Summary: The Rendlesham forest incident of Christmas 1980 is probably one of the most remarkable UFO incidents on record. It has been dubbed the "British Roswell" but in reality is probably a far more intriguing case. This site has a brief overview of the case.
The Rendlesham Forest Incident.
The Rendlesham forest incident of Christmas 1980 is probably one of the most remarkable UFO incidents on record. It has been dubbed the "British Roswell" but in reality is probably a far more intriguing case. Like the Roswell incident this one occurred close to several top secret military establishments including two air bases. As such the case profile couldn't be higher yet getting at the truth has never been easy. The full answers may never be known, but varying accounts from different people make for a story that is never anything less than sensational. A story that seems to leap straight from the archives of the most exciting X - files episode.
Boxing Day 1980
Although every aspect of this case has been subject to claim and counter claim, the undisputed fact is that on Boxing Day night of 1980 strange events happened close to the Woodbridge and Bentwater air-bases just eight miles north-east of Ipswich. At that time a party was in progress at one of the air bases which was then leased to the American Air Force. In the early hours of the 27 th of December news went around that something strange was happening.
An unidentified object was tracked on radar in the vicinity of the bases and a state of full alert was declared. After awhile however it became clear that the object, whatever it was, posed no direct threat to the bases yet continued to cause the most intense excitement. Witnesses spoke of bright revolving lights circling in the sky as the object hovered over a nearby pine plantation called Rendlesham Forest.
For awhile confusion prevailed as no-one seems to have known what they were dealing with. According to some reports a bright ball of light seemed to crash into the nearby forest. A patrol was promptly dispatched to the vicinity and finding their way blocked by a farm gate, were forced to continue the search on foot. From the farm gate a narrow path led directly to the forest! Following this for approximately half a mile the astonished servicemen eventually came across a conical metallic object hovering over a clearing in the trees. Above them a pulsating beam of light sent out a rotating circle of red and blue light ! The object-whatever it was also appeared suspended in a haze of yellow mist through which one of the men recalls seeing the vague outline of triangular shaped landing gear!
State of confusion.
By this time the object seems to have been fully aware of the servicemen's presence. It began to back away but giving chase the airmen eventually came so close to it that one of them was reported to have climbed on top of the object to confirm its solidity. The growing unreality of the situation was making the patrol members feel unusual! At least one of them had to be physically dragged from the forest in a trance-like condition, and the others were left in a highly confused state of mind! At the same time local farm animals as well as domestic pets became possessed with wild fear and panic! Cows went into a complete state of frenzy stampeding onto nearby roads where they were run into by a taxi, though without serious consequences!
At this point the exact sequence of events becomes harder to verify! Varied accounts speak of strange lights that continued to plague the vicinity throughout that night and of a landing in the woods during which small creatures with domed heads were seen to emerge from a peculiar shaped craft!
Apparently the craft remained on the ground long enough to be approached by Base Commander Gordon Williams who is said to have attempted to communicate with the aliens through sign language! An eye witness claimed to believe that the beings - possibly robots - were carrying out repairs to the craft that appeared damaged from its descent through the trees! Once these repairs were complete the aliens were observed to take off again in a brilliant burst of light!
The following day the whole site was subjected to intense investigation! Small indentations, thought to have been where the landing legs stood, gave off above normal readings of radiation! In addition overhead branches and leaves were torn away and parted as if some massive object had plunged through the trees.
The excitement concerning the incident was heightened even further by the release of a moment by moment tape recording of the foot search through the pine woods! This was of a highly dramatic nature though ufologists have always doubted its authenticity! It is also widely believed that the entire episode was filmed on video by a USAF officer, though needless to say nothing of this tape was ever made public!
Ace UFO investigator Jenny Randles is quite sure of the existence of this secret film. In her book The UFO Conspiracy she claims: "There is also ample evidence that film was taken of the object and subsequent damage, and flown to Germany, for USAF analysis."
Even in the days that followed the incident strange events continued to occur in the area! A local man putting his dog in his shed for the night saw a fluorescent green object pass over his house and disappear into Rendlesham Forest! Mysteriously the dog became ill and died soon afterwards, apparently from an unidentified poison! In addition a plane flying overhead was unaccountably damaged by flying debris from an unknown source!
After the incident a veil of secrecy hushed up all mention of the strange events. Questions from reporters were met with persistent denials, and the revolving lights were explained in terms of a nearby lighthouse. Jenny Randles condemned this secrecy as a crime against "the rights of British citizens", adding: "This was the most audacious conspiracy ever perpetrated on you (the British Public). It is time that you knew about it"!
Years later the American base commander, now retired, went on British television and confirmed many of the details of what transpired that night. Several former airmen also backed up his story, insisting that whatever they had seen was impossible to explain in any ordinary way.
Just over a year after the incident, deputy commander of the Bentwater air base, Lt. Col. Charles Halt issued the following report to the MOD: "The object was described as being metallic in appearance and triangular in shape, approximately three metres across the base and two metres high. It illuminated the entire forest with a white light....As the patrolmen approached the object, it manoeuvred through the trees and disappeared. At this time the animals in a nearby farm went into a frenzy. The next day three depressions were found where the object had been sighted on the ground."
Although the Rendlesham incident has traditionally been explained in terms of a UFO encounter not everyone accepts this version of events. In fact some local residents believe it was a cover story for a nuclear accident. For her part Jenny Randles is on record as believing that a Russian spy satellite might have been deliberately brought down to Earth near the site - hence the need for a plausible cover story to deflect unwanted attention.
Whatever the truth the Rendlesham incident, like Roswell continues to gather impetus as one of the most remarkable UFO accounts on record - a story that is a legend in the making.