'X-Files' UFO documents shed new light on 'Suffolk's Roswell'
PUBLISHED: 13:03 05 August 2010
HUNDREDS of detailed documents relating to Suffolk's most famous UFO incident have been released by the Government.
A raft of reports, statements, interviews and parliamentary memos have been published by the National Archives and many relate to the Rendlesham sightings of December 1980.
Interviews with United States Air Force officers, detailed answers from the MoD to questions about the mysterious encounter and reports of at least one other UFO sighting in Suffolk are among the newly-released files, available to the public from today through the National Archives UFO website.
The Rendlesham incident - dubbed “Britain’s Roswell” after the well-known American case from 1947 - made headlines around the world 30 years ago but only now is the Government releasing much of the documents relating to it, a process that started in 2008.
The MoD file on the incident was first released in 2001 but some papers were with-held.
The newly-released documents contain details of a 2002 judgement by the Parliamentary Ombudsman which led to their release, transcripts of interviews with two of the key USAF witnesses, and the MoD’s official “position statement” on the incident.
Just after Christmas 1980, on two separate occasions, US airmen based at the joint base of RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge witnessed UFOs in the forest, events that have consistently been denied by the Government.
Staff Sergeant Jim Penniston of 81st Security Police Squadron recalled the first of the two reported encounters in Rendlesham that have been much-debated over the last three decades.
In an interview conducted in the mid 1990s He explained that on December 26 (or 27) 1980 he was sent out to investigate a suspected crashed aircraft in the forest, but the “triangular” shaped craft he discovered was unlike anything he had ever seen.
He said: “I got to within ten feet of the craft and the clearing where it sat. I estimated it to be about three metres tall and about three metres wide at the base.
“No landing gear was apparent, but it seemed like she was on fixed legs. I moved a little closer. I had already taken all 36 pictures on my roll of film. I walked around the craft and finally I walked right up to the craft.
“I noticed the fabric of the shell was more like a smooth, opaque black glass. The bluish lights went from black to grey to blue. I was pretty much confused at that point.
“I kept trying to put this in some kind of frame of reference, trying to find some logical explanation as to what this was and what was going on. It was dead silent. No animals were even making noise any more.
“On the smooth exterior shell there was writing of some kind, but I couldn’t quite distinguish it, so I moved up to it. It was three inch lettering, rather symbols that stretched for the length of two feet, maybe a little more.
“I touched the symbols and I could feel the shapes as if they were inscribed or etched or engraved, like a diamond cut on glass.
“It was mechanical, this ship, and seemed to be under intelligent control. At that point I backed away from the craft because the light was starting to get brighter.
“The craft moved up off the ground, about three feet, still with absolutely no sound. It started to move slowly, weaving back through the trees at a very slow pace, maybe half a foot per second.
“It took about a couple of minutes for it to manoeuvre itself back to a distance of about 100 to 150 feet then it rose up just over the trees, about 200 feet high. There was a momentary pause - and then, literally, with the blink of an eye it was gone. All with no sound. That still boggles my mind.”
He claims up to 80 people witnessed the craft at some point that night, but his reports were never acknowledged and the photos he took that night “could not be developed” by the base lab. He did, however, come up with sketches of the craft.
Two days later, Colonel Charles Halt, deputy base commander, went out to the scene to “put an end to the nonsense” but quickly witnessed something he could not explain.
In an interview he said: “I’ve listened intently to many explanations as to what we saw that second night or what could have transpired, for the simple reason that I kept reaching out for that one straw that would explain things. But nothing fits everything.
“Something unexplained happened - to this day, I don’t know what.”
The MoD’s repeated official position on the incident is that, after exhausting all the evidence, it was considered that there had not been a “breach of the UK’s air space” and the matter was closed.
Throughout the reams of newly-released correspondence, the MoD repeatedly responds to enquiries from UFO experts, MPs, abductees and eyewitnesses, with the same sort of statement.
One, released in response to a 1995 Parliamentary enquiry, reads: “When the MoD was informed of this occurrence, all available substantiated evidence was looked at in the usual manner by those within the MOD/RAF with responsibility for air defence matters.
“The judgement was that there was no indication that a breach of the UK’s air defences had occurred on the nights in question.
“As there was no evidence to indicate a matter of defence concern no further investigation into the matter was necessary. Although a number of allegations have subsequently been made about these reported events, nothing has emerged which has given us any reason to believe that the original assessment made by this department was incorrect. I hope that this explains our position.”
To UFO experts there is little new information in the documents released online today, but they do offer an incredible insight into the level of interest there has been over the past 30 years into what has become one of the most debated and researched UFO-related incidents in the UK.
Many may feel that the Government is holding evidence back, but it seems that until more concrete proof can be produced, the official stance is that we have yet to receive a visit from another world.
-Report of UFO on A14 on Easter Sunday
THE famous Rendlesham incident is not the only UFO inquiry the MoD has dealt with in recent years.
One person, who lived at the time in Icklingham but had their name redacted from the records by the Government, claimed to have seen a “plate-like” disc, lit from below, floating above the A14.
A letter, dated April 13, 1997, says: “I realise that you must receive many reports of sightings of UFOs, but I feel none the less that I should like to let the one I saw on Easter Day this year (two weeks ago) go on the record, even if it is not to be believed.”
The writer was driving to Mildenhall from Cambridge at 4am having been to an Easter vigil service at their church.
“A few miles short of Newmarket I saw a flat circle, plate-like in shape, above the A14 road in front of me. I was going at about 50mph and it kept exactly the same speed. It was 20 or 30 feet above the road and as broad as the road (three-lanes at that point). It was lit as if from below but must have been from above – and was seriously fast.
“It was apparently made of steam or cloud but as the night was so dark it may have obscured a solid object above. After a minute or so it seemed almost to disintegrate into a condensed circle of fast-revolving cloud.
“After another mile or so it suddenly veered off to the south of Newmarket direction and disappeared very fast.”
In response, the MoD sent a letter explaining that it examined any such report of a UFO “solely to establish whether what was seen might have some defence significance.”
The response said: “With regard to your particular observation I can confirm that we received no other reports of ‘UFO’ sightings in the Suffolk or surrounding areas on March 30, 1997, and are satisfied that there is no corroborating evidence to suggest that the United Kingdom’s airspace was breached by unauthorised military aircraft.
“As stated above, that is the MoD’s only concern.
“I hope this explains the position.”
The files released today also make reference to a number of other reported sightings in Suffolk.
In 1999 alone cases reported in Hadleigh, Stowmarket, Ipswich and Woodbridge were recorded by the MoD.