1974 was, in most respects, a typical year for early 70's UNIT. Situated in the middle of what later came to be known amongst UNIT troops as the Big Bug era, the year saw a number of incidents ranging from bizarre reports to major international incidents and taking in several things in between. It also involved UNIT's existence being threatened as the government threatened to close down the UK branch. The year also saw some changes in the core UNIT staff and marked the start of a decline in the activities of the UNIT Doctor, whose requisitions were reduced considerably and whose presence at UNIT was less and less noticed. The most bizarre incident of the year, however, may well have been totally off record. It was during this year, that UNIT began building a new London Headquarters - which was reputedly capable of surviving a nuclear attack.
During March 1974, UNIT was involved in a major international incident that made few headlines, despite nearly resulted in a nuclear exchange. Centred around the small North African nation of Kebiria, UNIT's involvement began before the crisis developed. Satellite photographs had discovered some sort of anomaly in the country, something apparently akin to a gigantic termite mound, so UNIT sent Captain Anton Deveraux of UNIT UK to investigate. Deveraux died of mysterious causes on the same day that the crisis began.
To fully understand the nature of this crisis, you need some background to Kebirian politics. There were two distinct ethnic groups within the country, the Kebiriz and the Giltaz. At the time, the country was ruled by the left-wing Kebiriz dictator Khalil Benari. There were two Giltean groups who had taken up arms against both Benari and each other. The FLNG were a fairly independent group, whilst the GAF were backed by Libya.
The crisis began with the loss of 1000 Kebirian troops who were en route to attack a major FLNG encampment. Later the same day, Captain Deveraux died. According to leaked UNIT records, his body was swollen to twice it's normal size and his flesh had turned into something resembling honey. The body was found and burned by the FLNG. The obvious explanation is that some sort of chemical or biological weapon was used against the Kebirians and that it also killed Deveraux, but there is no evidence of anybody in the region having or using such weapons before or after.
UNIT's response to the news of Deveraux's death was to send a team from the UK into Kebiria, headed up by Captain Mike Yates. This team was imprisoned on arrival and then released and ordered to return to the UK, on the grounds that what UNIT were investigating was purely an internal matter.
From this point onwards, there seem to have been two distinct, but related developments. One was the continuing situation in Kebiria and the other was based around the British UNIT HQ.
The Kebirian situation continued with an escape from a political prison. One of the escaped inmates was notorious Arab Terrorist Vincent Al Tayid, the man responsible for the infamous Cairo hotel bombings a few years previously. According to the GAF, with whom he was working, this escape led to a government air attack on an independent GAF town. This attack killed and maimed many civilians.
Following this attack, the GAF took both their military and civilians
to another location and requested help from the FLNG. Some reports indicate that the two groups staged a co-ordinated attack on the structure Deveraux was investigating. Others claim that UNIT troops were involved in an assault on the structure. Radio contact was lost with the capital, Kebir City, as well as with Rabat and Giltat. Contemporary military reports suggest that problems in Algiers and an unexplained air raid in Malta were related to this.
Whilst the details of what actually happened in Kebiria are hidden in a fog of bureaucracy, red tape and official secrets, we know that the events were severe enough for the US President to authorise a nuclear strike on Kebiria. One former employee of the US Department of Defense recalls that Nuclear Weapons were actually launched, but were intercepted before impact.
Whether this happened or not, millions of Kebirians either disappeared or died during the course of events, much like the 1000 soldiers. Amongst the claimed casualties were both Khalil Benari and Vincent Al Tayid. Eyewitnesses claimed that the bodies of both men had been burnt.
Some of the more bizarre reports claim that the whole incident was caused by the return of mythical creatures called Al Harwaz who were, according to local legend, involved in the fall of the Giltaz 700 years previously. Certainly the legendary phrase Dancing the Code was the last message reported from a number of places with which contact was lost. Also, many witnesses reported the smell of roses and cloves, again mentioned in the legends.
The incident at UNIT HQ had some parallels with what happened in Kebiria, and may have been connected. Following the return of the UNIT team expelled from Kebiria, there were a number of deaths at UNIT HQ. Leaked morgue records claim that two of the corpses weren't human, despite looking identical to UNIT personnel. Soon after this, another UNIT UK team was dispatched to Kebiria just before UNIT HQ was apparently taken over. This led to an unsuccessful attack by UNIT troops under Sergeant John Benton, supported by the regular army. A second attack, apparently aided by the UNIT Doctor, managed to reclaim the base. Unfortunately, we have been unable to discover who it was that took over the base, save that they were most likely not human. At least one member of the regular army forces involved has claimed that UNIT troops mentioned the phrase Dancing the Code, and that they were ordered to make themselves smell of roses and cloves.
We suspect that both the events at UNIT HQ and those in Kebiria are connected and, as we noted earlier, there is reason to believe that both are connected to a 13th Century Arab legend. Unfortunately the legend, concerning man-like creatures who provided a Caliph with all that he wanted, said nothing about the creatures it featured. What if it was fact and the creatures resurfaced in 1973? If so, why would they wipe out millions of people and attempt to take over UNIT UK's headquarters?
