The UNIT Dossier
The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce is a covert paramilitary organisation which operates in plain view of the public, yet seems to arouse no suspicion. It is funded in the United Kingdom by the British taxpayer, yet is directly linked to the United Nations. It draws its troops from the regular British armed forces, yet seems to have no liaison with NATO or the objectives of NATO. And it has been involved with most of the great crises to face Britain in the past five years while remaining virtually anonymous.
You will rarely, if ever, see the name UNIT published in any newspaper report, nor hear it broadcast by any radio station or television network. This intelligence taskforce seems to operate from the shadows of British society, while the repercussions of its actions have affected every man, woman and child in the country.
Origins: the Intrusion Counter Measures Group
UNIT has its roots in the Intrusion Counter Measures Group, which was formed in 1961. The ICMG was charged with the task of protecting the UK from covert actions by hostile powers, and with mounting intelligence operations against such a threat. The person given the job of making this role a realistic and attainable goal was Group Captain Ian ‘Chunky’ Gilmore, seconded from the newly formed Royal Air Force Regiment.
A no-nonsense forces man, Gilmore had spent the war flying missions over enemy territories. He had witnessed the obliteration bombing of Dresden and tried to push it to the back of his mind. Those who served with him say he believed in Queen and country, and in doing what was right. A stiff upper lip and a trusty service revolver could see you through most crises. An authority figure and pure Establishment, he was sometimes a figure of fun amongst his men who christened him ‘Chunky’ for no reason that was apparent to Gilmore himself. Tall and upright, he maintained a well-trimmed flyer's moustache and was never to be found with a button out of place or unpolished on his uniform.
Gilmore spent most of 1962 and 1963 preparing his troops for the unknown and drafting in certain specialists to assist the ICMG, using the Peacetime Emergency Powers Act when necessary. Among those he hand-picked to aid him was Professor Rachel Jensen. Hardly known outside the scientific community, Jensen is only now being recognised as one of the leading figures of her time.
Part of the Cambridge Group, she worked with Turing on code breaking and ciphers during the Second World War. Later she moved to the British Rocket Group where pioneering work was being done on propulsion systems and rocket guidance arrays. Then, in November 1963, Jensen was pulled out of Cambridge and forced to travel to London to join the ICMG as senior scientific adviser.
Her autobiography, The Electrical Dreamer, makes plain her dislike for all things military, so it is doubtful she went to the ICMG without protest. But the same volume makes no mention of her time with Gilmore's group and is curiously vague about her reasons for retiring in 1964 while still in her early forties.
The Shoreditch Incident
A major factor in her decision seems to have been an event called the Shoreditch Incident in the few declassified secret documents that even mention it. This crisis is one of the few events in recent history that can be traced directly to the formation of UNIT.
The Shoreditch Incident took place just one week after the assassination of America's President John F. Kennedy. As a bullet blew open his head in Dallas, Texas, it was 12.30 p.m. on Friday 22 November 1963. Thousands of miles away at that moment in England, it was a dark, foggy evening with winter drawing in fast. In the Shoreditch suburb of East London, two school teachers left the local Coal Hill School together.
They told a colleague they were going to visit one of their pupils, Susan Foreman, at her home address of 76 Totters Lane. The pair subsequently disappeared, as did the fifteen-year-old girl. Police investigations at the time showed the address at Totters Lane to be an abandoned junkyard. Later checks found that the girl's references and reports from previous schools were all clever forgeries. There was doubt that Foreman was even her true surname. The police suspected that she had adopted the name from the junkyard she claimed as her home address. Susan had only been at the school a few months and seemed to have had difficulty making friends. Those other pupils she did talk to described her afterwards as strange, but remembered she had mentioned living with her grandfather.
The sudden disappearance of the two staff members in the middle of term was much more of a shock. Ian Chesterton was a science teacher, well liked by the pupils and regarded by his colleagues as a sensible and intelligent professional. Barbara Wright was a history teacher at Coal Hall, considered more stiff and formal, less able to bond with the students, but still genuinely concerned about their welfare. Both were single and there had been staff room speculation that romance could be on the horizon for the pair. Their sudden disappearance was totally out of character. Despite extensive searches and appeals for assistance, no trace of them could be found.
