Saturday, 29 June 2019

The Broad Haven Triangle

The Broad Haven Triangle

Over the years I have heard this story dozens of times, and that's a conservative estimate. Any time UFOs came up as a topic of conversation my mum would tell me about her own otherworldly sighting back in the 1970s. To tell the truth I was always kind of dismissive. Aliens? Yeah, right. And just how good would the memory of a kid on holiday be, anyway? It was far more likely to have been a nightmare that only became more vivid with the retelling.

Later, in my twenties, I first heard of the Broad Haven Mystery. The Dyfed Enigma. Welsh Triangle. Whatever you want to call it, the bare bones of the incident involved over twenty children and school staff witnessing a strange craft and being at Broad Haven Primary School in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. Picked up by BBC Newsround, a news and current affairs programme aimed at children, the story quickly went international.


Throughout 1977 people in Broad Haven and the surrounding area were plagued with sightings of UFOs, strange lights, and weird looking men who inspired feelings of intense terror.

I knew my mum had been on a caravan holiday in the general area when she had her sighting, from memory I assumed somewhere in Haverfordwest, and started to wonder if it had been inspired by the media attention given to the activity in Broad Haven. I even mentioned it in passing when working on research for an April 2016 blog post - 10 Weird Welsh UFO Encounters - though most of our discussion then centred on the Berwyn Mountain Incident.

Anyway, always in need of stuff to blog about, and getting into the Halloween spirit by whiling away a few hours on the Fortean Times messageboards, I suggested back in October that I write up my mum's sighting in as much detail as she could remember. As soon as we sat down to talk about it I was surprised to hear her bring up Broad Haven straight off the bat, telling me that during the 40th Anniversary coverage in 2017 she had seen the children's original drawings of their sighting on the BBC and realised, in her own words, 'that's what I saw!'

Broad Haven Primary School UFO Sighting
Apparently the closest match is the picture second from left in the middle row.

Furthermore, the location of the caravan site they were staying at was much closer than I had assumed. In fact, as best as my mum's memory can tell, it was actually at Broad Haven Holiday Park. Less than a mile from the village primary school, the park is a popular static caravan site, today boasting around 175 caravans. Although not quite as neatly laid out back in the 1970s, the general look hasn't much changed, and aerial photographs on the park's website from the time suggest the number of caravans was roughly similar too.

It was in this unlikely setting that my mum had her very own close encounter of the third kind...




(A/N: So, right from the start, there are some issues over specifics - it was a long time ago, and mum was just a kid at the time. My grandparents are sadly no longer here to be asked questions about it, but my uncle remembers the holiday well, including my mum telling him about her sighting. They both felt it was likely 1977, but stressed that it could have been '76 or '78. Until I can corroborate either way, I'll stick with summer 1977.)

Reeves Family, early 1970s
Tony, John, Jane, Iris, and Wendy (front) Reeves, c. 1971.

In 1977 my mum was 10 years old. It was either the last week of July or the first week of August, and the family had decamped en masse from Cwmbran, Gwent to Broad Haven in the county of Dyfed. They went to Broad Haven Holiday Park fairly often, staying in a caravan they rented from relatives - possibly my nan's sister Mary and her husband, Jack. Another of her sisters, Joanie, was also with them, though she was renting a separate caravan with children, Paul and Karen.

Meanwhile my mum was sharing with her parents (Iris (46) and John (47), older siblings Tony (14) and Hazel (22), and Hazel's husband Jeff and their son Lee (6). That night my grandparents were sleeping on the sofas in the main living space of the caravan, with mum and Lee sharing the nearby table-turned-bed. It was late. Late enough that everyone else was asleep and the lights from neighbouring caravans were all out, leaving nothing but a few lamps to guide the way to the park's toilet block.

Mum says she was woken by either a light or a humming sound. At first she thought the light might have been lightening - a big childhood fear - so she tried to look out the window for reassurance. The side window above the table only looked out onto next door's caravan, so there was nothing for it but to get out of bed and look through the main window at the end of the caravan. The curtains were all wide open because my nan refused to stay in a room with them shut, claiming it made her feel claustrophobic.

What she saw through that window would stay with her forever.

Broad Haven Caravan Park in the 1970s
The red dot marks the spot! Aerial view of Broadhaven Holiday Park, c. 1970s.

My mum isn't 100% sure this is the right direction, but she is certain that they were in a caravan close to one end of the field, while what she saw was at the other end. It was a disc shaped craft with a dome on top, reminiscent of a "Jetsons bubble car" but the dome wasn't transparent, and had no visible legs. The craft was dullish grey, kind of gunmetal, and lit up but not brilliantly so, a kind of dull white glow from lights around the perimeter of the main disc. It was about the size of a car, length wise, but circular. In terms of height, it was a bit higher than a car, but not as high as a caravan roof.