Their involvement would still not explain everything. If such creatures were involved, then they would have had to have been responsible for the disappearance of the 1000 Kebirian troops. However, the Gilteans - enemies of the Kebiriz - apparently allied against them. Furthermore, why would such creatures disappear for 700 years and then only resurface in 1973?
Whatever the exact sequence of events and connection with ancient legends, the Kebirian crisis never made an impact on the wider world. Although some western newspapers reported heavy fighting, resulting in many deaths, none dwelt on the matter, even though this could easily have had the news impact that Rwanda had two decades later. In Kebiria and the Arab world, the media merely reported the overthrow of the Benari government with no details. They also passed over the squabbles as to what sort of regime would follow.
The crisis did, however, have one major repercussion. Apparently in response to this, the UN tightened up the UNIT protocols to enable more flexibility and less individual government interference in UNIT operations globally.
At the end of March 1974, Josephine Grant joined the contestants in a new talent show entitled Make A Star. The show had started six weeks before, and was similar in format to 21st century shows like Pop Stars, Fame Academy, and X Factor. The contestants would be voted out with each episode until just a handful were left for the final. Miss Grant was added to the show late in the day due to a new feature entitled "Stairway to the Stars" about a week before the final was due to air.
In the event, the final did not air, being replaced by the test card. The reasons for this are unclear, particularly as all the footage from every single episode was apparently destroyed soon afterwards. As far as can be known, there are not even audio recordings or telesnaps of any of the episodes. However, it is suspected that UNIT may well have been responsible for the destruction of the episodes. What their rationale might be for this is unclear.
The most likely explanation is to do with an interesting co-incidence. Every single one of the contestants voted off went missing. Their last known appearances in all cases are the episode in which they were voted off. Miniature replicas of some of them are known to have been found in the studios, but other than that, their disappearance remains a mystery. It is quite feasible that Miss Grant was placed on the program in order to investigate their disappearance (although why UNIT rather than the police would be investigating is unknown).
Of course, this wouldn't explain why the show would have been taken off the air, or all copies of its contents destroyed. It is possible that there may have been some potentially incriminating evidence on some of the footage, but then why destroy the footage, unless UNIT wanted to cover up for somebody. Perhaps, instead, the broadcast was stopped because of UNIT activity at the final and the footage destroyed by a third party to cover their tracks. Certainly no verdict was reached on the fates of the missing contestants, none of whom subsequently turned up.
In April 1974, UNIT were called in to deal with a situation in Wales. A company called Global Chemicals had been given permission to build a refinery in the former mining village of Llanfairfach. Global Chemicals had been testing something called the Stevens Process which was supposed to give a 25% increase in the amount of petrol produced from crude oil. A local group of local ecologists nicknamed the Nuthatch opposed this process. The Nuthatch included famous Nobel prizewinner Clifford Jones, who had publicly voiced concerns about the pollution the process would cause.
UNIT's involvement is most likely linked to a series of unusual deaths in the area. According to some witnesses, the bodies were glowing green, and left in the old mine-shafts. The course of events is difficult to reconstruct. However, the Global Chemicals factory was blown up at some point during these events. The newspapers never reported the incident, but they did cover the subsequent collapse of Global Chemicals, which was attributed to the complete failure of the Stevens Process.
In the search for explanations, we must start with the nature of the deaths. Although the coroner's report was highly classified, as with almost all deaths connected with UNIT, we can deduce some things about the deaths. As the bodies were all reported to be glowing green, chemical toxins are the obvious conclusion. Although no expert that we have consulted knows of any agent that causes this sort of effect in humans, there is a strong probability that the Stevens Process, details of which are still classified, uses an agent that is generally unknown.
The evidence considered so far would lead us to conclude that the Stevens process used or created a chemical which caused the deaths. There are, however, two other things to consider. The first is the fact that bodies were found in the old mine shafts. Why should this be? One possibility is that Global Chemicals knew about dangerous by-products of the Stevens Process, and that they made use of the nearby disused mine shafts as a convenient waste dumping ground. Therefore, anyone who went down into the mines would be very likely to be affected by such waste. There are, of course, more sinister theories about deliberate killing and dumping of bodies by Global Chemicals, but such theories have no real evidence to back them up.
The other point to consider is that UNIT blew up the Global Chemicals factory. If UNIT uncovered evidence of waste dumping or toxic chemicals, then why would they try to solve the problem by blowing up the factory? Surely this would create a risk that UNIT troops and the surrounding area would be contaminated. Perhaps UNIT scientists had been able to examine the toxin and determine that this would not happen. Perhaps they decided that this would cause less contamination than going through usual procedures to shut down the plant.
We can, therefore, conclude that Global Chemicals were dumping toxic waste in the mines, and that UNIT stopped this early example of a hushed-up ecological scandal.
Incidentally, Josephine Grant left soon after this incident to marry Professor Jones, and the two prepared for an expedition to the Amazon.