Dubbed ‘Britain’s Roswell’, the Rendlesham Forest incident in Suffolk, has intrigued UFO enthusiasts since taking place in December 1980.
On three separate nights just before the New Year, military personnel said they saw lights flying in the sky and descending into the woodland – the group was convinced they had seen an alien spacecraft.
Yet it has now been claimed that the extraterrestrial sighting was a hoax, played on the US air force by the SAS in revenge for capturing a squad and subjecting them to a brutal interrogation.
Since the incident in 1980, Rendlesham Forest has become a site of endless speculation for UFO chasers
The SAS were said to have regularly tested US security by probing the perimeters of RAF Woodbridge in the English county, which allegedly stored Nuclear warheads and was believed to be a key target for Soviet agents.
But when an SAS troop parachuted into the complex one night in August 1980 they were unaware the guards had upgraded their radar system.
Their black parachutes were immediately detected and the British were hauled off for questioning.
They claimed they were beaten up by their captors who refused to believe who they were and repeatedly referred to as ‘unidentified aliens’, before being released 18 hours later after the British authorities intervened.
On three separate nights just before the New Year, military personnel said they saw lights flying in the sky and descending into the woodland (pictured)
Staff Sergeant Jim Penniston sketched the craft he says he saw at the time of the incident
Seething from the interrogation, SAS soldiers were keen to take revenge.
British X-Files expert Dr David Clarke, who has been researching the story for three years, revealed: ‘After their release, the troopers made no complaint at their rough treatment but were determined to get their own back on the USAF for the beating that they had received.
‘In particular, their repeated characterisation as “aliens” sowed the seeds of a plan. They said: “They called us aliens. Right, we’ll show them what aliens really look like.”’
As December approached, lights and coloured flares were rigged in Rendlesham Forest. Black helium balloons were also coupled to remote-controlled kites to carry suspended materials into the sky, activated by radio-controls.
Taking place over three nights between 26 and 28 December in 1980, military personnel from nearby RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge witnessed strange lights in the woods and hovering above the airbases which were on high alert as the Cold War was at its peak.
Pictured is the east gate at RAF Woodbridge, near where the incident is alleged to have occurred
‘A great deal of nocturnal Christmas fun was had at the expense of the USAF – and the matter should have ended there,’ according to a letter written to Dr Clarke by an alleged SAS source.
‘Unfortunately, a senior US officer (Lt Col Halt) led the US contingent out into the forest on the second night and took along his tape recorder.
‘The hovering and whizzing lights were sufficiently impressive for him to send a report to the MoD.
‘Someone in London recalled the events of the previous August and questions were asked. A few red faces – but also some satisfaction and amusement – followed.
Military personnel from nearby RAF Bentwaters (pictured) and RAF Woodbridge witnessed strange lights in the woods and hovering above the airbases
‘The USAF was ‘reassured’ at a very senior level and no UK investigation was undertaken – for obvious reasons.’
Dr Clarke said he was first contacted three years ago by ‘Frank’ who claimed to be a SAS insider.
He had seen Dr Clarke talking about Rendlesham on a TV documentary and felt ‘it was about time that the truth was revealed about the incident’.
Dr Clarke, of the Centre for Contemporary Legend at Sheffield Hallam University, said: ‘I investigated his incredible story by talking to trusted and open sources in the British military, including some high profile former SAS troopers.
‘What happened in the forest, according to Frank, would be bread and butter for special operation soldiers trained to deceive and misinform whilst remaining invisible.’
RENDLESHAM FOREST INCIDENT
In December 1980, strange lights were reported by servicemen in Rendlesham Forest near RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge, in Suffolk.
The incident came to be known as ‘Britain’s Roswell’; named after the supposed UFO sightings in New Mexico.
Soldiers investigated what the lights were, including Staff Sgt Jim Burroughs, Airman First Class Edward Cabansag and Airman First Class Larry Warren.
The disputed sightings, over three nights between December 26-28, occurred when Britain and the West were on high alert during the Cold War.
Retired US Air Force officer Steve Longero broke a 36 year silence in December 2016, to reveal he also saw something in the night sky.
Mr Longero said the UFOs looked like red and green fluorescent lights hovering over treetops.
He also dismissed one theory that the lights had been caused by a lighthouse.
The incident became a topic of fascination in the UK after a group of servicemen went into Rendlesham Forest to investigate the mysterious lights and came out convinced they had seen seen an alien spacecraft.
The Suffolk sightings resurfaced claims from those living in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, when an unexpected crash was alleged to have been the remains of a spacecraft and alien bodies.
But this was rejected by the U.S. military following a close investigation into the wreckage.
The British Ministry of Defence has also dismissed the claims regarding Rendlesham.
It said there was no threat to national security and the UFOs were likely to be caused by a series of nocturnal lights.