As she looked at the craft two figures appeared. There was no visible doorway; one moment they weren't there, the next they were. The two 'men' had bald heads which glinted in the moonlight, and though humanoid there was something about them that told her they weren't human. Their arms were slightly longer, the men themselves were short. Not massively smaller than the norm, but still noticeably so. Their skin was kind of mottled. Waxy maybe, but not quite slimy. She didn't see their faces, even when they turned around she could make out no distinct facial features, and had no memory of them having pointed ears.

There was no silver spacesuit, but the way they were dressed still seemed strange in some way. Her impression was that they changed as they came out of the craft, altering their appearance to better fit in with us - so nobody would suspect what they were doing. They wore light coloured (possibly grey) straight legged trousers or jeans, something that seemed odd at a time when flares were the norm. They also wore red plaid 'lumberjack' shirts with fine black lines; it made her think that maybe they thought they had landed in America.

WendyWendy Reeves
Mum, c. 1977

Terrified, mum tried to wake my nan up, especially when the men started walking away from their craft. They peered into the windows of the first and second caravans from their craft, in the same row as the caravan mum was staying in, each shining beams of light though they weren't holding anything. In fact, she couldn't make out hands at all. As they moved closer, one struggling to peer over the bottoms of the caravan window frames while the other tried the handle of the side doors, mum became scared that my grandparents would wake up. If they went outside to confront them, the strange men might take them away.

With that in mind she closed the curtains so they couldn't look in and went back to bed, hiding under the covers, only to realise that she hadn't checked if the door was locked. They were only 7 caravans or so away. After racing over to check it she went back to hiding under the covers, trying not to breathe too loud lest they heard it. Somebody tried the door handle, the noise sending new waves of terror, but making her glad she had got up and checked it.

Eventually she fell asleep, only to wake up to my nan demanding to know who had closed the curtains, under the impression it had been done specifically to annoy her. Mum told her brother and parents; my nan told her she must have had a nightmare. My granddad commented that if it was only a dream, why were all the curtains closed? Nothing more was said on the subject, but she and Tony later went to look for marks or indentations in the grass, finding nothing.

Of course, it could have been a simple nightmare. It could have been brought on by contemporary news coverage of the paranormal activity around Broad Haven - continue reading for more on that - although mum doesn't remember hearing about it until the 2000s. Whatever it was, mum still swears to this day that it wasn't a dream, and the men she saw weren't human.



Before we continue - a note on sources:

As usual, it wasn't enough for me to just write this thing up and leave it alone. I quickly fell into a rabbit hole of research, getting bogged down in inconsequential details and wasting hours of my life trying to determine things like which film was being shown when a farming family looked up at the window to see a 'spaceman' staring back at them. You know, the really important stuff.

My chief narrative sources were Peter Paget's 'The Welsh Triangle', and Clive Harold's 'The Uninvited', both of which were originally published in 1979. Even the protagonist of Harold's book, Pauline Coombs, admitted the account was "jazzed up" for publication, and some of the more outlandish claims have been ridiculed. Paget, while forming close relationships with the Coombs and Glanvilles, doesn't seem to have kept clear notes. He gets dates, times and names wrong, and his accounts often differ in one aspect or another from every other interview a witness has done. (E.g. x was woken up according to everybody bar Paget, who says x was already awake.) The discrepancies are rarely major, but it is something to be aware of.

When it comes to timelines and specifics I mostly relied upon Randall Jones Pugh's BUFORA reports. Pugh was a recently retired vet in 1977 and was well known to the people of Broad Haven, to the point parents contacted him first rather than police or the media. He published his own book on the events, The Dyfed Enigma, in 1979 - but as time passed Pugh had a change of heart. After a series of personal experiences he found "too frightening to talk about" he decided that UFOs were truly demonic entities sent by the devil, and so burned all his notes and slides. You can see him talking about this a few years before his death in 2003 on YouTube.

Beyond a few other books and documentaries, I've scoured the net for anything and everything else I could get my grubby hands on!



The Broad Haven Mystery

Broad Haven - ©Copyright Tony Atkin http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4168323

Broad Haven is a quaint little village in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, with a population of about 850. Its principle claim to fame is as a seaside resort; just six miles from the county town of Haverfordwest, Broad Haven has been catering to holidaymakers since at least the Victorian era. For those who resided there year round in 1977 employment centred around the tourist trade, farming, and the nearby oil refineries.

There were also close links with RAF Brawdy (now Cawdor Barracks), which in 1977 was home to a tactical weapons unit and neighboured an American 'Oceanographic Research Centre' employing some 300 US Navy personnel. Although top secret at the time, it is now well known that USNF Brawdy was one of a number of stations monitoring hydrophones (undersea microphones) to track Soviet submarines. The site was deactivated in 1995 and the Americans relocated to the Joint Maritime Facility at St. Mawgan in Cornwall.

