Wales has had more than its fair share of UFO encounters over the years. And that’s without even counting SuperTed. Read on for 10 of the weirdest…
In 1856 Ronald Rhys was walking home from his work as a farm labourer in the Vale of Neath, when he saw a strange light in a nearby field. It was making a whooshing noise and, being of good Welsh stock, Rhys went to investigate. The next thing he knew he was floating in the air, and after that his memories were patchy. Tiny people with swords collected his blood, and one being which was green with a bald head cut into his stomach and took out his organs.
When Ronald woke up he was lying in the field – and wandered back into work only to discover he had lost a full week. In common with many modern encounters, afterwards Rhys exhibited symptoms similar to radiation exposure. His’ skin was pink and scarred, and his hair was falling out. Even in the 1850s, the Welsh were being targeted…
Much more recently, a police helicopter gave chase to a UFO over Cardiff in the early hours of June 8th, 2008. Waiting for clearance to land at the St Athan Ministry of Defence base, the three man crew were shocked to see another craft hurtling towards them. The helicopter swerved sharply to avoid collision, before following it across the Bristol Channel as far as the North Devon coast, where dwindling fuel supplies forced the police to retreat.
Cardiff has long been a popular destination for visiting UFOs. In May 1909 ‘scareships’, strange oblong bodies whirring through the sky, were witnessed across the UK. Perhaps the most unusual sighting was that of a Mr C. Lethbridge. Sometime dock worker, sometime Punch and Judy purveyor, Lethbridge was pushing his Punch and Judy cart home via Caerphilly Mountain on Tuesday 16th May.
Lethbridge, while admitting he had had a ‘sleever’, maintained that he hadn’t been drunk when he came across the craft and two young men dressed in heavy fur coats and hats. On seeing him the men ‘jumped up and jabbered furiously to each other in a strange lingo – Welsh or something; it was certainly not English.’ They then got into ‘a kind of little carriage suspended from’ the craft, and rose into the air ‘in a zig-zag fashion’. Other witnesses to a strange craft in the sky were a railway signalman named Robert Westlake, the chauffer to Archdeacon Bevan in Brecon, and men working on the SS Arndale.
On Wednesday night the airship was sighted in Pontypool by everyone ranging from night shift workers at the town forge, to Mr Garth Fisher, ‘a well known local architect’, and similar sightings came in from Monmouth, Maesteg and even far north, in Aberystwyth. Contemporary explanations included advertising models, super advanced spy ships, and youthful pranks. None was completely satisfactory and by July Lethbridge, as he told the Evening Express, was ‘sick of the whole matter’.
No round-up of alien activity is complete without a mention of cattle mutilation. Or sheep mutilation, as is more common in mid-Wales, an area of the country largely made up of farmland. Woodside Farm in Bleddfa, Powys, has reported that around 20 ewes disappear without trace every year, and in 2011 Dyfed-Powys police even received a report that witnesses had seen a sheep taken aboard a UFO in Llanybydder.
More frightening are the rumours of human mutilation cases on Talybont Mountain in the Brecon Beacons. Reporter and UFO enthusiast Derek Gough was allegedly shown photographs of such cases – then received death threats and had his house mysteriously burn down. Gough turned the photographs over to DC Adams of the South Wales Police, who went from promises of an imminent arrest to claiming it had only been a prank. Gough eventually handed all his information over to Richard Hall, who made a NSFW documentary on it HERE.
One of the most famous victim of alien abduction in the UK is, arguably, Hilary Porter. First taken at the age of 5, Hilary says that she has been abducted so many times over the years she has now lost count. A stretch of road between Cardiff and Swansea is a particular hotspot; in September 1970 Hilary and her then husband were driving home from Ireland. As they approached the original Severn Crossing they blacked out, coming to to find themselves outside a garage on the outskirts of Cardiff. The petrol gauge hadn’t budged.
Flashbacks from that encounter troubled her for years, and it was 2009 before she finally drove the stretch of road again to visit a friend in Llanelli. The trip itself was uneventful, but Hilary was abducted from her bed during the night, waking in the morning with an unexplained black eye.
Hilary believes that aliens are specifically targeting Wales and the rest of the so called ‘Celtic Fringe’ because the genetic make up of its residents is more interesting. She told Wales Online, ‘They are trying to make alien human hybrids and it seems the genetic material of these [Celtic] races are more compatible.’ You can find out more about Hilary HERE and HERE.
Wales is something of a UFO hotspot – there have been over 100 reported sightings in South Wales alone since 2000. In July 2015 Darren Millar, Conservative AM for Clwyd West, raised the issue at the Senedd, asking if the Welsh government was going to do anything about it. The response he received read:
Or, for those of us who don’t read Klingon: ‘The minister will reply in due course. However this is a non-devolved matter.’ That’s what you get for boldly going, eh?
