Australian UFO Researcher
During 1977, a fairly remote area of the west Welsh coast was subjected to an extraordinary amount of Ufo sightings, landings and reports of 'aliens'. The national and local British press had a field day, running witnesses accounts that were written at best 'tongue -in-cheek,' and at worst, cruelly vindictive.
This is the true story of the Coombs family and their harrowing experiences over a twelve month period from mid January to mid December 1977. Whether they encountered true paranormal phenomena or unknown laws of physics applied by aliens, is open to conjecture. Maybe the two are one and the same. What is known by Clive Harold, who wrote The Uninvited, from which much of this account is taken, is that the Coombs could not have been a more honest, hard working farming family. They knew nothing about Ufology, shied from publicity and sought no financial gain. Some Ufo groups blamed the Coombs experiences on a fertile imagination, whilst others offered unequivocal support.
In this rather isolated area of Wales there were (in 1977) a number of high security if not top secret, military establishments: RAF Brawdy, RAE Missile Range Army Pendine Tank Range and an American Navy submarine hacking station. Ufo's were reported over these bases and it is known the military were involved in some 'rather unusual activities' and searches. But the sheer number of sightings over a twelve month period would suggest more than a modicum of interest from a higher intelligence. Perhaps there was an anthropological/ ecological survey, surveillance, monitoring, testing or what you will. But then any 'wave' or 'flap' of Ufo 's may be just this. To human logic and reasoning, many of these so-called 'higher intelligence activities' border on the absurd. The actions themselves may not have been frightening, but the unknown and the loss of control generate the fear and apprehension.
This story should not be confused with The Uninvited 2 by Frank Taylor 1984. His account relates to the Ellis family of Matlock, Derbyshire who experienced a series of events in many ways similar to the Coombs, but in other ways more sinister.
14th January 1977. Hanging motionless over the field near the cliff top, a great ball of incandescent light transfixed Pauline's gaze. With so much military activity in the area she had seen many lights in the sky over the years; flares, rockets, planes - but this was different. Twenty minutes later it started to move, gently at first, swinging side to side like a pendulum. Then it dropped out of the sky to disappear below the cliff. Pauline's husband was asleep in his chair. She shook him awake and related what she had seen. Curious, he put on his boots and headed out in to the cold night to search the cliff top path for whatever it was that came down. He found nothing.
Pauline remained troubled by her sighting. The next day the papers were full of Ufo reports. Billy had laughed off the suggestion that Pauline's 'light' was a flying saucer. But he added that there were some strange things going on. 'There were nigh on fifty frogmen below the cliff. Unmarked army trucks, soldiers in camouflage. Navy there too' he added, 'building the same path beneath the water. Doesn't make sense'.
Pauline was thirteen miles from home. Her twins, Layann and Joann were in the back and Keiron her youngest son in the front. Her thoughts wandered to her family-the nightmares Layann had been having lately, dreaming of a shadowy figure in her room . Twice this had happened. Twice Layann woke up screaming, and on each occasion the TV set had burnt out its wiring. In fact two TV's and two cars had succumbed electrically, scores of light bulbs had exploded and they'd lost count at the number of blown fuses. Even Clinton, her eldest son had complained of strange humming noises outside the bathroom window which seemed to enter and fill the whole room.
Pauline's reverie was broken by Keiron calling for her mum to look into the night sky. There it was. Back. She tried to dismiss it as 'just another star. But Keiron insisted it was swaying side to side. Her thoughts turned again to the fifty people who had reported Ufo's to the police recently. There were the two schoolboys who had seen a domed Ufo with pulsating green and yellow lights hovering over an office block in Haverfordwest. The same boys had approached a blue light in a field near their school which rose up and sped away when they approached. Even more strange were the fourteen school boys who saw a landed Ufo near their school. Two of the boys reported seeing a silver figure near the craft. All reported ten or eleven windows and a sort of runway leading from a door.
But the next ten minutes were filled with fear, as the family raced for home through the night. The light had descended and headed for the car on a collision course. At the last second it shot over the top to disappear in the distance. But their relief was short-lived when Keiron announced it had stopped, turned round and was coming back. The twins had woken up and were soon on the verge of hysteria. Pauline raced the car down the last stretch of hill leading to the farm, the orange light pacing them to her right. Suddenly the car lights dimmed and the engine died. But they were almost home. She pushed the frightened children out of the car. They ran the last few yards to the security of the farmhouse, their (incredulus) father and Clinton.
