1969 was, for the most part, a quiet year for UNIT. After the clear-up operations for the Crook Marsham incident, occurring just before Christmas 1968, UNIT had a period of relative peace.
The various liaisons UNIT had with the UK government (via C-19) and the UN were worked out in detail. The recruitment process was properly set in motion, and a Hercules transport plane was requisitioned from the army. This would act as a mobile headquarters until an appropriate building could be found for a permanent headquarters.
Much noise was made about getting scientific personnel on the team, and a large amount of equipment was purchased from the company International Electromatics. This company had appeared from nowhere in the mid 1960's and, by 1969, had claimed 80% of the global electronics market, using microchip technology.
The first major operation UNIT undertook during 1969 was, interestingly, centred on this same company that was supplying them with state of the art equipment.
Following months of surveillance of the 60's electronics giant International Electromatics, much of it apparently connected to UFO activity, UNIT was intimately involved in the sudden and completely unexpected collapse of this major multinational in July 1969.
According to leaked government documents, UNIT justified its extensive investigation on the grounds that I.E. was holding prominent scientists against their will, threatening families to obtain the cooperation of one member, installing mind-control devices in widely distributed devices and being in league with some unspecified force supplying them with advanced technology to enact a devious masterplan. All of these claims remain unproven, but were never challenged by the UK government or by UNIT's UN chain of command.
During this incident, UNIT forces attacked I.E.'s main factory, situated just outside London. Tobias Vaughn, the firm's charismatic founder, was killed in the attack. Officially, he was accidentally caught in an explosion.
Details of the autopsy were never made known outside the intelligence community although rumours claimed that there were irregularities in the corpse. Reports also claim that during this whole incident, the Elusive Doctor effectively took a command role within UNIT. During this incident, he was aided by a Scotsman named Jamie and a mathematician called Zoe, neither of whom have ever appeared in any official documentation on the incident. This command role for the Doctor confirms suspicions of a link between the Doctor agents and C-19.
Press coverage of I.E's collapse completely excised UNIT and, in fact, all government involvement from its coverage, with one exception. Photographer Isobel Watkins is now known for her wild claims about this event.
Formerly a successful fashion photographer, Isobel claims to have been involved with UNIT's investigation into IE. Her claims, printed in the lower end of the tabloid press, asserted that IE had been involved with cybernetic aliens who were attempting to take over the earth.
Watkins backed up these claims with a series of photos which were universally derided. Every expert who examined these photos claimed that they were fakes. The photos even look fake to the amateur eye. However, Watkins resolutely believes her story and shows no signs of insanity or delusion. Furthermore, the aspects of her story relating to UNIT (such as the involvement of the Elusive Doctor) are backed up by other information.
Was the world attacked by cyborg aliens in 1969? Was there, instead, a plan by the Soviet block against the west which could have appeared to be such an alien invasion? Was Watkins merely hoaxing? Given the cold war climate of the time, a Soviet attack would make much sense.
However, a secret government plan to force the collapse of I.E. would also make sense. Following the collapse of I.E., government institutions continued to use I.E. technology, probably at a cheaper price, despite it being less available to the general public.
On the other hand, it may be worth noting that UNIT's initial interest in I.E. appears to have been connected to UFO sightings around I.E. property. If some UFOs really are alien spacecraft, then the possibility of extra-terrestrial involvement cannot be ruled out.
The after-effects of this crisis were surprisingly small. Although the collapse of I.E. did cause some wider economic trouble, there was no major economic crisis. Although I.E. was the biggest electronics company in the world, by a long way, the industry was barely affected by the collapse.
The technology that I.E. pioneered became the property of one Ashley Chapel, who subsequently refused to talk to anyone about UNIT, I.E. or Tobias Vaughn. We do know that some of this technology was used by Professor Ralph Cornish to help revitalise the British Space programme. In particular the Mars Probe project was upgraded from a series of unmanned probes to a series of manned missions.
Soon after this incident, UNIT UK started pressing for increased powers, obviously having found that their legal authority during this incident was nowhere near what they would have liked.
After the I.E. incident, UNIT found itself a permanent base in London and made a lot of noise about scientific assistance. UNIT's position as an available force for certain unspecified emergencies was clarified and worked out by various classified government committees and preparations were made to take UNIT forward. As it turned out, UNIT was about to get its baptism of fire.
On the twentieth of October 1969, UNIT entered a new phase in its existence, acquiring its first scientific advisor, in the shape of Professor Elizabeth Shaw.
On the same day, there was an unusual meteor shower (the meteors were in formation) in Epping Forest, and an unidentified man was taken to the Ashbridge Cottage Hospital. This, in itself, is not worthy of any note, except that one of the porters at the hospital phoned a number of newspapers, including the Daily Chronicle, telling them that the patient had inhuman blood and that x-rays revealed the man to have two hearts.
