Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Part 4 You Can't Tell the People The Cover Up of Britain's Roswell ... The Enigma of General Williams ... The Civilian Witnesses ... The Police File

You Can't Tell the People 
The Cover Up of Britain's Roswell 
by Georgina Bruni 
Ever since General Gordon Williams was featured in a British tabloid as having conversed with alien entities in Rendlesham Forest, researchers and journalists from all parts of the world have tried to track him down. No doubt I would have been one of those, so imagine my surprise when in the early part of my investigations I received an electronic mail from someone claiming to be General Williams. My first thought was that I was being hoaxed or set up to try to discredit me or lead me off the track. I was certainly not convinced he was who he claimed to be. 

The electronic mail was short and to the point. Basically, he identified himself as the USAF wing commander of RAF Bentwaters and Woodbridge during the alleged UFO business and wanted to know what was new on the case. He signed himself GW. I did not reply to his request for some weeks because I wanted to do a little background research on General Williams. I began by checking the white pages, which are the American domestic telephone directories, but he was not listed. I requested an Air Force Freedom of Information biography on the general, which at least gave me the ammunition to question him. In the meantime, I discovered he was a regional president for the West Point Society and later I would learn that he was involved with the Council on Foreign Relations. Although retired from the USAF, he is still very much a high-profile figure who serves as a defence consultant to several major companies. 

According to Larry Warren and Peter Robbins, when investigating the case for Left at East Gate they were told that General Williams was in California, but my mystery man was not based at that location. The authors had received the information from a brief interview with Lieutenant Colonel Al Brown in 1988, almost ten years previously – there was still hope. I decided to compose a reply to GW asking him to offer more information about himself, explaining that there were a lot of hoaxers and debunkers on the Internet and I wanted to be sure he was who he claimed to be. When he answered some weeks later, he offered very little information other than he had retired as a major general and during his tenure at the Suffolk bases he had been a fan of the Ipswich football team. I became equally evasive. Was I in for a cat and mouse game with a debunker or a crank or was he the real McCoy? It was only after several months of regular email exchanges, telephone conversations and exchange of postal mail that I was confident I was dealing with the general himself. It turned out that he was new to the Internet, and although I have asked him several times how and why he contacted me, he has never offered any explanation except ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t recall’. I thought he might have done an Internet search on Bentwaters and discovered an old article I had written on the case, but he made no comment and eventually I just quit asking, but admit I became a little suspicious as to his motives. 

Gordon E. Williams was born in November 1935 in Nashua, New Hampshire. He graduated from Alvirne High School, Hudson, in 1953 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1957. In 1971 he gained a Master of Science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California. His military career is equally impressive. He completed Air Command and Staff College in 1969, National War College in 1975 and Harvard University’s executive programme on national and international security in 1983. During his career he completed more than 4,000 flying hours, piloting F-100s, F-4s, A-7s, A-10s and F-15s. The rest of his military achievements, decorations and awards are too numerous to include here but, suffice to say, he earned his stars and stripes. In January 1981 he was selected for promotion to brigadier general and became a major general in 1984. There is no doubt that Gordon Williams would have made it to the very top of the ranks had he not been forced into early retirement due to an incident that caused him temporary ill heath. He retired with two stars on 1 August 1988. 

In September 1977 the then Colonel Williams was assigned as vice wing commander to the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Bentwaters and Woodbridge, and in August 1979 he was promoted to wing commander. According to Williams this was a glorious time to be in the Air Force, and he remarked that his tour as wing commander of the Suffolk installations was the best time of his Air Force career. During this period the Wing was equipped with A-10 Thunderbolt II tank busters which were operated by six tactical fighter squadrons: four based at Bentwaters and two at Woodbridge. On one day alone the Wing flew 500 sorties, shooting a 30 mm cannon on every flight and even dropping a bomb. I understand that was something the Wing became famous for, but I doubt it pleased the locals. It was during this time that Williams built up several forward operating locations on the Continent. Each small unit was managed by a lieutenant colonel, who commanded a group of fifty permanent personnel whose job it was to take care of pilots and aircraft arriving from the British bases. These locations were put into action as part of the Cold War defence plan and were ideally situated to contain any threat from the Red Army tank force, should they decide to advance from the far side of the Rhine. Williams’ call sign was Dragon. He had used this in Vietnam from time to time and had picked it up again when he arrived at Bentwaters. It was well suited because the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing had adopted it for their emblem. In fact, the fiery dragon has been a symbol used since medieval days to intimidate the enemy. 

Gordon Williams completed a total of thirty-one years in the USAF, and every officer I have contacted has had nothing but praise for the general, who was known to encourage personnel by giving them a fair chance to succeed. Few people outside the military realize the enormous legal power held by generals. As Commander of the 13th Air Force, General Williams had to approve a twenty-year sentence in Fort Leavenworth (the military prison in Kansas) and a life sentence in a murder case. 

The core of the rumour that would identify Gordon Williams as a witness to the Rendlesham Forest incident dates back to 2 January 1981. Brenda Butler and Chris Pennington would hear from their source Steve Roberts that he had witnessed the base commander communicating with aliens from a landed UFO. The next link came from a civilian radar operator at RAF Watton, who reported a similar story. Of course, it was Colonel Ted Conrad who held the position of base commander; no one had even thought of the wing commander’s alleged involvement until Larry Warren told The News of the World that Williams had communicated with aliens. From that moment on the die was cast. 

Larry Warren claims the main reason for believing Williams was involved was because he remembered the commander in the forest as being an extremely tall man, at least six feet five. Not explaining my reasons, I asked Williams how tall he was, he replied instantly that he was six feet one, not an unusual height for an American but one cannot confuse him with Colonel Halt, who was considerably shorter than his boss. Colonel Conrad was also a tall man but, unlike Williams who stems from a reserved New England background and had fair to greyish hair (now grey) and a fair complexion, he was a Texan who was known to wear cowboy boots at every opportunity. He was also olive-skinned and had a head of black hair and bushy black eyebrows. Could Warren have confused Williams with Conrad? Hardly. But let us not forget the confusion in the forest and the fact that Warren talks about strange shadows on the UFO, which would imply a sense of distortion. I asked Warren if it were possible he could have confused Williams with someone else. He had been a guard of honour at the general’s change of command ceremony but admitted that when he saw the photograph of Williams in The News of the World, it had looked nothing like the man he saw at the ceremony. ‘He wasn’t as well built as he was in the picture,’ said Warren. ‘I remember him being much slimmer somehow.’ Airman Warren was only on the base a few weeks before the incident occurred and might only have seen Williams on his first day on duty, when the wing commander gave his welcome pep talk to the new recruits, and briefly at the general’s ceremony a few months later. So there is every possibility he is mistaken. 

General Williams’ photograph appeared in the newspaper because the journalist was unable to locate one of Lieutenant Colonel Halt, the author of the famous memorandum, so they published a photograph of the former wing commander instead. They also quoted him as saying, ‘I don’t know exactly what happened, it is all there. He [Halt] is not a man who would hoax the British Ministry of Defence or the American Air Force Department.’ However, Williams claims he was never interviewed by any journalist and has never spoken to anyone about the incident until he contacted me in early January 1998. If that is the case then who did the newspaper talk to? 

The Rendlesham Forest case attracted the attention of several high-profile American researchers. Church minister Ray Boeche was one such person. In the early days he and his colleague Scott Colborn made a joint effort to research the case and managed to contact Adrian Bustinza and John Burroughs, but Burroughs was evasive. Their research findings were published in a paper entitled ‘Bentwaters – What Do We Do Now?’ But due to Burroughs still being in the military and Bustinza afraid for his life, their identities were withheld, so there was very little follow-up. There is no doubt, however, that Boeche thought the case was genuine because he consulted Senator James J. Exon. The senator was willing to assist in his enquiries but needed more proof before he would proceed with an investigation. On the afternoon of 10 April 1985 Boeche placed a call to Charles Halt (now a full colonel) at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, and managed to persuade him to talk to the senator. It was during the conversation with Halt that Boeche asked him about Gordon Williams’ alleged involvement. Ray Boeche confirmed the following: 

I told him I was an independent researcher, but Halt thought I was representing Exon. I asked him if it was true that an officer drove Wing Commander Gordon Williams from the landing site to a waiting plane with a motion picture of a UFO. He said, ‘Yes, I can verify that for the senator.’ 

