The Rendlesham Forest incident is the unspoken, “Britain’s Roswell”, continues to baffle UFO enthusiasts, conspiracy theorist, and government officials involved in the incident.
In the early hours of December 26 1980, US military personnel (sections of the US Air Force were temporarily stationed at RAF bases in Woodbridge and Bentwaters) spotted strange lights above Rendlesham Forest. One of these men, John Burroughs, accompanied by his supervisor and one other individual, went to investigate the blue, red, orange and white lights. In his subsequent witness statement, published in 1981, Burroughs explains: “As we went down the east-gate road and the road that leads into the forest, the lights were moving back and they appeared to stop in a bunch of trees… Also, the woods lit up and you could hear the farm animals making a lot of noises, and there was a lot of movement in the woods. All three of us hit the ground and whatever it was started moving back towards the open field… We got up to a fence that separated the trees from the open field. You could see the lights down by a farmer’s house. We climbed over the fence and started walking toward the red and blue lights and they just disappeared.”
Jim Penniston, who accompanied Burroughs into Rendlesham Forest on December 26, claims to have encountered a craft, covered in hieroglyphic-like characters. “I estimated it to be about three metres tall and about three metres wide at the base,” Penniston later explained. “No landing gear was apparent, but it seemed like she was on fixed legs. I moved a little closer. I had already taken all 36 pictures on my roll of film. I walked around the craft, and finally, I walked right up to the craft. I noticed the fabric of the shell was more like a smooth, opaque, black glass.”
Indentations on the forest floor, as well as damage to the trees in the area where the lights had been spotted, were found the following morning, however. Radiation levels recorded at the site of the indentations were also unusually high.
In the book Encounter in Rendlesham Forest, which was published last year, Penniston writes: “I left the forest a different man… I was in awe of the technology and yes, a knowing that it was not an aircraft which could have been manufactured in 1980 or even now.” Both Penniston and Burroughs have since suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Two nights later, a different set of military personnel experienced a similar series of events. On this occasion, when the lights were spotted, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt was prepared.
A pragmatic character, Halt intended to disprove the wild rumours swirling around RAF bases Woodbridge and Bentwaters. Arming himself with a recording device, he set out to investigate. The subsequent audio tape is now considered one of the most valuable pieces of evidence in the Rendlesham Forest incident. The transcript of the tape runs to some 18 minutes but includes statements from Halt such as:
“I see it too… it’s back again… it’s coming this way… there’s no doubt about it… this is weird… it looks like an eye winking at you… it almost burns your eyes… he’s coming toward us now… now we’re observing what appears to be a beam coming down to the ground… one object still hovering over Woodbridge base… beaming down”.
Halt has since given interviews in which he claims that these occurrences were picked up by British radar. “I didn’t know this until recently,” he told AOL News. “Because people have come forward after they’ve retired. There were two radar confirmations.” The following night, December 28, one final group of men claim to have encountered something out of the ordinary in Rendlesham Forest. Larry Warren, an 18-year-old soldier who was not even at either RAF base on the night of the first incident, was sent out on patrol with Sgt Adrian Bustinza and a number of other military personnel. Sometime after 11pm, the men departed their trucks and headed towards the field where lights had been seen on the previous two nights.
There, Warren claims to have seen “disaster preparedness officers out here with geiger counters, going in an almost half-clockwise motion around this thing on the ground.” A small red light was then seen approaching from the direction of the coast. “It moved in a downward arc, so fast. [It] stopped and hovered about 20 feet off the ground,” said Warren. “It was the size of a basketball, [an] American basketball. [It was] self-illuminated, not quite red, yet that’s the closest I can describe it.”
Things were about to get even stranger, though. This red light suddenly exploded and a craft appeared on the forest floor. According to Warren, it had “no windows, no markings, no flag or country of origin. Nothing. You could hardly look at it head on, and if you looked at it through the side of your peripheral vision you’d get a shape of it… and there it was, clear as a bell.” At this stage, Warren and Bustinza were asked to retreat by a senior man. From a distance, they then claim to have witnessed Wing Commander Gordon Williams approach the craft and encounter some alien being with “what looked like eyes, facial features, bright clothing and some other device.” Warren is clear that a “silent stand-off”, rather than any communication, took place.
At around 4.30am, Warren returned to his base but Bustinza claims to have seen the craft depart. “When it took off, it was, like, hovering. It went up and, like, took off at about a forty-five-degree angle, and if you would have blinked, you would have missed it… And we got a cold draft of air that lasted about a good ten seconds. You know, like when you get a good blow of dust or wind. No noise though; I do remember that.”
It is understood that almost half of all UFO correspondence directed at the Ministry of Defence relates to the Rendlesham Forest incident. Despite claims of a cover-up, the MoD’s stance has never wavered. It states: “No evidence was found of any threat to the defence of the United Kingdom, and no further investigations were carried out. No further information has come to light which alters our view that the sightings of these lights was of no defence significance.”
Daniel Simpson takes a different view, however. The director of The Rendlesham UFO Incident, a fictionalised account of the story set in the modern day and filmed on location in Rendlesham Forest, is convinced that either there has been a military cover-up or that something extra-terrestrial occurred in December 1980. And moreover, he believes he has uncovered further evidence to prove it. While filming in Rendlesham Forest – “It does have a very strong atmosphere of something strange” – he asked the Forestry Commission to investigate a series of hatches, which Simpson describes as “mysterious”.
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