- There has been much recent debate about
the Rendlesham Forest incident, and some interesting and well-researched
articles have appeared. These include "Seeing the Forest for the
Trees", a detailed analysis from Jenny Randles, which appeared in
the Summer edition of International UFO Reporter. There have been two articles
by James Easton, entitled "Rendlesham Unravelled" and "Resolving
Rendlesham", together with a piece by Georgina Bruni, entitled "Rendlesham
Unravelled - NOT". How are we to make sense of the various conflicting
views? Has the case really been resolved, or is there more work to be done
before we can make such a claim?
- As many readers of this statement will
be aware, I work for the Ministry of Defence, and between 1991 and 1994
was responsible for researching and investigating the UFO phenomenon for
the British Government. As such, while my involvement with the Rendlesham
Forest case came long after the events concerned, I had an advantage over
other researchers in that I was approaching the case from a unique angle,
having access to the official government file on the incident, and being
able to call upon official resources and expertise.
- Various accounts of the Rendlesham Forest
incident have appeared in numerous books, magazines and articles, many
of which take a radically different view. I have summarised the case in
my first book, "Open Skies, Closed Minds". More detailed accounts
appear in "Left At East Gate" by Larry Warren and Peter Robbins,
and "UFO Crash Landing" by Jenny Randles. I shall not attempt
to rehash any of this material, but shall instead focus on the areas that
have sparked the recent controversy.
- The first of these areas concerns the
original witness statements made by Penniston, Burroughs, Cabansag and
Chandler. James Easton makes much of the fact that these statements are
fairly bland, and points out that some of the witnesses seem to have added
to their stories over the years. However, based on my own official investigations
of other cases I can tell people that this is entirely consistent with
the way in which junior military personnel report UFOs. They do so tentatively
if at all, as they are unsure on official policy and unclear as to what
ramifications there may be for their careers. They will be more forthcoming
in telephone conversations and face to face meetings, and much more inclined
to speak out once they have left the service. Having met a number of the
military witnesses, Jenny Randles is clearly aware of this factor. Sadly,
a number of the sceptics do not seem to have the same understanding of
the way in which the military operate.
- Bearing in mind the above point, the
key document is still Charles Halt's memo, and its mention of a "strange
glowing object" which was "metallic in appearance and triangular
in shape, approximately two to three metres across the base and approximately
two metres high". As a senior officer he had no qualms about being
more forthcoming, because he was clearly aware of policy, and knew that
there was a requirement to report details of any UFO sighting to the Ministry
- What then are we to make of inconsistencies
between the accounts of different witnesses, and in particular the testimony
of Larry Warren? Taking the first point, it is well-known to any police
officer that different people perceive the same event in different ways.
This has been demonstrated in a number of studies, and is something that
I was briefed about as part of my official duties at the MOD. With regard
to Larry Warren, he and Peter Robbins stayed with me for several days while
they were promoting "Left At East Gate", and we had numerous,
in-depth conversations about the case. I am personally convinced that
he was present, and was a witness to some quite extraordinary activity.
But it was abundantly clear that the activity he witnessed was not that
referred to in Halt's memo.
- This brings me to the recent work done
by independent researcher Georgina Bruni, editor of the Internet magazine
"Hot Gossip UK" @ www.hotgossip.co.uk. Georgina is a good friend
of mine, and in recent months she has re-interviewed many of the well-known
witnesses, and uncovered and spoken to several new ones. She will be publishing
this material in due course, although she will be unable to do so in the
immediate future, due to the pressure of other business commitments.
- Let us now turn to the physical evidence.
This consists of the damage to the trees in the clearing where the metallic
craft was seen on the first night of activity, the indentations at the
point it apparently landed, and the radiation readings taken from these
trees and indentations. In "Open Skies, Closed Minds" I revealed
the results of the first and only official investigaton into this aspect
of the case, detailing my enquiries with the Defence Radiological Protection
Service. The official assessment was that the radiation readings recorded
were ten times what they should have been for the area, although I should
stress that the radiation was low level, and would not have posed any danger
to those present.
- Ian Ridpath has highlighted some legitimate
doubts about the suitability of the equipment used to record the radiation
levels, and further suggests that Halt may even have misread the dial on
the Geiger counter. Whilst I accept these points, I should explain that
any official investigation can only be based on the data received by the
Ministry, and not on such speculation - intriguing though it may be. But
one can actually set aside any debate about the precise level of the readings,
on the basis that the readings can only be considered in their proper context.
In other words, we need to consider the events collectively, not individually.
We have a sighting of a UFO, coupled with tree damage and indentations
in the very same clearing in which the UFO was seen. Then we have radiation
readings which, irrespective of how high they were, just happened to peak
where the trees were damaged and in the very centre of the indentations.
We should also remember the fact that Halt's memo explains how "the
animals on a nearby farm went into a frenzy" when the object was seen.
While none of this proves that the UFO was of extraterrestrial origin,
it seems clear that there was an object of some sort involved, which had
an effect on the surrounding environment.
- The sceptics clearly disagree, returning
to the theory that all the UFO sightings were misidentifications of the
Orford Ness lighthouse or the Shiplake Lightship, or even of stars, and
that the indentations in the clearing were caused by burrowing rabbits!
When I met Charles Halt he was dismissive of this, and confirmed that he
and other witnesses were familiar with the lighthouse, which was indeed
visible as an entirely separate object for some time during his actual
UFO sighting. Furthermore, as he explained on the "Strange But True"
documentary on the case, "A lighthouse doesn't move through the forest;
the lighthouse doesn't go up and down, it doesn't explode, doesn't change
shape, size - doesn't send down beams of light from the sky".
- Long after the events concerned, questions
are still being asked about this case in parliament, both in the House
of Commons and the House of Lords, by MPs and Peers who are clearly alive
to the defence and national security implications of the incident. When
seeking expert analysis on a case such as this, one really cannot obtain
a more authoritative view than that of Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Hill-Norton,
a former Chief of the Defence Staff and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.
With the greatest respect to the sceptics, Lord Hill-Norton is considerably
better qualified to analyse an incident such as this. Commenting on the
case he has said "It seems to me that something physical took place;
I have no doubt that something landed....either large numbers of people....were
hallucinating, and for an American Air Force nuclear base this is extremely
dangerous, or what they say happened did happen, and in either of those
circumstances there can only be one answer, and that is that it was of
extreme defence interest.........."
- In summary, James Easton and Ian Ridpath
should be commended for highlighting some intriguing new material and for
stimulating constructive debate on this case. But while it's a neat soundbite
to claim that the case is resolved, this would be a premature and naive
claim to make, and one that is clearly inconsistent with the facts. As
Georgina Bruni and Jenny Randles have shown, there is still work to be