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on 28 May 2014
I'd heard about the RF incident - dubbed Britain's Roswell - some time ago, and recall finding it fascinating at the time. I was, and still am fascinated by UFOs, and always interested to hear about knew sightings and facts. I was only 15 years old when this story broke, but do recall the headline in the News of the World. But, like with most UFO stories, as time passes, and no more information comes out, you sub consciously file the story away, and it loses its importance and significance.

Nick Pope's new book, co-written with Jim Penniston and John Burroughs, two of the primary witnesses, breathes new life into the events that occurred that December night in 1980. The two airmen were the first to out that night to investigate the strange lights seen over Rendlesham Forest, which lies between the then twin USAF bases, Bentwaters and Woodbridge, in Suffolk, England. Upon reading Mr Pope's new book, my interest in the event has now been more than re-kindled, excuse the pun!

This book is well written, and sets out the timeline of the events in digestible bits of information, together with additional facts and testimony that has come out since the event. The book is written with the help of the two primary witnesses, Jim Penniston and John Borroughs.

The important thing about this case has got to be the sheer number of trained military personnel who witnessed the events over the 3 nights, together with some photographic evidence, radar evidence, and radiation readings taken at the alleged landing site, after the initial event. The now famous Halt memo, released by the USAF, under the Freedom of Information Act in 1983, led to the story being broken by the News of the World back in the same year. This memo, written by Colonel Charles Halt, the deputy base commander, together with a recording he made, which can be listened to on YouTube, and which are transcribed in Pope's book, provide clear evidence that Halt, and his men, who went out into the forest on the third night, witnessed something very unusual - more lights in the forest, and the sky, which appeared to be craft, under intelligent control, performing incredible high-speed maneuvers, and which shone laser-like beams of light to the ground, and into the weapons storage areas. (Probably housing nuclear weapons.)

Pope can't comment on whether there were nuclear weapons stored at the base, as it would be a breach of The Official Secrets Act if he did, but some brief research quickly reveals that the bases were storing a large quantity of the US's battlefield nuclear warheads, an interesting and worrying fact in and of itself.

Although the story seems to have become embellished over the years, with contradicting accounts as to what happened, the original witness testimonies taken as part of the initial investigation, are perhaps the most interesting aspect. They leave no room for doubt that the witnesses experienced something other than just the flashing light of the Ofordness Lighthouse during the 3 nights of the event. Simply too many individuals saw something they could not explain.

Having devoured Mr Pope's book in a few days, I needed to find more information on the event, and I located a load of information and interviews on YouTube, and even better, downloaded the late Georgina Bruni's book, entitled `You Can't Tell The People.' This book, unlike Mr Pope's, was written back in 2000, and the author carried out meticulous research, and tracked down dozens of witnesses, both military and civilian who all verify different aspects of the sightings. Anyone interested in this story, and who has read Pope's book, will be doing themselves a favour if they also read Bruni's book.

The fact is, 34 years on, the witnesses still maintain that they said they saw back in 1980. To me, it seems incredible if the accounts of these trained military men, who had to remain silent until they left the USAF, were not genuine. Why put yourself through the hassle and ridicule of saying you witnessed such `outlandish' events, if they weren't true? It doesn't make sense.

I'd be astounded if more information doesn't eventually come out on this case, but unless it comes from Colonel Halt, or as yet, some unknown, but verifiable witness, or higher ranking officer who was present at the bases in 1980, then it will be difficult to accept.

So, did an alien craft land in the forest? Or was it a top secret military craft belonging to the good old USA? The secret TR-3B, would be a good contender. Especially as some of the witnesses described seeing what appeared to be something dripping off the craft.. perhaps a problem with the mercury-based plasma drive engine?? Or has a cover-up been orchestrated to hide a sinister accident of some kind? Whatever happened, the case is fascinating, and won't be going away any time soon. I suppose the only comforting fact is that if it was indeed an alien craft, no one was harmed by said aliens - at least not intentionally. If the men were harmed, the harm was more likely caused by fellow humans from the MOD or the USAF!

Another interesting point, mentioned in Georgina Bruni's book, are the strange, ghost-like sightings that have been reported in and around the forest. This article provides more information, and is... very odd - [...]

