The following is an article I had published in the French edition of Nexus
26th December 2010 will mark the 30th anniversary of the Rendlesham incident. Often dubbed ‘Britain’s Roswell’, it is one of the most important UFO sightings. Not only because the witnesses included high ranking military officials but that new data is regularly coming into the public domain which helps hint at the complex and extraordinary nature of this incident. From what many believe was just one sighting on one night, it has been revealed over time that in fact the incident occurred over several nights with new witnesses and new information continuing to come forward.
26th December 1980
Sometime after midnight on the 26th December 1980 Sgt. Steffens and First Class Airman John Burroughs became aware of bright lights above the tree-tops of Rendlesham forest. They were stationed at the now legendary ‘East Gate’ which was in effect the back-gate of RAF Woodbridge. The lights piqued the pair’s interest enough to drive down towards Rendlesham forest to investigate. As they drove they noticed the lights were red, orange and blue and were very bright. They also became aware of a bright white light that appeared to be moving along the edge of the forest as if keeping pace with the car. They also felt the white light was coming closer to
them as they travelled. Both the men felt as if ‘something wasn’t right’ and headed back to the East Gate.
When they arrived at the East Gate they contacted Sgt McCabe to inform him of what was happening. McCabe contacted the Central Security Control to alert them of the situation. Based on the reports coming in, Staff Sergeant James Penniston decided to drive down with Airman 1st Class Edward Cabansag to see what was happening. Upon arrival Penniston asked Burroughs and Steffens whether the lights could have been from a crashed aircraft. Steffens replied “It did not crash! It landed!”
After getting authorisation from the Shift Commander’s office to leave the base and investigate, Penniston, Burroughs, Steffen and Cabansag (with two other security officers) jumped in a truck and left to investigate. They left the airbase through East Gate and turned left into the logging road that led into the forest. The road was in poor condition and very icy which made driving the truck very difficult so they parked the truck and decided to continue on foot.
As the three airmen walked into the woods they became aware of lights in the air which made them instinctively hit the ground in a defensive pose. They decided that Cabasag stay near the edge of the forest to relay communication between Penniston and Burroughs and the base as Penniston and Burroughs decided to go deeper into the woods. As Burroughs and Penniston walked into the woods they felt the hairs on their arms start to raise as if the air was full of static electricity.
They walked to within 150 foot of the object which was giving off red and blue lights and was lighting the ground beneath it. Penniston radioed to Staff Sergeant Coffey at Central Security Control and explained that the object was “definitely mechanical in nature”. Penniston kept notes during the experience and wrote of the object: “Triangular in shape. The top portion is producing mainly white light which encompasses most of the upper section of the craft. A small amount of white light is appearing from what appears to be the bottom of the craft. At the left side is a bluish light. And on the other side is red. The lights seem to be moulded as part of the exterior of the structure that seemed to be landed on the forest floor.”
Penniston reported that as they got closer to the object they could feel the static electricity in the air increasing. Penniston also reported that near the craft there was a “sense of slowness”, as if time itself was slowing down, he stated that “time itself was an effort”. Pennsiton got to within ten feet of the craft and described the object as ten foot long and seven feet high, he also noted that the object seemed to be made from a solid, opaque black glass. Penniston also said that the closer he got to the craft the more uneasy he felt. Burroughs also reported suffering the same strange time anomalies. Penniston took 36 photographs of the object with a 35mm camera he had with him. When Penniston had the photographs developed he discovered all the images were ‘fogged’ and showed nothing of interest. He also sketched the strange symbols that were on the surface of the object.
Penniston touched the symbols with his hand, “I touched the symbols and I could feel the shapes as if they were inscribed or engraved, like a diamond cut on glass.” Upon touching the symbols the crafts upper white light began to become more intense,
almost blinding Penniston and Burroughs. They both dived to the ground fearing something was about to happen. The craft began to rise up slowly, manoeuvring itself through the trees and then rose to just above the trees (around 200 feet). Then the
craft silently disappeared within the blink of an eye, astounding both Penniston and Burroughs at its rapid and soundless exit.
Once the craft has disappeared everything seemed to return to normal. The sense of slowness disappeared, the static electricity was gone, and the once silent animals from nearby farms were now making noise. Penniston and Burroughs both saw lights further in the forest but decided against heading towards them. They noted there was a set of indentations in the forest soil where the object had landed. It appeared that the craft had rested on three tripod type legs, each about 10 feet apart and the indentations appeared triangular in nature.
