had emigrated to and fought for Australia during the Great War and a mother whose family were mid-19th century colonial pioneers.

After serving three years in the Navy, Montgomery attended the University of Natal before emigrating to England to study librarianship. It was whilst  employed as an assistant librarian at Southwark University—now the London South Bank University (LSBU), based near the South Bank of the River Thames from which it now takes its name—that he first became aware of the UFO phenomenon.

It was 1953 and the heyday of UFO sightings and Montgomery developed a growing fascination for what he later called "the concept of interplanetary travel and the new idealism of a universal brotherhood of intelligent life." Vast numbers of people from all walks of life claimed to have seen, or had some sort of contact with, beings from another world over the previous half-a-dozen years. Scraps of information and feedback or speculation resulting from these reports was everywhere, but it went unrecorded and was subsequently being lost. Montgomery felt that there ought to be some form of institute or library whereby all these scraps of useful information could be amassed into a single, well-ordered collection area where it could be catalogued and filed away properly.

Montgomery made contact with Waveney Girvan, meeting him at the offices of T. Werner Laurie where he put forward his ideas. Girvan – heavily into the throws of writing his own book Flying Saucers and Common Sense – had also been considering the possibility of putting together a serious and trustworthy magazine. A magazine, if it was successfully launched, could support the institute that he wanted, Montgomery believed, and, in turn, that would give the magazine an authoritative platform. In addition to a popular magazine, which provided revenue, maybe a learned journal could follow.

A meeting was arranged. And it is to this meeting that we shall return in a few days time for our next chapter.

(* Photograph of Denis Montgomery from this page; Denis Montgomery has written extensively about his years in Africa and copies of his books can be found here.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Brinsley Le Poer Trench

Whilst Desmond Leslie was not one of the five players directly involved in the launch of Flying Saucer Review, his book was a key element in its launch. Another aristocrat, however, put his money where his mouth was and was one of the magazine's financial backers in its early days before taking over as editor.

Brinsley Le Poer Trench claimed he could trace his family origins back to around 63,000 B.C., when aliens landed on Earth. Other aliens ascended from below the surface of the planet from civilisations that still exist. "I haven't been down there myself," he later admitted, "but from what I gather [these civilisations] are very advanced." Oh, and Adam and Eve, Noah and other biblical characters were from Mars.

On a more down-to-earth level, his family tree can easily be traced back to Irish politician Frederick Richard Trench (1681-1752), his son Richard Trench, and grandson, William Power Keating Trench (→ Wikipedia), who became the Earl of Clancarty, taking the name from a "tenuous link" to the Munster Earls of Clancarty. The 2nd Earl of Clancarty, Richard, was also made Marquess of Heusden in 1815 for his aid in resolving Dutch border disputes. Le Poer was an old noble Irish name dating back to the Norman invasion of Ireland.

William Francis Brinsley Le Poer Trench was the fifth son of  William Fredrick Le Poer Trench, the 5th Earl of Clancarty, and inherited his titles following the deaths of two older brothers (Richard in 1971 and Greville in 1975), making him the 8th Earl of Clancarty and 7th Marquess of Heusden. (More information on the lineage can be found here.)

Trench was raised in London and educated at the Pangbourne Nautical College, and had taken up employment for a while selling advertising space for a gardening magazine whose offices were housed in a building opposite the Waterloo mailine Station. After the success of his first book, published in 1960, he was able to write full-time.

Trench's interest in UFOs had developed after the war and, finding others with similar interests, he was involved in the early years of the Flying Saucer Review, selling advertising space and eventually taking over the editorship between 1956 and 1959. He also founded the International UFO Observer Corps in 1956, which had observers watching the skies until 1960 when it was closed down as few reports came in from members involved and some, having failed to sight a UFO, turned to other forms of evidence gathering—"mediumship, myths and traditions, leading to preconceived opinions inimical to research with open minds."

