Undoubtedly the most well-known case in the bonnybridge area dates back to well before the current mystery began. it occurred in november 1979 on a damp morning near dechmont law, a forested area close to the m8 motorway at livingston.
Forestry worker Bob Taylor was on patrol with his dog, checking for stray sheep, when he says he came upon a strange object sitting on the ground or hovering just above it. a line of rotating arms were set into a rim surrounding the circular object and it was fading in and out of view, allowing background trees to be visible - almost as if it were attempting to camouflage itself.
Bob Taylor describes how he stared in amazement as two metal spheres with spikes on, not unlike sea mines, emerged from the rear of the object and bounced towards him. they made horrible, sucking noises as they impacted into the wet soil. as they reached his side he became aware of a curious acrid smell, then felt a tugging on his legs and collapsed unconscious on to the ground.
The forester recovered an unknown time later - estimates suggest it was fifteen or twenty minutes. nothing was now visible in the clearing, but his dog was running about barking and yapping, prompting speculation that it had frightened off the intruders. taylor was weak and dizzy and could not stand, but he dragged himself to his vehicle at the edge of the clearing. however, his co-ordination was seriously awry and he drove into a ditch.
Taylor eventually reached his home at the edge of the woods having partly dragged himself and then stumbled through the undergrowth. his wife saw at once that he had been attacked, which he confirmed. but - he added sombrely - his assailants were not exactly human.
Mrs Taylor rang malcolm drummond, taylor's boss, who arrived at the house to hear his story, even though the man was dazed, had a headache and kept saying that he had been 'gassed'. a doctor was called and taylor was sent to hospital, although he checked himself out later without being examined.
Meanwhile, Taylor's employers at the Livingston New Town Development Corporation had been called in to investigate, as had the police. they were not laughing but were treating the matter as a physical assault by person or persons unknown - a prospect then unprecedented in ufo history.
Drummond arranged to meet the police at the clearing. here they found taylor's vehicle and also, as drummond notes, 'marks on the ground which seemed to indicate that something had come vertically down and made impressions in the turf'. these resembled a bulldozer or heavy machinery, but surrounding them were 40 shallow holes that matched the witness's story about the bouncing spiky balls.
The police fenced off the area and were utterly baffled, since the tracks covered only this one area of grass. there was no indication of how the vehicle that caused them had arrived.
Malcolm Drummond is adamant about the physical evidence that he saw:
'There is no doubt in my mind that these marks were made by a perfectly solid, heavier-than-air object. they had been made by some machine which had come vertically downward...'
Detective sergeant Ian Wark was a member of the police team assigned to the case. he admits that he was highly sceptical when first sent to the scene, but on examining the 40 holes and the weird caterpillar tracks he was puzzled. he checked all the forestry equipment used in the area; none of it had tracks that matched. after the investigation wark was in no doubt. 'in my opinion,' he said, 'mr taylor genuinely reported what he saw, or be-lieved that he had seen.'
The police sent bob taylor's trousers to edinburgh for forensic analysis. lester knibb, a forensic scientist in the laboratory, found clear tear marks on either side, consistent with the witness's story about being grabbed at waist height by the two spiky sea mines. the police lab could not prove anything, but knibb says: 'the damage could have been caused in the way the witness says. but it would require something mechanical. it was not something caused by an electric shock or bolt of lightning.' these were theories that sceptics were proposing at the time.
Detective sergeant wark confirms: 'we are still baffled ... the case is still open...'
Taylor himself, citing the fact that no similar episodes occurred either before the assault or in the fifteen years post this encounter, does not accept this interpretation of events (ie that it was an epileptic fit).
The livingston development corporation... erected a plaque at the forest site commemorating the encounter. it quickly disappeared.., but has been replaced.