Despite returning to base with Cabansag and being advised not to talk about what they had seen, Burroughs and Penniston returned to the forest look for further physical evidence. They found scorched trees and broken branches from the path the object travelled. Penniston also took a plaster cast of the indentations made in the forest soil.
28th December 1980
The base was now alive with talk of the UFO incident, Colonel Halt, the deputy base commander, reported being aware of the initial sightings but believed there was a rational explanation. That night was an Officers Christmas party on the base, Lieutenant Bruce Englund entered the party and whispered to base commander Ted Conrad that ‘it is back’ (meaning the UFO). As Conrad was about to present awards and give a speech he asked if Halt could attend to the matter.
Colonel Halt gathered a few men to investigate the situation including someone from the ‘Disaster Prepardeness’ team. Halt also took a Geiger counter and a Dictaphone to record his notes. Englund organised a number of gas powered arc-lamps to be taken to light the forest. Once Halt arrived at the forest he noticed that the radios were being affected making communications were becoming difficult. Some of the arc-lamps were cutting out and Halt arranged for more to be collected from the base. Halt and his men inspected the landing site taking photos of the indentations taking soil and tree samples, noticing the scorched trees and broken branches where the object had moved between the trees. The Geiger counter begins to show higher than normal readings at the landing site and on the trees near to the landing site. At 1.48am the group spots an object through the trees, which Halt claims looked like an eye, which would occasionally ‘wink’. As the Colonel led his team through the forest, they found themselves at a farmers field with one of the object overhead. It shot down a white beam of light which in an interview Halt has described as being around ’15 to 20 inches in diameter’, hitting the ground around 10 to 15 feet away from them.
The beam stunned the group who stood to look at it, after about 15 seconds the light vanished. What Halt at that time was unaware of was that wasn’t the only beam of light hitting the ground. A witness from a security tower on the Bentwaters base later came forward to confirm that he had seen several beams of light coming down from the objects.
However, Halt was aware at the time that there were problems with the communications systems they had, and radio communication was sporadic. But he later reported that he had heard over the radio that some of the objects were spotted over the weapons storage areas. (These weapons storage areas were containing nuclear warheads, despite the UK government at the time denying any American warheads were on UK soil). In the book ‘Left at East Gate’, Halt goes further to confirm that the beams also hit the weapons storage area, actually penetrating the thick concrete protective shell. Soon the objects begin to leave the area and Halt ordered his men back to the base.
Larry Warren was based at RAF Bentwaters and was present on the night of 28th December. Larry was taken off his post that night and with several others was charged with taking the light-alls out to the forest. Larry became aware of the object and also experienced the ‘slowness’ of time that many of the other witnesses experienced. Larry recounted in ‘Left at East Gate’, the book he co-wrote with Peter Robbins, that he witnessed Halt and General Gordon Williams communicating with three beings who were suspended in beams of light underneath the object. Warren also confirms that the encounter was filmed. This is further confirmed by a security team
member who later drove General Williams to a landed F15 jet with two reels of film in his hand and said that Williams had explained to him that the films were of the UFO encounter. The films were flown back to the US and the US Government have continually denied their existence.
After his experience Halt wrote the now famous ‘Halt Memo’ which detailed a brief outline of the nights events. This was duly dispatched to the UK Ministry of Defence who in effect did not at least appear to investigate the incident. For the witnesses there was a sharp jolt back to reality as they were ‘de-briefed’ by a wide range of US officials. Penniston was interrogated using sodium-pentothal (an alleged truth serum commonly used by the CIA), and Warren was given the menacing warning should he speak to others about the incident that ‘bullets are cheap’. Warrens de-briefing was more intense than what the others have explained. He claims that he was bundled into a car and taken into an underground section of the airbase where he was forced to watch a film detailing the extent of the ETs interactions with human-kind.
The hunt for the alleged underground facilities has been ongoing by many researchers. Georgina Bruni, author of ‘You Can’t Tell the People’ claims the underground facilities did exist but were sealed when the Ministry of Defence put the RAF Bentwaters site up for sale after the US Air Force left. Despite this there has been little hard evidence for the underground facilities. I managed to obtain an up until now ‘Classified’ ground plan of the RAF Bentwaters, dated from 1981, and there is no evidence of any underground facilities or tunnels on the plan. However, that doesn’t mean they are not there.
