Mar 16, 2011 I Nick Redfern

Rendlesham: About Those Missing Files

Between December 26 and 29, 1980, multiple UFO encounters occurred within Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England that involved military personnel from the nearby Royal Air Force stations of Bentwaters and Woodbridge. According to numerous U.S. Air Force operatives, a small, triangular-shaped object was seen maneuvering in the forest – as were, some said, near-spectral, alien-style entities. And although the incident has been the subject of a significant number of books, intense media coverage and even parliamentary questioning, it continues to provoke furious debate within the UFO research community. And that debate was reignited only very recently when it emerged that certain files on the affair - that originated within the murky world of defense-intelligence - appear to be, ahem, "missing."

So, what might be the reason for this intriguing loss of potentially-crucial data? Some have suggested that nothing stranger than mere bureaucratic bungling was the root-cause. Others took the view this was further evidence of high-strangeness having occurred at Rendlesham. And if conspiracy, rather than  bureaucracy, is indeed at the heart of the mystery of the vanishing papers, then what might have prompted such action?

I suggest it might be worth looking at an aspect of the affair in the forest of which few have taken much, serious notice - and of which many are simply unaware. It's an aspect that implicates staff from one of the U.K.'s most secret installations in the saga - Porton Down - and suggests the distinct possibility that, in the immediate aftermath of the incident, "something" may have been secretly retrieved from the site. And, as we shall also see, that "something" may have been distinctly hazardous in nature.


In a July 31, 1994 lecture at Leeds, England, Charles Halt (formerly Colonel Charles Halt, USAF, one of those that had witnessed the strange object in Rendlesham Forest) divulged his recollections of what had occurred fourteen-years previously. During the course of his lecture, Halt astounded the audience by revealing something that had been hitherto unknown: an unscheduled C141 transporter aircraft arrived at Woodbridge just hours after the initial encounter, and a group of “special individuals” departed from the aircraft, headed straight out of Woodbridge’s East Gate, and disappeared into the forest.

It should be noted, too, that the C141 is a huge aircraft, fully equipped to carry freight, vehicle payloads or, alternatively, up to 200 troops – ample space to also secrete a relatively small object, as the Rendlesham vehicle was described.

It may be relevant that during its life as an active military station, RAF Woodbridge was home to a squadron with an intriguing history, as Captain John E. Boyle of the U.S. Air Force revealed to me in 1988: “In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the 67th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron stationed at RAF Woodbridge [provided] standby rescue coverage for the American space flights. Of course, they were never needed to provide emergency rescue actions, but at the time, the unit was trained and available to rescue astronauts with their HH-53 and HC-130 aircraft. In early 1988, the 67th ARRS was re-designated as part of the 39th Special Operations Wing, their primary mission changing from that of rescue to supporting US Special Operations forces. Their secondary mission remains that of search and rescue and they would provide any assistance necessary in future space missions.”

Although the 67th's rescue-and-recovery skills were not needed during NASA’s space-missions, the question has to be asked: were they implicated in the recovery of something that originated with somebody else’s space-program in December 1980?

On this path: in her book on the Rendlesham affair, titled You Can’t Tell the People, the late Georgina Bruni reported on a story that shortly after the events at Rendlesham Forest took place, a number of personnel from Porton Down were reportedly dispatched to the area. Dressed in full-body protection suits, no less, they entered the woods – for reasons that remain unknown outside of officialdom. Prior to her death, Georgina confided in me the name of her source; it was a woman who was indeed a prime candidate to comment on matters relative to the work of staff at Porton Down.

Notably, on January 11, 2001, the late British Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Hill-Norton, who had a personal interest in UFOs, tabled questions at an official level with British authorities in an attempt to resolve the issue of the Porton Down allegations as they related to the Rendlesham case. Predictably, the response to Hill-Norton’s questions, that surfaced on January 25, 2001, was to the effect that staff at Porton Down had made a check of their archives, but had found “no record of any such visits.”

Of course, it should be noted that this carefully-worded statement does not state that such records did not exist; only that the specific personnel who made the search were unable to locate anything relevant. Officialdom is extremely good at providing such couched, potentially-misleading replies. As a result, the controversy surrounding the seldom-discussed Porton Down-Rendlesham issue continues to languish in near-forgotten obscurity.

A C141 aircraft; intriguingly-described "special individuals;" and Porton Down staff descending on the woods in Hazmat suits, collectively suggest there is far more to the Rendlesham case than we may have even considered possible. Perhaps, somewhere, deep within those conveniently-missing documents, there is the answer to the mysterious connection between the Rendlesham event and the covert activities of Porton Down...

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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