Thirty minutes after the conversation with Colonel Halt, Boeche attempted to contact Gordon Williams (now a brigadier general) at Norton AFB, California, but was unable to speak to him personally. He tried again on 24 April and the only response he received was from a Major Verke. ‘The general has no comment,’ he said. Having now put Halt in touch with Senator Exon, Boeche was impatient to proceed with the investigation, but Exon had gone cold and appeared to be avoiding him. After several calls to Exon’s office he was finally told by an aide that Exon and Halt had talked several times, but a condition of Halt’s was that Exon had to agree not to discuss their conversations with anyone else. Boeche was being shut out and he knew it. Did Halt confide to Exon the details of Williams’ involvement? 

I asked General Williams if he had been in the forest on any of the nights in question. ‘No, I did not participate in any such event. I was not out there during any of those nights you mention. You have to understand that I was the wing commander, it was not my place to go chasing through the forest,’ he explained. When I asked him if he was out in the forest during another reported sighting that took place in January 1981, he replied, ‘I can’t be sure about that.’ I introduced the general to some of Nick Pope’s regular web articles, and he showed an interest, so I managed to have Nick sign copies of his books which I sent to him. Nick had mentioned the Rendlesham Forest incident and Williams made the following comment: 

I have already turned to page 146 of Open Skies, Closed Minds and find my name there, wherein Larry Warren claims I met briefly with three creatures with large heads and dark eyes. It just isn’t so! His [Warren’s] credibility is nil from my perspective. 

According to Gordon Williams, if he had been in the forest he would have remembered it because it would have been very unusual for him to go anywhere other than in his official vehicle, a sedan staff car with the latest communications equipment. He pointed out that if such an incident occurred, he would have recalled it as a one-off sort of thing. I admit there are problems with his answers simply because witnesses claim he definitely turned up for a January 1981 sighting, having left his staff car at the east-gate post to go into the forest in a jeep with a patrol of officers. Halt has publicly denied that Williams was a witness to the December incident, but confirmed he was involved in the January sightings. Charles Halt recalls that Williams eagerly followed him over to Woodbridge in his staff car. It seems he had been disappointed to have missed the earlier events and had expressed an interest in being involved if anything should happen in the future. 

Because of the confusion over ranks, it is known that Gordon Williams was sometimes mistaken for the base commander so, that being the case, Colonel Ted Conrad might be Larry Warren’s mystery man. Conrad is a name that has escaped the limelight in this case and yet should be of major importance. If any of the commanders were out there that night, surely it would have been the base commander. After all, he was overall commander of the Security Police and Law Enforcement Squadrons who, it must be remembered, were the prime witnesses in this incident. 

It has not been easy to gather information on Conrad, and it is not for the lack of trying. What I have learnt is that he had only been in the position of base commander a few weeks prior to the incident and was promoted to vice wing commander almost immediately afterwards. I thought it was very unusual to receive two promotions so close together, and of course having been appointed vice wing commander he should have been in line for wing commander on his next tour. According to Williams that can be a general-making position, but Conrad retired! 

Why would he suddenly retire when he was doing so well? Williams told me that Ted Conrad was pushed into the vice wing position by default as a quick replacement for Brian Currie, who had been re-allocated for breaking Air Force etiquette. Apparently Conrad was uncomfortable in his new role, preferring the position of base commander. Other commanders have told me that although he was a fine man, he and his wife seemed somewhat bitter and disillusioned with the Air Force. It seems unusual that an officer of his category would have such thoughts. Could he have been another victim of the Rendlesham Forest incident? 

The first time Conrad’s name was mentioned in this case was in the March 1983 issue of OMNI. The article, entitled ‘Anti Matter’, not only referred to a UFO landing but featured an interview with Conrad himself. In 1987 Colonel Charles Halt, who was now based in Belgium, sent a recorded message to an American researcher and, referring to the incident, he said, ‘When contact was made with the base commander, it wasn’t Colonel Williams; contact was actually made with myself and Colonel Ted Conrad.’ The latter seems to imply that there was indeed some sort of contact, but Halt publicly denies he witnessed a landed UFO or that there was an alien crew. 

OMNI journalist Eric Mishera was offered a private account of the event by Conrad, provided it was a one-off interview. Mishera’s published article with Conrad revealed details of the first incident involving Penniston and Burroughs, but no names were mentioned. There are errors in Conrad’s version, however, which appears to be a combination of the two major events that he claimed took place on 30 December. However, he did confirm 

(a) the men were confronted by a large craft mounted on tripod legs, which had no windows and was covered in red and blue lights; 
(b) it demonstrated intelligent control; 
(c) for almost an hour the men gave chase after the object when it took off; 
(d) Conrad himself mounted an investigation the following day and personally went into the forest and found a triangular set of marks evidently formed by the legs of the craft; 
(e) Conrad interviewed the witnesses and stated, ‘Those lads certainly saw something, but I don’t know what it was.’ 

But Conrad debunked the alien contact story as being an exaggeration of the events. He also claimed there was no investigation apart from his involvement in checking out the site the following day. However, the latter is in contradiction to witness testimonies. The fact that Conrad denied there was an investigation, when he must have been privy to that information, is somewhat misleading. 

Also worth mentioning is that three of the senior officers at RAF Bentwaters received what some might term ‘convenient promotions’. Although General Williams claims there was nothing unusual about these, let us examine them just the same. Lieutenant Colonel Halt received a promotion to full colonel immediately after the case made headlines in 1983, and one has to agree that it looks rather suspicious considering his memorandum had caused such embarrassment for the USAF. Colonel Conrad, who I am to understand did not want the job in the first place, nevertheless was promoted to vice wing commander. Gordon Williams claims he needed someone he could trust to urgently to fill the role, having previously lost two vice wing commanders in a very short period of time. Colonel Williams, although no doubt due for promotion, was promoted to brigadier general almost immediately after the incident (early January 1981), which according to one of the base secretaries was very unusual indeed. She thought the date of rank should have been April or May and could not understand why everything was so rushed or why Williams had to dash off to Mildenhall to receive his promotion. However, Williams points out that there was no conspiracy here because the list would normally come out around Christmas. 

Brenda Butler recalls asking Steve Roberts about Colonel Conrad, and Roberts’ reply was, ‘I knew you would find out sooner or later without me telling you.’ But he offered no further information and Conrad disappeared into the woodwork. I have discussed at length with Larry Warren his belief that Gordon Williams was involved in the actual incident. I showed him a full-length photograph of the general and asked if he could identify him as the person he saw in the forest. He admitted that the photograph resembled the man in The News of the World and realized that the man he recalls was more like the person he recognized at the change-of-command ceremony. Warren then supplied me with pictures of several officers taken at a base function. He had written on the back of one: ‘Is this Gordon Williams?’ I explained that it was definitely not. However, we should not be too hard on Warren if the man he refers to was not Williams. After all, it was a confusing time and, as Adrian Bustinza recalls, ‘You had tunnel vision out there.’ 

More often than not, it is the first recollection of events that is the most credible, from then onwards the story can become exaggerated and distorted. Of course, the first news to surface was that the base commander was communicating with alien beings. As weird as that may seem, it should not be dismissed as complete nonsense. If there was a craft of some sort then there might also have been a crew. Was the base commander summoned and did he go into the forest and communicate with the visitors? General Williams thinks the idea is preposterous, but what if something like this actually happened and he was not privy to it. 

Although Williams would have been notified, I understand it was not the job of the wing commander to get involved because, although he was in charge of the installations, his primary concern was the flying missions, not investigations. There is no doubt that the incident was compartmentalized immediately and only Colonel Conrad and Major Zickler should have been brought into the loop, inasmuch as they liaised with the AFOSI. By keeping the wing commander out of the investigations they were doing him a favour; besides, he had the day-to-day running of the huge NATO bases to attend to. This is not unreasonable; when it comes to intelligence matters even our prime minister is only briefed on a need-to-know basis. General Williams cannot have it both ways, however; he either knew what was going on, with or without aliens, or he did not. 

I asked General Williams why Lieutenant Colonel Halt was allowed to send an important memorandum to the Ministry of Defence without his authorization. ‘Honestly, I do not recall,’ he said. ‘Generally speaking, a wing commander would not let any correspondence go to outside agencies without it being over his signature. But I am sure lots of humdrum paper went back and forth, just so as not to bother the boss. But it was dangerous.’ At a later date he confirmed: ‘That memo should never have been sent. If I had known about it I would have tried to retract it.’ 

The fact that Williams would have tried to retract the memorandum is interesting. When I mentioned this to Charles Halt he was not surprised and reminded me that none of the commanders wanted to get involved. Of course, it is possible that Williams was unaware of the memorandum, but Halt would surely have informed the base commander, Colonel Conrad. 