Off base, there was intense activity to keep the incident secret. The area surrounding RAF Bentwaters and the whole of the East Anglia peninsula is heavily covered with radar in preparation for a potential attack from beyond the ‘Iron Curtain’ (this was during the depth of the cold war paranoia) so the objects were almost certainly caught on radar tapes. RAF Watton and RAF Neatishead were the nearest bases and had their radar tapes for the period 26th-28th December confiscated according to several on-site witnesses, although still to this day the MoD claim that the radar was faulty and nothing was recorded.
It seems highly unlikely that two radar stations in such a military sensitive area would be off-line for such a long period of time. What has recently come to light is that RAF Neatishead had two radar cameras, not one, primarily for the possibility one needed repair. So the likelihood that both were faulty is again unlikely. Furthermore witnesses working at both RAF establishments have come forward to say that objects were detected by radar during the 26th-28th December time frame. Witness Nigel Kerr came forward to reveal that during this period he received a phone call from RAF Bentwaters enquiring if they (RAF Watton) had anything unusual on radar. Nigel
checked and confirmed that for several sweeps of the radar, an unusual object was visible in the Rendlesham forest area.
No matter what we believe happened during the 26th-28th December 1980, it can be agreed that something did happen. Experienced military personnel guarding nuclear warheads are not prone to mistaking a lighthouse for a UFO and chase it through the woods on not one but over several nights. If we also look at all the evidence we can agree that something significant happened, this was more than just a simple UFO sighting, this was several events all interacting at the same time.
When James Penniston and John Burroughs encountered the object they were shocked to later discover there had been at least 45 minutes missing time, many of the other witnesses claim they lost contact with Burroughs for over 3 hours. In the late 1980’s
and 1990’s both the servicemen underwent hypnosis to uncover more of what happened.
In Burroughs session he uncovered being told by the Shift Commander that Heathrow and RAF Bawdsy had the object on radar and that the Commander had lost contact with him and said ‘we thought we had lost you’. This confirms the general belief amongst most of the officers involved that there was at least 45 missing time for Penniston and Burroughs.
Burroughs is now being walked through the first nights experience by a hypnotherapist. Burroughs is placed back to being near the craft. He is aware of being surrounded by light but can’t see Penniston. Burroughs describes coming face to face with around twenty ‘blue lights’ which he intimates are the occupants, but has difficulty moving beyond that image. When the hypnotherapist tries to move Burroughs further into the experience of being closer to the lights he feels he can’t. It is a common occurrence for people who have close encounters to have a ‘block’ over certain details or events.
Burroughs also uncovered memories of the second night the UFO appeared. Burroughs claims under hypnosis that he ‘knew’ they would return and also reveals that he is told that by some Sergeant present that the base commanders had planned to film the encounter. In the hypnosis session Burroughs reveals that Halt is very calm throughout the encounter and actually is using Burroughs to draw the object closer. Halt is quoted as saying ‘John, I want you to go out there because I think you can bring them closer’. Halt also reveals to John that ‘they [the lights] were making contact with our minds. They are little blue lights. The craft was still hovering out there, they’re [blue lights] coming from that craft. They’ve been out there for hours’.
To read the hypnosis transcript it does seem that the second night has been staged by the base commanders to draw the objects into the forest on the second night, using Burroughs as the bait as he seems to have a ‘connection’ to the craft. The hypnotherapist questions why Halt believes that Burroughs cam make the objects come closer. John replies ‘No. I don’t understand. And it was something that I never understood either. They all wanted me out there.’ John explains what happens next. ‘Halt put his arm around me and says ‘Let’s go!’, then all of a sudden there was a shorter Sergeant and he was Mexican [Sgt. Adrian Bustinza]. He was coming
up towards me and says ‘Let’s go!’ And all three of us walk towards the craft’. Burroughs further recalls Halt turning to him and saying ‘I’ve got all this on tape recording… we’re recording this through the Wing Commanders post’. Burroughs then explains that they walk towards the craft and Burroughs exclaims ‘And then, there it was! Three blue lights!’