Reports indicate that UNIT had sealed off the area where the meteorites fell and that UNIT staff were at the hospital. One eyewitness claimed to have seen UNIT soldiers guarding a police box which was, strangely, located in the middle of the woods.
Later in the day, the infamous patient discharged himself. Reports of this event are confused, as some staff recall seeing soldiers shooting at an ambulance and others recall that the patient stole a car and drove away.
No official record of any car being stolen exists, but it may be that the car was returned to it's owner within a short space of time, and so was not logged. The most interesting thing about this incident is the fact that descriptions of the patient match those of the UNIT Doctor, who became official Scientific Advisor to UNIT soon afterwards.
Just days after the incident at Ashbridge Cottage Hospital came Black Thursday, one of the most infamous terrorist attacks of the 60s. According to the official and, thanks to D-notices, only story, the day began with dawn raids by terrorist factions across southern England.
Power supplies were cut to central London, police stations and army barracks were attacked and radio and TV networks were badly hit. Dozens of early risers were killed in the attacks, which only lasted for a period of about one hour.
The terrorists responsible were eventually holed up in a plastics factory near Ashbridge - being defeated by UNIT. At the time heavy hints were dropped by the authorities that the IRA were responsible, but 2 years later the incident was claimed, along with a large number of other incidents, to have been the work of one Victor Magister, who was involved in The Aldbourne Incident.
The problem with the official story is that there were hundreds of attacks across Southern England within the space of a single hour and yet only a dozen bodies were brought out of the plastics factory. This raises the question of what happened to the hundreds of other terrorists who had to have been involved.
Also of interest is the question of how such a campaign can possibly have been planned and carried out in such a way that the authorities didn't even suspect a thing. All reports seem to indicate that the government was totally surprised by the attacks. Was our national security really that bad?
It has also been noted that the whole affair followed a classic invasion pattern, cutting communications and power and generally hitting the most strategic targets.
Given the suddenness, scope and planning of the attacks, it seems almost impossible that the attacks should have been stopped so quickly - unless UNIT knew all about the plans but waited until they had been put into action before doing something about it.
There were also a number of bizarre occurrences which accompanied the attacks. An entire display of mannequins disappeared from Madame Tussaud's, and several patrons claimed that these dummies had come alive. Also, large numbers of people claimed to have seen shop window dummies come to life, some even claimed to have been injured by them.
These reports were dismissed as mass hysteria by the press, but what if these people actually did see what they claimed? Could someone have created robotic shop dummies and used them to attack the UK?
An invasion of this sort, if it were technically possible, could more easily have been carried out by the handful of people in the plastics factory, remotely controlling such robots.
Perhaps this was a Soviet Bloc attempt to undermine the UK, or an attempt by one of the intelligence agencies, maybe C-19, to scare the government into giving them more power.
Whatever the case, UNIT appears to have played a vital role in bringing what looked like an invasion of the UK to an end. However, it is possible that UNIT was used to make it look like a major disaster had been narrowly averted.
As it was, the UK was not seriously affected by the damage caused by the attacks and, within a few days, life was back to normal.
On the 22nd of November 1969, what became known as the Wenley Moor Plague broke out, originating from a secret, government funded, nuclear research centre. Wenley Moor's research was based around converting the nuclear energy from a cyclotron into electricity.
In mid-November 1969, UNIT began an investigation into Wenley Moor, apparently reacting to a series of alarming and unlikely power cuts together with staff dissatisfaction.
Why such seemingly everyday incidents should attract UNIT was never explained. However, shortly after this investigation began, an unusual virus started spreading among the staff at Wenley Moor.
This virus was carried to London by Frederick Masters, the Permanent Under-Secretary to the Minister of Science, who had been visiting the centre. The virus spread from Waterloo station to the rest of London, and from there to the continent.
The plague was officially responsible for nearly 400 deaths and 3 ministerial resignations before a new vaccine for the plague was distributed widely enough to stop the plague in its tracks.
As to UNIT's role during the crisis, various documents claim that the vaccine for the virus was apparently the work of either the UNIT Doctor or of Professor Shaw, although every document available names only one of them as the inventor.
It is also surprising how quickly the vaccine was ready. The time between the first plague victims at Wenley Moor and the mass production of the vaccine was a couple of days at most, which seems an absurdly short time to develop a vaccine for an entirely new virus. It seems, therefore, that UNIT had some foreknowledge of the plague, or some special information about the virus.
Scientific speculation at the time claimed that the plague could have been a flu virus mutated by radiation emissions from the cyclotron. However, some experts claimed that the only known disease that bore any similarity to the virus was a mild viral antibody found in certain African Primates.
