Cedric Allingham (born 1922) was a British contactee of the 1950s, whose claims to have encountered the pilot of a Martian spacecraft were published in 1954 as Flying Saucer from Mars.
Allingham's book stated that he had been born in 1922 in Bombay, and educated in England and South Africa. He had taken up amateur astronomy while posted to the Middle East with the RAOC, and subsequently travelled around Britain indulging his hobbies of bird-watching and caravan holidays while making a living as a writer of thrillers.
Allingham made the remarkable claim that on 18 February 1954, while on holiday near Lossiemouth, he had encountered a flying saucer and communicated with its pilot by means of hand gestures and telepathy. The spaceman had indicated that he came from Mars, and that he had also visited Venus and the Moon. As supporting evidence, Allingham took a number of blurry photographs of the saucer and one of its occupant (pictured from the rear). He also claimed that a fisherman named James Duncan had witnessed the event from a nearby hill, providing a signed statement which was reproduced in the book.
Coming soon after the dramatic claims of George Adamski, Allingham's book attracted a fair amount of popular and media attention. TIME devoted a short piece to it early in 1955. Commenting that Allingham's photograph of a Martian looked “very like a crofter with galluses flapping”, the writer added:
“ England's eagerest astronauts, the slide-rule devotees of the British Interplanetary Society, hoot at the book's “scientific” label. Politely, they suggest that Author Allingham has a highly susceptible imagination or that somebody has elaborately hoaxed him. But Allingham, now undergoing lung treatment at a Swiss sanatorium, cares little if critics point out that saucer pictures have been faked in the past with lampshades, garbage-can covers and trapshooting targets tossed in the air. Such books as his apparently answer a deep and widespread yearning for marvels. ”
—TIME, Meeting on the Moor, 14 February 1955
Members of the flying saucer clubs popular at the time made attempts to interview Allingham, but both he and James Duncan proved remarkably elusive. Allingham was said to have delivered a lecture to a UFO group in Tunbridge Wells, at which Lord Dowding (former Air Chief Marshal of the RAF during World War II and a prominent UFO believer) stated he was present: “We got Mr. Cedric Allingham […] to lecture to our local Flying Saucer Club, and we were all strongly impressed that he was telling the truth about his actual experiences, although we felt that he might have been mistaken in some of the conclusions which he drew from his interview”. The writer Robert Chapman made several attempts to trace Duncan, and to contact Allingham through his publishers, who stated firstly that Allingham was undergoing medical treatment in Switzerland, and then that he had died there. Chapman was only able to confirm that Allingham had given the previously mentioned lecture in Sussex, at which the well-known broadcaster, astronomer and noted UFO skeptic Patrick Moore claimed to have met him. Unable to locate either Duncan or Allingham, and therefore suspecting some form of hoax, Chapman regretfully concluded that “if there was no James Duncan and [thus] no visitor from Mars, perhaps there was no Cedric Allingham either”.
Progress on unravelling the mystery came in 1986 as a result of research by Christopher Allan and Steuart Campbell, published in the Fortean journal Magonia. In Flying Saucer from Moore's?, they argued that the prose of Allingham's book showed significant similarities to the writing of Patrick Moore. Thanks to further enquiries to Allingham's publisher, they were able to trace a friend of Moore, Peter Davies, who eventually admitted that he had co-written the book with another, unnamed individual. Davies also claimed that the talk at the UFO club given by 'Allingham' had in fact been given by himself while wearing a false moustache. Moore has admitted to being invited, by Lord Dowding, to be a guest at this meeting. These and other clues led Allan and Campbell to identify Patrick Moore as the main culprit in a hoax intended to expose the gullibility and uncritical research methods of British ufologists, Flying Saucer from Mars being a partial parody of Flying Saucers Have Landed, the 1953 book by Adamski and Desmond Leslie.
Further articles on Moore's involvement appeared in “The Star”, July 28, 1986 and the 'Feedback' page of “New Scientist” Aug 14, 1986.
Moore, however, immediately denied being responsible for Allingham's book, and threatened to take legal action against anyone suggesting otherwise, although he took no such action on any of the three articles mentioned above. At the time of writing (2008) he has never confirmed his involvement in the affair, even though the telescope shown in the book's frontispiece bears a remarkable resemblance to his own 12½-inch reflectior.