The Rendlesham Forest Incidents 1/3
From: James Easton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 1997 22:11:41 -0400
Fwd Date: Sat, 30 Aug 1997 23:21:34 -0400
Subject: The Rendlesham Forest Incidents 1/3
It was just after Christmas 1980, a quiet period of inactivity at the
twin-base complex of RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk,
England. They were American bases on British soil and played an
important role in NATO's front-line defence.
The extraordinary events which were to occur on two separate nights,
would soon however dispel that calm and pose one of the UK's strangest
Although rumours soon travelled outwith the base, it proved difficult
to determine the true nature of these events and there was infinitely
more speculation than facts.
However, as both incidents centred on Rendlesham Forest, which
separated the airbases and as this was outwith the jurisdiction of the
US Air Force, the Deputy Base Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles
Halt, had submitted a report for the Ministry of Defence to
Although the Ministry had indicated there was no relevant information
in their files, in early 1983, US researcher Robert Todd successfully
obtained a copy of that document under the Freedom of Information Act,
a copy which he was informed had been obtained directly from the
That document, which became known as the Halt memo, was the first
factual confirmation of the astounding occurrences over two years
On 13 January 1981, Halt had informed the Ministry:
"Early in the morning of 27 Dec 80 (approximately 0300L), two USAF
security police patrolmen saw unusual lights outside the back gate at
RAF Woodbridge. Thinking an aircraft might have crashed or been force
down, they call for permission to go outside the gate to investigate.
The on-duty flight chief responded and allowed three patrolmen to
proceed on foot.The individuals reported seeing a strange glowing
object in the forest.The object was described as being metallic in
appearance and triangular in shape, approximately two to three meters
across the base and approximately two meters high. It illuminated the
entire forest with a white light. The object itself had a pulsing red
light on top and a bank(s) of blue lights underneath. The object was
hovering or on legs. As the patrolmen approached the object, it
manoeuvred through the trees and disappeared. At this time the animals
on a nearby farm went into a frenzy. The object was briefly sighted
approximately an hour later near the back gate".
The Ministry were further advised that two days afterwards:
"Later in the night a red sun-like light was seen through the tree.
It moved about and pulsed. At one point it appeared to throw off
glowing particles and then broke into five separate white objects and
then disappeared. Immediately thereafter, three star-like objects were
noticed in the sky. Two objects to the north and one to the south, all
of which were about 10 degrees off the horizon. The objects moved
rapidly in sharp angular movements and displayed red, green and blue
lights. The objects to the north appeared to be elliptical through an
8-12 power lens. They then turned to full circles. The objects to the
north remained in the sky for an hour or more. The object to the south
was visible for two or three hours and beamed down a stream of light
from time to time. Numerous individuals, including the undersigned,
witnessed the activities in paragraphs 2 and 3".
Further details emerged and the story was the subject of major
features in the US by both CNN and "Unsolved Mysteries".
Two books on the case, "Skycrash" and "From out of the Blue", were
written by British researcher and author Jenny Randles, the first
being co-authored by Brenda Butler and Dot Street, two local
researchers who were amongst the first to hear the rumours.
"Skycrash" was published only in the UK and due to concerns about
material which might conflict with the Official Secrets Act, "From out
of the Blue" was published only in the US. Both books document the
history of the developing story and the attempts to separate fact from
Two key witnesses were then to come forward, Staff Sergeant Jim
Penniston and Airman First Class John Burroughs, who both served with
the 81st Security Police Squadron.
Together with Halt, who was subsequently promoted to Colonel before
retiring from the services in 1992, their testimonies have become the
foundation of the "Rendlesham Forest" case and on 9 December 1994, all
three appeared in a landmark UK television documentary, produced for
the ITN "Strange but True?" series.
The evidence was now much clearer and unless otherwise indicated, the
following comments are taken from their videotaped depositions in the
On that first night, Burroughs was on security patrol with a
colleague. He recalled:
"There were strange lights out in the forest. To me, it almost looked
like Christmas lights at first, a Christmas display. At that point we
looked at each other and we decided that we'd better go out and take
a closer look 'cause we weren't sure what we were dealing with.
What we were looking at wasn't real".