The truth is out there! Watch this space!
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on 23 May 2014
This book makes no assumptions and is not biased. Thankfully, it identifies and gives no credence to the very suspect binary code message that Sgt Penniston suddenly came out with after 30 years. Penniston has damaged the credibility of his account and as a result what he says about the whole affair including touching the craft must now be discounted. The man has lied and this book indirectly says as much. However, even with the Penniston embellishments and lies removed the story still stands on Halts tape recording of a craft beaming down laser type lights at the airmen s feet and into the nuclear bunkers.
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on 13 May 2014
A very interesting story, as told from the viewpoint of the witnesses to the Rendlesham ufo incident.
The only thing that spoilt it for me was the obvious lack of proofreading of the book before it went to print. There are numerous grammatical errors which detract from what is otherwise, a fascinating story.
I would not let this put you off buying it, and I would assume that it is an absolute 'must read' for anyone wishing to gain 'eye witness' insights into the Rendlesham Forest incident as told by the personnel that came closest to events.
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on 9 September 2014
The most comprehensive overview of the Rendlesham Forest incident I've read to date. Nick Pope as usual does a level-headed investigation and descriptive job of what is Britain's most significant UFO incident making it pretty much the UK's Roswell.

The narrative takes us from a detailed description of the actual incident, through the various and convoluted machinations of the aftermath as UK and US security concerns met head-on, through to where the main participants are today and their views- in retrospect and now much less constrained by protocol- on what really happened back in the early 80s on the perimeter of RAF Bentwaters.The result is fascinating and some of the conclusions mind-boggling. Well worth a read for a serious assessment of this extraordinary event.
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on 31 March 2015
This is an excellent book.

The thing that most impressed me was that it was clearly written by a Civil Servant, whose specialism and particular expertise is to deal with a large amount of factual data, assess and evaluate it, and come to conclusions, without ever being sensationalist, and most of all without ever speculating beyond the data. That makes it quite different from most “UFO books”.

In 1980 I was working as a local government officer in Yorkshire. I used to travel fairly frequently to Suffolk to visit friends. I clearly remember one of our circle, who was a USAF police sergeant at Woodbridge, telling us that “something” had landed, that there were indentations in the ground, and that there were “radiation readings that did not make any sense”.

The author, who once ran the MoD's UFO programme, quotes a figure of two to three hundred UFO reports in Britain annually, of which 5% “defy conventional explanation”. That would suggest roughly one inexplicable incident a month. I had no idea the numbers were so large. Bearing in mind that Britain is only one small country, the worldwide traffic must be quite substantial.

The author devotes considerable space to the question of an “official cover-up”. There certainly does seem to be a policy in place. The number of documents that have gone missing or become mysteriously inaccessible, and the difficulties of getting a straight answer to simple questions, seems more than adequate evidence. The interesting question about all this secrecy is of course “Why?”

There seem to be several possible explanations. They are not mutually exclusive. In my experience things very seldom happen for one reason alone anyway.

The first is habit. Bureaucracies hate giving information away, and have an almost knee-jerk reaction of concealment.

The second is the possibility the author focuses on; the weaponization of technologies; vehicles which have the abilities UFOs display, and “electrical plasma fields.” Such weaponization would give any government which achieved it a huge advantage, both vis-à-vis other governments and vis-à-vis its own population. After all, radar was originally developed as a side-effect of the search for a “death ray”. I am quite sure many governments would love to have the ability to “zap” not only foreign troops but also troublesome groups or individuals within their own populations.

A third possibility is the effect on popular psychology of an official admission that UFOs are real. The author says that there is “no scientific evidence” this would cause a mass panic. This is true. But there are indications. Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” broadcast was one. The Jafr alien invasion incident of 2010 was another. However, there are other, more important, possibilities.

All governments like to present themselves as the most powerful force in their nations. The foundations of political power are to a great extent magical, by which I mean that they are to do with the control and manipulation of systems of belief. Many people act as if the state’s enforcement capacity is far greater than in fact it is.

The state does its best to make itself look powerful. It tries to create the illusion that its powers of detection and enforcement are all-pervasive, whereas in fact that is very far from the case. It is usually successful at putting down groups that organise to resist it. But beyond that, its enforcement capacity is often stretched very thin, and many laws cannot be enforced. People often do not seem to realise this, and continue to act as if the state is a great deal more powerful than is in fact the case.

Tales about all sorts of mysterious measures of control governments are putting in place (people frightening themselves with bogeymen) often seem like the mirror-image of the illusion of power which governments project.. A less overheated perspective suggests that the power of the modern state is far less than it appears; but no state could ever allow that to become common knowledge.

