Posted on: July 1, 2011

The area of St Brides Bay in Pembrokeshire, Wales, is a an enchanting corner of the British Isles, and it was here that in 1977 an extraordinary series of events took place which would put Broad Haven on a par with Warminster, Wiltshire, as one of the UFO hotspots in the UK. The two cases are equally fascinating, not just for the X-Files factor, but for analysing a small community caught up in some bizarre events.

I had always thought the UFO activity in this area had truly kicked off in 1977, but browsing through Albert Rosales’ Humanoid Sightings website recently, I came across a curious item from 1952.  It occurred near Castlemartin, also in Pembrokeshire.  The exact date is unknown.  One lunchtime a Mr Thomas was taking a lunchtime stroll amongst the sand dunes when he found a partially-concealed metallic object.  As he got closer to it he saw men standing there.  The one who appeared to be the leader warned him not to get any closer or he would be injured by powerful rays, as he wasn’t wearing any protective clothing.  They also told the witness they were concerned the Earth was on a self-destructive path (classic alien-contactee stuff).  They said they had been visiting the Earth for hundreds of years.  They obligingly told him the name of their planet, but Mr Thomas said he couldn’t remember it!  This is scarcely unusual in reports of alien encounters.  Make of it what you will.

In February 1977  a group of 14 children were playing football outside Broad Haven Primary School, when they saw a yellow cigar-shaped object land in a nearby field. The children ran indoors to tell the headmaster, Ralph Llewellyn, to come and look. He said he couldn’t be bothered (!), but asked the children to sketch what they had seen. He later said he was surprised at how similar all the drawings turned out to be.

A few days later, on 17 February, the same craft was seen by 3 members of staff at the school. News of this extraordinary sighting naturally reached the ears of local Ufologist and journalist, Randall Jones Pugh, who was the one largely responsible for bringing it to the attention of the national media. From then on Broad Haven went UFO-mad.

On 7 April Cyril John, a 64-year-old former political leader, had to get up at 5:00 AM, at his home in Milford Haven, for a trip to London.  He saw a light shining in his bedroom window.  On looking out he observed an egg-shaped object, silver-grey, with an orange-red light on top of it, about 4ft across, rocking gently in the air.  Nearby was a humanoid figure, about 7ft-8ft tall, floating in mid-air, like a “free-fall parachutist”.  The figure was dressed in a silver-grey boiler suit, and appeared to have no facial features, which suggests a mask-like visor.  Mr John says it hovered motionless in the air for more than 25 minutes, when both the figure and the object slowly moved off, disappearing from view.

A few days later, on 19 April, the owner of the Haven Fort Hotel in Little Haven, Mrs Rosa Glanville, said she was woken up at 2:30 AM by a strange noise and lights outside. Getting out of bed and looking out of the window, she said she saw an object like an “upside-down saucer” in the field next to the hotel, and 2 “faceless humanoid” creatures with pointed heads. Mrs Glanville also felt an intense heat. It was so intense in fact that she said her face felt burnt. She also said there were flames of all colours coming from the craft.

Mrs Glanville said she called out to the entities “hello, what are you doing there?” She then went to find other people in the hotel to see for themselves, but when she returned to the window a few minutes later, both the craft and the entities had gone.

When daylight came Mrs Glanville went to check the area where she had seen the craft (which she said had been about the size of a mini-bus), and found flattened grass and scorch-marks. This area overlooked a field containing a bunker used by the Royal Observer Corps. Concerned, Mrs Glanville contacted her MP, Nicholas Edwards, who in turn contacted nearby RAF Brawdy. Squadron-Leader Cowan came out to see her, and told her there was nothing going on at Brawdy which could account for the strange craft, but he asked her not to tell anyone about it, as it could cause alarm amongst the public. This was quite startlingly naïve of him (and not uncommon amongst the powers-that-be), as there wasn’t much chance of keeping this story under wraps in a small community. He doesn’t seem to have taken Mrs Glanville’s sighting very seriously, and said she had probably seen workers from one of the local oil refineries, wearing protective suits. Mrs Glanville stuck resolutely to her story though, and never deviated from it.

