The Burmarsh Incident
(“BT” REFERS TO British
Telecom – a major telephone and communications company)
“The Burmarsh Incident” is one of the most fascinating
cases in UK Ufology, it involves virtually all of the
aspects of a “classic” UFO account. A young lady driving
along a country road late at night, a large triangular craft
hovering over a village, anonymous phone calls, official
denials, M.I.B., threats and phone tapping.
Who could ask for more?
Burmarsh in relationship to London
Very early on the morning of 8th March, 1997, Sarah Hall, a
journalist with the Folkestone Herald, was driving home when
her attention was caught by a large triangular object
hovering over the village of Burmarsh in Kent (U.K.).
Observing the object from about 300 yards, Sarah described
“It was just this huge triangular thing, which was a lot
bigger than an aeroplane but there was no way I could have
mistaken it for an aeroplane or anything like that. It had
lights all around the outside and this disc attached to the
back and a big light on the front.”
As Sarah stopped her car the object “literally shot
Sarah was somewhat dismayed, she thought:
“Oh God, what is this? This is really scary!”
“It stopped again, sort of another 500 yards
away from me and it did that four times. It just shot
further and further away but stopped four times, sort of
moved for about five or six seconds, stopped for two
seconds, then moved again for another ifve or six seconds
and so on”.
Sarah Hall's sketch of the
triangular craft she observed hovering over
Two days later Sarah rang Chris Rolfe at “UFO Monitors East
Kent” to report her sighting, adding that the object
displayed white and yellow lights around its edge and a
circle of light in the middle. There was a bright white
light at each corner.
Sarah also wrote an article describing her experiences
which was duly published in the Folkestone Herald newspaper.
However, she was somewhat surprised to discover that the
published version of her story contained a number of
differences to her original article. These “amendments”
included a change of location giving the impression that the
incident she witnessed had, in fact, occurred several miles
away from the actual location, which, coincidentally, was
the home of senior politician Michael Howard.
In fact, being new to the area, Sarah had simply got the
place names wrong and there had been no “sinister
interference” at this stage. Further allegations that
Michael Howard’s political agent had complained about the
article were also to be proved false.
article as it appeared in the Folkestone Herald.
Chris Rolfe quickly discovered that Sarah Hall had
seemingly not been the only witness to the craft hovering
over the Kent countryside that night. He became aware that
two local firemen had also seen the triangular craft and
rumour spread of a fire appliance being called out to
Michael Howard’s house coincidental to Sarah’s sighting.
Kent Fire services however would not verify this. The
reputed sighting by the two firemen was the first instance
that Michael Howard’s home was mentioned apart from the
original published article and even then it was not Sarah
who referred to the politician’s home but an anonymous phone
call was received by the Folkestone Herald – the caller
stated that the two firemen had seen the triangular craft
over Michael Howard’s house. This anonymous call was made
five days after Sarah’s sighting.
There were, in fact, another eight eye-witness sightings
which came to the attention of Chris Rolfe. As he was unable
to verify them, Chris did not initially reveal these
additional reports which he received from a gentleman at an
adjoining UFO group who died before Chris could discuss the
situation with him.
These unconfirmed reports which were coincidental to Sarah’s
included sightings at Lydd, Burmarsh, Newchurch, Ashford,
Smeeth and Aldington – they all occurred between 02:10 a.m.
and 03:30 a.m. on the morning of 8th March, 1997.
Chris Rolfe and Jerry Anderson decided to write to various
agencies in an effort to clarify just what had happened in
the skies over Kent. Initially, after submitting a report,
they contacted the Kent Constabulary requesting any
information relating to the Burmarsh incident. Chief
Inspector Mike Abbott of Kent Police referred the request
for information to RAF Biggin Hill who, in turn, forwarded
it on to the Ministry of Defence.
On July 3rd, Chris received a letter from Kerry Philpott
(Head of Secretariat Air Staff 2al) confirming that she had
received Chris’ correspondence etc. and also from the Home
Office as Chris had also contacted them. The M.O.D. did, in
fact, deny that any events took place. (Strangely, on June
30th, a freelance reporter contacted the M.O.D. enquiring
about the Burmarsh Incident and the M.O.D. denied any
knowledge despite the fact that they were in possession of
Chris Rolfe’s documentation).
