The Formation of U.N.I.T.
U.N.I.T. is far from unique. It is merely the latest link in a chain of similar organisations going back at least as far as the French Revolution. It is known that the Catholic Church in the middle ages had a library containing books that were considered severely dangerous and many of the tomes there are rumoured to concern strange events and personages that fit the descriptions expected of extra-terrestrials. However, the first documented predecessor of UNIT was set up during the French Revolution.
Robespierre's Shadow Directory was set up to investigate and either destroy or control unusual phenomena. The Shadow Directory's brief included dealing with monsters, Caillou (a word which seems not to translate into English) and aliens, should they exist. At about the same time as this, the US created the Special Congress with similar aims and objectives.
Both of these agencies are, as far as we know, now defunct. The Special Congress has not been in existence for over a century and the Shadow Directory was apparently made defunct shortly after the Dreyfuss affair in the late nineteenth century. In fact, the Dreyfuss affair may well have been a government attempt to destroy the Directory.
In the 1930's, the League Of Nations, the ineffectual forerunner of the UN, set up UNIT's closest historical parallel, LONGBOW. LONGBOW was a secret international organisation dealing with matters of world security which, given the League's make-up and the historical circumstances, probably included anti-Communist duties. During its period of existence, LONGBOW dealt with several unexplained and possibly extra-terrestrial phenomena.
Little, however, is known about LONGBOW or either of it's predecessors, details of their operations either having been long destroyed or stored in hidden vaults unavailable to historians and investigators. In addition, eyewitnesses to their operations are few and far between. Most of those eyewitnesses still alive are reluctant to tell of what they were involved with.
UNIT's formation, however, was not directly due to these historical predecessors but mainly to several British organisations which preceded UNIT by a few decades.
The Special Intelligence Division (or S.I.D.) was created by the War Office in 1940 as a scientific liaison for the military. Headed up by Admiral Arthur Kendrick and staffed by scientists from all round the British Commonwealth, the SID played a large role in British Intelligence during the war.
Two incidents for which files have been released for SID (Most files are still not accessible and SID is still not officially acknowledged) are SID's discovery of a Nazi radar system and early, ineffectual, Nazi attempts at stealth planes, both of which were referred to in contemporary German codes by mythological names.
SID also contributed significantly to projects such as the Ultima Machine, an early computer designed for the sole purpose of codebreaking. SID also seems to have had links to the Doctor agents program that Department C-19 later got involved in. In fact, the programme may well have started with SID and been taken over by C-19 at a later date.
Some of the records available give a description of the Scottish Doctor in connection with both C-19 and the SID. It would make sense for SID to be responsible for his involvement in the Ultima Incident in 1943. It is quite likely, therefore, that SID was in some way much more involved in the Ultima Incident than records show.
The SID as a military/science liaison has always been shrouded in mystery, so it is impossible to know whether SID still exists or whether it faded away at some point after the war, possibly soon after UNIT's formation or during more recent budget cuts.
The Intrusion Counter-Measures Group (ICMG) was formed in 1961 to protect the UK from covert actions by hostile powers and to mount intelligence operations against threats. The ICMG was run in parallel with the British Rocket Group under Bernard Quatermass, and had links to S.I.D.
Commanded by Group Captain Ian Gilmore (seconded from an RAF regiment), the ICMG saw relatively little action during its short lifespan. During 1962 and 1963, the ICMG started a recruitment drive for specialists in all sorts of bizarre fields, preparing for the possibility of dealing with a variety of bizarre threats. The most notable of these recruits was Professor Rachel Jenson. Jenson had been part of the Cambridge Group who worked with Turing during the war (possibly under SID).
The ICMG operated very much like UNIT, dealing with bizarre and unusual incidents and staying in the background as much as possible. As all of the ICMG's activities were efficiently covered up, very little is actually known about them. The one big incident that ICMG was involved in, as far as we know, was the Shoreditch Incident in 1963.
This event directly led to the premature retirement of Professor Jensen in 1964, and the disbanding of the ICMG later in the year. All this happened despite Gilmore's considerable efforts to create a permanent taskforce with much wider capabilities than ICMG could possibly have had.
The seeds of UNIT's creation were sown some 6 months after the London Event. Air Vice-Marshall Ian "Chunky" Gilmore, former commander of the ICMG, and Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart met, apparently by chance, in the Alexander Club. During this impromptu meeting, the two exchanged notes on their respective experiences (in the ICMG and during the London Event).
Comments of Gilmore's about bizarre covered-up incidents and his own failure to set up a permanent taskforce clearly had an effect on Lethbridge-Stewart. Following this conversation, he started pressing for a United Nations taskforce to deal with such incidents, as the British Government obviously weren't going to fund one.
After a few months of gathering evidence to back up their arguments, the two officers prepared a case, and Lethbridge-Stewart flew to New York to address the UN Security Council. After being presented with undisclosed evidence that UNIT was necessary, the Security Council voted almost unanimously to set up the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce.
Britain alone abstained, possibly because of financial considerations or a dislike of Lethbridge-Stewart's approach. This was despite the numerous incidents in the UK in which such a group might have been useful to the government. The US was undoubtedly convinced by the Corman Airbase Incident and their own inability to handle the burgeoning UFO craze. Rumour has it that a former Director of Central Intelligence had also been pushing for such a group.
Other members of the council were presumably simply persuaded by the undisclosed information shared by Lethbridge-Stewart. Soon after this session, Lethbridge-Stewart was sent off to a Middle-East peace conference by the UK government, possibly as a delaying tactic whilst the government decided whether to demote or promote him after his insubordination.
Consultation with the UK military and civil service about the British branch of UNIT apparently proved fruitless, save for the contribution of Gilmore. Given the task of appointing a commanding officer of not too high a rank (and thus salary), Gilmore put Lethbridge-Stewart on the taskforce despite protests. He claimed that it was mainly due to Lethbridge-Stewart's record during the London Event. Lethbridge-Stewart was, therefore, promoted to Brigadier and given command of UNIT UK in mid-1968.