It is important for the state’s perceived power over its citizenry to be much greater than its actual power. If it can create and maintain a successful illusion of a “strong state”, people will, by and large, continue to obey it. But if it becomes obvious that there is something important over which the state has no control at all, this vital illusion is threatened. What then? The social consequences could be extremely unpredictable and volatile. This is something which governments hate, because a government is, after all, an agency of control.

Just about anything which might threaten their power gets played down as "crackpot". Genuinely radical political ideas get much the same treatment as UFOs. Some of the similarities and parallels are quite striking. Both sets of ideas would be threatening to the status quo if they "gained traction" and became commonplaces for large numbers of people, so keeping such ideas firmly "out in left field" as "weird stuff that no serious person will consider" is an obvious tactic of social control. Control over the media of communication, socialisation and education (i.e. the manufacture of important ideas and where people get them from), is not as ideologically deliberate as, say, in the former USSR. After all, it was possible for this book to be published. However, it is undeniable that there are some ideas which it is easy to promulgate, and others which are an uphill struggle. This is not an accident.

In this context, this book is a brave and valuable contribution to the debate. Read it and draw your own conclusions.
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on 25 April 2014
On the face of it, the entire story of the encounter in Rendlesham Forest, as told in Nick Pope's latest book, is a seemingly strong and sincere case. Yes, the story has been told countless times before, but the story keeps growing new legs - some of which are revealed in the closing chapters wherein we learn considerably more of what Jim Penniston, USAF (Ret.) allegedly experienced in his up close and personal contact with the mysterious craft he says he saw and touched. It is herein revealed that Penniston had undergone hypnosis with a therapist whose name we never learn - and whilst under, Penniston reveals that the mysterious ship isn't from another planet, but from our own good Earth! But not from any black-ops from Area 51, no! The craft Penniston saw and touched came from...the future! "They are time travelers - they are us," Penniston states. And speaking of the "future", Penniston and fellow USAF John Burroughs (who was with Penniston in the forest that night in 1980) leave us readers with a teaser: "Is this really the story of the witnesses and has everything from the witnesses been addressed? Is there more to come? Yes, there is more to come." So then, the saga will continue! More books, maybe a movie, a TV show - in this case, the sky is the literal limit!

Here are some of the problems with this book. A straight reading will leave one slack-jawed, in awe, amazed. It seems like the real deal! Heck, on page 11 Pope writes something truly astounding: "A later entry in the Suffolk Police log provides the first known documentary evidence showing that a landing HAD taken place (in Rendlesham Forest). This intriguing log entry reads as follows: 'We have had a call from the L.E. at Bentwaters in reference to the U.F.O. reported last night. We have found a place where a craft of some sort seems to have landed." Wow! Confirmation from the local British police! Something did, indeed, land! But Pope drops it there, leaving his readers slack-jawed in awe - which is, after all, how he wants to leave us. Trouble is, with a little more digging I learned that there is actually a follow-up report in the Suffolk Police log from a P.C. Brian Cresswell that states: "There were three marks in the area which did not follow a set pattern. The impression made by these marks were of no depth and could have been made by an animal." If that ain't a spot of rain on Pope's parade! Of course, there is no Cresswell in this book's index, either.

Another potential problem: when Penniston is looking at the mysterious craft he writes in his notebook that there are no landing gear visible - yet hours later, unable to sleep, he goes back the site of his encounter and takes plaster casts of the three marks made from the craft's landing gear! Talk about growing new legs! We never find out what happened to those casts, by-the-way. And when he went back to the site and took more than an hour to take the castings, why was there no one else at the scene of the purported landing? If it was that security sensitive you'd think the place would be crawling with investigators! Anyway, back at the initial forest encounter, Penniston takes photos (which don't come out)and also draws in his notebook. On page 7 we are shown drawings of the craft and of the strange markings on the craft that resemble "Egyptian hieroglyphs" - shades of the Roswell wreckage! We are not told if the drawings shown are the actual ones made on the spot or not. But it struck me curious that Penniston would draw the craft even though he had just photographed it. And if these are the on-site drawings, they are done in a remarkably steady and sure hand, which is kind of curious if someone is having an encounter with something of such high strangeness. Here is something else: Penniston and Burroughs were off in the woods for at least 45 minutes investigating strange lights - this near a high security US Air Force base - and keep in mind that their radios had malfunctioned so they were not in contact with the eight other members of the security force waiting closer to the base - anyway, the thing is this: 45 minutes, no radio contact, and no backup! Yes, Pope writes that "A search party had been on the point of going out to look for them" - but...when you think about it, none of this adds up very realistically!