USNF Brawdy
USNF Brawdy, a facility that cost the USA £80 million, opened in 1974. You can read more about it HERE.

What this meant was that while Broad Haven was deemed to be firmly in the firing line of potential Soviet attacks, it was all but unknown to the British public at large.

That was about to change.

On Friday February 4th 1977, during lunchtime at Broad Haven Community Primary School, a group of boys - Michael Webb (10), David Ward (10), and Shaun Garrison - playing football saw a strange cigar shaped object land in a field beyond the school grounds. Shaun remembered: "It was flattish and had 10 or 11 windows and a door with a runway leading from the door and it was silver." David added: "He wasn’t a very tall person, and he didn’t look very nice either."

Michael said: "it was silver and a cigar shape with a big dome and a red light flashing on top ... We couldn’t believe it at first. One of the boys ran down the hill to tell Sir, but he didn’t believe it. I watched it for between three and five minutes. It had a flashing red light and I’m sure it was a spaceship. It definitely wasn’t a helicopter. Everyone is sure that they saw something. It seemed cigar-shaped with a large dome on the top. I was frightened when I saw it."

Broad Haven Community Primary School

Philip Rees (10) remembered: "Shaun and David [Ward] came running in and said that there was something there. So me and some other boys went up to the top of the playing field. We saw something silver and disc-shaped. There seemed to be a door opening from the object. David Davies [sic, presumably meaning Ward] and Tudor Jones saw a figure. They said it was silver. The object had a dome on top of it, with a light. It was a very dull day, but I did see something." Philip's first sighing was at about 1:30pm, and he claimed the UFO was still there when he went back into school at 2pm. "My friends and I asked the headmaster to have a look at the object, but he refused. A couple of my friends saw movement of a figure, but I did not. I was frightened. Two friends, Tudor and David, were very frightened."

Jeremy Passmore (9) also saw the UFO during lunch break: "I saw the UFO when it was dinner time. It was silvery green and it had a yellowy orange to red colour light. It was a disc at the bottom and a sort of dome on the top with the light on top. It was about 300 yards away. It moved a minute and then disappeared. It did have a noise, but I didn’t hear it. We felt very scared. David George wanted someone to go to the toilet with him. Tudor Jones was nearly crying because he was scared he was going to be disintegrated or something so we all rushed in. Some of our school did not believe us. We tried to make them believe us but they would not." In answer to specific questions from Peter Paget, Jeremy stated that the sighting lasted not less than 5 minutes, the object was on the ground, and he saw a "person" in a silverish suit about 350 yards away.

David R. George (9) saw both the object and the humanoid. Initially after 1.00pm and then again at 3.35pm. He stated that the object was huge and silver-coloured. It was shining and humming, and looked like a saucer with a point. He saw the occupant who was silver suited, and whose features were not seen apart from "odd long" ears. He also said that one boy was so frightened that he cried.

Tudor Owen Lloyd Jones (10) didn't deny his terror. He reported seeing an object at ground level, behind a bush, and stated that he saw a "man" which lead to him becoming very scared.

Broad Haven Primary School Playground
The boys show their headteacher where they saw the UFO.

Paul Williams was seemingly also with this group and recalled: "We saw something come out of it. It had a helmet. We ran and told Sir and when we went back it wasn’t there." Other children known to have seen the craft were Martin Evans, Michael George, Andrew Lewis, Andrew Evans, and Lesley Neohorn.

As the day progressed the craft moved along the perimeter of the field, witnessed by children and members of staff.

Today the figure most associated with the school sightings is David Davies, as the only one of the children still willing to talk openly to the media. Then aged 10, Davies wasn't part of the other boys' friendship group and recounts that as the weather was bad that day he stayed indoors during break, only hearing about the UFO when classes resumed after lunch. Deciding he would debunk these rumours when school let out at 3:30pm, Davies walked to the top of the playing field and saw nothing but Philip Rees and others trying to get a closer look.

As the other boys trailed off, and determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, he figured he'd climb over the fence and go through the small stream to see this spot. He was only halfway over the fence when he saw it, hovering above the ground. About 45 foot long. Iridescent silver finish. A central dome covered the middle third, with a slowly pulsating red light. The sighting lasted about ten seconds with the craft hovering - perhaps trying to take off - before disappearing back below the tree line.

Davies says he felt no fear, only amazement. His instinct was to stay and look, yet he couldn't overcome a strong urge to run away like his life depended on it. It was as though the suggestion had been placed in his head and there was nothing he could do but obey. When he reached the front of the school he got into his taxi and went home, where his mother could see he was agitated.

Class teacher Mrs Morgan later said:  "I saw it too, you know. It was real! When they went, a little whirlwind of dust came across the playground. It was almost as if they were saying goodbye."