(Even more bizarre was the pair's reappearance in London during the summer of 1965, nearly two years later. They claimed they had gone off to become missionaries in Central Africa. Wright returned to teaching but soon abandoned secondary schools to become a university lecturer on history, specialising in the Aztec period of Central American history. Chesterton also shifted to varsity work, gained a professorship within a year and was soon presenting controversial but highly regarded papers to international conferences. He specialized in astronomy but showed expertise across a wide range of fields that seemed astounding for a former school science teacher. The pair later married.)
The strange disappearance of the two teachers and the schoolgirl were overshadowed a week later by the Shoreditch Incident. The ICMG was called in and a flurry of despatches was sent back and forth between Group Captain Gilmore and High Command. A handful of these documents have been declassified and these make mention of an emergency centred around the junkyard at 76 Totters Lane and the Coal Hill School. Every man, woman and child living or working within a three-mile radius of those two sites was evacuated by the ICMG under the Peacetime Nuclear Accident Provisions.
Another document which had not yet been declassified, calls upon the D-notice committee to prepare a cover story. Newspapers of the time describe an explosion linked to a gas leak in the basement at Coal Hill School and the detonation of an unexploded Second World War bomb found in a nearby builder's yard. Five workmen and the owner of the yard, Mr Ratcliffe, were accidentally killed by the detonation. No explanation was ever offered of how the men came to be within the evacuated area.
Few details of what actually occurred during the 48 hours of the emergency have been made public. A few facts can be gleaned from personal documents relating to the incident, such as dairy entries and private letters. Most of these documents have been heavily censored by the D-notice committee, but several make mention of an individual called ‘the Doctor’. He is described as a short, quirkily dressed man, with a slight Scottish accent and immense intelligence.
Several people intimately involved with the Shoreditch Incident give the Doctor much of the credit for its resolution. Not directly tied with the ICMG, he appeared as the crisis began and left just as abruptly when it was over. Throughout, he was accompanied by a teenage girl known only by the nickname ‘Ace’. Their authorization or origins remain a mystery.
(The appearance of this pair during the Shoreditch Incident is the first documented occurrence of something hereafter known as the ‘Doctor syndrome’. More about this will be discussed later in this dossier.)
It is known that several troops seconded to the ICMG died during the Shoreditch Incident and were subsequently given full military honours at their burials. But one of those who died, Sergeant Mike Smith, was denied a military funeral for unspecified reasons and was buried privately by his family five days later in a nearby cemetery. Residents were not allowed back into the area for a full week after the emergency.
Following the Shoreditch Incident, Group Captain Gilmore campaigned for the establishment of a permanent rapid-reaction team to cope with such emergencies, a taskforce to supercede the limited ICMG facilities. His efforts are documented in a series of memos and secret reports that were effectively ignored for another three years. By this time the ICMG had been disbanded - ironically, just before it would be most needed.
The C-Day fiasco
In the summer of 1966, London was in the grip of the Swinging Sixties. Carnaby Street and the King's Road were the places for fashion, people shopped at Biba, Habitat and Mary Quant, and avidly listened to the new album from the Beatles. In science too, London was a world leader. An example of Britain's cutting edge status was to be C-Day, a plan to link all the computers in the world on a single day - 16 July 1966.
The centrepiece for the experiment was WOTAN, a startling new computer housed in the recently completed Post Office Tower. The brainchild behind the C-Day project was Professor Brett, creator of WOTAN. After much advance publicity in the media, C-Day itself proved to be a fiasco for the Government. Professor Brett had what was described as a ‘slight nervous breakdown’ and C-Day was abandoned at the last minute, much to the Government's embarrassment.
Curiously, just as C-Day approached, the area surrounding the Post Office Tower and parts of Covent Garden were evacuated for what were officially described as ‘army exercises’. There was also a sudden upsurge in headaches and time taken off because of severe migraines among people working in the area around the Post Office Tower. Some are reported to have suffered memory losses and mental instability for years afterwards. No compensation was ever offered to those afflicted by the events of C-Day.
This minor incident was the second reported case of Doctor syndrome. Writing in his recent memoirs, noted civil servant Sir Charles Summer made reference to the C-Day fiasco. He said the public failed to realise the magnitude of the disaster averted and gave much of the credit for this narrow escape to the efforts of an aged but spritely scientist he knew only as ‘the Doctor’.
