The following article was published by ‘Dagens Nyheter’, Sweden´s largest morning newspaper, on January 3, 1988, at the height of the debate concerning possible violations of Swedish waters by Russian submarines. For the benefit of UFO researchers I have translated the article and I have also included a few comments of my own [indicated in the text by a number within a bracket].

Dr. Gerard Aalders, the author of this article, was born in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands, in 1946. He studied Scandinavian languages and Scandinavian literature at the universities of Amsterdam and Stockholm. He also studied history and the science of history at the Amsterdam university where he received his M.A. degrees in 1981 and 1982. He published a number of articles and book reviews about Scandinavia and modern history in journals and newspapers, finishing his doctoral thesis, "Swedish Neutrality and the Cold War, 1945-49", in 1989. In 1989 he also published his Swedish book "Affärer till varje pris" (The Art of Cloaking), a thorough investigation of secret WWII support for Nazi Germany by the wealthy Swedish Wallenberg family.

Anders Liljegren

April 5, 1998




In 1946, the Swedish military, assisted by British military experts, feverishly hunted Soviet ‘ghost rockets’ which not only violated Swedish airspace but also crashed into Swedish lakes. The incidents occasioned a top secret diplomatic exchange of notes across the earth. Dutch historian Gerard Aalders has recently studied the classified files. Here is his examination and conclusions. These might have a certain relevance to the contemporary Swedish hunt for submarines, says Aalders.



In February 1946 the first reports concerning ‘luminous fireballs’ and ‘mysterious light phenomena’ turned up in Swedish newspapers. As months went by the number of reports increased, now labeled as ‘ghost rockets’, ‘ghost bombs’, ‘ghost projectiles’ or ‘radio-controlled bombs’.

Also from Denmark, Norway and Finland now came alarming reports about phenomena which regularly were prefixed with ‘ghost-’. As the hysteria increased the sightings seemed to become much more precise. It was no longer a question of vague ‘ghost rockets’ but exact descriptions were given of ‘wingless cigar-shaped bodies the size of a small airplane’ and ‘silvery bombs with swept wings’.

Rockets were seen which emitted a powerful burst of fire every ten minutes [1]. This sighting was reported by a number of papers and was also provided with an addendum: the bursts of fire were followed by a roaring sound. Media also reported, with detail, the trespassing projectile’s length, altitude and speed. The average speed was estimated at about 3.000 km/h.

Foreign nations also took an increasing interest in these flying horses of the apocalypse and sent journalists to the country where the skies were now darkened by rockets. In a New York newspaper a German rocket authority declared with certainty that it was the question of Russian experiments with V2 rockets, taken as war trophies at Peenemunde in north Germany. The serious British paper ‘The Guardian’ wrote that not much fantasy was required to establish that the Russians, assisted by captured German rocket specialists, had a busy time testing rockets from bases along the Baltic coast. The aim of the demonstrations, because demonstrations it was, according to the Guardian, would be for the Russians to ‘exhibit some of their toys, exactly as the Americans have just had shown enough of its Bomb to inspire respect.’ [2]

In short: intimidation. As long at the Russian nuclear bomb was not yet ready, other means had to be taken to inspire fear.

And this was not only a view taken by the Guardian. This opinion also gained support at the British embassy in Stockholm, which, in turn, alarmed the Foreign Office in London and the Defense Ministry. The Top Secret message from the British embassy in Stockholm reported, among other things: "Too many projectiles have been witnessed and described for one to reject them as meteorites."

Also the American president Truman was notified in a Top Secret memorandum, "Ghost rockets over Scandinavia", about the incidents up North [3]. Even in Washington, thoughts wandered to a case of intimidation from Moscow. Unhappily, the report came right at the time when Stalin was trying to gain control over the Dardanelles and two American transports were shot down over Yugoslavia.

This mood of fear, caused by a number of meteorites and a fantasy gone astray, is typical of the atmosphere of the contemporary Cold War.

Worried Englishmen made contact with the Swedish Air Force. From the start the air force generals were rather restrained, this probably because of an appeal from the sober-minded Swedish prime minister Per Albin Hansson, who undoubtedly wanted to observe the scene in peace and quiet.

But, after what appears from a British report of July 7, classified as ‘Secret’, it was reported "an abnormally large number of projectiles all over Sweden", the [Swedish] Air Force command was caught with panic and asked the British to put radar at their disposal and to send specialists.

