Friday 2 July 2021

Britain's Roswell

Today is World UFO Day. Whether you believe in the existence of flying saucers and interplanetary aliens or not you can be sure that someone you have met will claim to have seen one.

US Intelligence stated earlier this month that the much anticipated report on UFOs, due to be released soon, will say that there’s no evidence of Earth having been visited by aliens, but it doesn’t rule it out. A few weeks ago it was revealed that a telescope in Canada had been picking up a series of intense bursts of radio waves since 2007 that some scientists (not working on that telescope) have claimed come from an intelligent extraterrestrial source.

Almost two years ago I wrote about Ralph Noyes (1923-1998), a gay Ministry of Defence (MoD) official who became an authority on crop circles. I mentioned he was also head of Defence Secretariat 8, the MoD department that dealt with UFO sightings.

You can guarantee that the name Roswell will crop up in most discussions of UFOs and aliens. It you’re not aware of the name, Roswell is the place in New Mexico, USA, where a US Army Air Force weather balloon crashed in 1947. That’s the official version. It is also claimed to have been an alien spacecraft, and that its alien occupants were taken to the airbase. This has led to various conspiracy theories, not to mention dozens of very profitable books and movies.

In 1980 the UK had its own “Roswell” incident. With Ralph Noyes’ experience dealing with reports of UFOs at the MoD and his subsequent involvement in ufology he was called upon to provide comments on any UFO encounter. His opinion was highly valued.

The British Roswell, as it has been called, has been given several names – the Bentwaters Case, the Woodbridge Case – but the most often used is the Rendlesham case. As the map below illustrates all names are equally valid.

As far as the “facts” are concerned the most important piece of evidence is the memorandum submitted to the MoD on 13th January 1981 by Charles Halt. At the time Halt was a Lt.-Col. in the US Air Force and Deputy Base Commander of the USAF detachments at RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge. He was an eye witness to some of the events.

At about 3 a.m. on 26th December 1980 patrolmen at the east gate of RAF Woodbridge saw lights in the adjoining Rendlesham Forest and they thought an aircraft may have crashed. Patrolmen who were sent to investigate saw a glowing object that illuminated a large part of the forest. It was metallic and triangular, about 3 meters across as its base and 2 meters in height. There was a pulsing red light on top and blue lights underneath. It seemed to be hovering, but as the patrolmen approached the object retreated into the trees and disappeared.

In the light of day some depressions in the ground were found over the place where the object seemed to hover. But more was to come. In the late night of 29th December several USAF personnel, including Lt.-Col. Halt, saw a pulsing red light in the forest. It seemed to split into five pieces and disappeared. Then three “star-like” objects appeared in the sky, darting around, flashing red, green and blue lights. They were observed for several hours.

Much more detail has been added over the years by other witnesses, journalists and investigators, some true, some false, but I needn’t go into them today. The Rendlesham Case is well documented on the internet if you’d like to learn more. I am also aware of a previous incident involving RAF Woodbridge in 1956, but that is also not pertinent today.

So what was Ralph Noyes’ opinion of the Rendlesham Case? It should be noted that he had left the MoD by 1980 so wouldn’t have had access to any documents filed at the time and wasn’t involved in an official investigation. While at the MoD he couldn’t question or criticise decisions made by his superiors, but once he had left he was able to pose those questions freely.

The Rendlesham Case became public three years after the incident. A US Freedom of Information request revealed Lt.-Col. Halt’s memorandum, and the British media exploded with their own investigations. Ralph Noyes examined the available documents and came to the conclusion that the Rendlesham Case was a genuine UFO encounter. He was concerned that the MoD officially declared the case as “of no defence interest”, meaning they didn’t think it was important and nothing more than mistaken identity of some natural phenomenon.

In 1985 Ralph wrote to David Alton, a prominent Liberal Party MP, who raised the Rendlesham verdict with the Secretary of State for Defence, Conservative Party MP Michael Heseltine. Alton said that Ralph’s concerns over the official investigation “merit a reply”. Neither Ralph nor David Alton got a satisfactory response.

Also in 1985 Ralph published a novel called “A Secret Property” which he acknowledged was based on the Rendlesham Case. This led to speculation that the novel told the “truth” of a government cover-up and conspiracy – fuel to the fire for any ufology conspiracy theorist.

A couple of years later Ralph wrote an essay in “The UFO Report”, a collection of UFO essays edited by Timothy Good. Ralph’s essay, “UFO Lands in Suffolk – And That’s Official”, was a direct quote from the headline in the News of the World (a discredited and discontinued Sunday tabloid newspaper) that was splashed all over its front page when Rendlesham was made public.

In his essay Ralph emphasised the importance of the Rendlesham Case in British ufology. He went on to analyse Halt’s memorandum to the MoD and aspects of supporting and sceptic theories behind the incident. His conclusion was that Rendlesham Forest was visited by an unidentified object that was seen by reliable witnesses. He ruled out the most often quoted source for the pulsing lights – a lighthouse that was about 5 miles away – and believed that the MoD did not treat the incident with the seriousness it deserved.

Theories about the Rendlesham Case still abound. Lt.-Col. Charles Case, now retired, continues to talk about the incidents he witnessed. Whatever you think about the case it will remain one of the most mysterious and important UFO encounters in British history, made more significant by the opinion and analysis of Ralph Noyes, the most high profile gay ufologist in the UK at the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment