By Tony Rennell
MoD expert has worked with the two closest witnesses - both servicemen - of the unexplained phenomenon in 1980
Ahead, a small clearing among the trees shone as bright as day . . .
And so began a mystery that has lasted a third of a century, the truth of what took place remaining as elusive now as it was on that Boxing Day in 1980. Did an alien space ship land, as the world’s UFO-hunters, ET-watchers and X-Files fans have always been desperate to believe?
Or, this being a strategic base for American front-line fighter planes, was there an accident involving some clandestine Cold War super-weapon, ruthlessly covered up by the military? Or was that strange glow just a trick of light and atmospherics from the beam of a lighthouse on the East Coast a few miles away? Or a case of mass hysteria, perhaps? Or just a Christmas hoax by bored American servicemen a long way from home?
Flights of fancy run wild in any direction you want when it comes to what history has dubbed the Rendlesham Forest Incident — and has done since 1983 when the News Of The World revealed the mysterious happenings in a front-page story headlined ‘UFO lands in Suffolk — and it’s official’ and quoted a top-secret report from one of the base commanders as its source.
Official denials and obfuscation followed. ‘Fabrication,’ screamed the Ministry of Defence. ‘Nothing of defence interest in the alleged sightings. No question of any contact with “alien beings”.’
A local forester put forward the lighthouse theory, which was latched onto by other newspapers eager to rubbish a rival’s scoop.
And so the whole affair descended into a chaos of claim and counter-claim — Close Encounter fanatics on one side, sceptics on the other, and the twain never likely to meet. . . .
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