Trench served as vice-president of the The British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), founded in 1962. He was chairman of the International Committee of the International Sky Scouts, founded in 1965 and who held a flying saucer spotting day on 24 June 1966. The International Sky Scouts became Contact International in 1967 with Trench their first president; their newsletter – Awareness – became Awareness: Journal of Contact. He was also an honorary life member of the now defunct “Ancient Astronauts Society” which supported ideas that had been put forward by Erich von Dänken in his 1968 book Chariots of the Gods?

In 1975 he succeeded to the earldom on the death of his half-brother thus entitling him to a seat in the British Parliament. He used his new position to found a UFO Study Group at the House of Lords, introduce the Flying Saucer Review magazine to its library and push for the declassification of UFO data.

Four years later he organised a celebrated debate in the House of Lords on UFOs which attracted many speeches on both sides of the question, with Lords Kimberley, Oxfuird, Davies of Leek and Cork speaking in Clancarty's support. In one debate, Lord Stabolgi, for the Government, declared that there was nothing to convince him that any alien spacecraft had ever visited the Earth. John Ezard reported Clancarty's response on another occasion when he was challenged to prove that aliens were on earth: "Well, you do see a lot of strange people about, don't you," replied Clancarty.

Lest it be thought that Lord Clancarty was simply using his privileged position to promote his own  ideas, it should be noted that he also attended almost every meeting of the Lords defence group and was interested in services for the sick, the poor and the alcoholic. He was described by Lord Kimberley as "a terribly kind man".

Clancarty was married four times. He died in a nursing home in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, on 18 May 1995, survived by his fourth wife. His titles passed to his nephew, Nicholas Le Poer Trench.


The Sky People. London, Neville Spearman, 1960.
Men Among Mankind. London, Neville Spearman, 1962, Amherst, WI, Amherst Press, 1963.
Forgotten Heritage. London, Neville Spearman, 1965.
The Flying Saucer Story. London, Neville Spearman, 1966.
Operation Earth. London, Neville Spearman, 1969.
The Eternal Subject. London, Souvenir Press, 1973, as Mysterious Visitors: The UFO Story, New York, Stein and Day, 1973, revised, London, Pan Books, 1975.
Secret of the Ages: UFOs from Inside the Earth. London, Souvenir Press, 1974.

(* Photograph from The Hollow Earth Insider website.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Desmond Leslie

According to his obituary in the Daily Telegraph,  "The prevailing scientific materialism of Leslie's time held no appeal to him, and he turned his attention instead to the world of mysteries. Attracted to ancient history, archaeology and esoteric philosophy, he saw in them evidence of a world view quite different from that of more soberly academic contemporaries. To Leslie, ancient monuments and artefacts were proof of a sophistication of culture and technology that could not be attributed to the people of their times. The makers, he concluded, were evidently super-human—or came from elsewhere. In the 1950s, there were regular reports of "flying saucers" and of encounters with alien creatures, and Leslie's merger of these accounts with his antiquarian researches led to The Flying Saucers Have Landed."

The latter, described as "a key text of the New Age movement", was jointly credited to George Adamski, a Polish-born American who developed an interest in Eastern religions in the 1930s, founding a group known as the Royal Order of Tibet. In 1952, Adamski claimed that he was invited aboard a flying saucer and taken to Venus.

Aliens from Venus is a key element of Theosophy, which Leslie used as one of the bases of his book, which consisted of his own main part (Book One), taking up over three-quarters of the book, with the shorter Adamski book (Book Two) attached. Leslie's foreword opens as follows: "About eighteen million years ago, say the strange and ancient legends of our little planet" before citing a number of books written by Theosophists—Alice Bailey (→ Wikipedia), Annie Besant ((→ Wikipedia), H. P. Blavatsky (→ Wikipedia) and C. W. Leadbeater (→ Wikipedia).

Central to Leslie's book was Sanat Kumara who, according to Blavetsky, belonged to a group of beings known as the Lords of the Flame. This theme was developed by Leadbeater and Bailey. Wikipedia notes: "C.W. Leadbeater and later adherents of Theosophy such as Alice A. Bailey believe that Sanat Kumara came to Earth 18,500,000 years ago (A.E. Powell gives a figure of 16,500,000 years ago) from the etheric plane of the planet Venus . . . In Theosophy, the beings that helped Sanat Kumara organize the expedition from Venus are called the "Lords of the Flame"."