UNIT's final actions in connection with the plague was to use explosives to seal off the Wenley Moor site permanently. Access to the site was strictly forbidden, and remains so to this day, hampering a full investigation into the origins of the plague.
Such an investigation has never actually been attempted. At the time, the whole issue of who was responsible for the plague was swept under the carpet and forgotten, despite the obvious questions that were looming in the minds of the public.
One other, possibly related, incident was that of a farmer's wife living near Wenley Moor who was treated for shock after seeing a lizard walking upright at exactly the same time as the plague broke out. The woman in question was not a plague victim, but could easily have been hallucinating
For some reason, this story didn't get published - even in the gutter press, despite its obvious news value. It seems unlikely that the story was crowded out by other news, and even if it was considered too unlikely to be believable, that wouldn't stop some newspapers from publishing it. Alternatively, the government could have suppressed it.
If it was true, and the woman wasn't hallucinating, then this could have had a connection to the plague. Could there have been genetic or biological experiments associated with Wenley Moor which led to this walking lizard and the virus? This would explain why the site is still sealed off. However, as all the evidence about the Wenley Moor facility tells us that its sole activity was Cyclotron-Electricity conversion, this is probably just idle speculation.
It is plausible, but unlikely, that both lizard and plague were mutations caused by radiation from the cyclotron. Of course, you can't rule out the possibility of the Lizard Men from Mars who spread an alien virus, but that seems less likely than most of the other explanations available.
Of all of UNIT's operations, the Mars Probe Crisis was arguably more in the public eye than any other. Occurring in December 1969, the crisis had its roots eight months earlier, when the British Mars Probe 7 landed on Mars and lost contact with mission control. Two weeks after contact was lost, the ship took off again.
Seven months later, on the 10th of December, Recovery 7 was sent up to retrieve the astronauts. This mission was broadcast live on the newly launched BBC3, which achieved an enormous ratings boost due to round-the-clock coverage. When Recovery 7 reached Mars Probe 7, there was a burst of noise and communications were cut off. Recovery 7 returned to Earth. When Recovery landed and was opened, there was no-one aboard, the astronauts and the Recovery pilot were missing. In an effort to find out what had actually happened, Recovery was sent up to the Probe for a second time. This time Recovery was piloted by the UNIT Doctor and used a more powerful variant of the standard rocket fuel. This mission managed to retrieve the missing astronauts, although there weren't actually any TV pictures of them until several days afterwards.
Despite this incident catching the public eye as much as it did, no convincing official explanation was ever given. It was postulated that the astronauts had suffered some sort of temporary mental disorder or that there had been merely an equipment malfunction, although this doesn't explain the missing Recovery pilot, or the fact that the first Recovery mission didn't retrieve the astronauts but the second one did.
There are also two rather interesting facts that may shed light on the problem, if somebody can work out the link. Firstly, the radiation count in Recovery after its original flight was well over the recognised lethal limit. Secondly, the day after the first Recovery flight, there was a series of violent robberies of radioactive isotopes from various UK nuclear facilities. The press tried to use these to create a scare story about terrorists trying to build a nuclear bomb, but the public were only interested in the Mars Probe, totally unaware of any possible connection. The raids stopped the day after the second Recovery mission returned to Earth.
The press speculation about nuclear weapons was probably way off the mark. The isotopes that were stolen were not those that you would choose if you were trying to make a nuclear bomb. On the other hand, no other convincing motive has been suggested.
Unsurprisingly, the Mars Probe 7 crisis, unlike the Apollo 13 crisis a few months before, became a big event in UFO mythology. Rumours abounded about contact with aliens on Mars, leading to an official cover-up. Some UFO enthusiasts have postulated that the radioactive thefts were either made by aliens who arrived on the Recovery 7 and escaped the Space Centre or by groups with an interest, either hostile or peaceful, in aliens connected to the incident.
These theories may not be too wide of the mark, the connection between the radioactive Recovery rocket and the radiation raids seems too obvious to be coincidence. It is also worth noting that the radioactive capsule, which is well documented, was not ever made public. In fact, the most probable explanation for the whole incident is that contact was made with some sort of Extra-Terrestrial Beings, that UNIT was called in to provide security for the incident and that it was hushed up by the government.
If this is the case, then the aliens bear little resemblance to reports about the Martians during the Martian Invasion of 1997. These Martians were not associated with radioactive environments in any way, shape, or form. Perhaps there are several different kinds of Martian. If it was Martians, then they were covered up.
Why would the government hush up contact with Extra Terrestrials, though? The most obvious explanations are that they wished to avoid a potentially Xenophobic public reaction, that they wanted to do secret deals with the aliens without letting the rest of the planet know or that they were suspicious of the aliens. Whilst all of these are possible, there is no particular evidence that they would apply in this case.