"After we handed in the picture we went on another trip, and that's when
this whole thing was picked up by the newspapers. The Ministry of Defense
was swarmed by the press and felt obligated to hand out the picture."
"At then time of my return the picture had been published in numerous
The fact that the photography came to interest the Defense isn't very
unexpected. Despite numerous reports, interviews and analyzing of finds,
the Ministry of Defense's secret group of investigations under colonel
Bengt Jacobsson had been unable to find any sorts of evidence which could
point to a possible intruder. The prime suspect was the Soviet Union, but
any definite evidence didn't exist. The picture taken by Eric Reuterswärd
seemed to be the best piece so far in this mysterious jigsaw puzzle.
- I had a very simple camera in those days. It was a small
camera. There were no exquisite lenses on it at all. It had just one lens I bought it as a schoolboy using my savings.
It wasn't easy remembering all the details surrounding the moment of
photographing when we met four decades after the event, but Erik
Reuterswärd believed the time of exposure was 1/50 of a second, a setting
he normally used on that camera.
"There was only one picture from the incident. After all, it traveled with
an enormous speed. Then there was nothing. First there was that light, and
after that there was nothing to see."
What did you do afterwards, after this had taken place?
"Well, there had been much writing in the newspapers about ghost rockets.
So of course we discussed it. But it wasn't until we got back the
photograph that we had something to show. The Ministry of Defense inquired
into sightings from a certain day and a certain time. And that coincided
with what we had seen. And, as I said, we had something concrete to show.
So we let them hear from us."
What Erik Reuterswärd didn't know was that the Defense literally had been
swamped by reports of strange light phenomena in the sky at 14:30 pm the
9th of July. The reports came from all over central Sweden where the
weather was nice and the visibility good The many reports coming in from a
very large area further indicate that the object spotted must have traveled
high in the atmosphere.
"I lived in Stockholm at that time, and I was at the Ministry of Defense
talking to them. I met a very lovable officer who apologized, on behalf of
the Ministry of Defense , for the extreme publicity the incident had
resulted in, and furthermore informed me of my possibilities of receiving
some sort of financial compensation from the newspapers."
The lovable officer was Major Nils Ahlgren, who in a letter to Erik
Reuterswärd dated the 9th of August 1946 informs him that he has given the
picture to the newspaper "Morgontidningen", but without mentioning
Reuterswärd. It's also likely to have been Ahlgren who conducted the
interview with Mr. Reuterswärd when he arrived to hand in the picture:
"There was never such a thing as a cross examination. It was just plain
talking. It was I who contacted them, and after I'd done that did I go over
to them, I think. Then my wife and I went away, as I said, and when we
returned we saw that we've received a letter from them telling us they'd
made it all public. And after that, then we [Reuterswärd and Ahlgren] had
Contact is made with Bofors
The picture was a great mystery for the military. In a few attempts to find
an explanation, Major Dahlgren wrote the commander at the AB Bofors
shooting range [a major Swedish exporter of weapons]. Could it have been a
rocket launch by Bofors? The answer was no: No launches had been made at
the time of the sighting.
But the affair was of a sensitive nature, and Major Ahlgren, who in his
letter to Bofors had demanded the matter to be considered classified, had
furthermore turned to professor Bertil Lindblad at Stockholm observatory.
But the answer was ambiguous: "However, judging from the photograph and the
visual sightings, one cannot definitely rule out the possibility that what
we have here is a meteor." In an attachment to the letter, professor
Lindblad presented an idea for a "V-bomb spectrograph", a surveillance
camera which could differentiate meteors and rocket bombs by analyzing
Erik's wife Åsa also remembers the incident well. This is what she said
during our meeting:
"We were out hiking in the forest when we reached that forest watchtower
and climbed it to watch the view, as simple as that. And then it's
tradition to take a picture of a beautiful view. We're not professional
photographers or anything, it was very amateurish."
"There we stood at a wooden rail which went all around the edges, aiming
the camera northwest, I believe. It must have been pretty early in the
"Anyway, we stood there watching, my husband snaps a picture, and we say
'wow, what was that?' There was a lightning of some sorts. I can still see
it. Obviously, I might be influenced by the picture and what I saw in the
newspaper, but it was like a comet with a small tail which came and went
What happened when you came back home?
"It was around the same time as when the newspapers said that something had
happened that day and that they wanted to get in touch with people who had
witnessed something. We realized that not only had we seen something, we
had also been able to photograph it."
You're not mentioning anything about the fact that you had taken a picture
in the letter your husband wrote to the Ministry of Defense.
"Does he only mention that we've seen something in that letter? Oh well, in
that case I guess that the request to the public to report strange
sightings hadn't been made yet, and when it did we didn't know whether or
not anything had been caught on film since we hadn't had it developed yet.
Thanks to it [the request] our attention was caught. Otherwise we'd never
bothered looking at the photograph. It wasn't very noticeable."
It wasn't very noticeable.
And then the picture was sent to Swedish newspapers.
"Yes, and that's pretty stupid. We weren't that great photographers. But of
course we thought it was pretty funny. The picture even made the cover. We
were happy for the packet we pulled in. It wasn't very much, 50 SEK or so.
But it was a lot of money in those days."
Today Erik Reuterswärd has passed on, and his suspicion that it was in fact
a meteor - something he put forward during our conversation - is very
likely to be true. But his picture lives on as a memorial of a year when
the whole of Sweden looked to the skies hoping to catch a glimpse of the
strange Ghost Rockets.
Whatever was behind the strange rockets is still anyone's guess.