Tuesday, 18 May 2010

RAF Rudloe Manor and the UFO Files

The following guest article is by Rupert Matthews, author of the book Roswell.


RAF Rudloe Manor and the UFO Files
By Rupert Matthews

I think I first heard about the highly secretive military base at Rudloe Manor when I used to go down to visit relatives in Bath. That would have been sometime in the 1970s. We went to visit local sites, including Lacock Abbey, Solsbury Hill and Bath Abbey.

One time we went to see the Box Tunnel - that great engineering marvel of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. As we stood watching the trains thundering up and down the main line from London to Bristol I noticed a high wire fence topped by barbed wire and hung with notices indicating that dire penalties would come to anyone who strayed over the fence.

"What’s over there?" I asked my uncle.

He glanced at the fence. "Oh, some RAF place," he replied. "Very hush hush." And we went back to watching the trains.

That was during the Cold War, of course, and everyone who knew about Rudloe Manor assumed that the highly secretive things that went on there had something to do with tracking Soviet aircraft, intercepting Soviet radio messages or some other top secret defensive purpose. It never crossed our minds back then that Rudloe Manor had anything to do with UFOs.

It was not until some 20 years later that I began to hear rumours that the well guarded base at Rudloe Manor might have some UFO link. One of the boys I had been at school with was by then a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF. One time when he was on leave and we were down the pub I mentioned about RAF Rudloe Manor. He fixed me with a cool stare.

"I don’t know what goes on there," he said. "And I suggest you don’t ask too many questions. Brass hats can get very touchy about places like that."

"Interesting," I thought.

By the later 1990s the rumours had begun to take a more definite form. All the information came from serving or former RAF personnel who had worked at Rudloe Manor. Understandably, these people preferred to remain anonymous as they feared the government might prosecute them for breaching the Official Secrets Act. A perfectly reasonable concern, but it had the effect of making it impossible to check whether these witnesses had ever worked at Rudloe Manor and, if so, in what capacity. Inevitably this led some to suspect that the stories were not as reliable as they might be.

According to these reports, there was a vast underground complex beneath the apparently innocuous barracks and office buildings scattered in the grounds of the old manor house. This much could be checked out and was accurate. The manor had been taken over by the RAF at the start of World War II precisely because these huge underground caverns existed. They were the abandoned workings from which the much prized Bath Stone had been quarried out in the 19th century. Being deep underground the tunnels and caves were, of course, proof against German bombing. From 1940 onward a whole range of government and military units and installations were located in the tunnels of Rudloe Manor where they would be safe from the Luftwaffe. Much of what went on there at the time is now well known and while it was all vital to the war effort is hardly controversial.

When the war ended, however, the government did not return Rudloe Manor and its underground caverns to its prewar owners as happened to most wartime acquisitions. It was kept by the government. And it was kept very secret. It has since been revealed that one function of the caves was to house a government communications centre that would be activated if a nuclear war began. Other uses of the caves remain highly classified and top secret.

One of these top secret purposes is the Central Computer Complex (CCC). Quite what the CCC does is not entirely clear. Some say it controls the Trident nuclear missile firing systems, others that it has a role in 'sigint' or signals intelligence. Nobody really knows. One of the most intriguing of the few facts to come out of CCC is that there is another section of the caverns under Rudloe Manor that is accessed only through CCC (itself heavily guarded and accessed only by those with high security clearance) by way of a door that is guarded 24/7 and that only a few of those cleared to enter CCC are permitted to pass.

Now what can be behind that door? Obviously something highly sensitive.

Back on the surface, Rudloe Manor has long been the HQ of the RAF Provost & Security Services (PSS), which is responsible for all aspects of security affecting the RAF. It includes personnel from MI5 and MI6 who liaise with the PSS and - at least from time to time if not permanently - CIA personnel as well. We know from declassified government documents that the PSS collated and sifted UFO reports for several decades. They binned any reports that they felt could be explained as sightings of aircraft, birds, planets and so forth, then investigated those that remained unexplained. Several of those unexplained reports were swiftly taken off the desks of the lowly staff at PSS and sent for analysis "elsewhere" - to behind that door in CCC apparently.

In the early 1990s UFO investigators in Britain began to notice that there was a cluster of high quality sightings over the Box-Rudloe-Corsham area of Wiltshire. This reminded some of a similar cluster of sightings over Warminster, a few miles to the south, in the 1960s. Intrigued, investigators began paying more attention. The sightings were found to centre over Rudloe and to consist largely of UFOs without wings that pulsated with colours of blue, red or green. Often they were said to be diamond or conical in shape.

So what can we say with confidence about RAF Rudloe Manor. Well, it is top secret, contains vast underground caverns that are off limits to all but a very few people with top level security clearance, has been part of the RAF UFO investigation process and is a centre for UFO sightings. Beyond that we really don’t know. Some claim that the place is a liaison venue for the British government to interract with aliens. Others that objects retrieved from UFOs are stored there.

Perhaps one day we will know the truth.

Rupert Matthews is the author of the book Roswell which is available on Amazon and from all good bookshops. You can find Rupert’s website at www.rupertmatthews.com. He also maintains a blog about the unexplained at www.ghosthunteratlarge.blogspot.com.

If you would like to contribute a guest article for the website please contact Richard Thomas at richard@richardthomas.eu.


  1. The UFO 'rumors' were most likely a cover for whatever the 'real' use of the facility was. Being the Cold War era, the British Military most likely undertook in and spread disinformation to throw off the Soviets and protect their vital nuclear interests. As for the secret 'behind the door', the UFO 'rumors' would serve well to distract those who had no need to know what was behind it. My guess is, the UFO connection is merely disinformation used to hide the true function of the facility. Jaques Vallee has argued that UFO 'rumors' have in fact been used by government forces to veil fact. These 'rumors' are certainly suspect when they come from individuals within the armed forces establishment who are subject to disinformation themselves. Not to say there is no UFO connection for sure, but chasing unsubstantiated rumors are a waste of time that could better be served looking into other cases with better evidence.

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