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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

What Landed At Gatton?

The following is taken from Some More Things Strange & Sinister

    On a quiet Sunday afternoon the last thing you ought to expect is to become embroiled in yet another UFO mystery.  Well, unless you are me that is. 

    In February, 2004, I answered the telephone to find it was Squadron Leader “Colin Tarr”, who had been an associate of Air Vice Marshall Sir Victor Goddard and Admiral of the Fleet Lord Peter Hill-Norton, and knew as much about the AOP Bureau as I did –and then some. I had never met Tarr nor spoken to him but he knew all the case reports we had sent to the Ministry of Defence as well as about reports that never got submitted officially.  When he initially contacted me I had thought it a hoax but he’d proven his connections easily.  For that reason when he asked “Fancy hearing something interesting?” I was interested but replied “I am retired now,you know” which got a loud laugh followed by “No such thing, old boy!”

    I was told that something unusual had happened in 1999 near to a place called Gatton, in Shropshire.  Some rough details were given but I pointed out that what I was being told amounted to not much at all.  “Wait a day or so and you’ll be contacted by a field officer –he’ll give you the details.” 

    Surprisingly, the person who contacted me I already knew so it wasn’t long before I had all the pieces.

    Around September 1999*, at approximately 15:15 hours and in good, clear daylight, a large number of observers including hill-walkers, horse-riders and botanist Nora Hill, saw a low-level flying discoidal object.  Walkers on Stiper Stones,were able to look down at the object as it passed and reported that the top of it looked “like mother of pearl.”  Colouration –possibly markings?—were reported.  The object was seen to land “heavily” and remained on the ground for some 6-7 minutes before ascending into the air and flying off.

    Looking at the information later supplied to me helped to conclude that there may have been a strong electro-magnetic field present because particles kicked up by the object created a circle around it.

    This would just have been another “UFO landing” had it not been for what happened next.   A local RAF man had mentioned that a team had been to the area to check things out and talk to some witnesses.  The RAF man immediately asked the Field Officer not to mention this, however, when another officer mentioned the team it was considered an “open fact”.

    The Field Officer contacted the base in question –MoD Boscombe Down. The MoD Boscombe Down is an aircraft testing site located south of Amesbury, Wiltshire. And it is run and managed by QinetiQ; the company created as part of the break-up of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency in 2001 by the UK Ministry of Defence. It is the home of the Empire Test Pilots' School.

    At the time of the Gatton landing it was known as RAF Boscombe Down and since 1939 had evaluated aircraft for the British armed forces and a lot more.  The Field Officer identified himself and requested confirmation that a team had been sent to Shropshire.  There was a delay as someone else was passed on to field the call.  This person   asked a few questions and then stated: “We don’t just send people out anywhere you know.  We are a busy establishment and I can’t recall anyone mentioning Gatton.”  After an apology for not being able to help the conversation ended.

    The Field Officer told me that it had been very interesting because:”I never once mentioned Gatton –just an incident in Shropshire!”  Made me wonder.

    But then came the task of talking to people.  For this the Field Officer called on a well known local man who had worked with Customs and Excise as well as the police and passed on local UFO reports, James Green.  While the Field Officer was talking to Mr. Green, a warden responsible for the area in question, the phone rang.  The caller identified himself as “Dr. David Clark, Sheffield University” –as it was a speaker phone the Field Officer confirmed this.  Mr. Green was asked whether he could investigate the incident and pass all the  data along to an address [a Post Office Box as it turned out]?  Mr. Green agreed, though he was suspicious as ‘Dr. Clark’ had mentioned knowing that he’d visited the site.

    The RAF team who had visited the site were reported to Mr. Green who had not been contacted and vehicles had crossed land without permission.  A Wing Commander who would not give his name but claimed to be from the Flight Investigation Unit, Boscombe Down, denied Mr. Green access to the area and stated that it was “for public safety”.

    Green, and others, watched as coverall suited men began sanitising the area; picking up anything that was not going into “odd looking vacuum cleaner style devices”.  A couple of other men were using devices that could not be clearly seen.  Site integrity was maintained until they had finished and with a “thank you” they drove off.

    All of this was duly noted down.  The odd thing was that the object, according to all the witnesses, was far too small to have been manned.

    When I later spoke to Dr. David Clark, at Sheffield University, he was brief and to the point: he had never heard of the Gatton incident and had certainly not contacted Mr. Green.  That was that.  

 Incidentally,there is no one else based at Sheffield University called “Clark”/”Clarke” with an interest in UFOs.  A request had been placed in with the report Mr. Green sent to the address given which stated that there was “something” that he didn’t want to put into writing so could he meet Dr. Clark?

    He never received a response.

    We could all speculate on who the caller might have been but it really was not important to the incident.  I checked around, the Field Officer checked around and even Mr. Green tried his bit but we all reached a dead-end.  One UFO group did claim that they were told “small bodies were removed and flown off in a helicopter” but this was pure fantasy.

    To my mind, once everything had been collated, it was quite clear what had come down in Gatton and then flown away.  A Remotely Piloted Vehicle [RPV].  The size and details seemed right and similar devices had been tested for assessment as battlefield intelligence gatherers.  This was probably a far more up-to-date device than the one that created a huge UFO stir when it was sighted by a trainee pilot and instructor over Blackbush,Hampshire in the 1980s: that device had originated at Boscombe Down.

    I sent everything to Squadron Leader Tarr and washed my hands of the whole affair.  Why had I been contacted to look into a “possible UFO incident” if it was known from the start what the object was?  To confuse the issue –or to find out whether anyone had spotted something that might give a clue to why it temporarily landed?

    One thing I learnt with the AOP Bureau was that sometimes we were given leads that led to non-UFO events and the data we gathered was obviously useful to someone.  So, if you read of a “UFO crash” in 1999, at Gatton,Shropshire, you know what it really was!

 *It has been requested,for a specific reason,that the exact date is not given and I have agreed.

NB:sadly,since writing this chapter I have heard that Mr. Green has passed away.

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