Thirty-eight years ago, on three nights between December 26 and 28, different sets of US Air Force personnel stationed at the RAF Woodbridge base, which reportedly housed nuclear warheads, witnessed bright orange, red, blue and white lights in the sky.

Sent out to further investigate, one serviceman on patrol reported a “smooth, opaque, black glass” craft on the forest floor, covered in incomprehensible hieroglyphs, while on another night a different team encountered an object the size of a basketball turn into a spaceship, and had a “silent standoff” with what appeared to be a humanoid alien. The team, some of whom have since been diagnosed with PTSD, said that indentations in the ground, damage to the forest, and abnormal radiation readings proved that these were not mass hallucinations.

Original recorded live report by USAF colonel Charles Holt.

But now, Dr. David Clarke, a researcher at Sheffield Hallam University, who once managed Britain’s national UFO sightings archive, says that he has found a less far-fetched explanation. Courtesy of a Special Air Service “insider” named “Frank,” who personally contacted the academic who has spent the past three years trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, which has been labeled Britain’s own Roswell.

According to the source the root of the incident goes back to August 1980, when British SAS commandos made a practice landing inside the USAF base, in a live exercise intended to challenge their American allies – a rare but known practice during the Cold War.

But instead of receiving a friendly telling off, the team was allegedly hauled off into cells, mauled, and interrogated at length by US officers, who referred to them as “unidentified aliens.”

“After their release, the troopers made no complaint at their rough treatment but were determined to get their own back on the USAF for the beating that they had received,” said Clarke, quoted in the Daily Mail.

“In particular, their repeated characterization as ‘aliens’ sowed the seeds of a plan. They said: ‘They called us aliens. Right, we’ll show them what aliens really look like.’”

So come Christmas, the British supposedly created several contraptions using the materials at hand, such as remote-controlled kites, helium balloons, and colored flares, and launched them into the sky.

If anything, the prank purportedly worked too well – when the US side sent an official report to the UK Ministry of Defence.

“Someone in London recalled the events of the previous August and questions were asked. A few red faces – but also some satisfaction and amusement – followed,” said Clarke.

“The USAF was ‘reassured’ at a very senior level and no UK investigation was undertaken – for obvious reasons.”

According to Clarke, who says that he followed up the claims with several officials from the era, this is the reason for what some say appears to have been a continuously blasé reaction from the UK authorities to the incident.

While “Frank’s” yarn is interesting in itself, for determined conspirologists – including several men present on the nights of the sightings – who have claimed that the case has been deliberately hushed up by the military, this will likely be treated as a new red herring, put out by the government to throw them off the scent.

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This content was originally published here.