Summer described this person as an English gentleman in his early sixties, with ‘imperious white hair swept back from his face and reaching almost to collar length, with haughty features and piercing eyes that burned with intelligence and wit’. Summer added that the Doctor was assisted by a young sailor called Ben and Professor Brett's secretary, Polly. Once the clearing up after C-Day had begun, the Doctor simply disappeared.
I have labelled this repeated motif the Doctor syndrome. Someone claiming to be called the Doctor arrives just before a crisis happens, accompanied by one or more young assistants. They quickly become embroiled in the action, then simply melt away when the incident is settled and questions start being asked.
The Doctor syndrome: other examples
Tenacious cross-checking of thousands of documents has turned up other examples of the Doctor syndrome. During a still-classified incident at a secret naval base on the coast of Northumberland during the Second World War, a man called the Doctor appeared who matches the description of the like-named individual at the Shoreditch Incident. On both these occasions he was accompanied by a teenage girl known as Ace. Incredibly, the sightings are some twenty years apart. This Doctor reappeared again in 1959 during a security alert at an holiday camp in South Wales, but this time was accompanied by a young woman with a very different physical description, known as ‘Mel’.
More recently, the police were called to investigate a case of holiday fraud at Gatwick Airport in July 1966. Among those believed to be involved was a man known as the Doctor, but his appearance was completely different from either of the ‘Doctors’ already cited.
The civilian who tipped off the police about the fraud, Samantha Briggs, described the Doctor as a short man with a mournful face and dishevelled clothing. She said he had a ‘blurred’ English accent that defied categorization and seemed incredibly well informed. He was accompanied by a young Scots lad in a kilt, called ‘Jamie’.
Most bizarrely, this person calling himself the Doctor was present at Gatwick Airport on the same day Sir Charles Summer describes being in the company of his white-haired elderly Doctor in Central London - 20 July 1966.
The person described by Samantha Briggs is hereafter called ‘the Gatwick Doctor’. He reappeared just a month later, during the infamous nerve gas scare on the London Underground. Secret documents place the Gatwick Doctor in the tunnels during the worst part of the crisis, where he assisted one Colonel Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart...
The formation of UNIT
It was the closure of the entire London Underground network and subsequent evacuation of Central London during the nerve gas panic of August 1966, that led directly to the subsequent birth of UNIT. Despatches compliment the efforts of Lethbridge-Stewart, then a colonel in the regular Army, during the crisis. He commanded the troops who remained behind in the dangerous area of contamination when Central London was completely evacuated.
While the nerve gas incident was quietly explained away by authorities, research now shows the capital was in grave jeopardy from an unidentified enemy. The nerve gas ‘leak’ on the London Underground, which subsequently spread above ground to form a deadly web-like fog, may have been much more than the ‘industrial accident’ it was labelled at the time. Later despatches between Lethbridge-Stewart and his superiors indicate this to be a cover story issued to hide the true facts of what really happened. As with most incidents involving the Doctor, the real facts remain frustratingly elusive.
It now seems that Lethbridge-Stewart used the favourable response to his efforts in containing the nerve gas disaster as a chance to revive the idea first put forward three years earlier by Group Captain Gilmore of the ICMG.
This time the concept was given a more receptive hearing, but the Government still refused to plough taxpayers' money into a fighting force that could stand idle for months or years at a time. Incensed at this attitude, it seems Lethbridge-Stewart risked his military career to go over the heads of the politicians and direct to the National Security Council of the United Nations.
He flew to New York in 1967 and gave a closed-door briefing to key members of the Security Council. It is not known what he told them, but aides recall that their senior officials left the briefing ashen-faced. The council voted overwhelmingly in favour of Lethbridge-Stewart's proposal, with only Great Britain abstaining. It took another eighteen months, but by early 1969 Lethbridge-Stewart was permanently seconded to head-up the British arm of the newly formed United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. He was promoted to Brigadier against the wishes of Britain's armed forces leaders and given limited powers to seal off areas, request troops and equipment from the regular Army, and engage in combat with live ammunition in extreme situations. He had to report to a UN Secretary in Geneva, but also had to answer to the British Prime Minister. UNIT would maintain a day-to-day liaison with the Government through its intelligence ministry, C19.
