The Rendlesham Forest UFO Revisited

Colonels clash and the controversy continues...

By , Columnist

It’s been called Britain’s Roswell, and it’s back in the news.

Rendlesham Forest is in Suffolk, England. It stands close to what was once a twin military airbase (RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge) used by the USAF under the command of Colonel Ted Conrad.

In the early hours of a late December morning in 1980 members of a security patrol near the east gate of RAF Woodbridge (see photograph below) saw unusual lights in the sky that seemed to descend into the forest. Thinking that perhaps a plane had crashed or landed, three Security Police (SPs) were sent to investigate.

Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Halt was Conrad’s second in command. According to a report (left) Halt later made to the British Ministry of Defence, the SPs saw a “strange glowing object” in the forest. As they approached, it appeared to manoeuvre away from them.

The next day, Halt accompanied a team to the forest where they examined what was already being thought of as the object’s landing site. They found three shallow depressions on the ground and took radiation readings that they felt were higher than normal.

That night, Halt and his men had their own strange encounter when they saw “a red sun-like light” through the trees. Later, they noticed “three star-like objects in the sky”, one of which “beamed down a stream of light from time to time”.

It’s heady stuff, and adding an extra later of drama is a scratchy audio recording Halt made as all this was happening. Sceptical UFO researcher Ian Ridpath has a copy of this available as an MP3 download.

Three decades later, in June 2010, the now retired Colonel Halt signed an affidavit in which he stated his belief that the objects he saw “were extraterrestrial in origin” and the security services of both the US and the UK were covering up the truth of what happened.

Apart from one brief interview published in 1983, Halt’s commanding officer — Colonel Conrad — had kept quiet concerning all this but in 2010 he finally gave his own detailed version of events to Dr David Clarke of Sheffield Hallam University. On 6 August 2011 the UK's heavyweight Telegraph newspaper published a summary of Conrad’s account and suddenly the “Rendlesham Forest Incident” was back in the public spotlight.

Conrad’s testimony differed from Halt’s in a number of areas. For example, Conrad stated that when he personally visited the supposed landing site the day after the initial sighting he found nothing remarkable. Furthermore, he said that the initial report of “slightly elevated” radiation levels was later found to be incorrect, the levels being no greater than normal background noise.

Regarding the lights in the sky seen by Halt and his team, Conrad told Clarke:

“Lt Col Halt’s report of more lights both on the ground and in the sky brought quite a few people out of their houses at Woodbridge to see what was there. These people included myself, my wife, Lt Col Sawyer (the Director of Personnel), his wife, and several others listening to my radio and looking for the lights Halt was describing. Despite a sparkling, clear, cloudless, fogless night with a good field of view in all directions, we saw nothing that resembled Lt Col Halt’s descriptions either in the sky or on the ground.”

In response to Halt’s 2010 affidavit, Conrad commented: "Col Halt can believe as he wishes. […] However, he should be ashamed and embarrassed by his allegation that his country and England both conspired to deceive their citizens over this issue.”

Unsurprisingly, Conrad’s version of events was quickly challenged. According to a post dated 10 August 2011 on The Truth Hides website, Halt responded: “Ted Conrad is either having memory problems, has his head in the sand or [is] continuing the cover up”, and accused Conrad of “smearing” the men involved.

It almost seems irrelevant to mention that sceptical researchers believe they solved the Rendlesham Forest mystery long ago. Even if they’re right, a story this exciting is unlikely to die any time soon!

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James Clark is a freelance writer based in deepest, darkest south London, UK. His latest book, "Haunted Lambeth", exploring ghosts and legends from the London Borough of Lambeth, is due out in February 2013.

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