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Rendlesham Forest UFO, The UK’s Roswell, was first spotted over Kent and Sussex.

By Lyn Funnell

The Rendlesham Forest UFO has become well-known worldwide. It’s called Britain’s Roswell Incident. But what is not so well-known is that the UFO was reported earlier the same day over the Beachy Head area in Sussex.

When I spotted the sign for Rendlesham on a  trip to Suffolk from my Sussex home, I couldn’t resist the urge to visit the site.

Christmas 1980. RAF Woodbridge was being used by the United States Air Force.

Several servicemen spotted a strange, brightly-glowing object hovering, and then landing in the forest across the road.

Two of them, Jim Penniston and John Burroughs, have told different stories.

Jim said he walked up to the craft and touched  the strange signs that were on it. He described them as looking like Egyptian hieroglyphics.  Rows of figures were embedded in his memory and he wrote them down in a notebook. They were in binary and they were eventually translated by an expert.

The 3 UFO marks.

John said they both hit the ground as the craft took off.

Lt Col Charles I. Halt investigated at the time. It’s known as the Halt Memo. And there are rumours that the USAF videoed the incident.

Suffolk police have a report filed on the evening of the 26th December, 1980.

Many witnesses saw strange objects over Porton Down, the nuclear power station, and others told of bright lights beaming towards the ground.

Some ‘experts’ tried to say that the light was Orford Ness lighthouse, which is five miles away.

Earlier, on the same day, bright lights were reported over South East England. They were blamed on Venus, a meteor, and a Russian spaceship.

We stopped at a farmhouse on the edge of the forest to buy some eggs, but there was nobody in.

Another car pulled up. I walked up to the driver’s window. There was a lady, her daughter and two dogs in the car.

It’s said that people judge you in the first three seconds. How would you walk up to a total stranger and ask them about UFOs? Answer: extremely tactfully!

She wound down the window and smiled pleasantly. We both commented on the fact that the farmer wasn’t in. I told her that I’d heard about the UFO sightings and I wondered where it had occurred.

Although she still smiled at me, there was a micro-second’s reaction, so I hastily pointed out that I was a writer from Sussex and I wasn’t mucking about; we were staying in Suffolk for a few days and I took the subject seriously. I was genuinely interested in what had happened in 1980.

Again the slight reaction and I knew that I’d passed the test.

‘It was just there, across the road, ‘she said, pointing, ‘and there’s a signposted UFO trail.’

Sometimes it’s not what people say that gives you information. It’s what they don’t say. Her words were, ‘Dogs don’t react.’ She didn’t say, ‘Our dogs don’t react.’ She had two dogs in the back of the car.

We went into the car park and crossed the road. There was indeed a wooden post with an alien’s face on it.

Rendlesham is a pine forest with bracken, and paths in between the trees.

As we walked along, Hubby John, a keen birdwatcher, suddenly pointed out that the forest was absolutely silent. It should have been full of activity at this time of the year. But there wasn’t a sound anywhere.

We had passed one man with his labrador dog on the outskirts who smiled and nodded as he walked past us, but there was nobody in the actual forest.

Following the alien signs, we discovered that each signpost had a rune on the back. They were all different. I’ve since found out that you can pick up a form in the Forestry Office and follow the clues.

Finally we found three solid posts in the ground. This was where the UFO’s tripod marks had been. The posts had been vandalised. What had obviously been information had been ripped off. I’ve found out that it happens all the time as people grab everything they can for souvenirs.

It would have been hard to find our way back to the road without the signs. As we walked along, I kept looking behind me, feeling that I was being followed in the silent forest.

I didn’t know whether to write that or not, fearing that you’d suspect me of seasoning my story for effect. But it’s true. Rendlesham Forest really is creepy.

Outside the thick pine trees again, Hubby John pointed up. Seagulls were soaring around, but they all turned back when they reached the trees.

We met my cousin David and his wife Carolyn for dinner. They live about 10 miles from Rendlesham. David told me that on the night of the UFO landing, at about 9pm on Boxing Day, they’d just put the children to bed. Suddenly the television went crazy as though there was a power surge. It went on for about 20 minutes, surging and fading, with snowy, wavy patterns. The lights were doing the same, going bright and then dim, and their son called down, ‘Dad, the batteries are going!’

It happened to everyone at the same time in a huge area.

A man who David worked with, a very sensible, reliable person, said that he saw a huge glass-like sphere orbiting and landing on the beach in the afternoon.

He excitedly told everyone, then he called the authorities to report it, and their treatment of him was more scary than the UFO! He was taken away for several hours and they tried to make him seem like a lying idiot. Since then he has refused to even mention it.

I found the local people friendly but cagey. They all admit that Something happened, but they don’t want to discuss it unless they feel that they can trust you.

None of them denied it or brushed it aside. It had obviously had a deep, long-lasting effect on them all. They were scared.

In July that year, more than 200 people across Sussex in the Shoreham area reported seeing a UFO in one weekend. Over 15 people who had just left a Bucks Fizz concert stopped to watch several orange balls in the sky.

Some thought they were UFOs, the others were ‘Making their Mind up!’

(A play on a Bucks Fizz song for those who don’t get it.)

On the 14th December 1980, just a few days before the Rendlesham sighting, a UFO was spotted in Orpington in Kent and it was watched by over 40 people for an hour. Then it moved slowly at first and suddenly it split into several parts and shot away vertically.

Just after 4pm on the following day it was seen by several people in the Bromley area where it hovered and then split into two and shot off.

The author Georgina Bruni wrote a book about the Rendlesham Incident, called ‘You Can’t Tell the People.’ The title was based on a quote by Margaret Thatcher, who was questioned at a lunch after she’d had a few drinks. She said, ‘UFOs? You must get your facts right and you can’t tell the people.’

She hesitated and then she repeated, ‘No, you can’t tell the people.’

The MOD denied investigating the Rendlesham incident, but later a huge MOD file was discovered.

Why did they deny it, and surely they wouldn’t have investigated a secret military craft which they’d have known about?

Podcaster Andrew Gentile sent Jim Penniston’s notebook to a computer expert who said that the code was a “message from the future.”

The message, once decoded, reportedly read: “Exploration of humanity continuous… continuous for planetary advance. Eyes of our eyes. Origin year 8100.”

Next to the message were a series of coordinates for specific places around the world including Caracol in Brazil, the Great Pyramid of Giza, Sedona in Arizona, USA, Mount Taishan in China alongside Peru’s Nazca Lines, and the Temple of Apollo in Greece.

Also listed is a mysterious part of Ireland.

Mr Gentile said: “All of the locations in the binary code are known as highly spiritual places, but they’ve also been called portals to other dimensions or to other planes of reality.”

Jim Penniston now does not believe the UFO was an alien visit, but humans from our planet, from the distant future.

Mr Gentile said: “Jim Penniston doesn’t think the Rendlesham UFO was extraterrestrial. He thinks it was us. He thinks this was a message from humans from 6,000 years in the future.”

Something definitely happened in and around Kent, Sussex and the Rendlesham Forest in 1980, but whether it was a UFO, visitors from the future, or a Top Secret craft being tested, I’m sure we won’t know in our lifetime!