Rendlesham Forest has a vast area of about 5.8 square miles and is owned by Forestry Commission. It is located in Suffolk, England. Nearby the forest two military bases were used by the United States Air Force at that time. The Rendlesham Forest Incident took place in late December 1980.
A series of mysterious lights were spotted there at that time which was reported as an Unidentified flying object (UFO). This mysterious incident is one of the most famous UFO sightings in England. After 42 years, does the mystery solved or not?
1. UFO Reports in England
Many UFO sightings were reportedly seen in England. Many of them are claimed to be misidentified. But the UFO reports were not decreasing from the 12th century to the 21st century. The most famous UFO incident that happened in the Britain which was known worldwide was the Rendlesham forest incident.
2. About the Rendlesham Forest Incident
On England’s east coast, there are two United States Air Force (USAF) bases – Woodbridge and Bentwaters. Outside of the back gate of Royal Air Force (RAF) Woodbridge, a security patrol discovered strange lights in the nearby Rendlesham Forest.
2.1 Strange Lights
In the early hours of 26th December 1980 three patrolmen – Sergeant Penniston, Airman John Borroughs, and Airman Cabanasag saw those lights in Rendlesham Forest which they initially thought was a downed aircraft. They dispatched and went inside the forest to find out what it was.
2.2 UFO Sighting
They encountered a craft which is triangular in shape, luminous, three meters on a side with strange markings and three legs. One of them even claimed that they touched the craft. Then they tried to approach it but it vanished at high speed through the trees.
After Borroughs and Penniston left the forest, they went as different men due to their experience in the forest. Both suffered from post-traumatic stress after that incident. In the later years, Penniston even claimed that the craft transmitted some binary code into his brain through telepathy.
2.3 Coloured Lights
2 days after the incident which is December 28, 1980, Deputy Base Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Halt along with several security policemen went to the same site where the UFO was encountered.
There, they found three impressions on the ground in an irregular triangular pattern. Also, broken branches and burn marks on the nearby trees. Halt recorded radiation that was 8-9 times more than the normal background level. He carefully marked the radiation.
Then suddenly, one of them noticed an object with coloured lights. A brightly glowing object, to be exact was bright red with a dark center, star-like object in the sky, looking like it winked at them. At one point, it approached them and they tried to get closer but it moved beyond the forest and exploded into five white objects and disappeared.
Later they found some objects hovering in the sky over the north and south at very high speed. One or two even send something sort of laser beam towards them about a mile away over Woodbridge base. Halt recorded those moments of significance on his tape recorder.
2.4 Why the Forest Incident was Also Called ‘Britain’s Rosewell’?
In 1947, Roswell Mexico, U.S. Army Force released news that they recovered a crashed flying saucer – UFO. It happened during the early times of the cold war. All these years there are many conspiracy theories raised about this incident. Due to the similarity of the forest incident with this case, the Rendlesham forest incident is also called ‘Britain’s Rosewell’.
3. Ignorance of Higher Officials
Halt informed briefly what happened to his boss and played the tape. His boss took the tape to the Air Force headquarters meeting. The final decision was, as this happened away from the U.S. base, a British affair. Eventually, both US and UK tried to cover this forest incident.
Even though there was not so much evidence to support what the people saw in the forest during that night. The most important evidence is the people who were actually in the forest during those times and their statements.
4.1 Halt’s Memo
As per his boss’s order, Halt reported to squadron leader Moreland, the British Liaison Officer. Moreland asked halt to write a memo. In the Memo Halt explained clearly everything he was informed and experienced. This Memo is the primary evidence of the Rendlesham Forest Incident.
After Halt submitted the memo, Moreland sent a copy of that to his superior at Third Air Force. No one released it at that time and made sure it was destroyed. Three years later, someone found out that Third Air Force had a copy and released the memo. That’s when a lot of publicity came to the case.
4.2 Halt’s Tape
As Halt recorded all the significant moments of the incident in his tape, it serves as major evidence. In 1984, Colonel Sam Morgan who was Halt’s superior at that time released it to the UFO researchers.
The tape contains radiation readings, flashing light sightings, and the appearance of star-like objects hovering in the sky and twinkling. One of the UFO researcher Ian Ridpath transcribed the tape and provided a link to an audio download. Also made it easy for everyone who would hear it by creating a step-by-step analysis of the contents of the tape.
4.3 The Rendlesham Forest Incident Made Headlines After 3 Years
In October 1983, as the incident leaked out, it made the front page of the UK’s popular tabloid – News of the World as ‘UFO lands in Suffolk and that’s official’. This sensational story is based on Halt’s memo sent to the Ministry of Defense (MoD).
4.4 Eye Witnesses
Burroughs and Penniston are the first two eyewitnesses who saw the flashing lights in the early hours of December 26, 1980. After that Colonel Halt and his party entered the same spot after two days. They also witnessed the incident. At the same time, two other residents also saw the coloured lights. And They also heard some weird noises that night.
Both tower operators at RAF Bentwaters saw an object under the bright tube radar. Also, a tower operator in the storage area and several people around the base watched it. Everyone who watched that didn’t know what it was but one thing was sure it was under intelligent control and from another dimensional.
