The Halt memo


This is the text of the single-page memo written by Lt Col Halt to the UK’s Ministry of Defence reporting what was to become known as the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident. The memo was dated 13 January 1981, over a fortnight after the events that are described had happened, and headed Unexplained Lights. It was on official US Air Force headed notepaper but was not classified in any way. The memo was released under the US Freedom of Information Act in June 1983 by the US Air Force to Robert Todd of the pressure group Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS). As the covering letter to Todd explains, the USAF had thrown out their own copy, evidently regarding it as of no further interest, and had to obtain another from the British MoD. The original document still exists and is kept at The National Archives in Kew, west London. The items in parentheses in the transcript below are all Halt’s:

1.  Early in the morning of 27 Dec 80 (approximately 0300L) two USAF security police patrolmen saw unusual lights outside the back gate at RAF Woodbridge. Thinking an aircraft might have crashed or been forced down, they called for permission to go outside the gate to investigate. The on-duty flight chief responded and allowed three patrolmen to proceed on foot. The individuals reported seeing a strange glowing object in the forest. The object was described as being metallic in appearance and triangular in shape, approximately two to three meters across the base and approximately two meters high. It illuminated the entire forest with a white light. The object itself had a pulsing red light on top and a bank(s) of blue lights underneath. The object was hovering or on legs. As the patrolmen approached the object, it maneuvered through the trees and disappeared. At this time the animals on a nearby farm went into a frenzy. The object was briefly sighted approximately an hour later near the back gate.

2.  The next day, three depressions 1.5 inches deep and 7 inches in diameter were found where the object had been sighted on the ground. The following night (29 Dec 80) the area was checked for radiation. Beta/gamma readings of 0.1 milliroentgens were recorded with peak readings in the three depressions and near the center of the triangle formed by the depressions. A nearby tree had moderate (0.05–0.07) readings on the side of the tree toward the depressions.

3.  Later in the night a red sun-like light was seen through the trees. It moved about and pulsed. At one point it appeared to throw off glowing particles and then broke into five separate white objects and then disappeared. Immediately thereafter, three star-like objects were noticed in the sky, two objects to the north and one to the south, all of which were about 10 degrees off the horizon. The objects moved rapidly in sharp, angular movements and displayed red, green and blue lights. The objects to the north appeared to be elliptical through an 8-12 power lens. They then turned to full circles. The objects to the north remained in the sky for an hour or more. The object to the south was visible for two or three hours and beamed down a stream of light from time to time. Numerous individuals, including the undersigned, witnessed the activities in paragraphs 2 and 3.


Charles I. Halt, Lt Col, USAF

Deputy Base Commander

A note on the dates

When Col. Halt wrote this memo he relied on memory for the dates, which we now know he got wrong by one day in each case. For the record, in paragraph 1, 27 Dec should be 26 Dec, and in para 2, 29 Dec should be 28.

As well as the wrong dates, there are inconsistencies between what Halt says in this memo about the radiation readings and what we hear on his tape, presumably also due to faulty memory.

If Halt kept a diary, he evidently never recorded these events in it – a curious omission if he really thought they were of significance. In fact, ColHalt seems never to have written up any account of his involvement in the sightings beyond what is contained in this memo, although in 2010 he did write and sign a notarized affidavit summarizing his involvement. Unfortunately this affidavit, compiled from memory 30 years after the events, is riddled with errors and exaggerations.


In 2010 Dr David Clarke revealed the previously undisclosed background to the Halt memo and the reaction to it at the MoD. Clarke interviewed Halt’s boss Col Conrad, the UK base commander Donald Moreland, and Simon Weeden who received the memo at the MoD UFO desk. The interviews confirm that the MoD made only a cursory investigation, not even interviewing the witnesses, and regarded the incident as of little importance. No further official report was made, or action taken, by the US or UK authorities beyond this memo. Halt has since claimed otherwise but it is clear that he was not in a position to know. See also my page: Why did the British government not investigate the Rendlesham Forest UFO case in any depth?

Content last revised: 2021 January

© Ian Ridpath. All rights reserved