In newly released files, the Government did take a very real active interest in UFO phenomena during the cold war era.
There is little doubt that Jim Templeton was invited by two men (who identified themselves as government officials codenamed #9 and #10) to leave the firehouse where he worked one afternoon and take a ride back to Burgh Marsh, to point out the area where the Solway Firth/Cumberland Spaceman Photo was taken shortly after the incident went global in 1964.
The local newpaper the News and Star, ran a story on its website on 13 August 2011, which read :
“…A Freedom of Information request was made to the ministry of defence as to whether the infamous photograph by Jim Templeton in 1964 – featuring a spaceman, was of interest to the authorities.
An MoD official recently responded to the paper in regard to MOD Files on the incident, that the Templeton photo was of no interest to the MoD and added: “With regard to a photograph taken of a space-suited figure by Mr James Templeton of Carlisle in 1964, if such information has survived, it will now be open for viewing at The National Archives.”
The release of the MOD files also came with a footnote from Dr David Clarke, author of The UFO files and senior lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University, describing the extent to which official policy towards UFOs changed after the Cold War:
“In 1957, some officials were so concerned by a spate of incidents involving UFOs the subject was placed on the agenda of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC),’ Dr Clarke explained. ‘But by the 50th anniversary of the “flying saucer” mystery, in 1997, the MoD was no longer interested in UFOs as a defence problem, but as a purely public relations issue. This inevitably led to the closure of the MoD’s public UFO hotline at the end of 2009.”
So it is not unexpected with the buzz that surrounding this incident, especially after it went national, could have induced a visit by Government officials to visit Jim Templeton in 1964.
Jim said that the officials didn’t and wouldn’t, identify who they were by name, referring to each other by number. They showed Jim a badge with a crest and the word security written on it.
He also said that they wore dark matching suits and drove a dark non-descript Jaguar car – the classic image of a men in black scenario.
They drove him out to the marsh and asked Jim to identify the area where the photo was taken. Jim remembered that their lack of knowledge of the Carlisle area was not good which made Jim summise they were not local.
Once they got to the Marsh, they asked Jim to point out the location of the photo, asking numerous questions about the weather conditions on the day, whether there were any other witnesses and what the farm animals usually numerous on the marsh, were doing that day. (They were all uncharacteristically huddled together at the far end of the Marsh, Jim claimed).
The two men then allegedly changed tack with Jim and accused him of making the whole thing up , which Jim said he denied having done. They then returned to the parked Jaguar and Jim said he thought they were just planning to reverse into a nearby road entrance to turn the car round, but then drove off without him.
The first part of the incident is pretty reasonable. Having heard about the incident its not unbelievable that the government or maybe the Ministry of Defence chose to investigate the incident and interview the only witness.
They were no doubt concerned by UFO reports and any potential threat to national security, the recently de-classified documents make this clear.
What is less clear – and puts this incident firmly in the Men In Black (MIB) realm, is the alleged hostile nature of the two men and the intimidation of the witness. Whether this was to frighten Jim into not speaking about the incident further is unclear, as the incident had already gone global. The UFO investigator – Nick Pope, firmly believes the men were non-government officals, out for their own ends; due to a lack of a government paper trail pointing to an official investigation.
In alot of the alleged MIB encounters, the appearance of the MIB is to ensure that the story is suppressed at source. Unless that is, all of these agents follow some kind of handbook or protocol to the letter, which includes interviewing and then harrassing witnesses into keeping quiet, is not fantastical to the point of penpushing government officials who are more wrapped up in red tape than reality, when a protocol is to be followed.
Alot of MIB cases are too based in fantasy to have any real merit, luckily Jim’s story of MIB’s didn’t involve bright red lipstick, a flying car or MIB’s fading in and out of reality. So can probably be taken as it appears to be; a couple of civil servants sniffing around an alleged UFO encounter, to ascertain whether there is any threat to national security, in a cold war era. As to their sinister behaviour towards, we only have Jim’s testimony so we will never know.
The Men In Black encounter does add another layer onto the fascinating Solway Firth Spaceman legend.
For further reading see my other articles on the subject :
The “Real” Cumberland Spaceman – Background to the event
Investigations Into The Solway Spaceman Photo- My Own Investigation
Spaceman/Woomera/Blue Streak incident – The Spaceman On The Launch Pad In Australia
Jim Templeton – Bio/Obituary