The authorities seemed to have been convinced that most of the activity around Broad Haven was the work of a practical joker, and it doesn’t help that in some cases it was! Sightings of a tall spaceman in a silver suit was indeed just that. In 1996 Glyn Edwards, a businessman and member of the Milford Haven Round Table, confessed that in fact the spaceman had been him. “I took a stroll around for a bit of fun”, he said. Mr Edwards’ stroll has successfully ensured that few these days take the Welsh Triangle (or The Dyfed Enigma, as it is also sometimes known) very seriously. Which is a great shame. As a counterblast though, also in 1996, the journalist Ray Gosling interviewed the men who had seen the craft outside their school when they were boys, and he found them still sticking vehemently to their story.

Prior to Mrs Glanville’s sighting, on 13 March, another young lad, Steve Taylor, said he had seen a glowing orange disc in the sky, and (curiously) a black dog ran past him. He stepped into the gateway of a field and saw a large domed object. A tall man with high cheekbones (like an old man’s, was how Steve described him) and wearing a one-piece suit walked up to him. Alarmed, Steve hit out at him, but he said his fist hit nothing. When he finally got home he said the family dog growled and barked at him as if he was a stranger Also at around this time, in Milford Haven, a 17-year-old girl claimed she had seen a 3-ft humanoid standing on her bedroom windowsill and looking in at her.

Now all this is rather peculiar, but it is the incidents at Ripperstone Farm that are the most intriguing. Ripperstone Farm is an isolated house, which sits sullenly overlooking Stack Rocks. It was lived in at this time by the Coombs family, Billy and Pauline, and their 3 young children. The family claimed over the space of a year to have experienced some bizarre phenomena, including Mrs Coombs being chased by a glowing object whilst driving home in her car along the nearby country lanes, cattle being moved mysteriously (the old moving cattle bit again), the sighting of a tall man in a silver suit staring in through their living-room window late one night (which I think we can safely assume was Mr Edwards on one of his strolls), and various poltergeist-type activity, such as electrical items in the house going haywire.

Like a poltergeist though, these aliens (which for the sake of economy is how we should regard them) seemed to need a catalyst, a channel as it were, and some believe this was Mrs Coombs, and certainly it would be impossible to tell the story of the Broad Haven Triangle without including her. Pauline Coombs was an intriguing, and it must be said, troubled character. According to Colin Wilson in his book “Alien Dawn”, Pauline had a history of odd events behind her. When she and Billy had been living in a caravan several years prior to moving to Ripperstone Farm, she said she had seen images of the Virgin Mary in the glass of the window (Mrs Coombs had been raised as a Catholic). This image was also seen by the local Roman Catholic priest, and the entire Sunday School congregation.

One incident at Ripperstone Farm stands out above all the rest for sheer spookiness factor. In June 1977 Mrs Coombs returned home after taking her children to a Silver Jubilee party. She found her husband in a distressed state. He said he had looked out of the window to see a strange silver car come up the driveway. In it were 2 men in black suits. One got out of the car and approached the house. Billy refused to go the door. He felt there was something very wrong with these two unexpected visitors. Their next-door neighbour, Caroline Klass, a nurse, had also seen them. She said she was putting out some rubbish when she found one of the men standing next to her. She described him as having a strange, waxy skin, high forehead, slicked back black hair, and cold, unblinking eyes. He asked for Mrs Coombs by name. Caroline replied she didn’t know where she was and went back indoors. The next moment Caroline received a phone call from Rosa Glanville, who was a friend of hers. Mrs Glanville said her daughter, Anna, a student, had been alone in the hotel when she saw a large silver car outside with 2 strange men in it. One of them had asked her where her mother was. After that they left very quickly, and their car made no noise on the gravel.

After the first draft of this piece I was reading Jenny Randles’ book “Investigating The Truth Behind The MIB”. In it she pointed out that the Coombs’ story was shot through with confusion. Such as: (1) Pauline was either driving home from a Jubilee party or from the market (2) the date on which it happened isn’t clear, it was either the 6th or the 7th June (3) and that it wasn’t Billy who saw the MIB from the house, but their son Clinton (this would make more sense that a young lad would feel intimidated by them, and not a no-nonsense farmer).