In different reports mention was also made of crashing projectiles and it was decided to trace and analyze these.

This hunt didn´t seem to offer a problem, because already on July 11 the first fragments were found. Proudly it was reported to London that one "was at all events on the right track" [2]. One week later, two British rocket specialists, Heath and Malone, paid their respects to Stockholm and acted immediately. [4] Shortly afterwards the recovered fragments were sent to England for a closer analysis.

The Russian launching pads must have been glowing red because there were also reports from Norway, Finland and Denmark that different rockets had flown over their countries. These reports were also checked up. A high-ranking British officer was dispatched to Helsingfors [Helsinki] to find out whether the projectiles were fired from some place close to the Finnish capital. The madness had, however, not advanced so far that it was believed that the rockets were actually fired from Finnish territory. On the other hand, a supposition was expressed that one launching pad was situated right on the other side of the Russian-Finnish border, some 100 kilometers from Helsingfors.

Any launching pad could not, with the best of all intentions in the world, be discovered there, but the investigator’s mission was therewith not deemed to have been in vain. On the contrary, it was even regarded as "very successful from a negative point of view". Now it was proven that the area close to Helsingfors could be written off as the launch area. [5]

The projectiles seemed to have the improper habit of crashing down into one of the numerous Scandinavian lakes. The British-Swedish investigation team was not particularly deterred by this, but their hunt did not produce any tangible results. It was stated in some cases, however, that the mud on the bed of the lake "showed certain indications of contact".

Panic seemed total when the British embassy Moscow, the heart of the Lion´s den, messaged, in a ‘Top Secret’ telegram, that from the ground, and, according to reports from pilots in the air, projectiles had been spotted, probably radio-controlled. [6] [Since everyone associates the the Lion with England and the Bear with the Russians: Maybe this would be better: "Panic seemed total when from the heart of the Bear’s den the British embassy in Moscow sent a ‘Top Secret’ telegram that ground oberservers and according to reports from pilots in the air, projectiles had been spotted that were probably radio controlled."]

Agitation was, by the way, not restricted to Europe, but in September it also reached the British legation of Tokyo. Excitedly, Tokyo wired the British Foreign Office that one had been notified of rockets falling over England and made an inquiry as to whether they had been found.

Meanwhile, London seemed to have calmed down a bit. (It must also be stated that not every official in the British capital had let their heads be twisted by the rocket madness.) The British now asked Tokyo to inform them how one had arrived at the reported understanding, in view of the fact that "since the end of the War not one single rocket had fallen in England".

In the telegram it was, in passing, ordered that the Americans would not be informed about the Swedish-British cooperation in this affair. Due to Swedish neutrality it was impossible to make this collaboration official - here it was even the question of a military collaboration! In this regard, no exception was made for the United States. The violation on Sweden´s strictly neutrality status was also one of the reasons why prime minister Hansson handled the affair in such a restrained way. [7]

Of what, then, did those fragments and pieces which had been sent to England for analysis consist? Once again, a top secret wire from the British embassy in Stockholm to London, talks about "fragments of a porous, yellow, combustible material the size of an egg" and also of a "porous black carbon like material".

The Swedish-British investigation team [8] leaned to the idea that it was waste products from Russian rocket fuels, although the Swedes would, by no means, exclude the possibility that the rockets were powered by electricity or even by nuclear power.

Then, did no one recognize the mysterious fragments as parts of ordinary coal, burnt and unburnt? The British-Swedish investigation team evidently didn´t. Only R.V.Jones, director of the scientific intelligence, and, during WWII, responsible for the collection of information on the German V1- and V2-rockets, saw, with one look, that the mysterious fragments were nothing but pieces of ordinary pitcoal. [9] His subordinates were, on the other hand, religiously convinced that the fragments were pieces from a crashed Russian rocket - thus in opposition to the investigative team in Sweden, who thought the material might be burnt out nuclear fuel.

Even Jones colleague Vintras had attached himself to the rocket hypothesis. On Jones question whether any crashed projectile had really been found Vintras had answered, no. But, there was question, in his mind that the fragments in question had fallen down from a rocket in flight. He seemed to believe in that himself.

It was then Jones decided to let the fragments be analyzed by chemists. This seemed to be the only way of removing any doubt and get people back on their feet again.