At 4:50pm David Davies' mother rang Randall Jones Pugh, a local BUFORA (British UFO Research Association) co-ordinator, who she knew well as he had only recently retired as the local vet and was also the brother-in-law of the owner of the farm they were living on. Pugh drove straight over to their home in Tiers Cross to interview David, and they then went back to the school to see the field but by now it was 6pm, dark, and raining heavily. They tried again the following day, this time with Andrew Lewis and Western Telegraph (the local newspaper) journalist Hugh Turnbull in tow.

Although they searched the area thoroughly they could find no physical evidence on the ground, possibly as a result of the rain the previous night. A nearby telegraph pole however was found to be damaged, with the crossbeam hanging at an angle. When Peter Paget began his investigation in July, he interviewed the boys and their parents, and was taken to see the landing site which he described in some detail:

'Guided by two of the boys, I visited the exact spot over which the craft had been seen. The hillside behind us was quite steep, very uneven and muddy and, I thought, inaccessible to anything but a tractor. We were in a smallish field hemmed in by high trees and traversed by a 450-volt sub-station power line supported on wooden poles. No helicopter pilot in his right mind would come down here, and access by a light aircraft could not possibly have avoided a complete disaster. One of the boys pointed out a particular power-line pole, which, he stated, the UFO had at one point touched. He indicated where the cross-T-piece metal was bent, and indeed it was out of true on this side by about thirty degrees. A little to the left, a substantial branch on one of the trees was strangely discoloured, the leaves being more yellow than on the rest of the trees. “Most of the other children won’t come here anymore,” stated my guide, “as they say it’s haunted now.” (I noted that this implied that he was braver than the rest.) A short distance away the headmaster, Mr Llewhellin, had interviewed all the children separately and also collectively afterwards and then asked them to go away into different rooms and independently draw what they had seen.'

Broad Haven Primary School UFO Sketches

By Monday morning word of the sighting had spread and the boys' headteacher, Ralph Llewellyn, decided to do some investigating of his own. He interviewed each of the children, then had them go into different rooms and independently draw what they had seen. He said: "Their stories were the same and have remained the same. At my age, I’m naturally sceptical, but I’m convinced that they saw something. I do not believe primary school children are capable of a sustained, sophisticated hoax. The thread which appears to run through their stories is that the object was a silvery-yellow cigar shape with a dome and possibly a light on top."

Hugh Turnbull decided to run with the story in the Western Telegraph that Monday (Feb 7th) too: "…the flying saucer was first seen at lunchtime on Friday (Feb 4th 1977), behind a bush about 300 yards from the school. Most of the children give the object a classical saucer shape, though others have drawn it looking more like a pudding, or even a cigar. Some accounts give it a dome and windows; others say it had a flashing light. The children say it disappeared and re-appeared from time to time. It was seen by other pupils during the afternoon break and immediately after school. Six of the youngsters say they saw a spaceman with the saucer. He was dressed in the same silvery grey colour as his saucer and – according to some witnesses – had pointed ears like Mr. Spock."

BBC Newsround featured the story that afternoon, including a short telephone interview with Ralph Llewellyn. Media interest quickly intensified with articles appearing in newspapers around the country - and further afield - until in the absence of a secretary to help deal with enquiries Mr Llewellyn had to leave the school telephone off the hook.

Western Mail article from February 9th

School administrator, Liz Philpot, was sure the boys must have seen a sewage vehicle from the works located just behind the field where the craft had been sighted. She went to ask the manager but he told her it couldn't have been; they had no vehicles in the area that day and it was so boggy anyway that it would have been pretty much impossible for one to get down onto that field, let alone back off again. It has often been suggested over the years that the craft must have been a slurry tanker or a downed aircraft from RAF Brawdy, but this ignores the fact that, given the locale, the boys were all very familiar with agricultural equipment and RAF aircraft.

Although Broad Haven received the most media attention, other schools in the vicinity also had their own close encounters of the third kind. On Friday 4th, while the Broad Haven boys were trying to convince their headteacher to come and take a look, around 20 children at Hubberston Primary School - about 7 miles away in Milford Haven - saw a "cigar shaped object" hovering over the playground.

On the 10th, Mark Jones (12) and Llewellyn Edwards (12), saw a blue flashing light about 40 yards away while they were playing in a field near Haverfordwest Grammar School which is about 6 miles away from Broad Haven. The boys threw a stone at it which sent it rushing off at high speed. As it did so, an orange cigar-shaped object, about 15 feet long materialised beneath it. The UFO then hovered for a while before vanishing. The boys were so shook up by the sighting they ran to report the incident at the police station. Police drove them back to the field but could find no sign of it.