Mix in numerous reports from newspapers and magazines and Leslie's book alone might have made an interesting read. However, as Charles Davy noted in The Observer (4 October 1953): "Mr. Desmond Leslie's diligent but wildly speculative inquiries into the ancient history of flying saucers are overshadowed by Mr. George Adamski's story of the present day."

Even the book's editor had problems with the story, Charles Bowen later recalled (FSR v.16 no.3, 1970): "When it appeared in September 1953, the book had obviously benefited from Waveney Girvan's editing skill—during our years of close association he told me of the difficulties he had faced, and how he overcame them." Sadly, Bowen never expanded on the topic. Bowen does, however, discuss the reaction to the book's appearance:
A predictable blast effect was the instant raising of the voices of protest among reviewers. The general implication was that Adamski was a liar, a cheat and a hoaxer; others, later, thought he may have been hoaxed by someone else. Some, more charitable, were of the opinion that Adamski had seen, and photographed, a strange aerial object, and that he had suffered an hallucination which gave rise to the sensational story he told.
    An unpredictable blast effect was the enthusiasm with which the public rushed to buy the book, in spite of the reviews. Another effect was the way a "contactee" cult sprang into being around the person of George Adamski, an effect which, according to some, has done more damage to the possibility of serious research on UFOs than could have resulted from the pontifications of a thousand Menzels! While this may be true, it is equally true that many thousands of reasonable people first met the subject through the agency of this book, and thereafter decided, in a rational way, to find out more about UFOs. These people did not join the ranks of the vehement protesters, and they did not become cultists. In fact many of of them eventually became readers of Flying Saucer Review, for another of the effects of the dynamite blast was the founding of this journal late in 1954 by Waveney Girvan and a handful of friends.
    The success of the Leslie / Adamski book prompted these dedicated people to think the time was ripe for establishing a serious journal on the subject. (This is contrary to a view sometimes expressed that the FSR was founded to disseminate the cultist beliefs of the "contactees" and their followers.)
Even Bowen, who believed in UFOs, thought the Adamski story damaged serious research as it was "seemingly ridiculous" and "makes the subject laughable". However he retains his ire for Adamski's followers: "I have long felt that although the story seems ridiculous, and the chief witness created a poor impression of himself, the greatest danger to the subject lay in the subsequent cultism. The story itself is no more "ridiculous" than the bulk of the contact stories."

Leslie stood by Adamski and claimed that, on a visit to Adamski in California in 1954, he had seen
several flying saucers. Back in the UK, he teamed up with Brinsley le Poer Trench and helped with the creation of the Flying Saucer Review.

Leslie subsequently revised and expanded the book in 1970, but it has been largely forgotten by anyone outside the UFO community.

Leslie himself was also a somewhat forgotten character. Almost any mention of him tells us that he was an Irish aristocrat, who made the front pages in 1963 when he punched Bernard Levin live on That Was The Week That Was after the critic slated his wife's first solo show, Cabaret of Savagery and Delight, based on songs by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.

There is a question over quite where Leslie was born, with some sources saying he was born in Co. Monaghan, Ireland (Wikipedia, for instance), while other sources give London as his place of birth (including Contemporary Authors and travel records, from information supplied by Leslie himself). As Desmond A. Leslie, his birth was registered in Marylebone, London, in 3Q 1921, as can be seen from the record below.

He was born Desmond Arthur Peter Leslie on 29 June 1921, the son of Sir John Randolph Shane Leslie (→ Wikipedia), the eccentric and colourful 3rd Baronet of Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan. Shane Leslie had travelled widely and, alongside his political ambitions, was also an author. The family fortune waned following the Wall Street Crash but picked up in 2002 when Castle Leslie was the secret location of the marriage of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills.