The letter from
Miss K. Philpot (M.O.D.) denying any incident had
M.O.D.'S response to the request for advice and
information regarding threats etc..
Letter from Wing Commander A.W.Ward.
In the meantime Sir John Grudgeon, Chairman of the Kent
Police Authority, did reply to a letter from Chris stating
that he had received a letter from the Deputy Chief
Constable of Kent reporting that a “minor security” incident
had taken place. The incident did not involve an
The letter from
the police confirming that an incident did occur but
that it did not involve aircraft or vehicles.
Euro M.P. Mark Watts did try unsuccessfully to obtain
further information relating to the Burmarsh incident and a
year was almost to pass before the next major chapter in
this story was to take place.
went to Waterstones book shop in Canterbury where Tim
Good was giving a talk about his new book. Afterwards a
man approached Jerry enquiring if he had investigated
the Burmarsh Incident. The man went on to explain that
he was a neighbour of Michael Howard’s and that he and
his wife had been awoken in the early hours of 8th March
1997 by a commotion coming from the politician’s house.
He described how there were a lot of people running
round and shouting and that they were under the
impression that armed police guards were present. All of
this was accompanied by a helicopter hovering overhead
and a searchlight scanning the area.
This searchlight, however, was not scanning the ground
but was pointing upwards scanning the skies.
Michael Howard, senior politician and future leader
of the Conservative Party - did a UFO hover over his
house? Quite definitely not according to Mr. Howard.
Threats, Hacking and Phone Taps!
On 17th August 1998, Chris received a letter from a certain
Wing Commander A.W.Ward of the R.A.F. which included a
warning to stop his investigations into a triangular shaped
object over Burmarsh, Kent. The letter was typed on RAF
headed papr and was signed but the existence of the “Wing
Commander” has never been confirmed. Chris wrote to
Mrs. Mollie Field, Head of Secretariat Air Staff 2,
enclosing a copy of the letter and stating that it was
obviously a forgery and the culprit should be traced and
punished. Mrs. Field suggested that the letter should be
treated as unsolicited mail and perhaps he should call the
police. By chance Chris did, in fact, come across a
copy of the Royal Air Force List (1991) which is a register
of every serving officer and, sure enough, the name A.W.
Ward was included – but as a Squadron Leader in 1991. Chris
did manage to discover that Wing Commander Ward was indeed
serving in the RAF when confronted with letter he denied
sending it although he admitted that the signature was a
very good forgery.
Fellow investigator Jerry Anderson was to discover that
someone was trying to access his pin number which he uses to
remotely check his BT answering machine.
There were in excess of twenty attempts to access his
answering machine and this was accompanied by his wife
answering the door to a man who was asking for Mr. J.B.
Anderson. The only documents that bear his full initials are
his banking and driving licence documents. The mn claimed to
be from the television licence authority and left in a small
white van. The TV Licensing Authority denied any knowledge
of such a man.
On 9th February 1999, Jerry received a large manila
envelope through the post which contained a white cassette
tape. On this tape there was a recording of a telephone
conversation between Chris and himself from over a year
previously. The conversation was 20 minutes in duration and
was a discussion about the Burmarsh Incident. Two days later
Chris also received a copy of the tape. BT investigated the
situation but could find no evidence of phone tapping and
Jerry called in a local investigator who noticed that
Jerry’s line was losing voltage. The investigator concluded
that the tap had been carried out remotely using a laser
directional microphone. This conclusion was based on
technical evidence gathered from the tape itself. Sarah Hill
also received a copy of the tape.
In July 1998, two young girls in Margate ran into their
homes to tell their parents that they had just seen a
strange object in the sky. An hour later the same object was
seen by the father of one of the girls. He reported to the
“Thanet Times” that the object was either escorted or chased
by two other aeroplanes, he was unsure.
Details of the object were very similar to the craft seen in
he skies over Burmarsh and reporter Emma Batt went to the
addresses of the girls to investigate. The girls did, in
fact, live next door to each other but on arrival Emma was
informed that both families had been “gone” for some time.
No one knew where.
Chris Rolfe and Jerry Anderson can be contacted at:
Stuart Miller can be contacted at