And still the fuses blew, three televisions and three cars, all lost their wiring. No engineer, electrical or mechanical could explain what was happening, except that there seemed to be a huge drain of power from the house. The meter dials would speed around when everything was turned off.
But this was just the start of a series of extraordinary happenings. The following Friday their dog Blackie became very restless, sniffing and whining around the house extremely agitated. Pauline and Billy settled down on the sofa to watch a late movie. Billy soon fell asleep and Pauline was constantly distracted by a flickering light in the window. An hour later it was still there. Billy jumped up grumbling that someone's headlights had woken him up. 'JEEZ' he exclaimed. 'What's that? WHAT IS THAT!?' There at the window was the shimmering figure of a man. A huge, silver- suited figure over seven feet tall, unmoving, staring. Where the face should be, just blackness.Watching. Waiting?
Where was Blackie? He must get help. He found the dog a whimpering heap in the hall. As he approached the dog bared its teeth, hackles rising. Billy grabbed it by the collar and sent it out of the house to guard. But it streaked away from the house as fast as its terrified legs could take it. The figure at the window raised a gloved hand to the glass which started rattling at an incredible speed. As this happened, the lights dimmed and the television 'went on the blink'. Billy composed himself enough to call his neighbour Robert Morrison and the Broad Haven police.
A while later he heard the police siren approach. He fixed his frightened gaze on the figure at the window. It just vanished.
The following morning they had found a scorched rose bush in the flower bed and huge, footprints beneath the window. The papers had got hold of the story, the last thing that Coombs had wanted. They had also run another story. Robert Morrison's wife Julia had seen a jelly mould shaped Ufo in the garden near their farm house, fifteen feet high and fifty feet across. After ten minutes, it rose silently into the air and flew off - and Julia, with double honours degrees from Reading University was not prone to fantasise. After reading the paper, the phone rang. Pauline answered it. Rosa Grenville, her friend from the Haven Fort Hotel across the bay was on the line. What she said next made Pauline's hair stand on end.
The previous night, Rosa had looked out of her bedroom window very late. There in a field at the back of the hotel was a huge saucer-shaped thing with a dome on top. It was radiating light. Two tall, human-like creatures came out of it and started bending down looking at the ground. "They didn' t seem to have faces " related Rosa, "Just black spaces. They were there about twenty minutes.They got back into the craft and took off at tremendous speed - in your direction"
Billy had troubles of his own on the farm. With the cows. Clinton could not get them into one of the fields. When Billy finally did, the cows behaviour bordered on panic. He was amazed to find a fifty foot circle of burnt and flattened grass. The cows wouldn' t go near it. The following Sunday, the twins had burst into the house, almost hysterically. They had seen a tall, silver suited man with a blacked out face glide across the bottom field, arms unmoving. In the corner of the field was an enormous silver Saucer-shaped thing with lights, windows and a ladder of sorts coming from a door. Billy was furious with the twins for making up such a story. Pauline, tired of being in a constant state of fear, donned Billy's coat and headed for the door, determined to find the truth. The twins, Tina, their older sister and Blackie followed in hot pursuit.
Pauline's findings had sent a collective chill down their spines. There was a huge circle of flattened grass and a giant footprint at least two feet in length. From that print ran a trail of others. It took two of Pauline's paces to bridge the distance between two giant tracks. The twins had been telling the truth. Pandemonium soon followed as the twins yelled to their mother to come quickly. Blackie was acting totally demented, going round in circles, snarling and growling. Tina and Joann had just seen a silver disc take off and dive into the water near Stack Rocks. Another circle of flattened grass lay in front of them. What did this all mean?
The whole family grew more alarmed. Something was going on and they seemed to be directly implicated. Most of the national and all of the local newspapers were 'knocking on their door' so to speak, and BUFORA had sent down investigators to sift through the events and make a report.
That night, when Billy and the kids had returned their grandmother and Tina to Milford Haven, Pauline had seen the figure again, just beyond the lawn at the front of the house. It moved around, tall, silver and glowing. A fear had welled up within her. As she watched, transfixed, the figure simply disappeared - went out, like a light bulb. Sleep came quickly that night, but Pauline overslept. When she did get up, feeling terrible, her arm was in agony and her eyes all swollen and puffy. They stung dreadfully as if sleep hadn't come for a week. Joann had a rash on the side of her foot and Layann on her leg. 'Not the children too' begged Pauline inwardly. But she got a further shock the next day when her mother phoned. Layann, who was staying with her grandmother, to avoid the apprehension on the farm, had had a dream of waking up in her mother's bed. A glowing disembodied hand had floated through the door and across the room. It came over to her mother, touched her arm and drifted slowly out of the room again.