One might question where the wing commander was through all of this? According to Halt, Williams knew something had occurred because he was listening to the radio transmissions as they were taking place. Other officers assured me that the wing commander would have been the first person to be notified. However, Williams is very evasive when questioned about the incident, but there is no doubt he knew what was going on even though he may not have been involved in the investigation. He admitted it was possible he may have heard the radio, because although he was not directly linked to the police frequency, he could have easily switched over. I was beginning to understand that, when it came to the incident, Gordon Williams would not offer any straight answers. It was this evasiveness that led me to believe he knew far more than he was willing to discuss. 

On Sunday 28 December Gordon Williams was playing golf with Lieutenant Colonel Al Brown. He and Brown were good friends and often played at the local golf club. Brown recounted what he knew about the incident: 

I only heard rumours on the base and at the golf club, but I can tell you that there definitely was not any alert at the time. I know that’s been mentioned. The week it happened, I think it was a Friday, I played golf with Gordon Williams on the Sunday. He was a good golfer. I asked him outright, I said, ‘Come on, Gordy, tell me what happened.’ He said, ‘You gotta be kidding me, I know nothing, no one told me anything. Some guys, a bunch of young people got a bit scared in the woods, something scared the hell out of them. That’s all I know; but I can tell you that something happened, but what it was, I honestly don’t know.’ So something happened and those that were higher rank than me asked and they didn’t know. I had heard that an air-traffic controller saw weird lights and things and one of the officers was out there around the Woodbridge base; it wasn’t near Bentwaters. I asked Donald Moreland about it but he really didn’t know anything much. By the way, the Orfordness lighthouse theory was bullshit! 

According to Colonel Halt, Williams had asked him to explain what had occurred during his own visit to the forest. It was then that Halt played him a tape recording of the previous night’s event, which he himself was involved in. Williams requested to borrow the tape so he could play it for his boss, General Robert Bazley of 3rd Air Force at RAF Mildenhall. When Williams returned to the base after visiting Mildenhall, he summoned Halt to his office for a briefing. Apparently, when the tape was played for Bazley and his staff, they had no idea what to think of it. I asked Williams to comment, but as usual he was not giving much away. 

I can’t recall whether I left the base or not, but I could well have been at a family Christmas thing, I just don’t know. I may well have heard the tapes, it seems logically appropriate, but I don’t specifically recall it. 

It is worth noting that Gordon Williams mentions ‘tapes’. 

When I pointed out that there might have been a threat to the installations, Williams claimed no one ever suggested to him that that was the case. He explained, ‘Everybody would know, all the colonels would know if anything happened because of the command net. There is probably a tape somewhere. There were no secrets.’ Of course, I have to disagree with him because my investigation proves that there were secrets surrounding this incident – and many of them. 

I realize how difficult it is for General Williams to offer information concerning the incident. Not only did he make the Air Force his lifetime career, but his son is serving as an army captain. His father was also a USAF officer and his stepmother Portia was very well connected in government and military circles. Williams recalls that during his tenure as wing commander at RAF Bentwaters he received a visit from Senator Strom Thurmond, a close friend of Portia’s. Thurmond is the longest-serving senator in the United States and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. But what is even more interesting is that Thurmond wrote the foreword to Colonel Philip J. Corso’s 1997 book, entitled The Day After Roswell. The book tells the story of Corso’s assignment as the chief of the army’s Foreign Technology Division at the Pentagon, and how during that time he was instructed by General Arthur Trudeau to steward alien artefacts to America’s industry. 

These artefacts were allegedly taken from the debris found at the Roswell UFO crash site. After the publication of the book, Thurmond’s office took steps to have the foreword removed. One might find nothing unusual about Thurmond’s visit to Bentwaters, except that it took place soon after the incident. Is it a coincidence that the senator’s name should be linked with the world’s two most famous UFO cases? It is interesting that some of the witnesses reported that the Secretary of the Air Force visited the base following the incident, and that he or his aide questioned them. But the only official record of his visit that year was in September. Could they have confused Thurmond for the Secretary of the Air Force? 

Gordon Williams was not keen for me to contact his former boss General Bazley, pointing out that he knew nothing about the incident. Robert E. Bazley retired in 1989 as a four-star general. From June 1980 to July 1981 he was commander of the 3rd Air Force at RAF Mildenhall. In early 1981 he was promoted to lieutenant general and in August he was assigned to Ramstein AFB, Germany, as vice commander in chief. It was Bazley who sponsored Gordon Williams, inasmuch as he recommended him for promotion. Williams followed Bazley to Ramstein that same year. 

I already knew about General Williams’ early retirement, it was no secret in Air Force circles. I will not go into too many details, however, because it would be an intrusion on his privacy, but suffice to say that during his tour in the Philippines in 1985 a mosquito bite almost caused his demise when he contracted encephalitis. This was a terrible shock to a man whose life revolved around his Air Force career, but he was a fighter and was not about to give up easily. After his recovery he was posted to Washington DC and completed his last tour of duty at the European Command Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, before retiring in 1988. 

In the last few years since Gordon Williams and I have been in touch I have found him to be kindly, humorous and an exceedingly genuine individual. He has been a considerable help in putting me in touch with good contacts, and assisted me in understanding military jargon and many aspects regarding the Suffolk bases and the US Air Force in general. He has filled in many of the missing pieces but has always stayed a far distance from becoming drawn into the Rendlesham Forest incident. Looking back, I realize he has been more than patient with my demands for answers but, although my constant questioning appears to have triggered some old memories, he has not offered any information directly relating to the case. There were times when I became very frustrated, insisting that he must have known something due to the fact that he was the chief of both installations, and I am sure that at these times he was just as annoyed by my constant questioning. 

But if he knew the truth, he was not telling. He would politely accuse me of being ‘testy’ and stay clear until I had cooled down. I cannot be absolutely certain that Gordon Williams was not a primary witness to the incident but, so far, I have seen no real evidence to put him in the picture. Williams does not deny knowledge of the events, but his remark that it caused no more than a minor stir at 3rd Air Force Headquarters at RAF Mildenhall, and even less so at the USAFE headquarters at Ramstein in Germany, is questionable. 

However, when we discussed the UFO, he agreed there are more things in the universe than we may ever know about and was open to the possibility that an advanced civilization could have the technology to cut through time. I could not help wondering if he was trying to tell me something. 

I have considered that the encephalitis may have caused a memory problem for the general, and some people might point out how convenient this is, and no doubt a new conspiracy will be built up around it. However, Williams seems to be well equipped to respond to other questions and his high intelligence in other matters would have me disregard this as an excuse. Because of his former position and continuing status, General Williams may feel uncomfortable about discussing matters which he may consider taboo. This is probably the reason he has been so evasive regarding the incident. Or could it be that he really does not have all the facts and is just as keen as everyone else to know what happened that December week? One thing is certain, he is an officer and a gentleman and abides by the code of honour he was taught in the military, as he explained to me: 

The truth is important to me. My regard for it all was nurtured at West Point with the honour code there. Its importance, and my understanding of it, has grown over time. I cannot think of a single virtue more important to the continuation of a moral society. Without it, over time, we will go the way of the Roman Empire. 

His words are very refreshing, and I believe they are sincere, but I am also aware that the very code that taught him to be so honourable in truth may also restrict him from revealing certain truths concerning this case. I can certainly appreciate the dilemma of being in such a position. 

Although there is a serious side to General Williams, he has often surprised me with his humour. Having just returned from one of his frequent trips away, he joked: ‘By the way, you will be proud of me. I bought a cap in a Minneapolis shopping centre that features an alien on the front with the notation “The truth is out there”. On the back I had embroidered “Bentwaters 1980”.’ 

In October 1999 I was able to meet General Williams in person when he paid me a visit in London. When he turned up at my doorstep I was not surprised to see the thoroughly modern major general sporting his alien hat, which he presented to me as a gift. If Gordon Williams was not interested in UFOs before I drew him into my investigation, he certainly was keen to look through my library of books on the subject. He was especially interested in Timothy Good’s Above Top Secret, so I gave him the book hoping he might think again about the worldwide cover-up. 

During his visit I had hoped he would reveal a few secrets, but all he would say is that I should try to find Colonel Ted Conrad; but Conrad had retired from the USAF soon after talking to OMNI magazine and all attempts to trace him have so far failed. When I showed Gordon Williams the photograph of the person that Larry Warren believed was him, he explained that it was his vice wing commander, Brian Currie. Did Warren mistake the rather tall Colonel Currie for Williams? Nobody had ever considered that the vice wing commander might have played a role in the incident, and yet it would make perfect sense that Williams’ subordinate would be more likely to have been involved, if only to check out the situation for his boss. Colonel Brian Currie did not make it to the rank of general and I imagine he retired soon after he left RAF Bentwaters. According to Malcolm Zickler, one of his Law Enforcement patrols had arrested Currie for his intimate liaison with a female lieutenant on the front lawn of his Bentwaters house. He was ordered to appear before General Williams, who disciplined him, then had him confined to his quarters for five days before sending him back to America. The Bentwaters police log carries an entry of two people being charged with sex offences, but omits their names. 