By a stroke of luck the chemists report didn’t go directly to Jones but landed on Vintras’ desk. Excited, Vintras immediately telephoned Jones and gave him the triumphant message that 98% the sample consisted of a thus far, unfortunately unknown material. Traces of nickel, copper and iron made up the remaining 2 % of the secretive fragment. With the remaining 98 % the experts were facing an enigma. Now suddenly the Russians seemed not only to have access not only to fantastic rockets but also to a new material that chemists couldn´t analyze!

Jones immediately phoned the head of the security services’ chemical section and wondered whether he, too, didn´t think that the joke had gone too far. To Jones´ surprise the head was not conscious of any joke but declared that the report was 100 % serious.

As Jones then asked him if the thought of pitcoal never had occurred to him the line was completely silent for a long moment. Finally the dumbfounded chemist had to admit that this possibility had never been mentioned and that the mysterious fragments therefore had not been analyzed for coal.

A few meteors, which also had been visible in the daylight, had been the reason for the whole commotion. For the British, the case was over sometime in October and the affair disappeared into the archives. But the Swedish High Command was, on the other hand, apparently not that easily persuaded.

(A comparison with the submarine incidents of today easily forces itself upon us. The Swedes are no longer, like in 1946, spied upon from the air. No, today the Royal Kingdom of Sweden is secretly reconnoitered upon by Russian submarines from the depths of the Baltic.)

In his report of October 11, 1946, the Swedish Commander-in-Chief admitted that about 80 % of the about one thousand cases could be attributed to natural light phenomena, but then stubbornly states: "There has, however, in a number of cases, been sightings which cannot be attributed to natural phenomena, or dismissed as figments of the imagination." Although no projectile ever was found the report states, nevertheless, that "not with any single crash (italics by the translator) has anything been found that can indicate material from some kind of space projectile."

Apparently, not even in these days, is this affair completely finished. As late as in 1984, the former Swedish top diplomat Ingemar Hagglof wrote in his book "Berätta för Joen, mina år med ryssarna 1943-1947" (‘Tell Joen, my years with the Russians, 1943-1947’) that the case of "the Russian ghost rockets" probably must be attributed to the Russians "who had handled the captured German rocket weapons a little carelessly".

No, but listen instead to the Norwegians! In a (top secret) message from the British embassy in Oslo to London it was reported that the Norwegian government thus far held on the meteorite theory, and that in certain cases it might have been large sea-birds which dive into the sea. [10]

Maybe it is no coincidence that much fewer reports of (surmised Russian) submarine violations come from Norway then from Sweden!


Gerard Aalders

Original translation to Swedish: Ebba Lindberg




Comments by Anders Liljegren:


1. There are ghost rocket reports of phenomena emitting bursts every ten seconds, but hardly ‘every ten minutes’ since very few of the observed phenomena lasted that long. This is probably a mistake by the author.

2. Since the original sources of quotations are not, at present, available I cannot guarantee the exact English translation.

3. This may refer to the Admiral Leahy report rediscovered by ufologists one decade later.

4. There were rumours in 1946 about British investigators coming to Sweden but this is the only source (so far) where their names are mentioned.

5. This report of the British investigation of the Finnish-Russian border appears in no other source available to ‘Project 1946’.

6. Another indication of maybe a massive wave of sightings in Russia in 1946.

7. Post-Cold War history reveals a large number of undercover Swedish violations of neutrality, the most recent one reported that the Swedish head of the Navy was, in the case of a Russian attack on Sweden, to immediately travel to London and coordinate NATO-supported counterattacks on the Russians. (Swedish newspapers, March 23, 1998).

8. In the Swedish archives on the ghost rocket phenomena that we have studied we have found no indications of such a joint team, which does not prove, of course, that such a ‘team’ never existed. There are no indications that British experts ever assisted in field investigations of GR cases. It would have been natural, however, for us to turn over any fragments of suspected rockets to Britain in view of the Swedish ‘gift’ of parts of a crashed German V-2 rocket two years before.

9, The R.V.Jones story about British investigation of coal fragments can also be found in Appendix V of the Condon report.

10. The theory of a great sea-bird diving was advanced as a possible solution for the Lake Mjosa crash. On July 18, 1946, two large winged objects were seen crashing into the lake.