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The Rendlesham Forest “UFO” Affair: The 40th Anniversary in Two Months Time

In a little more than two months from now, I predict, there will be a great deal of controversy surrounding the infamous Rendlesham Forest “UFO landing” of December 1980. The reason? It will be the 40th anniversary of the notorious affair. And, I’m sure that while most people in Ufology will be flying the flag of E.T., I’ll be explaining why the real story is one of highly-classified, military experiments of a down to earth nature. With that said, there may be a very good reason that prompted the people behind the experiments to choose that particular area of woods for their tests. Rendlesham Forest has a long history of ghostly encounters. Witchcraft and occult-based rites and rituals have been performed late at night in those dark woods. So-called “Alien Big Cats,” or “black panthers,” as they are mostly named, have been seen roaming through the woods on more than a few times. One of the earliest, credible cases on record is that of Jimmy Freeman, whose close encounter with a big cat occurred while driving past Rendlesham Forest late one night in the mid-1970s. While the precise date has been lost to the inevitable fog of time, the details are as fresh in the mind of Freeman today as they were on the night the incident occurred.

Given the fact that the encounter had occurred around 11:15 to 11:30 on what was a dark, cloudy and slightly misty night, Freeman was driving slowly and had his lights on full-beam as he negotiated the dark and winding roads. As a result, when something large and shadowy charged across the road in front of him, Freeman could not fail to see the creature for what it was. Long, sleek and black in color, Freeman is in no doubt that for a split second or two he had a brief sighting of a huge cat. Today, he says firmly: “If I live to be a hundred, I will tell the same: Rendlesham Forest has big cats.” Moving on…

On a cold winter’s afternoon in 1983, the then-soon-to-be-married Paul and Jane Jennings were blissfully strolling through those woods when they were terrified by the sudden manifestation in front of them of what Jane would describe succinctly as “a big black dog.” She elaborated that the pair had been walking along a pathway when, on rounding a bend, they came face to face with the phantom beast – something that prompted Jane to intriguingly add: “It was almost like it was waiting for us.” Far more shocking, however, was what happened next. Suddenly, the beast began to flicker on and off for four or five times, then finally vanished, literally, before the Jennings’ eyes amid an overwhelming smell that reminded the pair of burning metal. Not surprisingly, the terrified couple fled for the safety of their car and fled the area. The U.K.’s “phantom black dogs,” as they are popularly known, prompted none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – the creator of Sherlock Holmes – to write his classic novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Rendlesham Forest, as well as the Suffolk locales of West Wratting and Balsham, is reportedly home to an even more diabolical beast than the phantom black dog. It is a creature that has come to be known locally as the Shug-Monkey. Described as being a bizarre combination of giant dog and large ape, the creature is said to strike deep terror into the hearts of those souls unfortunate enough to cross its path. And you thought that UFOs were the strangest things to be found in Rendlesham Forest, right? Wrong. It’s a magnet for strange phenomena – and it has been for a long, long time. It is, however, Rendlesham Forest’s UFO connection that has made those woods world-famous. In many respects, it doesn’t really matter if you are a believer or a disbeliever in supernatural phenomena, such as large and mysterious cats, ghostly hounds and a weird ape-like beast. The most important thing to note is this:

Rendlesham Forest has a reputation of being distinctly creepy for reasons that go far beyond UFOs and aliens, as you have just seen. If you wanted to run a secret military project in an area of English woodland, then what better place could there be than Rendlesham Forest? The answer is simple: there is no better location. Here’s why: Those who do believe in the paranormal will likely say that tales of mysterious creatures seen in the woods only serve to reinforce the idea that aliens landed at Rendlesham – which is almost certainly what the people that concocted the experiments were counting on. Using an area of woods – for nefarious reasons – that already had a reputation for being drenched in unearthly phenomena, would amount to perfect planning. When the “UFOs” put in their appearances at Christmas 1980, it was just another addition to the already-bulging collection of tales of the unknown that came from within Rendlesham Forest. And, because of the eerie reputation that the woods had (and still have), no-one was thinking about secret experiments of government agencies. But, they should have been.

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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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