Talk to any senior-ranking officer in the British Army about Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and you will probably hear a torrent of obscenities. Although none can fault his tactical skills, he is much criticized for breaking the chain of command and trying to set up his own ‘little tin-pot army’, as one senior general put it. Even those who trained with him as cadets describe Lethbridge-Stewart as highly ambitious.
The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce first went into action in the spring of 1969. Records show that it was still in the process of acquiring a permanent headquarters at this time. Instead, the fledgling fighting force based itself out of a Hercules transport plane. Fragmentary documents from the flight logs show that UNIT was investigating Tobias Vaughn and his International Electromatics empire weeks before Vaughn's mysterious death and the subsequent collapse of IE.
Shocking claims made by UNIT to justify their investigation included allegations that Vaughn was holding prominent scientists against their will and threatening the families of others to make them comply with his wishes; that IE's breakthrough piece of new technology, the micro-monolithic chip, was actually a mind-control device; and that Vaughn was in league with some greater power that was supplying him with this cutting-edge technology so he could distribute the micro-monolithic chip around the world, thus enabling some unspecified ‘masterplan’ to be enacted.
Little or no evidence was supplied to back up these claims, nor has any since come to light. Vaughn's associate, Ashley Chapel, has consistently refused to comment about Vaughn, IE, or UNIT - who or what is he afraid of? One fact that has been concealed up until now can be revealed: the Gatwick Doctor was intimately involved with UNIT during the IE investigation. He was using the name Doctor John Smith but was more commonly just called ‘the Doctor’. Eyewitness reports place him at the scene of Tobias Vaughn's death - what involvement did the Gatwick Doctor have in this? Could it have been murder?
It is known that UNIT soldiers attacked Vaughn's factory outside London and Vaughn himself died during the attack. ‘Killed accidentally in an explosion’ was the final verdict of the coroner, but there were whispers in the coroner's office of irregularities about the corpse, and these were hushed up after pressure was brought to bear on the coroner by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart himself.
It is known that much of the new technology pioneered by IE was split between Ashley Chapel and Professor Ralph Cornish, and the latter subsequently used by the British Space Centre to forge a lead in the space race. There is also incontrovertible evidence that UNIT was deeply involved with the subsequent Mars Probe crisis. What is the true link between the collapse of IE and the suddenly accelerated British space programme? Was UNIT merely ‘mopping up’ after the failure of IE, or did the intelligence taskforce force the collapse of the company so it could seize this much sought-after new technology for its own, unknown ends?
Offence, not defence?
Why would a so-called intelligence taskforce have enough firepower at its command to start and sustain a small war? Why would it have access to some of the most sophisticated and top secret weaponry currently available anywhere in the world? Why would such a taskforce have cells based in every major military power in the world, when no single country maintains an embassy in all of those same countries, not even the superpowers? What is the real agenda behind the work of UNIT?
According to the highly restricted and brief mission-statement outlining UNIT's functions, the taskforce will ‘react, assess and respond to outside threats.’ But if UNIT is based in every major country on the globe, from where are these ‘outside threats’ expected to come? Terrorist groups and well-armed religious fundamentalist movements? Or perhaps there is some other threat the world is facing that has not yet been disclosed to the public?
UNIT's true agenda remains hidden behind a cloak of secrecy, and a veil of threats and intimidation to any who dare look into its real nature. Just as intriguing is the group of agent provocateurs known as ‘the Doctor’. This name appears to be a codename or secret designation for operatives working covertly in times and areas of crisis. But for whom do these agents work? Documented sightings of the Doctor pre-date the formation of UNIT, yet the Doctor has been intimately involved in several crucial UNIT operations.
Who is Doctor John Smith and for whom does he work? One possibility is C19, the intelligence services ministry. Could the Doctor be a C19 operative who liaises with UNIT? Or is the link between UNIT and C19 far more sinister?
Whatever the answer to these questions, the very secrecy with which UNIT protects itself speaks volumes about the offensive nature of UNIT's true function. Until that shroud of secrecy is lifted, this sinister force remains within our midst, unexplained, unchallenged, and effectively uncontrolled.