Further afield, children at Ysgol Rhosybol on Anglesey (about 170 miles away), spotted a UFO on the following Friday, February 11th. Nine girls and their teacher, Mrs Williams, were outside playing netball when a strange object appeared in the sky. Williams had the girls all draw a picture of what they had seen, and each of them drew a cigar shaped object with a black dome. In 2009 one of the girls, Gwawr Jones, was the subject of a S4C documentary on the sighting. She said: "I remember that it was a cold winter’s day, and that the sky was clear. ... We all saw it. We went back into school, and we all made a picture of what we had seen. We did them individually, and when we studied them we realised that they were all remarkably similar. The object travelling across the sky had a shiny base with a dark domed top. Later, we also made a model of what we saw. Our headmaster contacted RAF Valley to check if there had been low flying aircraft in the area, but there hadn’t been. There was no explanation for what we saw."

Ysgol Rhosybol pupils recreate 1977 newspaper photo of their UFO sighting in 2009
Gwawr and her fellow witnesses recreated a contemporary newspaper photo with a model of the UFO they saw.

On February 17th a teacher at Broad Haven Primary saw the craft return. She wanted to stay anonymous, but told Randall Jones Pugh: "On leaving school something caught my eye. I stopped and could see a large object, oval shaped with a slight dome. Colour: shining metal. I also noted ridges and stepped back intending to call someone, and then heard a humming noise and watched the object slide away to the left, in a field amongst some trees. I know the area very well as I have frequently walked there. The time was approximately 10:30am and it was pouring with rain. Distance about 200 yards."

Later that same day two dinnerladies saw it, with one claiming a figure climbed into the craft before it moved off up the slope and disappeared behind some trees. They decided that it must have been a council sewage truck, and went to tell the headmaster that they had solved the UFO mystery. Ralph Llewellyn told them it was too boggy. The following morning the women visited the spot with their husbands, determined to prove Llewellyn wrong... They quickly found themselves in a foot deep bog.

As the days passed those close to the boys only became more convinced of their story. Michael Webb's father, Tim Webb, was a Squadron Leader overseeing the advanced instruction of fighter pilots at RAF Brawdy’s Tactical Weapons Unit. He told Peter Paget: "I believe him implicitly. I’ve yet to see a UFO, but I think there has to be something supernatural or paranormal." He went on to opine that it was logical any extraterrestrial 'visitors would use a matt silver finish' because it was better for heat absorption and camouflage.

Even when press coverage turned from incredulous to ridicule, the boys stood by their story. In 1995 Ralph Llewellyn told the Western Telegraph that he was still unsure of what the thing was, but didn't doubt the children were being honest. In the late 1990s journalist Ray Gosling tracked down some of the kids and interviewed them, finding that they all stuck by their version of events.



Although the children were the face of the 'Welsh Flap', they were not the only ones seeing strange things in the area. Reports of strange lights in the sky were commonplace at Haverfordwest Police Station, and the archives show that there were plenty of reports to BUFORA and other agencies during late 1976 and early 1977. Some people had more intense experiences - read on for accounts of the major sightings associated with the Broad Haven case.

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RAF BRAWDY PERIMETER FENCE

On March 13th Stephen Taylor (17) saw lights in the sky at about 9pm, after walking his girlfriend home in Pen-y-Cwm. He called on some friends who thought he was joking when he mentioned the strange object, then continued on home alongside the perimeter fence of the American installation at RAF Brawdy. He noted a black shape obscuring the lights from a nearby farmhouse. "It looked about 40 to 50 feet across. I noticed a dim glow around what seemed to be the underside." He leaned against a gate to observe it, thinking perhaps it was a new silo, and lit a cigarette.

Map showing position of Penycwm in relation to Broadhaven

Suddenly he heard a noise 'like someone stepping on dry leaves' and looked to his right to see a terrifying figure dressed in a silver spacesuit with its face visible. It had a kind of box over its mouth, with a long dark tube going over its shoulder. "He was like a skinny human and about 6 feet tall. I noticed high cheekbones, like an old man's, and large eyes like a fish's - round and sort of glazed. I took a swing at it, and fled. I don't know whether I hit it. I never looked back, but kept on running 'til I got home."

When he got in, Stephen recalled that his pet dog - a normally affectionate pomeranian - was very upset and "it's hair was standing on end." This sighting has the highest potential, imo, to be part of the purported pranking done by members of the fire team stationed at the US Naval Facility in Brawdy.

In 2007 James Carlson from Albuquerque, New Mexico, wrote into the Fortean Times. He was stationed at the US Naval Facility in Brawdy in the 1980s, and in his letter he described how a colleague named Steve saw him reading a book about paranormal incidents. The book quoted a RAF officer - maybe investigating officer Flt Lt Cowan - who stated that descriptions of the 'alien' suits were in no way similar to contemporary military uniforms or protective clothing used at the local oil refineries.

