Being unable to see anyone or go anywhere (thank you Covid) has led my girlfriend and I to spend our weekends working on our collaborative novel. And since the novel is a sci-fi set in space with a ton of aliens, I thought I ought to get my head in aliens and space for this month’s article.
The Berwyn Mountain UFO incident has all the trappings of its more famous cousin, Roswell: the crash of an alien spacecraft, the recovery of alien bodies, and a government cover-up. I had actually planned to include the event in my in-progress novel, Million Eyes III, however the story has now taken a different turn. Taking place in Llandrillo, Wales, the incident was jokingly labelled ‘The Roswelsh Incident’ by tabloid newspapers and is often called Britain’s Roswell.
A glowing ball of light and ‘Men in Black’
On 23rd January 1974, at about 8.30pm, the residents of the villages of Llandrillo and Llandderfel were jolted by what sounded and felt like a huge explosion. Several villagers who ventured out to investigate reported seeing lights streaking across the sky over Cadair Berwyn, the highest peak in the Berwyn Mountains. Others saw a mysterious white glow appear on the mountainside for a few seconds.
One witness, a nurse named Pat Evans, feared that a plane had crashed and drove into the mountains to offer help. She saw what she described as a huge, glowing sphere of light on the mountainside, appearing to pulsate and change colour from red to yellow to white.
Over the next few days, police and military personnel turned up, roads were closed and the whole mountain cordoned off, and scientists were brought in. Several locals also reported visits from mysterious government officials keen to know what they had seen that night.
The authorities were quick to refuse that anything unusual had taken place, telling the public that the event was nothing more than an earthquake, combined with sightings of a meteor. But none of the explanations given could account for the totality of what was reported by witnesses. An earthquake and a meteor didn’t explain the glows and beams of light seen over the mountain and yet the witnesses’ accounts were swiftly dismissed as imaginations running wild, shooting stars or people out poaching hares with very bright torches. It also seemed unlikely that normal, natural phenomena would lead to roads and large areas of the mountainside being closed off by the military.
Radiation, leukaemia clusters and APEN official docs
A few days after the incident, researcher Paul Devereux says that his colleague, Keith Critchlow, attended the area and spoke with the scientists investigating the mountain. They had a Geiger counter with them that was giving off extraordinary readings on the slopes of Cadair Berwyn. Years later, ufologist Jenny Randles was approached by a science correspondent from the Sunday Express, who mentioned rumours that an unusual amount of children in the area had developed leukaemia in the years following the incident. Randles wondered if this and the off-the-charts radiation readings were evidence that whatever had crashed on the mountain, be it an alien craft or secret military hardware, was radioactive.
Within months of the event, UFO investigators in the north of England started receiving official-looking documents from a group called Aerial Phenomena Enquiry Network (APEN). These documents claimed that an alien spacecraft crashed on the Berwyn Mountains and was subsequently retrieved by an APEN crash retrieval team.
Alien bodies at Porton Down
Then came the alien bodies claims. An anonymous informant told veteran ufologist Tony Dodd that he was part of a military unit put on stand-by a few days before the Berwyn Mountain incident. After the incident, he and four others were dispatched to Llanderfel to collect “two large, oblong boxes” and take them to Porton Down, a UK government research facility.
When they got to Porton Down, Dodd’s informant reported that when the boxes were opened, he saw “two creatures which had been placed inside contamination suits”. He said they were both dead and “clearly not of this world”, describing them as “five to six feet tall, humanoid in shape but so thin they looked almost skeletal with covered skin”.
The military man also said that when he joined up with other members of the unit, they too said that they had transported “alien beings” to Porton Down but that “their cargo was still alive”.
Aliens or military experiments?
The same question has been asked about the Roswell incident. While many people have remained committed to the idea that aliens crashed in Roswell in 1947, others believe that the ‘alien bodies’ recovered were deformed humans suffering from a variety of conditions such as progeria. One claim is that the deformed humans were Japanese prisoners of war who’d been subjected to horrific experiments by the Japanese and rescued by the Americans, but that the aircraft carrying them crashed.
A similar claim could be made about the Berwyn Mountain incident. Even though Dodd’s informant said that the creatures he saw were “not of this world”, could it be that they were actually human bodies that had been subjected to experiments? According to his description, they weren’t that different to humans, just abnormally thin. Perhaps these experiments had sucked all the fat and muscle out of them…
But what really happened?
The official line from the Ministry of Defence remains that the incident was probably caused by the combined effects of an earthquake and a meteor. Because it wasn’t immediately identified as an earthquake, there had to be a police investigation. Scientists have said that the unusual lights reported may have simply been the meteor, but that they may also have included a phenomenon known as earthquake light.
The mysterious government officials who came to question villagers could well have been the team of investigators sent by the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh. Six of them came and conducted door-to-door enquiries.
As for the unusual radiation readings, researcher Andy Roberts said that these can only have scientific relevance if readings had been taken before the event as well as after it. With regard to the leukaemia cluster, Roberts said he found no evidence when re-investigating the Berwyn Mountain incident that there ever was one. And the APEN documents are now widely regarded by more serious ufologists as a hoax perpetrated by ufologists on ufologists.
Finally we have to consider the alien bodies claims of Tony Dodd’s informant. Andy Roberts said that claims like this came during a time when several ufologists were being contacted by alleged ‘military sources’ offering secret information that couldn’t be verified. Researcher Kevin McClure suggested that this might have been part of a very well-organised hoax but I’m actually wondering if this informant was one of the ‘Mirage Men’. The Mirage Men came to light long after Andy Roberts’ investigation and were actual government agents who infiltrated UFO circles and spun lies about aliens. Their purpose was to keep the focus off what the government was really doing, such as testing advanced technology. It means that when it comes to UFOs, there really was a government cover-up, just not the one we thought.
The question is, if Roberts’ informant was a Mirage Man, then what was the government really hiding on Cadair Berwyn that night?
Next month: the mystery of Dyatlov Pass