Burroughs is now quite excited ‘There they are! There they are!’ Burroughs explains that Halt says ‘That’s what we had before. John, you’re not going to believe this but a group of us – those blue lights made contact with us. It was like they spoke to us! There were lights in the sky there, and they were speaking to us. They were flying inthe sky, they were hovering over us’. Burroughs then explains that the craft is saying to him ‘Come to me’. The hypnotherapist asks if there are any life forms with the craft, to which Burroughs explains ‘The light IS the life form’.
Penniston fares better in his hypnosis sessions covering the first night. Penniston recounted that upon touching the symbols on the craft he set off some what he called some form of ‘binary code’. He became aware of the reason the object was there, namely that the occupants were time travellers from Earth’s far distance future. The occupants come back to harvest genetic material. Penniston claims that the visitors use us like ‘band-aids’ for genetic and reproductive problems that exist in the future.
Penniston believes that the visitors have travelled backwards around 40,000 years to get here. Penniston also states the US government is aware of this, hence the influx of ‘agents’ after the Rendlesham incident to debrief the experiencers. Penniston also believes the object originally was in the forest repairing itself before Burroughs and Pennistons arrival, which interrupted the repair. While it is easy to doubt the evidence because it was recovered through hypnosis, it does tie in with other reports and evidence of what occurred that night, which gives it some credence. Although Penniston does not seem to visually see the occupants it is almost as if he can feel them and gleans information about them in this manner.
This year Colonel Halt issued a statement where he claimed that: “I wish to make it perfectly clear that the UFOs that I saw were structured machines moving under intelligent control and operating beyond the realm of anything I have ever seen before or since. I believe the objects that I saw at close quarter were extraterrestrial in origin and that the security services of both the United States and England were and have been complicit in trying to subvert the significance of what occurred at Rendlesham by use of well-practiced methods of disinformation.” As we approach the 30th anniversary we are still asking what exactly happened.
A Culmination of Events
If we look at the vast mountain of evidence it points to a serious of events which are beyond the realm of most UFO encounters . But with all these various pieces of evidence we still need to piece together a theory that will answer so many of the unanswered questions.
Jenny Randles first speculated in her book “UFO Crash Landing: Friend of Foe?” that the Cobra Mist radar station (based at Orford Ness) was involved by using a high-energy beam weapon to bring down a Russian rocket on the night of the 26th. Cobra Mist was a very secretive military base which originally hosted an ‘over the horizon’ radar system which was closed due to an unexplained noise interfering with the radars operation. However, the many military sites on Orford Ness, including Cobra Mist, have been connected to the wealth of bizarre happenings in the area.
If the Cobra Mist site was used in connection with the downing of a Russian rocket, maybe that’s why Halt brought a Geiger counter and someone from the Disaster Preparedness Team when he entered the forest. He was evidently expecting to find something in the forest, which contradicts his earlier statements about knowing about the lights and was convinced there was a rational explanation. Also, if the craft was trying to repair itself as Penniston claims, could it have been somehow damaged from the use of a high energy weapon and tried to repair itself in the forest? Something caused that craft to move into the forest and with the forests proximity to the Cobra Mist we can’t rule it out.
Why the object returned for the second night may never be known, but the incident of the first night was obviously serious enough to get radar tapes confiscated and security agents flocking to RAF Bentwaters to keep witnesses quiet. If as Burrough hypnosis indicates, the objects return was connected to Penniston and Burroughs, Halt and his senior officers capitalised on this to make contact and the film the visitors. As we saw in Burroughs hypnosis Halt was very eager to get Burroughs there.
Penniston and Burroughs intend to make further revelations on the 30th anniversary of the original event which will add further to the information swirling around the Rendlesham case and with information continuing to make its way into the public domain the reality of what happened may still surprise us. When Jenny Randles first published Sky Crash (the first published book on the incident) she painted a very different picture to what we now believe may have happened. It has now moved from a UFO crash one night in December 1980, to a series of events over several nights with implications that will be far reaching if confirmed. James Penniston’s latest posting on the Justice for Bentwaters 81st Security Police Facebook page sums it up best:
“As, it remains today, unsolved… It has confirmed that a craft-of-unknown-origin did have a controlled landing and remained on the ground for 45 minutes, then it initiated and completed a controlled take off… Theories, have ranged from ETs to Time Travelers, or both…… Skeptic and debunkers, have all failed in their attempts to explain this event… Leaving no other answer, we are being visited, by someone… Our journey to seek proof positive, in the declassifying of the Top Secret U.S. documents, is an on-going trek… Please join us, support us and you decide.”