4.5 Books Written Based on the Incident
Numerous books were written based on the Rendlesham Forest Incident. They include:
- Sky Crash: A Cosmic Conspiracy (1984)
- UFO Crash Landing? Friend Or Foe by Jenny Randles (1998) – reveals the full story of the Rendlesham Forest UFO Encounter
- Left at East Gate by Larry Warren, Peter Robbins (2010) – contains everything about the Rendlesham Forest Incident.
- You Can’t Tell the People by Georgina Bruni, Nick Pope (2011) – uncovers the Rendlesham Forest UFO Mystery
- Encounter in Rendlesham Forest by Nick Pope, John Burroughs, and Jim Penniston (2015) – explains the witnesses’ full story and contains various important documents which they get under the Freedom of Information Act
- The Rendlesham Enigma by Jim Penniston, Gary Osborn, and James Pennison (2019) – reveals everything about the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident
David Clarke who was a consultant to National Archives thoroughly investigated Halt’s memo and discussed it with the Ministry of Defense. As no relevant evidence was found related to the forest incident further. So, no further action takes place as it’s not a threat to the United Kingdom Defence.
Nick Pope who worked at the Ministry of Defense during that period, re-opened the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident case in 1993. Even though there are some burn marks on the nearby trees along with broken branches on the day of the incident, there were no other UFO sightings found in the forest after that. Thus, this forest case remains unsolved.
6. Speculations and Theories About The Randlesham Forest UFO Incident
The UFO Incident has witnesses and evidence but still, it can’t be proved due to the lack of other important evidence. Also, not everyone was UFO believers. There are other witnesses and proof which support the Non-believers. Let’s see those theories about the UFO Incident:
Vince Thurkettle who was a forest worker at that time was asked about the fact that he noticed any strange or mysterious lights on that night near the forest. He said he didn’t see anything strange that night. When asked about the flashing lights, he said “It’s the lighthouse”. Even the local police who came to the site later found nothing except a lighthouse.
Many people like him believed that the flashing lights were from the lighthouse. Orfordness Lighthouse is located five miles away from the forest located on the Suffolk coast. The lighthouse also flashed every five seconds as the people who saw the weird lights told.
So, the brightest lighthouses were mistaken for UFOs.
6.2 Nearby Farm
Your next thought would be, what about the markings, broken branches, burn marks, and weird sounds? Well, there are some explanations for that too. There was a farm nearby the forest. So, the weird sounds and broken branches would be farm animals. The three markings in the land would be three rabbit scrapes.
But the burn marks? It might be made by an axe by the foresters in those trees as a sign that those trees were about to fall. So, Farm animals and rabbit scrapes were mistaken for a UFO landing, maybe.
6.3 Meteor and Atmospheric Distortions
Even if we assume whatever above said was true which could explain the movement of an object in the sky? Well, it turns out that what the witnesses saw in the sky that night might be some bright stars distorted by optical and atmospheric effects.
Ian Ridpath, a scientific writer, and a UFO skeptic explains another possibility that according to the British Astronomical Association Meteor Section report, on the night of the forest incident, an exceptionally amazing fireball that is a meteor is seen around southern England. So, it might be the hovering object seen in the forest.
7. Government Coverup
UFO believers and the witnesses who claimed to have seen the UFO at that time in Rendlesham Forest didn’t accept any of the above theories. They firmly believe that both US and UK governments covered up the incident.
8. UFO Trial
In 2005, Forestry Commission created a trail in Rendlesham Forest due to the public interest in the incident and called it the “UFO Trial”. In 2014, a sculpture is made by an artist commissioned by Forest Service with sketches that represent the UFO seen by witnesses during the incident.
9. Change of Opinion
Jenny Rendles was one of the first journalists who reported on the forest case and co-authored with some researchers the book – Sky Crash: A Cosmic Conspiracy (the first book about the case) in which she expressed her doubts regarding the incident which might be caused by aliens.
Even though she first suggested that what the eyewitnesses saw that night might be caused by an Unidentified Atmospheric Phenomenon (UAF), later she admitted that no unearthly craft was found in the Rendlesham forest and the puzzle remains.
10. Was It All a Prank?
In December 2018, David Clarke, a UFO researcher, and journalist received a letter from a former British Army’s Special Air Service (SAS) airman who told that this forest incident was a revenge plot on US Air Force personnel by him and others in his unit for an earlier incident.
SAS entered RAF Woodbridge to test the security of the nuclear site in August 1980. But they were beaten up by USAF as SAS entered without getting any permission. And SAS troops were insulted as ‘unidentified aliens’ by the USAF personnel.
So, SAS plotted revenge to give USAF an actual alien event. Hence used remote-controlled kites along with black helium balloons to carry radio-controlled suspended materials into the sky. After a thorough investigation, Clarke concluded that this letter itself was a prank.
11. Truth Behind the Rendlesham Forest Incident
We can never find out the truth behind the Rendlesham Forest incident 100% surety. UFO researchers and believers say that aliens landed in the forest that night according to the witnesses.
UFO skeptics say that there is no such thing called UFO and aliens, it’s all human imagination. What happened during that night was exactly the theories mentioned above, nothing more than that.
Without any proper evidence to support either of the sides, it’s hard to come to a conclusion and the debate will continue. With the difference of opinion and claims, guess we’ll never know the full truth regarding the incident.[amazon_auto_links id="280559"]