Burroughs contacted the Security Controller and he in turn contacted
Penniston, who takes up the story.
"I received a call from the Control Centre to go on down to the East
Gate and contact John Burroughs. And I asked them what was the nature
of the problem down there and they said that they'd rather not tell
me, they'd rather have me go down there and talk to the patrol man on
The first thing that came to mind was an aircraft crash".
Penniston contacted the Control Centre again and reported a possible
crash: "They notified me that they were tracking an unidentified bogey
about 15 minutes ago and they confirmed it with contact with eastern
radar and Heathrow in London and the approximate location was about
5 miles off base when they lost contact with it.
It was Christmas time and there was no scheduled flying for that
night. I got permission to proceed off base to investigate".
Approaching the presumed crash site, Penniston continued, "I started
to see a defined shape and at that point I realised it wasn't an
aircraft crash, a fire, or anything of that sort. The air was filled
with electricity. You could feel it on your skin as we approached the
object". Burroughs concurred: "You felt like you were moving in slow
motion, your hair on the back of your head was standing up, you felt
like you had very little control over your body".
Sensing no hostility, Penniston approached the object and examined it
"It was about the size of a tank, it was triangular in shape.
Underneath the craft, was a high intensity white light emanating out
of it and it was bordered by red and blue lighting, alternating". "On
the upper left side of the craft, was an inscription. It measured six
inches high, of symbols. They looked familiar, but I couldn't
He observed the enigmatic object for what seemed some twenty minutes,
and then, "It slowly started moving back, weaving in and around the
trees... it raised up into the air and it shot off as fast as you
could blink". The following day, Penniston and Burroughs examined the
area. The local Suffolk police had also received a call concerning
lights in the forest and were investigating the scene. On seeing
indentations, one of the police officers advised that he would be
recording these as rabbit diggings. Penniston disagreed: "I asked him
why and he said, because he's not going to put anything other than that
in his report. We found that just totally absurd. The ground was
frozen and it was just impossible for that to happen".
Burroughs and Penniston measured the distance between the ground
markings and claim that the area formed a perfect triangle.
Lieutenant-Colonel Halt was by this time aware of the reported events
and although somewhat sceptical, insisted that an appropriate entry
be recorded in the security police log.
"I personally knew the individuals that had reported and I knew they
were very credible people. I was sure something had happened, there
was obviously something".
In readiness for any further activity, large portable floodlights,
know as light-alls, were positioned in the forest.
Two nights after the initial incident, Lieutenant Colonel Halt was
interrupted at a base Christmas dinner. He recalls, "The duty Flight
Lieutenant came in and he was quite shaken and insisted upon speaking
to myself and the Base Commander about a matter of utmost urgency.
He said, 'It's back'.
I assembled a small team of experts and we set off in the forest,
ready to debunk it".
Halt had taken with him a portable tape recorder and noted, "I'm
certainly glad we made the tape, because if we hadn't made the tape,
even I would have trouble believing what happened that night".
"We had time to put this thing to bed. I knew there was something
there, there had to be something there, but I was also firmly
convinced there was a logical explanation for what was going on".
"It's very unusual to have a problem with the light-alls. That night,
the light-alls wouldn't work, even when they swapped out and got other
ones from the base. In addition, we had problems with our radios. All
three frequencies we were using were intermittent and did not work
properly that night".
An extract from Halt's tape recording was subsequently released and
is testimony to a range of seemingly anomalous phenomena.
An unidentified flashing light was seen to be apparently moving
through the forest and Halt reiterated:
"It pulsated, although it were an eye winking at you and around the
edges, it appeared to have molten metal dripping off it, just like
falling to the ground, but I didn't see any evidence of anything on
the ground. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing, none of us
Here I am, a senior official that routinely denies this sort of thing
and diligently works to debunk them and I'm involved in the middle of
something I can't explain".
"The object suddenly exploded. A silent explosion and broke into three
to five white objects and rapidly disappeared".
Around a mile from this scene, Burroughs was with the broken-down
light-alls, but was to reportedly experience yet another bizarre
"All of a sudden, out of the distance, a blue light streaked past us.