Leslie studied at Ampleforth and Trinity College, Dublin, before joining the RAF during the Second World War, flying Spitfires and Hurricanes, destroying several planes (a family historian remarked that they were mostly those he was piloting). He celebrated VE day with his cousin, the Prime Minister, at 10 Downing Street.

In August 1945, he married Agnes Bernauer, the daughter of Rudolph Bernauer, a German Jewish impresario who had fled to London in 1936. In 1954, using her stage name Agnes Bernelle, she became the first actress to perform nude, as Salome at St Martin's Theatre, although her career developed as a singer as the decade moved on.

Leslie, meanwhile, worked in the film industry, writing and directing films, and as an author, his novels including Careless Lives (1945), Pardon My Return (1946) and Angels Weep (1946). Later novels included Hold Back The Night (1956), The Amazing Mr. Lutterworth (1958) and The Jesus File (1975). He was involved in the movies My Hands Are Clay (1947), Stranger At My Door (1950), The Missing Princess (1954, starring his wife) and Them And The Thing (1960).

During the shooting of Stranger At My Door, with money short, Leslie decided to create all the music himself. This interest in music developed, and he created a working multi-track sound mixing desk and, later, began recording experimental music himself, beginning with Music Of The Future in 1960 (although not commercially available until 2005). The track 'Mercury', for instance, was created using a spinning top and a horn from an old Morris Oxford. In the 1960s, he was involved with recording a series of Shakespeare plays in stereo performed by Old Vic players and released as 'The Living Shakespeare'. In the UK, the records were produced by Odhams. Some of his many recordings—bees humming, cars hooting, babies crying—were used as incidental music or sountracks to TV shows.

In 1963, whilst expecting their third child, Leslie and his wife moved from London to Ireland and concentrated on rebuilding the fortunes of Castle Leslie, firstly through a club, Annabel's on the Bog (after the famous London nightclub, Annabel's). Guests included Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithful and Patrick Moore, but it did not last long. Moore later collaborated with Leslie on a spoof book, How Britain Won The Space Race (1972).

His marriage to Agnes was dissolved in 1969 and he subsequently married Helen Jennifer Strong, with whom he had two daughters. They moved to St. Jeannet in the South of France in the late 1980s, where Leslie worked on various books, including an unpublished autobiography. He died in Antibes, France, on 24 February 2001, survived by his second wife and six children, one of them from an affair.


Careless Lives. London, Macdonald & Co., 1945.
Pardon My Return. London, Macdonald & Co., 1946.
Angels Weep. London, T. Werner Laurie, 1946.
Hold Back the Night. London, P. Owen, 1956.
The Amazing Mr. Lutterworth. London, Wingate, 1958.

Flying Saucers Have Landed, with George Adamski. London, British Book Center, 1953; revised and enlarged, London, Neville Spearman, 1970.
How Britain Won the Space Race, with Patrick Moore. London, Mitchell Beazley, 1972.
True Horsemanship Through Feel, with Bill Dorrance. Novato, CA, Diamond Lu Productions, 1999.

(* The photograph of Desmond Leslie is from his book The Amazing Mr Lutterworth; the photograph of Agnes and Desmond is from the Agnes Bernelle website.)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jack Williamson Cover Gallery

I was first attracted to Jack Williamson's work by the Legion of Space series which came out in the UK in paperback when I was fifteen, although what really attracted me first were those fabulous Peter Elson covers.

I'm an unashamed fan of old pulp-style adventure SF; thankfully, when I was in my early teens, a lot of the best of the 1930s and 1940s pulps were being collected. Isaac Asimov; Frederik & Carol Pohl, Brian Aldiss & Harry Harrison, Mike Ashley... they all put out some excellent anthologies gathering some of the best pulp-era yarns. What I particularly liked about Williamson was that he was still very active and writing stories that could have been written by someone fifty years his junior; he continued to write well into the new century when there has been an attempt to classify certain writers as "the new space opera", including Iain M. Banks, Peter F. Hamilton, Alistair Reynolds, etc. What goes around, comes around and, if we're lucky, collections like the astonishing Haffner Press volumes gathering Jack Williamson's stories will be there are reminders of what the "old space opera" was like.

