- A report by the deputy commander of a US nuclear base
in East Anglia of an unidentified flying object provoked panic in the Ministry
of Defence, newly-released documents have revealed. In what was claimed
to be Britain's first UFO landing, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt, commander
of the US Bentwaters base near Woodbridge in Suffolk, reported that two
of his security patrolmen had seen "unusual lights" early in
the morning of December 27, 1980.
- Thinking that an aircraft had crashed, they reported
seeing "a strange glowing object in the Rendlesham forest". The
object was described as being "metallic in appearance and triangular
- It had a "pulsing red light on top and bank of blue
- Animals on a nearby farm were said to have gone into
a " frenzy". The following day three depressions were found as
well as traces of radiation, Col Halt reported.
- His report was released under the US freedom of information
act two years later. What has not been disclosed until now is the MoD's
response to it.
- British papers on the incident have been discovered by
David Clarke, a researcher at Sheffield University who is writing a book
- The Halt report was sent to the MoD with a covering letter
by Squadron Leader Donald Moreland, an RAF liaison officer, who referred
to "some mysterious sightings".
- The ministry's scientists said they could offer "no
explanation for the phenomena", or the radiation. Radar tapes from
the night in question were impounded from nearby RAF bases to see if there
was any evidence that British airspace had been invaded.
- The papers make clear the MoD was concerned more about
protecting the base from unwelcome publicity than about the alleged UFO
- The ministry was worried about rumours being spread suggesting
that the "alien landing" was a clever cover story for an accident
involving nuclear weapons, the crash of a prototype Stealth aircraft, or
even the secret recovery of part of a Soviet satellite.
- It was also worried that anti-nuclear campaigners would
be alerted to the presence of nuclear bombs at Bentwaters.
- Yet it had something else to hide. Five documents are
being withheld on the grounds that they contain confidential briefings
to ministers, relate to national security, or affect Britain's relations
with the US.
- Dr Clarke, of Sheffeld University's centre for English
cultural tradition, and whose book is due to be published by Piatkus next
year, has asked the MoD to release them.
- He said: "Here we had USAF servicemen at a highly
sensitive Nato base chasing UFOs around a forest in the middle of the night."
- He added: "The files raise questions about how easily
our defences could be fooled."