Gordon Williams might not have offered any straight answers regarding the case, but there were clues, and I believe he was sincerely trying to tell me something when he presented me with the baseball hat – ‘The truth is out there – Bentwaters 1980’

Although the primary witnesses were airmen from the USAF bases, there were also reports from the locals. This is important to the case because their testimonies link up the pattern of events. Since the incident has become well known, several local people have come forward and reported having seen lights in the sky during that time. But a handful of these civilian witnesses have more unusual stories to tell. 

One of the first people to come forward was local antiques dealer Roy Webb. Sometime between 01.30 and 02.00 hrs on Boxing Day morning, Webb, his wife and their young daughter Haley were on their way home to Martlesham after spending Christmas Day with their family. They were just approaching Woodbridge when Haley, who was half asleep, alerted her parents to an aerial object that appeared to be following the car. Mrs Webb pulled into a lay-by to take a closer look and, as she did so, the craft also stopped moving. Roy Webb described it as a red globe that was completely silent and suddenly disappeared in an instant. ‘One minute it was there, the next it was gone,’ he exclaimed. The family continued on their journey unaware of what had been going on in Rendlesham Forest that night. 

Another interesting account came to my attention from a local woman who recalls her father’s sighting. Pensioner Bertie Coleman lived alone in a small terraced house in the town of Ipswich, about ten miles from Woodbridge. He was a fearless, intelligent old soul who had fought earnestly in the trenches during World War One. Not much frightened him, but something scared the hell out of Bertie and his faithful dog on Christmas night 1980. Bertie lived alone and usually retired very early. On this particular night he had awoken from sleep to find his distressed dog literally trembling beside the bed. Realizing that something was drastically wrong, and shocked to see his dog in such a state, its hair literally standing on end, he gazed out of the window to see a huge bright object travelling horizontally through the sky. In the morning he recounted the sighting to his family who laughed it off thinking he had been dreaming. 

It was not until a few years later, and after Bertie had passed on, that Marjorie Wright realized her father’s sighting was probably very real indeed, and might have been related to the Rendlesham Forest incident. Marjorie came to my attention through Dave King, a retired police officer who had visited the forest soon after the incident. An Ipswich newspaper had carried a story on the case, mentioning my forthcoming book and adding King’s scepticism, that the UFO was probably the light from the Orfordness lighthouse. Marjorie wanted to talk to him to explain her father’s sighting and point out that it could not have been the lighthouse. I spoke to Marjorie at length and realized she was feeling guilty about dismissing her father’s sighting as being nothing more than a dream. She wanted it to go on record that he had witnessed something very strange, and hoped it would give more credence to the case. She told me: 

No way could it have been a lighthouse that my father saw, it was not possible for its beam to reach that far. I don’t know what it could have been, but he said it was a solid object and it was enough to frighten my father and terrify his dog. 

Brenda Butler and Dot Street managed to locate several locals who claimed they had seen lights and even UFOs. One credible witness was Gordon Levitt, a quiet family man from Sudbourne. Levitt was not able to verify the exact date but was sure it was sometime around 28 or 29 December. It was between 19.00 and 20.00 hrs when Levitt was out exercising his dog and looked up to see a glowing green light moving in his direction. Although it made no sound the phenomenon seemed to have a strange reaction on Levitt’s dog. During the encounter the animal became very focused on the object and the next day it cowered inside its kennel, refusing to leave it. Levitt described the UFO as mushroom shaped, somewhat rounded and possibly three dimensional. He watched as it travelled towards Woodbridge, about three miles away. For the next twenty-four hours Levitt’s dog appeared to be suffering some kind of shock from the encounter. In UFO literature there are reports that Levitt’s dog died as a result of the UFO, but in his 17 July 1984 written statement, witnessed and signed by solicitor Harry Harris, there is no mention of the demise of his dog. I spoke to Gordon Levitt myself and he confirmed that the dog did not die as a result of the encounter. 

Another local witness was Gerry Harris. He and his wife had arrived home about 23.30 hrs, after visiting friends. Harris told me that he is not absolutely certain what date it was, but believes it was very close to Christmas Day, possibly Boxing Day. The couple were preparing to retire for the night when, walking through his living room to draw the curtains, Harris noticed strange bright lights in the sky. ‘Look at those lights!’ he shouted to his wife. Mrs Harris walked over to the bedroom window, and on seeing the luminous lights, she commented, ‘Oh, it’s probably just an aeroplane.’ ‘No it’s not an aeroplane or it would have crashed by now,’ he told his wife. Harris watched the amazing spectacle for another thirty minutes, which he described as three bright lights bobbing up and down over the forest. Because his home was close to the Woodbridge airbase he assumed the USAF was responsible for the unusual air show and this was confirmed when he heard voices, as if people were shouting, followed by the sound of vehicles approaching. As Harris watched the lights, one of them suddenly dropped down and disappeared into the trees, returning several minutes later to shoot off at a tremendous speed. 

During the ensuing days Harris became strangely interested in the lights he had seen over the forest, and using his local contacts he began to do some quiet detective work. He managed to talk to two local forestry workers and discovered that some trees had been felled in the forest area where the lights had been seen. The trees had been removed and the foresters were warned to stay clear of the area because it was radioactive. Harris also learnt that there was a great deal of daytime activity in the area, lots of people around. He was told that two US aircraft had landed and ‘taken things away’. 

Gerry Harris owned a garage in Woodbridge which specialized in car maintenance and fifty per cent of his custom came from personnel at the US bases. The garage had been closed over the Christmas period but he was anxious to talk to his American customers in the hope of discovering what the strange lights were. But when he questioned one of them he was told, ‘Sorry, I’m not allowed to say anything, it is more than my life is worth.’ As the days passed he began to wonder about two automobiles that had been brought in for minor repairs. They both belonged to security police personnel from Bentwaters, but their owners had failed to collect them. A couple of weeks later, two women claiming to be their wives arrived at the garage to claim the vehicles. Harris was told that both men had suddenly been relocated because they had been witnesses to something they should not have seen. The airmen had departed in such a hurry, not only had they left their vehicles behind, but their wives and children too.

Out of the blue I discovered a local witness who has never discussed the incident publicly and yet his story is one of the most fascinating. Gary Collins is a resident of Capel St Andrew and has lived in the area all of his life. In his youth he was a disc jockey at the Bentwaters Panther club and would sometimes work at Woody’s bar on the Woodbridge base. During his time as a DJ he met both Gladys Knight and Quincy Jones, who on separate occasions were discreetly flown from the United States to perform at the Panther club. He later became a builder and worked with a construction company on upgrading the Bawdsey underground facility. He also worked on RAF Bentwaters, where he helped build secure bunkers that he says housed short-range nuclear weapons. Gary’s relationship with the twin bases became part of his life; not only were they his livelihood, but his best friends were among the USAF Security Police and Law Enforcement personnel. The friends would often meet at the local public house, the Swan in Alderton. One of his old drinking buddies was a security policeman called Wayne, and although he has difficulty remembering Wayne’s surname because it sounded foreign, he recalls his friend very well. 

It was a usual night out at the Swan, and the four Americans with Gary were off duty and enjoying a beer when later that night their pagers went off and the men were ordered to return to the base immediately. It was a Red Alert. Gary stayed on until closing time, when he made his way back home on his motorcycle. He thinks it was approximately 23.30 hrs when he turned into Lion’s Corner, a sharp bend at Capel Green. As he approached the bend he rode straight into a bright illuminated area. Gary describes what he saw next: 

It was intensely bright, like daylight, almost as if the area had been lit up with powerful floodlights. I heard a faint humming sound and looked up to see what appeared to be a thirty-foot object hovering about sixty-foot high above me. I can only describe its underside, which seemed to be triangular shaped, black in colour, but dripping liquid. It was as if fluid was dripping off it. That’s the thing I most remember, it was dripping like melted ice. Suddenly it went at an angle, slowly, then took off at tremendous speed and seemed to crash into the forest. I wish I had gone after it, but at the time I was so stunned. I went home and told my mother I had just seen a UFO, but she thought I was drunk. I’m interested in planes, that’s why I knew it was a UFO. 

The next morning Gary repeated to his mother what he had seen, but she admitted to me that she did not pay much attention to him at the time. However, Gary was still thinking about it later that day and out of curiosity decided to visit the forest to see if there was anything there. All day long he had been hearing planes going over his house, much more than usual, which convinced him that something was wrong. When he arrived at Tangham Road, which led to RAF Woodbridge east gate, the area where he thought the UFO had come down, there was a roadblock. Two US military trucks were parked in the middle of the road and the security police officers refused to allow him to pass. According to Gary, the road belongs to the Ministry of Defence and during the time when both bases were active, although the locals used the road as a short-cut route, it was actually classed as a private road. 

