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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.

1 comment:

sulpete said...

I remember that my uncle Reg (last name withheld) used to get the magazine, and I believe he may have written articles in it as well.
I have 3 or 4 issues at home, I'll have to look them out.
Thanks for a great review.