Fire Proximity Suits
Fire proximity suits and breathing apparatus might have passed for a spacesuit...

Steve, however, told Carlson that the fire fighting gear used by American military personnel on the base was very similar: "Steve told me that while serving on the fire team of his division, he would often don the asbestos suit and oxygen breathing apparatus provided. Fire preparation drills, even those conducted at night would require members of the fire team to search the areas around the base, and Steve claimed that during these drills he became responsible for two of the alien sightings."

dividing line

Lower Broadmoor Farm

On Saturday March 26th, 7:50am, Mrs Josephine Hewison saw a flying saucer resting on the grass in their front garden from an upstairs window at Lower Broadmoor Farm. She told Peter Paget in summer 1977: "It was silver coloured, about 50 foot across the base and shaped like a jelly mould. It was as high as a double-decker bus. The greenhouse [it was parked alongside] is 13 feet to the eaves but this towered above it. There was no movement; it had no visible windows or openings. I waited for something to emerge. It didn't. It went after ten minutes. It left no mark, not even a broken twig."

Lower Broadmoor Farm by Dara Jasumani https://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/2976
Lower Broadmoor, an 800 acre dairy farm about 3 miles from Broad Haven.

In a more detailed account to Randall Pugh Jones she said: "It was in 3 tiers. It seemed to be round but when you see a thing in cross-section I suppose you can never be sure. There was a definite dome to start with and then a central portion. But there seemed to be a rounded ridge if you know what I mean, between the layers. [Like a Rowntree's jelly?] Yes, rather like a jelly. When I described it to the children I said it looked rather like a squashed jelly mould... which really it did. It was a smooth aluminium coloured, bulbous shape.

It was pretty well as high as the greenhouse - 15 feet maybe - and about double in the greenhouse in width - which would have made it 35 to 40 feet wide. It was obscuring the whole of the greenhouse door, the greenhouse door is about 18 feet wide, and it was probably twice that width. [There was no sound?] No but we had the milking machine on at the time, and that can be quite noisy."

Mrs Hewison watched it for about two minutes, then went to wake up the kids to see it. By the time she got back, within the minute, it was gone. They looked for marks but there was nothing to see: "It was impossible to see anything. The tractors had been back and forth because they'd been planting potatoes."

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HAVEN FORT HOTEL

Having already seen strange lights in the sky a few nights previously, on April 19th, Mrs Rosa Glanville - proprietress of the Haven Fort Hotel, Little Haven - was woken at about 2:30am by strange noise and lights. (A/N: Paget's 'The Welsh Triangle' states that Rosa was awake and about to go to bed, and stressed that 'There was absolutely no sound. In fact, an uncanny silence prevailed over the area.') Her daughter Francine, who was in Spain at the time of the sighting, recalled in 2016 that "it was early morning and mum was woken by a buzzing noise, she thought she'd left the gas boiler on. Once downstairs she realised the noise was from outside. She looked out and saw about 100 feet away an oval object she could only describe as a 'space craft' with lights, slowly land and two figures emerge in silver suits. She was terrified because the figures, although reminiscent of men, had exceptionally long arms and legs. Their heads were covered by helmets. She called them creatures."

Haven Fort Hotel from Rightmove
Haven Fort Hotel, Little Haven - currently up for sale!

Speaking to the BBC in 2007, Rosa said: "It was a bit like an upside-down saucer - it looked like a jelly to start with. There was so much heat - I was by the window - my face felt burned. There was light coming from it and flames of all colours. Then [the creatures] came out of these flames, that's what I don't understand. I shouted 'Hello, what are you doing there' - they looked faceless. I couldn't see their features." To Paget in 1977 she said: "They looked like human beings, and yet they didn't. They seemed to be trying to measure something." In this account one of the figures stood and looked up at her and, realising she had been seen, Rosa ran to wake her husband, Hayden. By the time he was out of bed and at the right window, the figures and their craft had disappeared.

Local man, Glyn Edwards, claimed responsibility for this sighting in 1996. He and two friends left a fancy dress party they were attending as members of Milford Haven's round table, drove up to the hotel, and Glyn then wandered about wearing his silver 'space suit'. He told the Western Mail his outfit had "… a solid in-built helmet so I would have looked about 7ft tall. Alien sightings were all the rage, so I took a stroll around for a bit of fun. I remember when I visited the garden of a certain lady, who later called the police, that I had to dive into a hedge because she appeared to be aiming a rifle or a shotgun at me."

Nevertheless, when Rosa inspected the site the craft had hovered over she found two inches of burned ground, while a few nights later she watched a UFO travel methodically up and down the coast for some 45 minutes. Francine remembered: "Outside the spacecraft left a small crater in the ground which had a ridge around the outside that is still there today, although now hidden beneath undergrowth. And later when we came to have one of the outbuilding roofs fixed near the landing site, the roofer said the slate tiles were scorched like they had been burned but we weren't aware of any fire."