The two-mile stretch was essentially used by the US military as a route from RAF Bentwaters to Woodbridge. This was the first time I had heard that the Ministry of Defence owned the road, but it certainly made sense and would account for why roadblocks were allowed. Gary does not recall seeing any civilian police officers but was told by the Americans that there had been an aircraft accident. Later that day he talked to the foresters, who told him the trees had been cut down at the very spot where the alleged accident had occurred and the Americans had taken them away. Soon after the incident, he heard from a sergeant at RAF Woodbridge that the residents who lived near the landing site had been told to keep quiet, and if anyone asked questions they should say they had seen nothing. 

A couple of days later he met up with his friend Wayne and excitedly told him about the UFO and what had been going on. But Wayne had something even more amazing to tell Gary. After being called back to Bentwaters he had been instructed to collect his guard dog and proceed to the east gate, along with numerous other personnel. When Wayne’s patrol arrived at a clearing in the forest they parked their vehicles to continue on foot, but Wayne’s dog had refused to leave the truck. Nothing he could do would make the animal budge, and finally he had no choice but to leave it behind. ‘Some guard dog,’ he told Gary. 

As Wayne approached the landing site he could see other personnel standing around a huge UFO sitting on the ground. No one could get close due to a kind of force field that surrounded it, but there in front of his eyes were entities that appeared to be repairing what he described as a spacecraft. After confiding to Gary what had happened, Wayne insisted it was not to be repeated to anyone. ‘We were told not to talk about it or we would be in deep trouble,’ he told his friend. Wayne had also mentioned that the incident lasted for three hours, during which time someone from the base had videotaped the entire event. Gary realized that this must have been the same UFO he had seen on his way home. 

That was the last time he would see Wayne or any of the airmen he had become friendly with. In fact, he was supposed to meet Wayne at the Swan a few days later, but he never turned up. Three weeks earlier he had sold Wayne his old motorbike and one day when he was on the base he noticed the bike parked in the car park. When he made enquiries about Wayne he was told that he had been flown back to the United States. The bike was later impounded and Gary recalls that he was very upset because he had not wanted to sell the bike but only did it as a favour to his friend. I asked Gary what happened to Wayne, did he ever hear from him again. Apparently not, and no one else knew what had become of him either. However, Gary does not believe Wayne would have left without his bike or without saying goodbye. 

Apart from his immediate family and Wayne, Gary had only ever confided in a couple of local people about his own sighting, and he never told anyone about Wayne’s encounter. The reason he decided to speak out now was because I had explained that other witnesses were finally talking about it. It was not until a few years later that Gary heard about the Rendlesham Forest incident and thought it must have been the same one, but like other witnesses he also has a mental block on the date. I found Gary and his mother to be very sincere, and Gary is a very private individual who has a love for the simple life and is certainly not seeking publicity.

Wherever I turned there were hints that the Suffolk Constabulary were not only involved in the Rendlesham Forest incident but also its cover-up. Researchers and journalists complained at having come up against a wall of silence when trying to question the Woodbridge police, and it was not until years later that one of the police officers spoke publicly, if only to dismiss the ‘lights’ as being nothing more than the beam from the nearby lighthouse. I was warned that trying to get anywhere with the Woodbridge police might be very difficult. Even veteran defence journalist Chuck de Caro failed to interview the officer who claimed the ground indentations at the landing site were mere animal scratchings. The Suffolk Constabulary wrote to science writer Ian Ridpath suggesting that nothing could be gained by trying to contact the officers concerned. But undeterred, I was going to give it my best shot. 

According to local police records, the first reported sighting was received at precisely 04.11 hrs on the morning of 26 December. This was almost five hours after the initial sighting had been reported and the men had long since returned to the base. The call was made to the head office of the Suffolk Constabulary at Martlesham Heath. A staff member from RAF Bentwaters told the officer on duty that there were ‘lights in the woods over near Woodbridge’, and asked if there were any reports of a downed aircraft. Martlesham Heath checked with Air Traffic Control at West Drayton and was told there was no knowledge of any aircraft in the area to coincide with the current sightings. However, the officer was briefed on earlier sightings that had already caused quite a stir in media circles. Martlesham then called the Woodbridge police station, which in turn alerted their night patrol. 

On 6 July 1997, almost seventeen years after the call was made to Martlesham Heath Constabulary, a man calling himself Chris Armold contacted the UK UFO Network, run by ufologists Raine and Crow, and claimed that he was the airman who had called the civilian police. Andy Tugby, a.k.a. Crow, explained that Armold had shown up out of the blue claiming they had all been ‘well and truly snookered by Halt and his buddies’. I managed to trace Armold, who had obviously read about the case, but when I posed questions to him he was unusually evasive, considering he had made such wild claims to Raine and Crow. I contacted Colonel Halt, who, as the deputy base commander at the time of the incident, might have remembered him. Halt confirmed Armold had been a member of Law Enforcement at RAF Woodbridge but was not involved in the actual incident. From reading Armold’s statement it is obvious he has a dislike for some of the witnesses, namely Halt and Burroughs. Armold actually puts himself in the picture by claiming to have been involved in the ‘non-event’, but his testimony appears to me to be a mix and match of various stories passed down over the years, and not even the sceptics seem prepared to accept it. I certainly cannot take Armold’s critique seriously because, apart from his comments on the witnesses, there are several discrepancies which are important enough to question his own alleged involvement. 

In the early hours of 26 December PC Dave King and PC Martin Brophy were in their police vehicle heading towards RAF Bentwaters. This was part of their regular nightly visit to the USAF Law Enforcement desk. Being Christmas night it was relatively quiet and they were not expecting much activity, if any, before they went off duty later that morning. So they were surprised when a call came through on their radio instructing them to proceed to RAF Woodbridge to investigate some unexplained lights over Rendlesham Forest. It would take the officers another twenty minutes or so to arrive at the Woodbridge east gate, and it would be coming up to 05.00 hrs before they started trekking through the forest. Dave King recounted what took place during that morning: 

It was the early morning of the 26 December. It was a quiet, mild night and there was nothing going on in the area. I don’t know if you are aware of this but, for the police, Christmas Day is the quietest night of the year . . . My partner and I were out on patrol when we received a call to proceed to Woodbridge, the east gate, to check out a report of something going on in the forest. We were actually on our way to visit the Bentwaters Law Enforcement desk when the call came through. When we arrived at the Bentwaters base we were escorted through the back gate to the east-gate sentry post and were then taken to the forest by some security policemen. We had to follow their vehicle. They took us towards the spot where they said the other SPs had gone and we were told they were still out there. We had to park the car and walk on foot. The Americans didn’t come with us. We walked about half a mile into the forest toward the direction we were pointed in, but we didn’t see any lights out there except the lighthouse and there were no Americans out there, not a soul. We walked for some thirty minutes. If you look on the forest area as being a square foot then we must have covered only a square inch of it . . . We didn’t report to the base because when we got back to our car there was no one there so we just left and went home. 

I asked King if he had passed any houses or buildings in the forest but he could only remember seeing some cottages beside the Woodbridge flightline. These were most probably Foley Cottages. King explained that this was not his usual patch and although he knew Woodbridge very well, he did not tend to go into the forest. I wondered if he had gone straight ahead, towards the farmer’s field near Capel Green, which would have been separated from the forest by wire fencing. But he did not recall seeing any field or fencing. 

King and Brophy reported they had not seen anything unusual in the forest and concluded that the Americans had confused the lights with the Orfordness lighthouse. I told King that several witnesses had testified to seeing lights other than the lighthouse, including a craft of some kind. I also pointed out that the first sighting was probably around 23.30 hrs, and wondered if it were possible that something was there before he arrived and had long since gone. ‘It’s possible. We were called out late and that’s five hours after that. I can only report what I saw when I was there,’ said King. 

When I asked him what the Americans were doing out in the forest in the first place, he agreed that in normal circumstances they would never have investigated off their patch without consulting the police. ‘Not one inch,’ he told me. When I mentioned that the Americans had later put up roadblocks near the alleged landing site, he was not aware of it, but pointed out that this would have been a private road belonging to the Forestry Commission, and the police would not have been notified had that been the case. 

At 10.30 hrs that same morning, RAF Bentwaters called the Suffolk Constabulary headquarters for a second time. They wanted to report that they had found a site where a craft of some sort could have landed. Ian Ridpath, who took an interest in the case in 1983, wrote to the chief constable at Martlesham Heath in November of that year, requesting information on the Suffolk Constabulary’s alleged involvement. He received a reply stating that an officer had attended and the area involved did bear three marks of an indeterminate pattern, but the marks were of no depth and the attending officer thought an animal could have made them. 