On hearing this, Pauline s only thought was to leave the farm as soon as possible before it was too late.
It took a week for the twin's rashes to heal and three weeks for Pauline's eyes to get better.(Remember Mona Stafford's terrible eye condition from the Jan. 1976 Liberty, Kentucky encounter - BR) Blackie, the Coombs dog had to be put down. His dementia increased to such a degree, he spent most of his time growling, snarling, howling and chasing his own tail. Reports of Ufo's were still coming in. A council worker saw 'a large Ufo hovering over an office block, with a silver 'alien' floating nearby, at 5am in the morning An RAF officer reported a Ufo travelling at one thousand miles per hour.
One day in June, Pauline had returned to the farm from a fancy dress party. She had found Clinton in a distressed condition. He related what had happened. Looking out of the window he had seen the strangest silver car ever, come up the drive. In it were two men in black suits. One got out and approached the farm. He seemed to float along. Clinton wouldn't answer the door. He felt something was wrong. Carol, living in the adjacent cottage three minutes walk from the farm had seen the visitors arrive. She thought how strange there was no scrunching of the gravel when the car drove up. As she put some rubbish into her dustbin, she was shocked to find the visitor standing next to her. She had seen him at the farm only twenty seconds before. It would have taken at least three minutes to get to her cottage, and yet here he was with a strange waxy skin, high forehead and sleeked- back black hair - and those cold unblinking eyes....He had asked for Pauline by name. Carol told him she did not know where Mrs Coombs was and turned to go in doors. Next thing the man had gone, vanished! But there he was in the same instant back in the car moving up the drive. 'You must have passed him Pauline, on your way in' said Carol. But she hadn't.
But then an even more inexplicable thing happened. Pauline s friend Rosa, highly distressed, called from her hotel, north of Broad Haven. Her daughter Anna, a university student was alone at the hotel. She had looked out of the window to see an enormous silver car in front of the hotel. But why hadn' t she heard it on the noisy gravel drive. Two men were in the car and it was their physical appearance that frightened Anna the most. Her description of the one that came to the hotel was the same as Carols. He had asked for her mother and when would she be back. After that they left and Anna insists we would have passed them on the drive an our way back to the hotel. "But we passed nobody" wailed Rosa. "They just vanished in thin air, I tell you"
After Rosa' s first experience, seeing the Ufo and beings behind the hotel one night, she had contacted Nicholas Edwards, her MP. She had asked him to find out if the RAF or Ministry of Defence knew what was going on. But a cover up seems to have been put into operation. An RAF officer came down to the hotel and asked Rosa a lot of questions. He then wanted her not to tell anyone about her sightings or his visit. Nicholas Edwards wrote:-
Dear Mrs Grenville,
I enclose a copy of a letter I have received from the Ministry of Defence following the representations made on your behalf but I'm afraid this sheds no light on your encounter.
Yours sincerely, Nicholas Edwards, MP.
A letter from M.O.D. to Nicholas Edwards, dated 15th June 1977 reads thus:-
My department have investigated the report about an unidentified Flying Object which you have referred to me on behalf of Mrs Rose Grenville at the Haven Fort Hotel. I regret to say, however, that although an RAF officer has visited Mrs Grenville, we are unable to offer any further information. It is true that the Royal Observer Corps have a post in the adjoining field, but there is no evidence their activities could have seemed unusual in any way and we have no record of any other unusual activity in the area.
I am sorry I cannot be more helpful.
Yours sincerely, James Wellbeloved
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence.
This is an astonishing reply, given that over one hundred independent witnesses had reported Ufo's and at least a dozen had seen landed craft and associated occupants. The papers all over the country had run endless stories on bizarre encounters and the more mundane 'lights in the sky.' If the Under- Secretary's reply is to be believed, then the security of British air space let alone national security is in serious doubt.