Pope offers SELECTED DOCUMENTS AND IMAGES at the end of the book. There is a transcript of Lt. Col. Halt's tape recording made during his own encounter in the woods two nights after the initial incident. The trouble is, the tape is controversial, yet Pope doesn't deal with the possibility of hoax or editing of this key piece of evidence. Pope also shows us the actual pages from Penniston's "original police notebook", images of the "Binary Code Message" that was downloaded into his mind upon touching one of the symbols on the craft's surface. Pennington had this code translated by various experts and the Pyramids at Giza are mentioned in the translation, as well as the Nazca Lines in Peru. Pope, however, weakly comments on this additional chapter to the Rendlesham story: "Is there a more complex message hidden deeper within the obvious one? Is this all just wishful thinking? Or is the message more subtle? I have no answers here, which is why I provide the raw data in Appendix B. Maybe other experts will come up with an alternative translation." Why doesn't he have his own answers here? Wasn't that one reason he wrote this book? And this: "While I worked on the MoD's UFO project, I am not aware of any UK government research into time travel..." I guess these enigmas may be more fully addressed in the next book or books??? It says on the back cover that "This is the only UFO book ever to have required security clearance from both the American and British governments" - yet why then is 98 % of it stuff that has been out there for years? And why doesn't our intrepid author chase down his own translations of the "binary code message from the craft" that he advertizes on the back jacket as one of the things his book "uncovers." Why didn't he take Penniston up on the offer to test the age of the notebook entries? Why don't we learn more of who the hypnotist was and an analysis of her findings from someone other than Penniston? Why are there absolutely no photographs in this book - none of the main players nor the forest site where all of this happened nor the plaster casts nor the notorious lighthouse? Heck, there ain't even a map showing where Rendlesham forest is!

Bottom line is, if you don't know the basics of this story, the book isn't all that bad. But it is biased, even though it tries not to be. Truth be told, though, the Wikipedia entry ends up being more informative and well-rounded and with some photos to boot! And a map! I expected more in a book that has been heralded with much hype for some time now.

As to what really and truly happened over those three nights in Rendlesham Forest, the new Roswell? Sadly, I wasn't there. However, something happened! But is this truly the case of a mountain out of a molehill? Or - despite my skepticism - more likely, a mountain being turned into a molehill by the Powers-that-Be?
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on 29 April 2014
Having seen Nick Pope give a talk on UFOs at a UFO conference, my expectations weren't high with this book. Nick pretends that he can't tell you anything about UFOs because of the official secrets act - so he tells you nothing over and over again - which all comes across as someone who knows nothing but pretends that they do!

So, what happened at Rendlesham? Something certainly did. Having been following the case since the story broke I have read all books on the case. Jenny Randles books on the subject are 100% better than this. This book is, as other reviewers have pointed out, lots and lots of padding with not much info. There are even researchers who don't even get a mention! Where is the sceptic Ian Ridpath in the index? Oh dear!

So, what is the conclusion of the book? SPOILER ALERT - no aliens (by the way, where were the aliens mentioned in earlier accounts?) - the whole incident was a time travel experiment! Well, its certainly more entertaining than the lighthouse theory!
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on 28 April 2014
How can anyone possibly give this book 5 stars????? At a detailed level, it is page after page after page of badly written repetition. There are typing errors galore that should have been corrected, and a preoccupation with procedure that dominates much of many of the chapters. I get the feeling that Nick is trying to explain errors that lay at his door, where the US military withheld relevant information from him. He is also preoccupied with debunking the claims made by "UFOlogists", both believers and non-believers, at great length. I am finding as I progress through this awful mire of a loose compendium that the guts of the encounters could have been condensed into a few paragraphs. In summary, I feel robbed by this purchase. Nick is an inarticulate writer, as this book proves.
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on 24 October 2015
Monsieur Pope has done a good job and there's a ton of information about what went down in Rendlesham Forest. The book is rather plodding in places though and I think it made an exciting topic dull. But that's just my opinion. It's well worth a read though. And yes-I don't think Offord Lighthouse was the explanation. Evidently the whole affair was hushed-up and some witnesses drugged to make then forget what really happened. I would also recommend UFOs, Aliens and Other Unexplained Phenomena which covers the RF story.
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on 4 July 2015
I'd previously heard about this incident in England a few years ago and was interested in finding out a little bit more.What they encountered,I guess only they really know,but the well written book certainly gives the impression that most of what happened is still very top secret.Well worth the read.
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