The Legion of Time
Digit Books R522, Sep 1961.
Digit Books R703, May 1963.

After World's End
Digit Books R538, 1961; 
Digit Books R671, Feb 1963.

The Reefs of Space, with Frederik Pohl. 
Penguin 0-1400-2778-5, 1969.

Seetee Ship.
Mayflower Books 0-5821-1612-4, 1969.

Seetee Shock.
Mayflower Books, 0-5821-1613-2, 1969.

Starchild, with Frederik Pohl.
Penguin 0-1400-3103-0, 1970.

Undersea Quest, with Frederik Pohl.
Mayflower 0-5821-1779-1, 1970.

Farthest Star
Pan Books 0-3302-4639-9, Feb 1976.

Darker Than You Think
Sphere 0-7221-9166-9, 1976.
Gollancz (Fantasy Masterworks #38) 0-5750-7546-5, 2003.

The Legion of Space.
Sphere 0-7221-9171-5, Mar 1977. Cover by ?

The Cometeers.
Sphere 0-7221-9173-1, May 1977. Cover by ?

One Against the Legion.
Sphere 0-7221-9172-3, Jul 1977. Cover by ?

The Legion of Time.
Sphere 0-7221-9175-8, Sep 1977. Cover by Bob Layzell

The Humanoids
Sphere 0-7221-9176-6, Nov 1977. Cover by Chris Foss

The Early Williamson.
Sphere 0-7221-9167-7, 1978. Cover by Peter Elson

The Power of Blackness.
Sphere 0-7221-9177-4, Apr 1978. Cover by Peter Elson

Star Bridge, with James E. Gunn.
Magnum Books 0-4170-3500-4, 1979.

The Starchild Trilogy (Rogue Star, Starchild, The Reefs of Space).
Penguin 0-1400-5249-6, 1980.

The Reign of Wizardry.
Sphere 0-7221-9185-5, 1981.

Brother to Demons, Brother to Gods
Sphere 0-7221-9179-0, 1981. Cover by Jim Burns

The Humanoid Touch.
Sphere 0-7221-9195-2, 1982.

The Queen of the Legion
Sphere 0-7221-9196-0, 1984. Cover by Jim Burns

Sphere 0-7221-9115, 1986.

Sphere 0-7221-9117-0, 1987.

Methuen 0-4131-6330-X, 1988.

Mandarin 0-7493-0481-2, 1990.