Passing the light-alls, they came on. It passed through the open
window on the truck, going off into the distance, and the light-alls
But perhaps the most remarkable and disconcerting event was to follow.
Halt explained: "As we moved out of the forest, we noticed three
objects in the sky. The objects in the sky were moving about, sharp
angular movements, very high speed.
I kept getting on the radio and calling the command post. I wanted to
know if they were finding anything on the radar scope. One of the
objects in the sky was sending down beams, beams of light, beams of
energy, I'm not sure what they were. At that same time I could hear
on the radio, voices talking about the beams coming down on the base".
Suddenly, a beam of light came down directly in front of Halt's party.
"At this stage, my scepticism had definitely disappeared. I was really
Just as suddenly, the beam disappeared.
Until recently, this was the general understanding of what had
reportedly taken place on those cold and dark December nights, almost
17 years ago.
Now, in a research program carried out by "PROJECT: watchfire", both
Halt and Penniston have spoken in more detail about their experiences.
Utilising the latest Internet technology, in conjunction with the
Microsoft Network, it was possible to broadcast interviews with Halt
and Penniston over the Internet and also provide a live forum for
The "watchfire" site can be found on the World Wide Web, at URL:
The interviews were carried out by award winning journalist A. J. S.
Rayl, the project's Executive Editor and a former contributor to OMNI
magazine. She also now writes for OMNI Internet.
Penniston went over his story with Rayl:
"There is some confusion about the date. There are two duty rosters,
both of which are dated December 26th, but it was either that night,
the 26th, or the 27th".
"Since it was just after the Christmas holiday, we expected it to be
a slow, quiet night".
"About 12:02 am - I remember that distinctly - I was dispatched to the
East Gate, which was sometimes referred to as the back gate at
Woodbridge. There, I was told to contact Police 2, which was Airman
First Class John Burroughs and Staff Sgt. Bud Steffans, and that I
would be briefed when I got there.
Penniston confirms that Steffans told him about a "problem" out in the
Believing it was an aircraft crash, Penniston asked Steffans if he had
heard the plane go down.
"He told me there had been no sound, that it didn't crash, that it had
Discounting this, Penniston called the Bentwaters Centre for Security
Control (CSC) and spoke with Master Sergeant J.D. Chandler, the
on-duty flight chief for both bases.
Chandler contacted the Control Towers at Bentwaters and Woodbridge.
Having confirmed details with Heathrow Airport's control tower in
London and RAF Bawdsey eastern radar in East Anglia, Penniston was
informed of a 'bogie' with which contact had been lost some 15 minutes
previously, over Woodbridge.
Receiving permission to investigate, Penniston, Burroughs and Airman
Ed Cabansag proceeded to the East Gate, where the terrain forced them
to dismount their Jeep.
As radio transmissions were breaking up, Cabansag was stationed there
as a communications link.
When it became apparent there was no aircrash, Cabansag was informed
and relayed that information to CSC. Even transmissions to Cabansag
were now deteriorating.
Penniston's story from this point remains relatively consistent, as
it always has done, and he adds some significant details.
"I found it very strange that there was no sound coming from the
object, but the animals around us were in a frenzy. We had wildlife
running by us, and lots of birds. Outside that noise, however, there
was no other.
That was when I decided to have Burroughs stay there as a radio link.
He did not seem calm. He didn't acknowledge what I was saying, but I
thought he understood. I was more concerned at that moment with what
was going on in front of me".
"I had my notebook and camera while I was out there, so I began taking
notes. This is what I wrote:
'Triangular in shape. The top portion is producing mainly white light,
which encompasses most of the upper section of the craft. A small
amount of white light peers out the bottom. At the left side centre
is a bluish light, and on the other side, red. The lights seem to be
moulded as part of the exterior of the structure, smooth, slowly
fading into the rest of the outside of the structure, gradually
moulding into the fabric of the craft'.
"As I was taking notes, I also memorized what was in front of me for
what seemed like hours, but was in fact only minutes. Finally, I
unleashed my camera-case cover and brought the camera up to focus. The
air was electric. It made my hair and skin feel as if I were
surrounded by static electricity or some type of energy. I began
snapping photo after photo. It was still eerily quiet".