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A 1947 UFO Incident With (Maybe) a Link to the 1980 Rendlesham Forest Affair

It was right around Christmas 1980 when one of the most significant of all UFO encounters occurred in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England – near to the twin-Royal Air Force Bases, Woodbridge and Bentwaters. A memo prepared by the Deputy Base Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt reveals the astonishing facts: “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 forced down, they called 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 maneuvered 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 notable encounter remains unresolved to this day.

In light of all the above, it’s interesting to note there is a UFO story – from the very same area – that dates way back to 1947. The account came from a man named Ronald Anstee, a long-time UFO researcher who died in November 2006. It transpires that Anstee had secured certain data that revolved around a flying saucer event in the summer months of 1947 – and very near to Rendlesham Forest, no less. The precise date was, and still is, unknown. What we do know, however, is that Anstee’s informant was a family member. Reportedly, the affair involved the sudden and brief appearance out of nowhere of a classic, saucer-shaped, metallic vehicle over RAF Bentwaters. It was said to have been around fifty feet in diameter. Such was the concern over what happened, senior military personnel were flown in and secret meetings were quickly arranged to try and figure out what had happened. The matter was never resolved to Anstee’s satisfaction: he fired off letters to the U.K.’s old Air Ministry, but failed to get meaningful answers. Anstee did, however, state that the presence of the UFO was somehow connected to a then-new radar system in the area. How he knew that, though, I don’t know.

In my 1997 book, A Covert Agenda, I wrote about radar-based research in that very area: “On January 28, 1935, the Tizard Committee, established under the directorship of Sir Henry Tizard, convened its first meeting, which ultimately led to the top secret development of a workable radar system of the type employed in the Second World War. Most pertinent of all, much of that highly classified research was conducted at Bawdsey Manor on the Deben Estuary. It’s just north of the town of Felixstowe, and a mere stone’s throw from what was for so many years the military bases of Royal Air Force Bentwaters and Royal Air Force Woodbridge.”

The reason why I know all of this is simple: I found the correspondence between Anstee and the Air Ministry at the National Archives in Kew, England. This was in 1994, when I spent significant time going through certain, newly-declassified UFO papers. I was able to see that Anstee had written a trio of letters to the Air Ministry – one of which concerned a 1954 UFO sighting of a Royal Air Force pilot named James Salandin. A deeper examination of the National Archives’ papers revealed that the office Anstee dealt with was called Secretariat 6, and whose staff were clearly not keen on getting into correspondence (or worse, into debate) with Anstee. This is made all the more clear by the fact that the only response from Secretariat 6 was to acknowledge they had received Anstee’s letters – and that was it!

It’s doubtful that today – more than seventy years later – we will ever get the answers to this intriguing (but short on data) case. It should be noted, though, that Anstee’s letters to the Air Ministry were written on January 30, March 7 and March 21, 1963. Nineteen-sixty-three was seventeen years before the Rendlesham Forest affair occurred. How intriguing it is then, that in the early 1960s, Anstee was digging into a story of a significant UFO encounter near RAF Bentwaters, which would go on to become known in relation to the Rendlesham case nearly two decades later. A connection? It all depends on how you put the pieces together. The best I can say right now is that one military base was involved in two incidents – and that’s it. Maybe there’s more to it all – but we’re certainly not there yet.


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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