July and August passed without incident. The Coombs were beginning to think their lives were getting back to normal. Billy reflected on what some of the Ufo researchers had said - that one of their family could be psychic, attracting Alien intelligences to investigate further. It was Pauline, he thought, who had first seen the light in the sky, the figure at the window. It was the foating hand in the bedroom that had touched her arm, which suffered a while. Pauline had been away working for two months at a local factory and all the odd happenings had stopped. But had they? A lot of things had gone missing lately. Now he couldn't find the cigarettes. Small sums of money disappeared, only to reappear later in the same place. Two cardigans had vanished, never to show up again.
It had been a hard day ploughing under a hot sun. Billy looked forward to a shower, cold drink and relaxation. He headed back to the farmhouse wondering what had happened to Keiron. He found him near the house, sullen and withdrawn. 'What's wrong son?' he had asked. Keiron went on to relate that he had headed for the house to get a drink, but didn't go inside. There in the front room he saw, through the window, a tall dark, fluid-like shape moving about. It totally unnerved him.
Shortly after Keiron described what he saw to his father, Pauline and the kids came home. They enjoyed a good dinner that evening, and after the kids had gone to bed settled down for a relaxed evening of television. But the television wouldn't work. Billy's worst fears were realised. Whatever it was, was back.
Lack of space prevents a full account of the many incidents that were to plague the Coombs for the rest of 1977 between September and December. Suffice to say they were a troubled family. Some of these incidents are summarised: Keiron claimed to have knocked down a lady in white who stepped out in front of his tractor. But he never found her. Three times Billy's herd of a hundred cows literally disappeared from a locked paddock. They turned up on a neighbour's farm, minutes later, in an agitated state. Cows disappeared from their stalls, sometimes to reappear in the wrong stall, and when Paul, a psychic investigator from Norfolk arrived for an overnight stay with his wife Janet, the same thing happened again. It defied all logic and belief:
November 12th turned out to be one of the most significant for the Coombs family. After spotting a daylight disc and watching it perform some elaborate aerial manoeuvres before plunging into the sea near Stack Rocks, Pauline had had enough. She decided to investigate and defying Billy's protestations, strode off in the direction of the disappearing Ufo with the kids in tow. They arrived at the cliff top not knowing really where to look for the Ufo. Below them, Stack Rocks loomed ominously up from the depths. What they saw next bordered on fantasy . There on the Rocks were two figures in silver one-piece suits. Eight, ten, twelve feet tall? One was lower than the other picking something up. Impossible! But there it was, clear for all to see. A door. A door in the face of the rocks. One of the figures emerged from the opening and made its way down to the other figure at the water's edge. They moved round the Rock base, came to an inlet which blocked their progress, and seemed to glide across to the other side. The family watched, disbelieving as the two tall figures climbed back up the Rock and disappeared through - of all things - a doorway. .And as they watched, the 'doorway' lightened and faded away leaving only cold grey stone. Pauline and the children headed back to the farm deep in thought. What had they really seen?
To make matters worse, Rosa had phoned. Rosa related how she had been looking at Stack Rocks through her binoculars when a silvery Ufo came into view and dived into an entrance on the Rock. A short time later, silver-suited figures came out of the opening in the Rock, climbed down to the sea and back again several times.
There is no explanation to Pauline and Rosa's visual synchronicity. It happened on three or four occasions and left both women emotionally drained.
After this event the whole cow herd disappeared from locked sheds and paddocks b reappear two kilometres away on two occasions, in a matter of minutes. Three cows vanished altogether.
On the 19th december, the family headed back to their farm after visiting relatives in Broad Haven. It was a clear cold night. Thirteen miles from Dale they saw it . A bright yellow light streaking across the sky. It stopped, moved back and dropped down to tree-top height. The farm came into view. The family got out of the car, and there over the cow shed was an enormous ball of orange light. They had almost expected it, and this time without fear made their way towards the glowing orb. Pauline thought how beautiful it looked. "Watch" she said. And at that the light swung like a pendulum, stopped for a moment and shot up into the night sky. It had gone and the Coombs sensed it would not be back.
From this moment, the inexplicable events at Ripperstone come to an end. No doubt, in the fullness of time, Ufo researchers will re-open this case. It may well become another classic that refuses to die, like Roswell, Rendelsham, Boainai, Socorro, Vallensole and a host of others. Or it may be relegated to the 'too hard basket' and end up as just another folklore tale.
Source: Journal of Alternative Realities - Volume 1, June 1995