King recalls seeing the message in the police log: 

When I went on duty the next day I saw another message in the log that had come from RAF Bentwaters at around 10 a.m. on 26 December. It said they thought they had found the place were the UFO had landed. Another police officer went out to the site that morning but he found nothing. 

On the second night of the sightings (26/27), PC Dave King and PC Martin Brophy were in the Law Enforcement Office at Bentwaters when the report came in. Dave King recalls the incident: 

It was a frosty night. I was doing my routine check with the Law Enforcement desk on RAF Bentwaters. We did that every night. We checked in with them and exchanged information. While I was there another report came in on the radio, a pocket radio, saying that there were lights in the forest at the exact same spot as the previous night. This would now be the early hours of the 27th. I was just about to go and have a look, thinking I might see something this time, when I got an emergency call to attend to a post office break-in about ten miles away at Otley. 

I asked King if there was a report filed in the police log for this sighting. 

No, we didn’t bother with it; we just thought they were bored watching their planes, and besides we had an emergency on. If that happened today the police wouldn’t have time to mess around with it. It was a quiet time due to Christmas so there wasn’t much going on. There were rumours that the Americans had set up searchlights on that second night waiting for it to return, but I don’t believe it. 

The fact that PC King did not take the incident seriously enough to at least make a report, resulting in it not being recorded in the police log, is somewhat disturbing. I pointed this out to him, but he considered the post office break-in to be an emergency and the sighting of lights in Rendlesham Forest to be of little consequence. In fact, I was curious to know more about the post office break-in, and why King had been called to an incident ten miles away. I thought, surely there must have been a police station at Otley, where the break-in had occurred, or at least closer to the incident than he was. King agreed this was a distance away, although it was not entirely unusual that Woodbridge police would be called to investigate further afield. Nevertheless, he has confirmed that patrols were off base for a second night, and even though there is no evidence to suggest that a landing of any kind took place that night, we know there were unidentified lights in the sky over Woodbridge. 

King and Brophy finished their night shifts on the morning of 27 December, when they went on break for a few days. If, as has been suggested, the Woodbridge police were involved in the second major encounter, it has been a well-kept secret. Through the help of Malcolm Zickler, who was in charge of the police forces at the bases, I was able to contact retired Police Superintendent George Plume, who was the officer in charge of the Woodbridge police station during that period. Plume said he was surprised to hear from me because no one had contacted him about the case in eighteen years. I soon realized, however, that he was not on duty at any time during the events because he only worked the day shift from 08.00- 18.00 hrs. Of course, he was aware that something unusual had occurred, but reminded me that it was a long time ago, and in order to assist me he would need the names of the officers concerned. 

If George Plume needed names I had to find them. On one of my trips to Woodbridge I decided to pay a visit to the local police station. Being brought up in the country I knew they were always willing to help visitors and were known to be generous with advice. Woodbridge station looked like any other small country police station: you walk into the small reception, ring the bell and out pops the friendly bobby. The officer was indeed very friendly, and when I began asking him about the Rendlesham Forest incident and wanted to know the names of the police officers involved, he seemed familiar with the case and gave me the names of Dave King and Martin Brophy. Having explained that I had already interviewed King and was aware of Brophy, I asked for the names of the other officers involved. Surprisingly, he offered the name of Brian Creswell, and I was told that he had recently retired from the force and was still living locally. The officer could not remember the names of any other policemen who might have been involved, so I asked him if he would enquire of his colleagues. He disappeared into the back office and after what seemed like a very long time, returned with a look of shock on his face. He was positively white! Something had happened in the back office and, whatever it was, it had caused him to clam up. The friendly police officer had suddenly become very aggressive. ‘There is no use you trying to contact him because he won’t discuss it,’ he stated. ‘Contact who? Brian Creswell?’ I asked. ‘He doesn’t want to talk about it, so there is no point you trying to get in touch with him,’ he continued. I could see he was very agitated and was probably angry because he had already revealed too much. I decided to change the subject slightly and ask if it were possible to view the incident log for that particular period, to which he replied, ‘Are you recording this?’ I thought this was an odd sort of question. Indeed, why would he be concerned about me recording the conversation? Realizing I was not getting anywhere, I asked if he would summon one of the other officers to talk to me, but he flatly refused, which I found even more odd. After all, it was a quiet police station and I was requesting assistance. 

I was not surprised to learn that the log books were no longer available, but according to George Plume, the police force had changed over to computers in 1975 and therefore records of that period should still be stored somewhere. I explained this to the police officer, only to be told that I would need to contact the head office at Martlesham Heath. I had a better idea. Armed with a name, I contacted Plume. He remembered Brian Creswell and told me he was living in Ipswich. Creswell had retired three years earlier, after thirtythree years’ honourable service with Her Majesty’s police force. Apparently, his colleagues were known to call him ‘Monster’, probably because he is over six feet tall. Plume suggested I try calling him but I explained that his number was unlisted. He seemed to think it was unusual for a rural police officer, retired or otherwise, to be listed as ex-directory. However, Plume was able to update me on Martin Brophy. PC Brophy had retired a couple of years after the incident and being very ambitious had moved to a civilian job, possibly with a technology company, and was last known to be living near RAF Mildenhall. 

George Plume had been a great find, and as a former senior police officer he was able to offer valuable tips that helped with my investigation. But he reminded me of the USAF commanders I had spoken to. They were all very willing to assist in my enquiries, provided I did not ask too many questions about the incident itself. This was very difficult considering that was my main reason for contacting them in the first place. Plume seemed to think I was delving too deep and gave me a friendly warning to be careful. There had been several of these friendly warnings, mostly from USAF commanders, but his was especially interesting, inasmuch as it came from a man who had been in charge of the Woodbridge police when all this was going on. As with the others, his warning was in no way threatening: on the contrary it was very well meant. It was nice to know that so many people were concerned about my welfare, but it only made me realize that something unusual must have occurred, and maybe I really was getting too close for comfort. 

I decided to contact Dave King again. I wanted to find out what he knew about Brian Creswell’s involvement. Thinking that Cresswell might have been one of the officers called out during the second landing, I was surprised to learn that he was the police officer who had visited the landing site and examined the ground indentations the day after the initial incident. ‘He won’t talk to you, he refuses to talk to anyone about it,’ said King. Where had I heard that before? I asked King why Cresswell was being so secretive. I considered that if he had finished his day shift on the 26th, there was a possibility he might have been one of the officers called out during night duty between 27 and 29 December. King thought it was also possible. It just seemed strange that he would be so evasive if all he did was examine a few rabbit scratchings. 

It would take me several months to locate Brian Creswell, and I was not convinced he would not want to talk to me. In spite of warnings that witnesses would not cooperate, most turned out to be very helpful, but I was certainly wrong about Creswell. The lady who answered the telephone took my name and a minute later he was on the line. I had barely introduced myself when he began shouting down the phone in a very determined gruff voice. Now I know why Woodbridge had a low crime rate for so long. You would not want to get on the wrong side of PC Creswell! 

I know who you are. I know you have been trying to find me. I know you want to talk to me and I don’t want to talk to you. I have nothing to say to you, but I do want to know who gave you my number because I am ex-directory. 

When I told him his uncle had given me the number, he would not believe me, and I thought it was just as well he was not aware that I had his work number too, which incidentally was given to me by another retired police officer of the same surname. At this stage I expected him to slam down the receiver, but he wanted me to know that the incident was built up over nothing but rubbish. It was useless trying to ask any questions because these were overpowered by his yelling. Realizing I only had a few seconds with this man, I threw in my ace and told him I had a photograph of a police officer examining the alleged landing site and I had reason to believe it was him. He wanted to know where I had got the photograph, but then he answered his own question by suggesting it must have come from the Americans. 

I explained that I only wanted to talk to him about his visit to the forest and his conclusion that the ground indentations he had examined were nothing more than animal scratchings. He was clearly not going to discuss it. ‘I know what I saw. I know what I did and I’m not giving you any information,’ he stated. I apologized for the inconvenience and bid him farewell. A few minutes later he returned my call. There was something he wanted me to know. He had retired from the police force after thirty-three years and, contrary to rumours, had not become an alcoholic but was almost teetotal. I realized he was referring to local rumours and assured him I was not interested in them and they should not concern him either, pointing out that they were related to two officers who had allegedly been involved in the second major incident. With that he offered an apology for the way he had reacted and the call was terminated. In all the time I had been working on this case I had never come across anybody who was so reluctant to talk about it. 