Novels (series: Cuckoo’s Saga; Jim Eden; Legion of Space; Seetee; Starchild)
The Legion of Space (Legion). Reading, Pennsylvania, Fantasy Press, 1947; London, Sphere, 1977.
Darker Than You Think. Reading, Pennsylvania, Fantasy Press, 1948; London, Sphere, 1976.
The Humanoids. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1949; London, Museum Press, 1953; expanded, Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1980.
The Cometeers (and One Against the Legion) (Legion). Reading, Pennsylvania, Fantasy Press, 1950; published separately as The Cometeers, New York, Pyramid, 1967; London, Sphere, 1977; and One Against the Legion (with novella ‘Nowhere Near’), New York, Pyramid, 1967; London, Sphere, 1977.
The Green Girl. New York, Avon, 1950.
Dragon’s Island. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1951; as The Not-Men, New York, Belmont Tower, 1968.
The Legion of Time (with After World’s End). Reading, Pennsylvania, Fantasy Press, 1952; as Two Complete Novels: The Legion of Time, After World’s End, New York, Galaxy Megabook, 1963; London, Sphere, 1977; published separately as The Legion of Time, London, Digit, 1961, and After World’s End, London, Digit, 1961.
Undersea Quest, with Frederik Pohl (Eden). New York, Gnome Press, 1954.
Dome Around America. New York, Ace Books, 1955; London, Faber & Faber.
Undersea Fleet, with Frederik Pohl (Eden). New York, Gnome Press, 1956.
Undersea City, with Frederik Pohl (Eden). New York, Gnome Press, 1958.
Star Bridge, with James E. Gunn. New York, Gnome Press, 1955; London, Sidgwick & Jackson.
The Trial of Terra. New York, Ace Books, 1962.
Golden Blood. New York, Lancer Books, 1964.
The Reign of Wizardry. Lancer, 1964; London, Sphere, 1981.
The Reefs of Space, with Frederik Pohl (Starchild). New York, Ballantine, 1964; London, Dobson, 1966.
Starchild, with Frederik Pohl (Starchild). New York, Ballantine, 1965; London, Dobson, 1966.
Bright New Universe. New York, Ace Books, 1967; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1969.
Trapped in Space, illus. Robert Amundsen. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1968.
Rogue Star, with Frederik Pohl (Starchild). New York, Ballantine, 1969; London, Dobson, 1972.
The Moon Children. New York, Putnam, 1972; Morley, Yorkshire, Elmfield Press, 1975.
Farthest Star, with Frederik Pohl (Cuckoo). New York, Ballantine, 1975; London, Pan, 1976.
The Power of Blackness. New York, Berkley, 1976; London, Sphere, 1978.
Brother to Demons, Brother to God. Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1979; London, Sphere, 1981.
The Humanoid Touch. Huntington Woods, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1980; London, Sphere, 1982.
Manseed. New York, Ballantine, 1982; London, Sphere, Apr 1986.
Wall Around a Star, with Frederik Pohl (Cuckoo). Ballantine, 1983.
The Queen of the Legion (Legion). New York, Pocket Books, 1983; London, Sphere, 1984.
Lifeburst. New York, Ballantine, Dec 1984; London, Sphere, Mar 1987.
Firechild. New York, Bluejay, Aug 1986; London, Methuen, Mar 1988.
Land’s End, with Frederik Pohl. New York, Tor, Aug 1988.
Mazeway. New York, Ballantine, Apr 1990; London, Mandarin, Oct 1990.
The Singers of Time, with Frederik Pohl. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, Feb 1991.
Beachhead. New York, Tor, Aug 1992.
Demon Moon. New York, Tor, May 1994.
The Black Sun. New York, Tor, Mar 1997.
The Fortress of Utopia. Brooklyn, New York, Gryphon Publications, May 1998.
The Silicon Dagger. New York, Tor, Apr 1999.
The Stone from the Green Star, introduction by Philip J. Harbottle. Brooklyn, New York, Gryphon Publicaitons, Oct 1999.
Terraforming Earth. New York, Tor, Jun 2001.
The Stonehenge Gate. New York, Tor, Aug 2005.

Novels as Will Stewart (series: Seetee in both)
Seetee Shock. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1950; Kingswood, Surrey, World’s Work, 1954; as by Jack Williamson, Lancer, 1968.
Seetee Ship. New York, Gnome Press, 1951; as by Jack Williamson, Lancer, 1968.

Seetee. New York, Jove, 1979.
The Starchild Trilogy (contains: The Reefs of Space, Starchild, Rogue Star). Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1977; London, Penguin, 1980.
Three From the Legion (contains: The Legion of Space, The Cometeers, One Against the Legion). Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1981.
The Saga of Cuckoo (contains: Farthest Star, Wall Around a Star). Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1983.
The Undersea Trilogy (contains: Undersea Quest, Undersea Fleet, Undersea City). Riverdale, New York, Baen, Jun 1992.