Nicholas Edwards, MP for Pembrokshire
Nicholas Edwards, MP for Pembrokeshire, was soon dragged into the affair.

Francine stressed that her mother had been a no-nonsense kind of woman, not at all the sort of person who would have believed in aliens. Thinking of a nearby bunker used by the Royal Observer Corps, in early May Rosa wrote a letter to her MP, Nicholas Edwards, wanting to know if it was the military blighting her business. As a result Flight Lt Tony Cowan from nearby RAF Brawdy came to investigate; he told her that it definitely wasn't connected to RAF Brawdy, but she had probably seen workers in protective suits from one of the local oil refineries. Still, he asked her not to talk about the incident lest it spread panic.

Word got out anyway, while UFOs continued to regularly circle the hotel. Rosa stuck to her story all her life, passing away in February 2012 at the age of 83.

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RIPPERSTON FARM

One of the most contentious aspects of the entire Broad Haven mystery is the case of Ripperston Farm. In 1977 the farm was occupied by the Coombs family: Mrs Pauline Coombs, Mr Billy Coombs, sons Clinton (16) and Keiron (12), and twin daughters Joanne and Layann (8). In the adjoining next door cottage lived one of the farm's herdsmen, Brian Klass, and his wife Caroline who worked as a nurse.

Ripperston Farm
Then and Now.

The Coombs family's ordeal began on the evening of April 12th when Pauline drove Duggie Richards, a school friend of Keiron's, home. On the way back to the farm she, Keiron, Joanne and Layann saw a football sized UFO which first flew towards the car, then did a u-turn and travelled alongside them. Panicked, Pauline tried to lose it, and when she reached the farm she and the children ran from the car to their front door. Clinton caught a glimpse of the UFO, but within moments it had disappeared.

In the weeks which followed, ongoing problems took on a sinister new angle. The family saw strange lights in the night sky, and Layann was having nightmares of a shadowy figure in her bedroom. Their car kept breaking down for no apparent reason and the house itself was beset with electrical problems, in spite of it having been recently rewired. TV sets burned out, and the amount of electricity being used - according to the electric company - was so completely outrageous they had been out more than once to check the meter.

On April 15th Pauline's nephew, 11-year-old Mark Marston, was out looking for birds' nests in hedges in his home village of Herbrandston, some 5 miles away from Ripperston Farm, when a red glow appeared in the sky about 50 yards away. A few moments later a strange figure appeared, "dressed in a silver suit, like a diver, with a large helmet and a square, featureless face." Two days later, on April 17th, five children including 13-year-old Debbie Swan saw a football sized UFO hovering near a Herbrandston hedgerow in broad daylight. They described it as being silver in colour and moving about in a very agitated manner. Whatever it was, it was unsettling enough to send the children running in the opposite direction. The news was less than welcome to Pauline.

Worse was to come.

On Saturday April 23rd, Pauline and Billy were sat up late watching the midnight film - the books say it was a western, the Radio Times archive says it must have been 1963 Hammer Horror classic Kiss of the Vampire - when they had the fright of their lives: looking through their living room window was a figure standing over seven feet tall, with exceptionally long arms, wearing a silver 'spacesuit' and helmet with an opaque black visor and breathing tube.

Ripperston Farm window
Pauline, Joanne and Layann stand at the window in question - plus the suitably eerie cover for The Uninvited.

As the figure stepped closer to the window the glass rattled and the TV picture, which had been growing steadily worse, was lost to white noise. Frightened, Pauline raced upstairs and got the children out of bed. Billy went to find their labrador, Blackie. He was out in the hall, cowering, so Billy opened the front door and dragged him out to go and chase away the intruder. Blackie just howled and ran off, frightened. (By mid-June Blackie had had to be put down because, the family said, he seemed to have been driven mad.)

Billy went back into living room to find the figure still at the window. (Paget says that the whole family huddled together in the living room watching the figure stand 'silent and inscrutable', while Harold says Pauline stayed upstairs with the children until the police arrived.) Eventually the figure shifted back a little, causing the TV signal to improve, and it was enough to jolt the family into action. They went into the rear kitchen and rang the police and Richard Hewison, their farm manager who lived at Lower Broadmoor Farm.

Ripperston Farm

Two police constables attended. In 1996 one of them said that he had never seen a family more terrified. In 2015 PC Ernest Jones spoke to Channel 5 and said that both Pauline and Billy were very frightened. "And we're not talking of a soft man working nine to five in an office, we're talking of a man well used to going out of the house all times of day and night, checking the cattle. No way would he come out of the house with us. No way." Although police found nothing they were convinced the family had seen something that night.

