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Room 101


Welsh UFOs - The Real Torchwood

For those left wondering about the title, Torchwood is a Doctor Who spin-off series about a covert group who research and combat alien threats in Wales. This fortnight, we're going to reflect on some key UFO cases in the principality, including the recent UFO sightings here and in neighbouring England. Interestingly, I had a possible UFO sighting in Wales, myself, which you can read about on the UFO Magazine Blog. The entry detailing my potential UFO sighting can be found here.

Looking at UFO cases in Wales, we'll begin with what has been called the "Welsh Roswell," the Berwyn Mountain UFO incident of 1974. The Berwyn range is an isolated and sparsely-populated area of moorland located in the north-east of Wales. Basically, on the 23rd of January 1974 it is alleged that a UFO crashed there and that it, complete with dead alien bodies, were secretly recovered by the British military soon thereafter. It was the typical UFO crash scenario or, to put it another way, the Roswell incident all over again, in all but name, date and place.

However, what makes the Berwyn crash particularly interesting, and all the more real, is the immediate reaction of the local residents. To begin with, no one was talking of UFOs and aliens, far from it. People thought that a plane had crashed on the mountain and were chiefly concerned about trying to save the lives of any survivors. The police were called in and set up a search team that was later even joined by an RAF Mountain Rescue Team. Apparently, after a long search, nothing was found. But with such a legitimate reaction, it would seem likely that something equally real must have crashed.

Whatever this was, though, we still don't know. Astronomers believed that it might have been a meteorite landing, but no impact crater was ever found. Adding to the intrigue, in May 2008 the British MOD released a number of its classified UFO files to the public. There had been a lot of speculation that we might, at last, get to the bottom of the Berwyn mystery. But, strangely, no files relating to the Berwyn event were even released. If the whole case can be, as the sceptics suggest, explained away by natural phenomena (the combined misinterpretation of a meteor shower and an earthquake) perhaps we should ask why nothing about the case has been released in the MOD UFO files.

Maybe something was found on the Berwyn Mountains after all. Of course this wouldn't have to be alien, it could have been some kind of black aircraft or other secret weapon. The remote area would make for an ideal location for Britain or perhaps even its primary ally, the US, to test their secret aircraft.

The West Wales flap of 1977 is another major part of Welsh UFO history. Focused upon a strip of rugged coastline within the Pembroke National Park, the series of strange encounters made national headlines at the time, beginning with an exceptionally strange sighting near Broad Haven Primary School on the 4th of February.

During their lunch break that day, as many as 15 schoolchildren said they saw a silver cigar-shaped UFO land in the fields behind the school. Fantastically, some of the nine to 11 year olds even went as far as to claim that they saw a silver man with pointed ears come out of the craft. Of course, people put this down to simple make believe but the children were so adamant they saw something real that they handed in a petition to the police. Further, their head teacher later asked them to draw the UFO and was amazed at how alike their pictures turned out.

After this, UFOs soon became the talk of the nation and by May of that year, as well as odd lights, people were also reporting strange sightings of mysterious humanoid figures wearing Nasa-like spacesuits, prowling the remote Welsh countryside late at night. Stranger still, though, is the fortilla of Fortean phenomena that allegedly engulfed the Coombs family at Ripperston Farm.

The family reported repeated close encounters with strange craft and their occupants. For instance, on one occasion they were allegedly pursued along a country lane by a fiery object shaped like a rugby ball. Perhaps their scariest alleged encounter, though, was with a 7ft figure in a spacesuit, who suddenly appeared in their sitting room window late one night. This may well have been the work of a hoaxer. But whatever it was, the family's terror was certainly very real. Many years later, in 1996, the police officer that dealt with the incident went as far as saying that: “that was the most frightened family I have ever been to see.”

Interestingly, the Coombs family also made the weird claim that a herd of cows were somehow transported from a locked field into to an adjacent farmyard. If this is in any way true, perhaps it could in somehow be related to the famous cattle mutilation phenomenon? Exactly how we could only guess at, however, some suspect that the US military may be behind many of the cattle mutilations in the American Southwest. Could they or the British military be behind the strange phenomena in Wales? It might explain the NASA-esque spacesuits.

In a recent edition of Room 101 we asked whether the Bermuda Triangle might be a good place for an "alien" base. You can check that out here. This is interesting because the odd happenings at Ripperston Farm were probably best documented in Peter Paget's 1979 book The Welsh Triangle.

Including most of the southeast corner of St Bride’s Bay, along with the towns of Milford Haven and Haverfordwest, Paget believed that aliens had indeed established an underground base in this Welsh equivalent to the Bermuda Triangle. It is certainly true that the area does seem to have been the focus of the 1977 wave. However, perhaps the range of military bases that were nearby (including a top secret rocket testing station) might offer a more down to earth explanation for the UFO activity.

More recently we've been having something of a new UFO flap in Wales and England. First, on the 8th of June, a South Wales Police helicopter was apparently forced to swerve sharply to avoid being hit by what they termed an "unusual aircraft" near RAF St Athan, a military base outside Cardiff. Then, only a matter of weeks later, we learned that a soldier (with three others) had in fact seen several "craft" spinning in the skies above his military barracks near Market Drayton, Shropshire. What more, the sighting took place only two hours before the helicopter incident. Ultra careful UFO reasearcher Nick Pope (who ran the British Government's UFO project at the MOD for three years) was so impressed by the sighting that he went as far as saying: "Now there has to be an official inquiry ... the military tend to make good witnesses ... it's not something an ordinary aircraft or satellite would do."

Since then, UFO skeptics have tried to debunk the sightings as nothing more than wedding party sky lanterns. Which, if true, means the British public should be very concerned that both their police and military don't know the difference between nuts and bolts craft and sky lanterns. True, a strong case can be made for the lantern explanation. In both cases, lanterns were realised in the right place at the right time. But, use a bit of common sense, would a sky lantern really move so fast that an experienced police helicopter crew could not capture any images before it vanished out of sight?

Whatever the truth about these key Welsh cases is, perhaps we'll never know. Although I strongly suspect that there is probably some kind of military explanation for many of them, for all I know there could be an 'alien' base somewhere in Wales. It could be argued that dotingly believing in what might be called the "lantern hypothesis" is probably equally as bad a dotingly believing in the Extraterrestrial hypothesis. However we can be sure of one thing, as we've seen the recent UFO activity in Wales is by no means new and no doubt there will be more to come in the future.

Richard Thomas, BoA UK Correspondent and Columnist.

Contact Richard :: boxstacker(at)aol.com


  • Nicholas Redfern, Cosmic Crashes (Simon & Schuster Ltd, 1999)
  • Peter Paget, The Welsh Triangle (Panther, 1979)
  • Andy Roberts & Dr David Clarke, Flying Saucery, the UFO Files (ForteanTimes, August 2008)
  • Jenny Randles, The Mythical Wave, UFO Casebook (ForteanTimes, August 2008)
  • The Secret Files: The Welsh Triangle (uk-ufo.org)
  • The Case Of The Welsh Triangle UFO Flap (A Galaxy of Stars)
  • Britain's Closest Encounters: Episode 1 (Google Video)
  • Britain's Closest Encounters: Episode 2 (Google Video)
  • UFO spotted by police helicopter (BBC)
  • Alien army (UK Sun)
  • Cops chase a UFO over Cardiff (UK Sun)
  • Hotel behind UFO 'fleet' mystery (BBC)
  • Richard Thomas is also a columnist for Alien Worlds magazine. Check it out !

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