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Lair of the Beasts: More Monsters of the Woods
Big Cats and Wild Men
By Nick Redfern
November 13, 2010
Big Cats in the Woods.
Well, last weekend’s post on the strange creatures of England’s Rendlesham Forest provoked such a flood of emails in my In-Box that I figured, this weekend, I would reveal the rest of the data I have on file on sightings of weird beasts in and around these spooky woods.
Rendlesham Forest has also been the site of several intriguing encounters with what have become known as “Alien Big Cats”- or ABC’s. The infamous beasts of Bodmin and Exmoor, England are perhaps more well-known that their Suffolk-based cousins; however, the reports that have surfaced from in and around Rendlesham Forest are certainly no less provocative in nature.
One of the earliest, credible cases on record is that of Jimmy Freeman, whose close encounter with a big cat occurred while driving past Rendlesham Forest late one night in the mid-1970s. While the precise date has been lost to the inevitable fog of time (he feels that it was January of 1976, whereas his wife thinks that the event may have occurred twelve months later: in January of 1977), the details are as fresh in the mind of Freeman today as they were on the night the incident occurred.
Given the fact that the encounter had occurred around 11.15 to 11.30 on what was a dark, cloudy and slightly misty night, Freeman was driving slowly and had his lights on full-beam as he negotiated the dark and winding roads. As a result, when something large and shadowy charged across the road in front of him, Freeman could not fail to see the creature for what it was. Long, sleek and utterly black in color, Freeman is in no doubt that for a split second or two he had a brief sighting of a huge cat. Today, he says firmly: “If I live to be a hundred, I will tell the same: Rendlesham Forest has big cats.”
Larry Warren is a former U.S. Air Force employee and a key witness to an out-of-this-world UFO landing that occurred in Rendlesham Forest in December 1980. He’s also the co-author with Peter Robbins of the book Left at East Gate – which chronicles Warren’s involvement in the UFO incident – and recalls some strange, paranormal-style activity within Rendlesham Forest during the time that he was stationed at nearby RAF Bentwaters.
There were, says Warren, dark tales of witchcraft and of druidism in the area; and then there was the story of the “Lady without a Face” – a ghostly character said to ride a phantom bicycle along the lonely road that connected RAF Bentwaters with RAF Woodbridge, and who would scare the life out of anyone that dared to cross her path. But the most famous story that Warren heard while stationed at the base was that of “East End Charlie,” a spectral figure from the Second World War.
Warren states in Left at East Gate: “Rumor had it he was a German Luftwaffe pilot who had had the misfortune of being shot down near Woodbridge during the Battle of Britain. When irate townspeople caught him, they burned him alive. Now his ghost walks the flight line of Woodbridge and is said to be quite playful. I never saw him but was told he sat on the hood [bonnet] of the base fire department’s patrol vehicle and burned his handprints into the metal.”
It is ironic that those who are skeptical of the Rendlesham Forest UFO case of December 1980 suggest that the airmen who were involved merely mistook the illumination from the nearby Orford Lighthouse for something more exotic. Why? Well, Orford itself is a veritable hotbed of weirdness and wild creatures. Consider, for example, the following account of Ralph of Coggershall. Recorded in the year 1200 in Chronicon Anglicanum, it describes the remarkable capture in the area of a wild-man-of-the-woods-style creature:
“In the time of King Henry II, when Bartholomew de Glanville was in charge of the castle at Orford, it happened that some fishermen fishing in the sea there caught in their nets a Wildman. He was naked and was like a man in all his members, covered with hair and with a long shaggy beard. He eagerly ate whatever was brought to him, but if it was raw he pressed it between his hands until all the juice was expelled. He would not talk, even when tortured and hung up by his feet, Brought into church, he showed no sign of reverence or belief. He sought his bed at sunset and always remained there until sunrise. He was allowed to go into the sea, strongly guarded with three lines of nets, but he dived under the nets and came up again and again. Eventually he came back of his own free will. But later on he escaped and was never seen again.”
Without any shadow of a doubt, Rendlesham Forest – as well as its immediate surroundings – is a distinctly strange and surreal place. To paraphrase someone else’s words: if you go down in the woods today, or indeed at any time, you really might be in for a big surprise!
Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including his latest, Final Events, which is a study of UFOs and their occult connections.