The Girl from Mars, with Miles J. Breuer. New York, Stellar, 1929.
Lady in Danger. London, Utopian, 1945.
The Pandora Effect. New York, Ace Books, 1969.
People Machines. New York, Ace Books, 1971.
The Great Illusion, with others. Wallsend, Tyne & Wear, Fantasy Booklet, 1973.
The Early Williamson. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1975; London, Sphere, 1978.
Dreadful Sleep. Chicago, Weinberg, 1977.
The Best of Jack Williamson, introduction by Frederik Pohl. New York, Ballantine, 1978.
The Alien Intelligence: Jack Williamson—The Collector’s Edition, Volume I. New Orleans, P.D.A. Enterprises, 1980.
The Birth of a New Republic: Jack Williamson—The Collector’s Edition, Volume II, with Miles J. Breuer. P.D.A. Enterprises, 1981.
Author’s Choice Monthly Issue 5: Into the Eighth Decade. Eugene, Oregon, Pulphouse, Feb 1990.
The Prince of Space [and] The Girl from Mars. Brooklyn, New York, Gryphon Publications, Jun 1998.
The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson, Volume 1: The Metal Man and Others, foreword by Hal Clement. Royal Oak, Michigan, Haffner Press, May 1999.
The Ruler of Fate and Xandulu. Brooklyn, New York, Gryphon Publications, May 1999.
The Iron God (with Tomorrow by E. C. Tubb). Brooklyn, New York, Gryphon Publications, Jul 1999.
The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson, Volume 2: Wolves of Darkness, foreword by Harlan Ellison. Michigan, Haffner Press, Sep 1999.
The Blue Spot and Entropy Reversed, introduction by Philip J. Harbottle. Brooklyn, New York, Gryphon Publications, May 2000.
The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson, Volume 3: Wizard’s Isle, foreword by Ray Bradbury. Michigan, Haffner Press, Sep 2000.
The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson, Volume 4: Spider Island, foreword by Edward Bryant. Michigan, Haffner Press, Apr 2002.
Dragon’s Island and Other Stories, edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Ed Gorman. Waterville, ME, Five Star, Aug 2002.
Seventy-Five: The Diamond Anniversary of a Science Fiction Pioneer, edited by Stephen Haffner & Richard A. Hauptmann. Foreword by Connie Willis. Introduction by Arthur C. Clarke. Royal Oak, MI, Haffner Press, Aug 2004.
The Man From Somewhere. Portales, NM, Cacahuete Press, Mar 2005.
The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson, Volume 5: Crucible of Power, foreword by Frank M. Robinson. Michigan, Haffner Press, Mar 2006.
The Worlds of Jack Williamson: A Centennial Tribute (1908-2008), ed. Stephen Haffner; foreword by Frederik Pohl; introduction by James Gunn. Michigan, Haffner Press, 2008.
The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson, Volume 6: Gateway to Paradise, foreword by Frederik Pohl. Michigan, Haffner Press, 2008.
The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson, Volume 7: With Folded Hands ... And Searching Mind, ed. Stephen Haffner; foreword by Robert Silverberg. Michegan, Haffner Press, 2010.
The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson, Volume 8: At the Human Limit, ed. Stephen Haffner; foreword by Connie Willis. Michigan, Haffner Press, 2011.

Science Fiction Comes to College. A preliminary survey of courses offered. Portales, New Mexico, privately printed, 1971; expanded editions, 1971-72.
Teaching Science Fiction. Portales, New Mexico, privately printed, 1972; expanded editions, 1972-75.
H. G. Wells, Critic of Progress. Baltimore, Mirage Press, 1973.
Teaching Science Fiction: Education for Tomorrow. Philadelphia, Owlswick Press, 1980.
Wonder’s Child: My Life in Science Fiction (autobiography). New York, Bluejay, Aug 1984; revised, introduction by Mike Resnick, Dallas, TX, BenBella Books, Sep 2005.

Comic Strips
Beyond Mars, with Lee Elias. El Cojon, California, Blackthorne, 2 vols., 1987-88.

Jack (John Stewart) Williamson, Child and Father of Wonder by Gordon Benson Jr. Leeds, Galactic Central Publications, 1985.  
The Williamson Effect edited by Roger Zelazny. New York, Tor, 1996.
The Work of Jack Williamson: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide by Richard A. Hauptmann. NESFA Press, Aug 1998.
In Memory of Wonder's Child: Jack Williamson: April 29, 1908-November 10, 2006, ed. Stephen Haffner. Michigan, Haffner Press, 2007.