Rendlesham: Analysis> [prev ¦ 1 ¦ 2 ¦ 3 ¦ 4 ¦ 5 ¦ 6 ¦ 7 ¦ 8 ¦ 9 ¦ next]


This file - 155 pages in length - was released in May 2001. According to the Ministry, the majority of the papers contained within came from one file that was assembled some time after the alleged event that opened with Halt's memo and largely consisted of correspondence. Because the file appeared incomplete, the MOD carried out a search of “UFO” files covering the same period, 1981-4 for any other papers relevant to the Rendlesham incident. This search located a number of minutes and memos from air defence staff and defence intelligence staff who were consulted shortly after the incident. These papers have now been placed within the original file opened in 1982.
Five documents were initially withheld:

  • Two under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information which relates to classified material under the category “defence, security and international relations” and
  • Three under Exemption 2 which relates to “internal opinion, advice, recommendation and deliberation.” We understand the documents with held under Exemption 2 comprise briefings to Ministers less than 30 years old.

We immediately lodged an appeal against the decision and all five documents were subsequently released in 2003 following a ruling by the Parliamentary Ombudsman (the forerunner to the Information Commissioner). The full report on the case A.29/02 can be read here.

The with-held documents contained no evidence that a cover-up of a UFO landing ever existed. They simply illustrate how claims of a cover-up arise from secrecy for the sake of secrecy, part of an established tradition in Britain.

The two documents initially with-held on grounds of “defence/security” reveal the RAF were making checks on radar records for 29 December 1980, following information supplied by Lt Col Charles Halt in his memo to the MOD.

As we now know the actual date of Halt’s sighting in Rendlesham Forest was the night of 27/28 December 1980. This implies incompetence and complacency on behalf of the MOD, who did not see fit to make further inquiries into the details they had been supplied by Halt.

What does the file contain?

The majority of the file consists of a) internal correspondence between officers in DS8, its successor, Secretariat Air Staff 2a and other units/departments of the Ministry of Defence and b) correspondence with members of the public between 1982 and 1994, the period when Nick Pope was an executive officer in the secretariat.

The civil servants who served in the secretariat who had direct and indirect dealings with the Rendlesham Forest case are as follows:

1981-2 Simon Weeden DS8a
1982-3 Peter Watkins DS8a
1982-4 Pam Titchmarsh DS8a
1984-5 Andrew Mathewson/Brian Webster DS8a
1985-6 P.M. Hucker Sec (AS)2a
1987-8 Clive Neville Sec (AS)2a
1990-2 Own Hartop Sec (AS)2a
1992-4 Nick Pope Sec (AS)2a
1981 - Cold Scent

The file opens with Lt Col Halt’s memo and the covering letter from Squadron Leader Moreland to DS8, Whitehall, dated 15 January 1981, titled: “Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs).” The letter reads:

“I attach a copy of a report I have received from the Deputy Base Commander at RAF Bentwaters concerning some mysterious sightings in the Rendlesham forest near RAF Woodbridge. The report is forwarded for your information and action as considered necessary.”

Simon Weeden of DS8 then circulated Halt’s memo to a number of other MoD branches for advice. The other branches listed on the distribution list attached to Moreland’s memo were:

  • DI 55 - a defence intelligence branch responsible since May 1967 for advising Air Staff on scientific and technical aspects of UFO reports. DI 55 were a branch of the MOD’s Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence (DSTI) who have been involved in the investigation and assessment of UFO reports since 1950.
  • PS/ACS (Ground) - a branch of the RAF's Ground Environment division based at RAF Stanmore, Middlesex. Along with Airborne Early Warning (AEW), RAF Ops (GE) has responsibility for maintaining 24-hour radar coverage of the UK Air Defence Region.
  • “Radar establishments in the area.” - These included the Sector Operations Centre (SOC) at RAF Neatishead at Wroxham Broad, Norfolk, the central military radar responsble for Air Defence in southern England and Eastern Radar (RAF Watton), a joint military/civilian air traffic control station responsible for air traffic above the complex of joint RAF/USAF bases in East Anglia.


The MOD file confirms that DS8 knew nothing about Colonel Halt’s report until Moreland’s memo arrived at Whitehall on 15 January 1981. This is confirmed by the DS8 desk officer Simon Weeden (2005 interview) and in a letter of 7 December 1983 from Pam Titchmarsh of DS8 to researcher Ian Ridpath: “...I can confirm no investigations were carried out by the Ministry of Defence until Lt Col Halt's report was received.”

MOD investigation of the Rendlesham incident began two weeks after the alleged events occurred. To use the MOD’s own terminology after this amount of time, the scent was already cold. »

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