Berwyn Incident : Article > [prev ¦1¦ 2 ¦ 3 ¦ 4 ¦ 5 ¦ 6 ¦ 7]


At 7.00am on 24th January VMRT, together with local police, searched the mountains. They found nothing and abandoned the search at 2.15pm, possibly following official notification that the ‘explosion’ had been caused by an earth tremor. Neither the police or VMRT logs mention any military involvement other than the RAF Mountain Rescue Team. Farmer’s son Huw Thomas was again out on the Berwyns that day, acting as guide for Ron Madison, a scientist who was working on the theory that a meteorite may have impacted. Madison and Thomas recall seeing no-one else on the mountain other than the police and VMRT. The intense media interest however led to various helicopters flying over the area throughout the week and Ron Madison used his contacts at RAF Valley to overfly the area in a plane to take a series of photographs.

But this low level of official activity wouldn’t account for reports of closed and guarded roads, the military presence, or for the aircraft and twin engined ‘copters seen overhead. Looking at the paper trail, none of the police, Mountain Rescue Team or British Geological Survey documents from 1974 mention this alleged military activity. In fact the only contemporary record of a military presence comes from the article in the Border Counties Advertiser which is the source of rumours of bodies being brought off the mountain. In looking for an explanation to this component of the story there are two crucial factors.

Firstly, none of the Berwyn Mountain Incident witnesses were formally interviewed by ufologists until at least twenty years after the event. And secondly there had been at least one other event in the locality which contained all those elements. On 12th February 1982 an RAF Harrier jet carrying top-secret equipment crashed on Cader Berwyn. The RAF descended on the area in force, using Gazelle and Wessex helicopters, together with Harrier and Hercules planes, in the search. The tiny village of Llandrillo was the centre for this activity and was alive with RAF trucks and personnel for several days. The crash site was sealed off and guarded until the wreckage could be removed. Additionally there was another crash of a military ‘plane, also carrying top secret equipment on the same mountain in 1972, two years before the alleged UFO crash. Again the area was sealed of with a large military presence. It is almost certain that these incidents, at the same time of year on the same mountain, were conflated with the 1974 events.

But, the believers in the crash of a genuine alien crash say, what about the military informants who came out of the woodwork in 1996 claiming intimate knowledge of and participation in the crash retrieval. Initially this strand of the story seemed promising. After all when ex-military men are speaking out surely there must be something in their story?

However these ‘military informants’ who contacted researchers Nick Redfern, Margaret Fry and Tony Dodd did so only after the story had been in a 1996 issue of UFO Magazine. They fuelled the controversy surrounding the story, offering much speculation but no verifiable fact. Redfern has recently told me that his informant’s telephone number is ‘dead’, whilst Dodd refuses to expand on the identity or veracity of his contact. A close reading of Dodd’s account throws up more questions than answers. If the military had obtained aliens, alive or dead, would they really ferry them by truck? Surely a helicopter would have been the fastest, most efficient and secret form of transport. Porton Down, the research establishment to which they were taken would hardly compromise security or contamination by opening the boxes in the presence of what were essentially the ‘delivery boys’. Until these ufologists can back their claims up with some substantial proof they remain unsubstantiated anecdotes, interesting but inconsequential to the solution of the case.

These ‘revelations’ came also at a time when several UK ufologists were being contacted by alleged ‘military sources’ offering secret UFO-related information, none of which amounted to anything tangible. Researcher Kevin McClure suggested that this was a well organised hoax, basing his suppositions on the number of contacts made within a short time-span and the absolute absence of hard proof.

APEN, the organisation which circulated pseudo-official documents following the Berwyn Incident are widely regarded by most serious ufologists to have been a hoax perpetrated by ufologists on ufologists. This sort of hoax is not new to the UFO community, the most famous of the hoaxed documents being the MJ-12 papers which fooled ufologists for over a decade.

Despite the wealth of evidence to the contrary, Jenny Randles is not convinced that the Berwyn Incident is completely solved. She cites the alleged anomalous radiation readings and the rumour of a leukaemia cluster as possible evidence that the incident may have involved a military accident involving perhaps a radioactive missile. Yet there are problems with Jenny’s interpretation. The radiation readings taken at the Moel ty Uchaf circle in 1974 were a one-off. To have any scientific relevance at all a series of geiger counter readings prior and subsequent to the 1974 event would be required. As for the alleged leukaemia cluster there is no evidence to support this. Enquiries at the records of the National Radiological Protection Board, Greenpeace, a former radiation monitor at the Trawsfynnyd Nuclear Power Station and the archives of local papers did not reveal so much as a hint of a leukaemia cluster.

That’s where the Berwyn case stands in 1999. There are still a few loose ends and uncertainties; the symmetry of any UFO case is rarely complete, especially when it is not properly investigated for twenty five years. But I think the account I have given is the best, dare I say it, ‘explanation’ for the disparate events which coalesced into the Berwyn Mountain UFO Crash. Of course, there are those who still to believe a UFO crashed and continue to insist that documents have been falsified, that witnesses have been misquoted and so on. That’s their prerogative and understandable in light of the complexities of the case and the power of belief in the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

My conclusions are based not on belief however but on the ‘paper trail’ left by police, RAF, VMRT and the BGS, and the pattern which has emerged from studying those sources is largely consistent with witness reports. So until some hard, consistent evidence is produced I think the notion that an alien spacecraft crashed in the Berwyn mountains is redundant.

It’s hard to believe that a concatenation of prolific meteor activity, an earth tremor and poaching activity could lead to the conclusion that a UFO had crashed. It did, and sometimes - often - the truth about a UFO case is far stranger than any fiction. Although I’ve been investigating mysteries for twenty years every case teaches something new or reinforces some basic principle. The Berwyn Mountain case taught me (again!) never to trust material originated by ufologists, but to always go back to source documents and witnesses, and try to reconcile the two. It also taught me (again!) about the flaws of perception and of the care needed in interpreting witness statements. However certain a witness may seem memory often combines disparate events and speculation into a convincing reality.
The indefatigable researcher and inspiration behind Fortean Times magazine, Charles Fort, had much to say about the connections - or non-connections - between earth tremors and meteorites.

And it may be that there are other, deeper factors at work in the Berwyn Incident. Perhaps earth tremors and bolide meteors are in some way connected by mechanisms at present outside our understanding. Or perhaps extraterrestrials have learned how to enter Earth’s atmosphere under cover of meteor showers, even disguised as meteors. The adventurous believer may even wish to accept that aliens may even have prescience of earth tremors and be able to effect a landing at exactly the same time. In lieu of hard facts the speculative possibilities are as endless as they are futile. On the other hand it could all be a gigantic cosmic coincidence, a tangle of belief and wishful thinking from which ufologists have spun yet another saga in the continuing extraterrestrial mythos.

© 2001 Andy Roberts

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