Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Early Crop Circles and Official Interest by Nick Redfern


Precisely who, or what, is responsible for peppering the British landscape with the now-familiar Crop Circles, as well as the fantastically elaborate Pictograms – as they have come to be known – is a matter of deep conjecture, and one that has been hotly debated for several decades. Numerous theories have been advanced to try and explain the phenomenon; but opinions remain sharply divided. For some, Crop Circles are the work of benign extraterrestrials.

Others see the spirit of the Earth itself – calling out to the people of the planet to change their destructive ways – as being wholly responsible. Then there is the notion that all of the Crop Circles have man-made origins. Whatever the ultimate truth of the matter, the phenomenon is one that shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon.

But one of the most genuinely intriguing aspects of the affair is the extent to which British authorities have taken an interest in such formations.

Can the tales about official, government interest in Crop Circles be validated? Do governmental, military and intelligence files exist on this particularly emotive topic? The answer is most certainly: yes, to a degree, at least.

Under the terms of the British Government’s Freedom of Information legislation, a number of files concerning the wartime activities of MI5 – an arm of British Intelligence - have been declassified and made available for inspection at the National Archive, London, and which tell a notable story.

According to one MI5 document:

“The early days of 1940 and 1941 produced an avalanche of reports about the spies and fifth columnists who many people thought were roaming the land unhindered. Each village boasted of enemy agents in their midst, and it is only by recapturing the atmosphere of those days that one can see the matter in its proper perspective.

Everyone had heard of the activities of fifth columnists on the continent and of the alarmingly successful part they had played in the overthrow of France and Belgium. It was therefore natural with everyone tense for the threatened invasion that so many reports came in. Each had to be investigated, even if only to put the minds of the public and the services at rest.”

The report continues, and outlines the nature of its content: “This account is not concerned with the activities of fifth columnists such as sabotage, capturing airfields and key points, and harassing he defending army, but in the methods used in communicating to each other and to the enemy. Reports from Poland, Holland, France and Belgium showed that they used ground markings for the guidance of bombers and paratroops (and of lights by night).

Such ground markings might be the cutting of cornfields into guiding marks for aircraft.”

On this intriguing matter, MI5 elaborated that from interviews conducted with personnel who had taken part in the hostilities in Poland, it had been determined that one of the ways that Nazi spies were communicating with German Luftwaffe pilots was by “beating out signs, twenty meters in diameter, on harrowed fields or mowing such signs on meadows or cornfields.”

Crop Circles, in other words.

Notably, however, despite the widespread discovery of such formations, no definitive evidence ever surfaced to suggest that the strange creations found all across Europe were indeed the work of the Nazis. In other words, this was merely a theory to try and explain a tangible mystery and nothing more. The files also reveal that MI5 agents were dispatched throughout the UK to examine similar crop formations found in British fields in the early 1940s, in an attempt to determine if they, too, were linked with the activities of the Nazis.

And while the investigations did not confirm this hypothesis, the files are a perfect example (and, more importantly, an officially- documented example) of the fact that Crop Circles are not just a phenomenon of the modern era; but were reported to - and investigated by - high-level government departments seventy years ago.

The extent to which similar investigations may have been undertaken by British authorities in the modern era of the mystery, however, is an issue that still has many researchers of the puzzle going, quite literally, around in circles.

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