According to witness Jim Penniston, the police officer who investigated the landing site was adamant that he was not going to report anything other than that they were animal scratchings. When Penniston described the UFO to him, the officer refused to write it in his report. From what he told me, Penniston was clearly bothered by what he thought was the police officer’s apparent lack of interest in the evidence; I have often wondered what would have happened if a full police report had been written based on Penniston’s first-hand encounter with a UFO. I wished there had been an opportunity to discuss this with Cresswell. 

Malcolm Zickler assured me there was a British police presence on Bentwaters. He called it a ‘subdivision’, and he is in no doubt that these officers were fully aware of the incident. It turned out that George Plume was stationed at Bentwaters for several years after his retirement, but was not too happy when I discovered this, which I believe he thought was none of my business. Zickler explained that there were always one or two British police officers on the base, and after-hours they would be called if there were any civilian visitors. Sometimes there were those who drank too much and they apparently had girl problems. Zickler recounted, ‘Some of the girls were there to look for husbands, and there were those who were looking for something else – the Colchester lot. So we had to call them if there were problems.’ 

I met Nick Ryan at a social function I attended at the Bulgarian Ambassador’s home in London. Nick was with the elite Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron, based at RAF Woodbridge from 1982 to 1984. I spent the evening drilling him on the Rendlesham Forest incident, the bases and especially the ARRS. He confirmed that at least one British police liaison officer was stationed at Bentwaters during office hours. I asked him if they would have been involved in the incident. 

The British civilian police would not have been notified about this incident until it was over. Under no circumstances would we have involved the civilian police. We would call them afterwards to find out if they had any reports, it was a way of finding out if any civilians were involved. But we would not ask for assistance on something like this. The MOD Police are responsible for the areas surrounding any USAF bases in Britain. If need be, they would be required to guard the area around the perimeters. 

However, Major Edward Drury told me outright that the British civil police were involved in the second incident but could not supply me with names. He even remarked that it was a local police officer he was friendly with who had told him there was a D-Notice slammed on the incident. (A DNotice is a government instruction given to the press requesting them not to publish because it involves national security.) 

Woodbridge resident Gerry Harris had a story to tell about the civilian police. Soon after his own sighting he became curious, and following his conversation with some of the foresters he decided the best way to find out was to visit the area for himself. On 29 December he was passing the eastgate entrance to the Woodbridge base when he noticed a British policeman and an American security policeman guarding the entrance to a forest logging path. After parking his van, he approached the police officer to tell him of his intention to visit the forest to see what was going on. As incredible as it may seem, Harris claims the American refused to allow him access. He argued that it was a public footpath and he had a right to enter but was told, in no uncertain words, ‘Go away.’ Not easily discouraged, he moved forward only to see the American cock his M-16 rifle and to hear the British policeman warn him, ‘You better do as he says.’ One burning question has to be, who was the British police officer? If Harris’s recollection of events is correct it poses some even more important questions: (a) why was a USAF security policeman guarding British territory? (b) Why was the USAF security policeman armed on British territory? (c) Why was a USAF security policeman allowed to threaten a British citizen on British territory? 

It has been a difficult task trying to find the names of the policemen who would have been on night duty during the rest of Christmas week. Over the years the Suffolk Constabulary appear to have gone to great lengths to protect the identity of these officers. As a result, local rumours were invented and these are what appear to have upset Brian Creswell. The gist of the tales is that one of the officers was supposed to have been so disturbed by the incident that he ended up in a mental institution. The other was said to have suffered severe shock and become an alcoholic. I had already checked out these stories and knew they were nothing but nonsense. Whilst I admit that I have not been able to trace either of these men, none of the local policemen I have spoken to appears to know anything about these claims. I realize the police have been very cagey about this case, and it is possible that two local policemen were involved, but I am sure word of them having left the force in such strange circumstances would be known locally. George Plume thought the stories were very amusing, but insisted that there was not a grain of truth to them. ‘I would have known if that had happened. None of the men left the force for those reasons,’ he exclaimed. I could not help wondering if it was Plume who had forewarned Brian Creswell about these stories and my interest in trying to contact him. Either that or someone was listening in on my phone line. 

Dave King does not believe there was any cover-up by the Suffolk Police. He told me: 

I didn’t know this was a story until I first heard about that book Skycrash a few years later. The reason those researchers never heard from us was because they got the date wrong. They came to the police station saying it was the 27th, but there wasn’t a log of it for that day. There was no cover-up from us. 

It is very interesting that no further incidents were reported in the Woodbridge police log, especially considering the police visited the bases every night. One would assume that whoever was on duty during the second major incident must have known what was going on. Did they think the same as King, that it was nothing of any importance or are they staying silent for other reasons? 

Adrian Bustinza recalls the British police being involved in the second incident. He explained to me what he witnessed: 

The British police weren’t there at the beginning. I was on my way back to the forest, after filling the light-all in Woodbridge, and I saw two British policemen blocking the road into the forest. Their vehicle was parked on the road and they were there to make sure no civilians went in. 

When I asked him if he had seen any British police officers near the landing site, he was certain they never went near the UFO or into the forest at any time. Apparently, they stayed on the perimeter of the forest, near the road. 

Adrian Bustinza’s memory of the British police being responsible for keeping civilians out of the way corresponds with the testimony of Gerry Harris, who claims they were blocking the same entrance on 29 December. It stands to reason that the local police would know if there was such an incident taking place. After all, this was a much bigger event than the initial encounter, where only a handful of US personnel were involved. On this particular night, or early morning, we are told that convoys of vehicles were moving through the Suffolk roads heading for Rendlesham Forest. What were the Woodbridge police doing during all of this? With such a large operation going on they must have known about it. So why are they denying it? Could it be that they were under strict orders to stay quiet because the incident was a threat to national security? Or maybe they were told it was a top-secret exercise. According to a police spokesman, there would have been a skeleton staff on duty during the Christmas period, as it was such a quiet time. Could it be that the local police were simply uninformed, or are there police officers out there who know something of the matter but are unable to discuss it because they have signed the Official Secrets Act? 

If the Woodbridge police were involved, one wonders what they told the press. Journalists are known to call the local police station every day to pick up the latest news stories. In rural areas they will hear everything from Mrs Jones’s cat stuck up a tree to a burglary in the High Street. If there is a serious accident or crime, very often one of the police officers will tip off a journalist whom he is familiar with. So what happened with this particular incident? Why was it not on the front pages of the East Anglian newspapers or mentioned in the national press? Searching through decades of press reports referring to the Suffolk installations, I discovered that several USAF planes had crashed in the area. Surely if the Rendlesham Forest incident involved a plane crash it would have been reported in the local press along with the other reports. But there was no mention of an accident occurring in Woodbridge during that month. 

A few months after I spoke to Dave King, the retired police officer visited Rendlesham Forest and retraced his steps of 26 December. He explained that it was nothing like it had been in 1980, when the trees were up to eighty feet tall. Since then, of course, the severe storm of 1987 that hit the British Isles had destroyed a large part of the forest. I was pleased to hear that King had made this trip, and even more so when he told me that he was not so sure it was the lighthouse the witnesses had been referring to after all. This was partly due to the call he had received from Marjorie Wright, a local woman who told him about her father’s sighting, explaining that it could not have been a lighthouse. The fact that King had a change of mind was a real breakthrough, because his original lighthouse theory had been damaging to the authenticity of this case. It came as a surprise then that, following my interviews with King, the Suffolk Constabulary had contacted him and were now claiming he was still unconvinced that the ‘occurrence’ was genuine. 

I had decided to write to the chief constable of the Suffolk Police because I wanted to know what their involvement was, if any, and whether Special Branch was aware of the situation. Because it was so long since the incident had occurred, I thought it was necessary to offer as much information as possible. I wanted to make sure they knew my information was not based on rumour. 

I received a prompt reply from Inspector Mike Topliss and was very impressed that he had taken the time and trouble to reply in such detail. 

28 July 1999 
Dear Ms Bruni 

I refer to your letter of 22 July 1999 in relation to a series of unusual events which allegedly occurred outside the perimeter of RAF Woodbridge, Suffolk, during the last week of December 1980. 

A great deal of interest has understandably been generated in respect of this story, not least because of the apparent number and standing of witnesses. However, over the intervening years, various reports of the incident(s) seem to have taken on a life of their own to the extent that the ‘sighting’ details and corroborative evidence have been substantially embellished. This contrasts sharply with the views of local police who attended at the time and did not perceive this occurrence as being anything unusual considering the festive significance of the date and expected high spirits. 

Such a perception lends support to the lack of police documentary evidence and one needs to understand the minimalistic nature of rural policing in order to appreciate the answers which I will attempt to give your questions. 