The next day the family found that the leaves of a rose bush under the window seemed burned to a light brown crisp. The paintwork, too, was said to have been damaged. And this was far from the last of the Coombs' sightings. In May Pauline saw a landed UFO from her kitchen window, and when she and Billy inspected the field later they found a circular burn mark in the grass. Joanne and Layann, playing in a field closer to the coastline, crouched in long grass as a silver suited figure like the one they had seen in April walked up from the nearby beach, passing within about 12 feet of them.


Later that same month the twins were playing in the field again with brother Keiron when they saw three UFOs in the sky. The lowest of them, at an elevation of perhaps less than 50 feet, dropped a kind of metal ladder from which a silver-suited figure descended. The UFO also dropped a fluorescent red box which, after the figure had returned to the craft and the UFOs had flown off, the children spent around an hour searching for - to no avail.

On June 7th 1977, Pauline took the younger children to a jubilee party, leaving Clinton at home. A strange silver car turned up with two exceptionally tall men in grey-blue suits, with waxy skin, high foreheads and cold unblinking eyes. Clinton, uneasy about their intentions, refused to answer the door. Meanwhile Caroline Klass was putting out some rubbish; the men approached her and asked for Pauline, who had yet to feature substantially in the press, with a foreign accent. After she told them she wasn't home they went to Haven Fort Hotel, where they spoke to Francine Glanville who told them her mother was out - something Rosa later let Pauline know by telephone.

However when sceptic Hilary Evans visited Klass tore holes in the story. She told Evans that the men were completely normal looking, and first came to her door to ask if she was Mrs Coombs. Had she been warned off? Or was this simply another example of the Coombs "jazzed up" media accounts?

In July Pauline began her annual six month job at turkey packing factory and things began to settle down to a large degree. This has lead sceptics to suggest that Pauline invented much of the story to add some drama and excitement to her life. They point out that this was not Pauline's first experience with strange happenings. While living in a caravan Pauline saw an image of the virgin Mary in the window. It appeared at 10:30pm and remained for half an hour each night. Sometimes it took on the appearance of Jesus with outstretched arms. The local Roman Catholic Priest brought his Sunday School class to see it. When Pauline was in hospital having a baby, Billy burned the caravan and moved his family to another one.

Others see this as evidence that the events at Ripperston Farm were less paranormal and more supernatural. Many of the strange happenings around the farm have parallels with recorded poltergeist activity, for example. Either way, the strange happenings at the farm persisted. Billy's 158 cows now refused to enter these fields, and their milk yield was down somewhere in the region of 15% by October.

On October 30th (Paget) / November 12th (Harold) Pauline was driving back from Talbenny with her mother, Frances Grycz, and four children - Keiron, Joanne, Layanne, and 15-year-old Katrina, when they saw an enormous disc fly over them, headed towards Stack Rocks. Pauline said: "I swear this is true, we all saw it, it vanished into the rock between two doors that seemed to slide open." They parked the car and walked along the coastal path, attempting to get a better view. "We all saw the 'door' again and this time two silvery figures walking on the edge of the rock. Then, after a bit, they retreated inside the rock."

Ripperston Farm UFO

By this point, sick of media insinuation that the family were liars and fantasists, the Coombs were only talking to Paget about their experiences. At the local garage Billy had been told to stop making up stories because it was bringing land prices down! But they weren't alone in this sighting. When Pauline got home she received a phone call from Rosa Glanville - owner of the Haven Fort Hotel and Stack Rocks Island - who had observed the scene through binoculars, along with her husband and daughter.

In February 1978 Pauline saw another spacesuited figure, walking past her house and up towards the deserted aerodrome at South Hill. This time she thought the visor of its helmet was down, and she could make out shoulder length fair hair. When Paget visited her after this sighting Pauline appeared to be sunburned and complained of eye irritation.

Even as the Coombs' experience wound down, sightings were still recorded in the surrounding area. In May 1978, for instance, a red ball-like UFO frightened holiday makers at St Brides Haven, about a mile from Ripperston Farm. Flying low along the coast towards Stack Rocks, the sight had people running from the water and deserting the beach in panic.



Sources

★ The Dyfed Enigma - Ted Holliday and Randall Jones Pugh. Originally published 1979.
The Welsh Triangle - Peter Paget. Originally published 1979.
The Uninvited - Clive Harold. Originally published 1979.
★ Swansea UFO Network, The Broad Haven Conference.
UFO Wales - David L. Richards.
★ Shadows Of Your Mind. Issue 1.
★ Close Encounters of the Playground Kind - Dr. David Clarke.
★ Alien Dawn: an investigation into the contact experience - Colin Wilson
★ Broad Haven: The Welsh Triangle - Sarah Hapgood, July 2011.
★ Britain's Closest UFO Encounters - Channel 5 documentary.
★ Various articles from the Western Mail, Western Telegraph, Daily Post, BBC News, etc.



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