Sq. Ldr. Clift's Testimony
(Notes of telephone interview with Dave Clarke, received 04.05.02)
"I managed to trackdown Squadron Leader Duggie Clift, who was Freddie's oppo at Neatishead at the time of the 1956 incident and remembers it well.
He's 83 but on the ball and had a long chat with him on the phone this morning. In summary, this is what he says:
He can't remember whether he was on duty on the night, but he certainly remembers the incident happening and being discussed at the time, both between him, Freddie and the other controllers.
'I do recollect discussions on an unusual radar response . . . reported by the Americans at Bentwaters and Lakenheath, and that we did a scramble . . . a couple of Venoms.' (I had not mentioned a scramble or nature of the aircraft involved, only 'did he recollect a UFO incident involving Freddie in 1956?').
Clift's recollection was that although the responses were visible on ground radar, nothing could be seen by the Venom's AI radar . . . and he says that he recalls that the Venoms "flew through the area of the response" but could see nothing or make a successful intercept. He seemed to think this all happened at 10-15,000 feet somewhere over Norfolk.
He says there was interest from the Air Ministry and the events "went through the channels" up to Fighter Command but "nothing came back" and they were never told the result.
Clift says he kept his Controllers Log Book which had entry about the incident but this has been lost in subsequent moves!!
I asked him how the scramble system worked, and whether they ever controlled USAF aircraft. The answer was USAF aircraft were only ever controlled by Neatishead as part of pre-arranged exercises, not for QRA missions...'they were not allocated to us for interception duties.'
He also recalled another incident sometime later, "involving a response originating in the Norfolk area and Bristol area and returning at very high speed, but this I believe was initiated by some artificial radar interference." He said the older WW2 Type 7 equipment they had prior to 1957 was very prone to problems with 'angels' and other distortions caused by a variety of anomalies."