A “WAR of the Worlds” incident in the south which sparked off a full-scale military alert is revealed for the first time in newly-released former top secret files.

The incident, contained in extra-terrestrial files released today by the Ministry of Defence, occurred during the 1960s when members of the public reported six small flying saucers positioned in a perfect line across southern England.

Four police forces, bomb disposal units, the army and the MoD’s intelligence branch was mobilised for several hours before it was discovered to be a rag day hoax by students.

Other previously-classified incidents reveal that the House of Lords held a debate on UFOs in January 1979 during the winter of discontent.

And in 1977 the government used its influence to talk down a call by Grenada’s president Sir Eric Gairy for a UN agency to conduct research into UFO sightings.

So how significant is the release of these previously secret files?

Global UFO researcher Phil Hoyle believes that the MoD only releases details of incidents that can be easily debunked and is keeping the concrete evidence of the existence of aliens under wraps.

He said: “It just validates what’s been reported for the last 60 years. It’s like a large onion of information. They are taking off one layer at a time and seeing what reaction the public has to it.

“There is an MoD within the MoD and we are only being given the tip of the iceberg.”

Many UFO sightings have been reported around the sea or near large areas of water, he said.

“There are reports that go across the whole of the south coast. For some reason it is connected to the sea. There have been sightings of objects coming out of the sea from Royal Navy captains and people have seen them going into reservoirs.”

Former Christchurch mayor and paranormal enthusiast Michael Hodges said very often UFOs are merely flying birds or aircraft seen from an unusual angle.

“I am not a believer in UFOs and think most research has shown them to be something natural,” he said.

Dave Shead, programme secretary for Dorset Earth Mysteries Group, said it may be part of a plan to control the populace by uniting them against a fake alien invader.

“There has to be a reason why they are releasing what they have known to be true for many decades into the public arena and they may be laying the groundwork for a faked alien invasion,” he said.

“The main thing is that they are acknowledging that there is more than they let on in the past,” he said.