The Combs’ experiences throughout the year of 1977 were chronicled in a book, ‘The Uninvited’, by journalist Clive Harold, who had befriended the family. If you treat it as a work of fiction (which seems to be how it is written, in a very novel-ish style) then it passes the time well enough. Its total lack of objectivity though, and habit of being prone to tabloid sensationalism, means its doesn’t really merit being regarded as a serious look at the whole UFO enigma. There are some genuinely thought-provoking pieces in it, such as a friend of the family claiming to have seen dark, shadowy shapes moving around the kitchen when they had peered through the window. The bloody silly ending though of Mrs Coombs being abducted onto a spacecraft and examined by dark-eyed aliens from a distant galaxy feels like a total letdown, and was clearly only put in to try and bring things to a satisfying conclusion. (Real-life paranormal activity so often doesn’t come to a logical end). Mrs Coombs was later to admit that the story was “jazzed up a bit”, which, like Mr Edwards in his spacesuit, hasn’t done anything for Broad Haven’s credibility. Sceptic Hilary Evans dismissed the book as “uncritical” and “sensationalist”.

Evans visited the area and also interviewed the Coombs’ neighbour, Caroline Klass. Mrs Klass was down-playing the strange elements of the “MIB’s” visit. She said they drove a perfectly normal car, and that they didn’t look identical and speak with foreign accents (as had first been reported). Caroline said that the first question they asked her was if SHE was Mrs Coombs, and the quite natural conclusion to this would be that if they were strange beings with supernatural powers then they would probably already know if she was Mrs Coombs!! Evans came away convinced that the strange visitors had been perfectly ordinary ones.

Re-reading Clive Harold’s book again recently one thing stood out for me. There is a point where, in the autumn of 1977, Mrs Coombs got a part-time seasonal job as a packer at a turkey farm. From that moment on the weird phenomena at the farm abated considerably. From a cynical point of view, you could say this was only to be expected. Mrs Coombs suddenly had an outside interest, and she didn’t need to make Ripperstone Farm exciting for herself anymore. Being a rural housewife in the 1970s didn’t exactly widen one’s horizons, and Mrs Coombs was clearly a romantic, creative person, who needed something more than the daily routine of domestic life to keep her absorbed. From a believer’s point of view you could say that any poltergeist activity fuelled by her frustration and boredom had suddenly lost its energy source. Shades of Marianne Foyster at Borley Rectory. It’s entirely up to you which side you want to believe.

Very little has been heard about Mrs Coombs since, (and according to Jenny Randles the family have sinced left Ripperstone Farm). The only photograph I have ever seen of her shows a rather withdrawn, almost depressed-looking woman. Clive Harold doesn’t seem to have benefited from his involvement with Ripperstone Farm either. After the publication of ’The Uninvited’ he slipped off the radar. It was a trifle disconcerting when he resurfaced on the front page of the ’Daily Express’ in the mid-1990s. Prince Charles had been visiting a homeless shelter when he recognised one of the men who was there. It was Clive Harold. He and HRH had been at primary school together in the 1950s. The press, naturally, made much of the contrasting fortunes of the two men. The prince and the pauper. For me, having been fascinated by the Broad Haven case for many years by then, it was a shock to see him thus.

‘The Uninvited’ wasn’t the only book to be written about the Broad Haven mystery, and it certainly wasn’t the only one to make sensational claims. Randall James Pugh collaborated with crypto zoologist Ted Holiday to write ‘The Dyfed Enigma’, in which they linked the UFO phenomena to Welsh fairy folklore and ley lines. (Holiday had done similar theories about Loch Ness). Peter Paget in ‘Spacemen Mystery Of The Terror Triangle’ (which was taken from a characteristic ‘Sun’ headline about the Broad Haven case) said that the aliens had an underground base below Stack Rocks. In ‘The Uninvited’ Clive Harold had also made this claim, and said that the Coombs children had seen spacemen going into the rocks.

RAF Brawdy closed a few years ago, and so cynics might be forgiven for thinking that strange, “inexplicable” lights in the sky are now a thing of the past. Not so though. In recent years cigar-shaped UFOs have continued to be seen over the area.

The Haven Fort Hotel is still in business, and on it’s website boasts that it has been “prominently featured” in the books ’The Welsh Triangle’, ’The Dyfed Enigma’ and ’The Uninvited’. It also now claims to have a ghost. I’m saying nuffing.

ADDENDUM 6/10/2015: Dave Davies, one of the schoolchildren who witnessed the UFO in 1977, has recently given an interview to the Mirror newspaper, in which he spoke of the years of bullying and trauma he endured as a result of being open about the sighting.  All these years on he sticks staunchly to his story of what they all saw that day.



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