(1) Both PC King and PC Brophy have retired from the force but, being a long-standing friend of the former, I have spoken to him recently and at great length in response to similar journalistic enquiries. He does not recall making any official report and there is no evidence that one was made. 

(2) Dave King has confirmed that he and PC Brophy were in the Law Enforcement Office at RAF Bentwaters when they were diverted to a ‘higher priority’ task at Otley post office. As rural night duty officers they would have sole responsibility for policing a huge territorial area (approx. 400 square miles) and would certainly have treated a post-office burglary as more important than a recurrence of an earlier incident which was seen as somewhat frivolous

(3) PC Brian Creswell’s (also now retired) visit to the alleged landing site would not have generated more than a standard incident log unless he was convinced that something worth reporting had occurred. PC King had discussed the matter with him and it appeared that all three officers were equally unimpressed with the night’s events. 

(4) Civilian police officers were not employed in guarding the area surrounding the alleged landing site(s) or to deter access, as there was no evidence to indicate that anything of immediate concern to the police had occurred. 

(5) There is no documentary evidence that police officers were involved in similar incidents on 27– 31 December that year and PC King could not recall any further requests for police attendance. 

(6) Special Branch officers should have been aware of the incident(s) through having sight of the incident log(s) but would not have shown an interest unless there was evidence of a potential threat to national security. No such threat was evident. 

I have tried to be as objective as possible with the answers provided and, like yourself, would undoubtedly be pleased to see a local incident such as this substantiated as an authentic ‘UFO’ experience. PC King holds similar views to myself and returned to the forest site in daylight in case he had missed some evidence in the darkness. There was nothing to be seen and he remains unconvinced that the occurrence was genuine. The immediate area was swept by powerful light beams from a landing beacon at RAF Bentwaters and the Orfordness lighthouse. I know from personal experience that at night, in certain weather and cloud conditions, these beams were very pronounced and certainly caused strange visual effects. 

If you have any other query in respect of this subject I will be pleased to discuss the issue further. My direct dial telephone number is —. 

Yours sincerely [signed] 
Mike Topliss Inspector – 
Operations (Planning) 

Apart from Dave King’s verbal recollection of the 26 December incident, the Suffolk Police claim they were not involved in any further events. As there appears to be no official documentation at Martlesham Heath, Inspector Topliss had interviewed Dave King in order to find answers to my questions. However, King was on his break during the rest of that week and having interviewed him myself I know he has no personal knowledge of what occurred after he went off duty. 

I cannot blame Inspector Topliss for thinking there was nothing to the case, especially if there is no documented evidence available in the Martlesham police records for him to refer to. Unless the police officers who were allegedly involved in the incident or its aftermath come forward, then it is unlikely we will progress further in this enquiry. Topliss agrees with Dave King that the Suffolk Constabulary were in no way involved in a cover-up. However, he suggested the officers could be reluctant to discuss the case in general because they are afraid it might be classed as secret, or because they were discouraged to talk to the press. 

Also, on 22 July 1999, I wrote to the secretariat of the Ministry of Defence Police. I wanted to know if they were involved in the incident. On 17 August I was surprised to receive a reply from the chief of the department, Paul A. Crowther, whose title is Agency Secretary and Director of Finance and Administration. 

D/DMP/36/2/7 (262/99) 
17th August 1999 
Dear Ms Bruni 

Thank you for your letter dated 22nd July 1999, requesting information about an incident in Rendlesham Forest in 1980. With regard to your request, we have been unable to find any reference to the incident in files held by our Operations and CID departments. However, it is worth noting that files of this age are not normally held centrally – they are either destroyed or archived. Several of the more senior officers of the Force have however been contacted with regard to the presence of an MDP detachment at Woodbridge in 1980. It would appear that RAF Woodbridge did not sustain its own detachment; rather it was the subject of infrequent visits by MDP officers stationed elsewhere in Suffolk. There is no recollection of the reporting of such an incident. 

The Ministry of Defence Police Agency, like all Government Departments and Agencies, is bound by the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. This means that we are committed to providing you with the information you require, as long as it is not exempt under the Code. If you wish to make a complaint that your request for information has not been properly dealt with, you should appeal to: Ministry of Defence, OMD14, Room 617, Northumberland House, Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5BP. 

Yours sincerely 
P. A. Crowther 

I am grateful to Paul Crowther for taking the trouble to investigate and respond to my questions. Nevertheless, the fact that, according to the more senior officers, there was no recollection of such an event does not surprise me. This case is too big, and nobody from the Ministry of Defence, retired or otherwise, is willing to openly discuss it. If any police were involved it might have been the MOD Police. According to local resident Gary Collins, the Ministry of Defence owned the road that separated RAF Woodbridge from the landing sites. This would certainly account for why the Americans were allowed to block the road and guard the perimeter of the forest, because when they leased the bases from the Ministry of Defence, they probably had rights to the road as well. Apart from a different badge, the MOD Police uniform is very similar to the regular force uniform and their vehicles have ‘Police’ on the side, so witnesses may have confused them with the Suffolk Constabulary. 

I read the MOD Police reply to a Ministry of Defence source whom I have known for many years, and he was surprised to hear that I had received a response from the top man of the department. ‘It must be very sensitive to have been considered by the most senior person. You must have worried them. Maybe this case warrants a public enquiry,’ he said. Maybe it does. 

If Special Branch were involved in the investigation, they certainly cannot admit to it because, by doing so, it would indicate that there had been a threat to national security. As Inspector Topliss points out, Special Branch officers should have been aware if anything had occurred through having sight of the incident log. However, we know that the Woodbridge police log did not record any further incidents; therefore we must consider whether they blundered in this case. The Suffolk Constabulary either took the incident seriously enough to inform Special Branch or, as Topliss suggests, it was dismissed as ‘frivolous’. But let us not forget that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had just warned Russia to keep out of the Polish crisis, the IRA were threatening to bomb Britain, and unidentified flying objects were playing havoc on the perimeter of a USAF NATO base with Bentwaters armed to its teeth in nuclear weapons. 

Under the circumstances, are we really expected to believe that Special Branch would not have a reason to investigate? We can forgive the Woodbridge police for thinking that a post office break-in was far more important than a UFO report near a military base, but surely someone would have been responsible for investigating the incident? Apart from the Ministry of Defence, who claimed to have only checked the radar reports, no government or military department either side of the Atlantic is taking any responsibility for it. The fact that ‘unidentifieds’ were hovering over RAF Woodbridge for several hours on at least three consecutive nights, even landing in the nearby forest, is, in my opinion, a definite threat to national security. This is especially so when one considers that RAF Bentwaters deployed nuclear weapons. 

According to a fact sheet on the Metropolitan Police, Special Branch was formed as ‘The Special Irish Branch’ in 1883 to combat the threat from the Fenian movement, whose aim was independence in Ireland, and who had been responsible for a series of explosions in London. The Special Irish Branch later became known as the ‘Special Branch’, and extended work into royalty protection with Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. While Special Branch is a division of the police force, in practice it coordinates closely with MI5, and has continued to develop its role as a conduit of information and intelligence for the Metropolitan Police and Security Service. 

I wondered if MI5 might have had an interest in the Rendlesham Forest incident. I was in for a surprise, inasmuch as MI5 had a presence at Martlesham Heath for a number of years. Martlesham Heath, just a few miles from Woodbridge, was the headquarters of the Suffolk Constabulary, the headquarters of the Suffolk Special Branch and certain MI5 operations. According to former MI5 agent Peter Wright, the agency had a major post office laboratory based there. In his infamous book, Spycatcher, Wright describes how the MI5 infiltrated public mail. The headquarters of this special outpost, known as the ‘Post Office Special Investigations Unit’, was based near St Paul’s in London, where MI5 had a suite of rooms on the first floor run by MI5 agent and ex-military officer Major Denham. This unit specialized in mail tampering and telephone tapping. Apparently, each major sorting office and exchange in the country had, and probably still has, a ‘Special Investigations Unit Room’. The headquarters were later moved to Martlesham Heath where a special post office laboratory was set up. Although St Paul’s was still in use, if a letter which had been opened needed special attention, it was dispatched by motorcycle courier up to the Suffolk office. It seems there was quite a set-up at Martlesham Heath. 

It is worth mentioning that, according to the Bentwaters Staff Judge Advocate, Lieutenant Colonel Arnold I. Persky, the British authorities, including the local police, would have been contacted and expected to accompany the USAF patrols to the scene of the incident. Although Persky was aware that there had been an incident he assured me that if it had concerned an American air crash on British territory someone from his office would have been summoned to investigate, in case the USAF were charged with damages to any property. Persky was sure that the British authorities were alerted and that they went to the forest sometime during the incident. He also thinks that British police were on the scene.

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