They can be a bit of a touchy subject, bringing up images of earth loving types stomping all over private property. But Wales was also the site of some early crop circles which deserve a mention. A number of circles were reported during WW2, when trampling corn for a ‘lark’ was certainly not advisable – evacuee Barry Smith was given a good thrashing on suspicion of having created a circle in Arddleen in 1941. Another early circle was reported by William Cyril Williams, who remembered seeing a circle form one August morning on his father’s farm in Cilycwm, Dyfed, in the late 1940s:
The area around the farm was surrounded by hills on all sides, and Mr Williams recalled that circles had been seen there ‘frequently’. As he watched on this occasion, in a matter of ‘only a couple of seconds or so the wheat fell down producing a sharp-edged circle 3 to 4 metres in diameter.’ Some of the earlier circles Mr Williams had seen had stalks still standing in their centres, but this one was completely flat. After 4 or 5 seconds the whirlwind died out completely. This story came to light after Mr Williams wrote a letter to the Sunday Mirror in 1991.
After the Ministry of Defence closed its UFO desk in 2009, its files were released to the public. Strange lights in the sky made up the bulk of reports, with examples coming from all over Wales. Although most have fairly mundane explanations, like aircraft lights or Chinese lanterns, others are harder to ignore. Pictured is a drawing of a craft seen by a family near Crumlin on May 9th 1998.
Forget the Bermuda Triangle, Wales has its own Broad Haven mystery. On February 4th 1977 a yellow cigar shaped craft is said to have landed in a field next to Broad Haven Primary School, witnessed by 14 pupils – 6 of whom saw a silver man with pointed ears. Frightened by the experience, one of the pupils told his parents that afternoon. They, in turn, contacted Randall Jones Pugh, a local BUFORA (British UFO Research Association) co-ordinator.
In the months following the encounter, further strange sightings poured in. In April, Rosa Granville, landlady of the Haven Fort Hotel in Little Haven was woken at 2:30am. From her window she could see what looked like an ‘upside down saucer’ and two ‘faceless humanoid’ creatures with pointed heads. When she went to inspect the area in the light of day, it was to find a patch of flattened grass. At Ripperston Farm the Coombs family were terrorised by aliens, culminating on the evening of April 23rd with a 7ft tall spaceman standing outside their living room window. Even my own mother is convinced she saw a flying saucer land and two bald men emerge while on a caravan holiday in nearby Haverfordwest at around the same time.
Although many felt the sightings were linked in some way to the nearby RAF Brawdy, the Ministry of Defence – though carrying out discreet inquiries – denied all knowledge. One of the schoolboy witnesses similarly discredited the idea that it was a farm vehicle, pointing out that they all came from farming backgrounds. Some sightings of a lone humanoid in a spacesuit may well have been Glyn Edwards, dressed up to make the most of the atmosphere of fear, as he admitted to the Western Mail in 1996. The other sightings remain unexplained…
January 23rd, 1974, and an explosion measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale was felt across the Berwyn Mountains area in north Wales at about 8:30 pm. Tremors frightened people in the villages of Landrillo and Llandderfel into congregating outdoors, and a brilliant light was seen in the sky, with lights of other colours over the mountain. Fearing an aircraft crash, a search and rescue team was scrambled from RAF Valley on Anglesey. It, like the search organised by local police, found nothing.
At least not officially.
Because the Berwyn Mountain Incident is Wales’ answer to Roswell: it is often claimed to have been the site of a UFO crash and its subsequent cover up. It’s even suggested that bodies were carried away from the site. A nurse named Pat Evans saw a UFO with flashing lights, but discredited suggestions that she turned back at the order of the military, police, or that she saw any aliens in the 1990s. Some suspect that she was paid to change her story. Some residents recall a large police and military presence – though outsiders maintain they are confusing 1974 with 1982, when a military aircraft crashed into the mountainside. Either way, outside police presence was on the scene very quickly.
Veteran UFOlogist Tony Dodd was very interested in the case, and in the 1990s claimed that he had a military source who had seen the humanoid corpses from Berwyn after they had been removed to Porton Down in Wiltshire. His colleagues, said the source, had transported live beings. There is a really comprehensive write up of the case HERE, building on Dodd’s assertions.
Strange lights were also spotted in Manchester, Norfolk, Edinburgh, Sussex and Somerset that night, lights which astronomical researchers ascribe to bolide meteors. Other natural phenomena have been put forward to explain the events of the night, as has a possible military operation called Photoflash due to take place in the area. This 2001 write up by Andy Roberts digs more thoroughly into the case against.
Whatever the truth of the matter, it doesn’t look like the Berwyn Mountain Incident is going to lose its status as the jewel in the crown of Welsh UFOlogy any time soon!