Australia’s greatest UFO mystery

Soiled cardigans and new fluorescent lights resulted when an Unidentified Flying Object buzzed the Commercial Hotel at Ipswich in Queensland. This was back when the Cold War was heating up and all sorts of strange phenomenon were being seen all over the world. I told a version of this story live on West Bremer Radio.

It happened shortly after 6pm on Tuesday the 27th of July 1948 when a UFO was seen over Ipswich. It shook houses, lit up kitchens, and missed children by just a matter of feet, but it has never been properly explained.

The people who saw it up close said it was flying saucer.

The key witness was Mrs Kathleen Ward from Redbank. She had been the licensee of the Commercial Hotel there ever since her husband had his arm amputated.

She saw the weird object zig-zagging like lightning as it flashed through her backyard less than fifteen feet from the ground.

It passed silently between the garage and the laundry, and underneath the electricity and telephone lines. It then went straight up into the sky over the railway line and the nearby army camp.

Mrs Ward’s ten-year-old son Graham and his little sister Francie were in the backyard when the thing flew over their heads. It missed them by just eight feet, and afterwards the smell of burnt rubber clung mysteriously to their cardigans.

Young Graham made headlines again twelve months later when he discovered his lost horse had joined the circus, and had been been trained by a Hollywood horse trainer for MGM.

The UFO boy found his horse in a circus

But the most incredible UFO evidence of all came from another eye-witness Donald Bevan who lived at 23 Blackall Street in East Ipswich. He said that what he saw was an elongated light and that it had to be a flying saucer.

He said that there’s no way that it could have been something like a meteorite, because it came to within a few feet of the ground, and then shot straight up into the sky.

Bevan considered that the smell that clung to the children’s cardigans was probably caused by the gamma ray of an atomic propulsion system.

He also said that a spacecraft may have landed from another planet and sent out flying saucers as surveillance.

Bevan was a science student, aged twenty-three years old and was living with his mother. He was a member of the Interplanetary Rocket Society of America which today is known as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. 

He had been corresponding with the society about the flying saucers that were being seen across America since the start of the Cold War. It was during this time that his father disappeared and never returned.

University authorities in Brisbane reported the events in Ipswich that night as having been a meteorite, and they even organised search parties to look for remnants in the Brisbane Valley.

Official search area

Nothing was ever found, and no explanation was ever given about how the object went under the telephone lines, buzzed Graham Ward and his sister, or how it soiled their cardigans in its wake.

Ipswich did benefit from the events of that night seventy-three years ago, however.

At the East Ipswich hockey grounds, the well-known former international hockey player Norm Watson was presiding over a meeting to decide what type of light to put in the dressing sheds.

An argument had developed as to whether it should be a fluorescent or just a normal bulb. Just then the UFO lit up the room and Norm said, “That’ll do,” and fluorescent lights were installed.


Photo credits:
Commercial Hotel – Publocation
Graham Ward circus story – Queensland Times, Ipswich, 22 June 1949, page 5
1948 UFO Triangulations – Courier-Mail, Brisbane, 29 July 1948, page 1

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