Moonlight at Warminster
Alan W. Sharp

From MUFORG Bulletin. December 1966

To any British investigator of the UFO phenomenon the little town of Warminster nestling below rolling chalk hills on the edge of Salisbury Plain holds a fascination second to none, and after learning from Mr Arthur Shuttlewood that sightings could be made on any clear night, your investigator determined to visit the place again at the earliest opportunity.

So it was that shortly after dusk on Tuesday, November 1st, 1966, a small car, loaded with paraphernalia and with myself at the wheel, approached the town from the direction of Frome, some eight miles distant to the west, on what promised to be a perfect night for observation.

The moon had just begun to rise and the planet Saturn was visible in the sky to the south as the main street came into sight and with it the house which had been recommended as a base for operations and where a top-floor room was immediately secured having an excellent view of the surrounding hills in the direction where the anticipated events were expected to occur.

A key to the premises was obtained and the task of moving a carload of impediment was completed, but not before clouds had begun to obscure the sky in ever increasing amounts until ebentually even the moon was hidden and a thin drizzle began to fall.

However, as the best time for seeing strange things had been put at around 4 a.m. not too much notice was taken of the weather and the writer retired to bed unwontedly early after setting the alarm for 3 a.m. and making suitable preparations for a sortie at that hour.

Promptly at three the peace was shattered and your observer staggered to the window to find everywhere bathed in moonlight with the last of the clouds moving quickly away to the south. Needless to say the streets appeared deserted and the car started without any difficulties due to ignition failure. Evidently I was at last to be allowed to make a move in the right direction, though subsequent events might make the return journey less easy.

Proceeding up the main street, the Westbury road was taken as far as the signpost pointing towards the West Wilts Golf Club, where a right turn was made up the long hill leading to the Imber Ranges.

Driving up the narrow road with headlights out, half expecting to meet some apparition from another world, I felt a distinct sense of uneasiness as the lights of the town were left behind and the moon’s ghostly radiance became virtually the only source of illumination, until suddenly a cluster of bright lights sprang out on the hilltop to the left.

I stopped the car and felt a tinge of fear as I opened the door and stepped onto the road, fingers fumbling with the binocular case.

What could those lights be at such an hour? Curiously I raised the glasses and focused on the hill. A dim shape was revealed but, disappointingly, seemed to bear more resemblance to a house than to a space-craft. I determined to investigate further on the way back, but the incident left a heightened feeling of unreality as the journey was resumed.

Then, as the road began to level out I was amazed to find the way barred by a white iron gate where on a previous visit there had been no obstruction. The unexpected event was not reassuring and as I stepped out of the car for the second time I realised that it would now be necessary to complete the last half mile on foot.

A chill wind was blowing and, as I collected camera and binoculars, a bright meteor flashed overhead from the direction of the moon. The time was 3.40 a.m. and the omens appeared auspicious for some unusual event. I hoped I should not regret having dared to scoff at the possibility of extraterrestrial activities at Warminster and felt a keen sense of loneliness as I looked back at my car, forlorn and desolate in this strange place.

I had half expected to meet some other humans out here on the UFO quest and every roadside shadow took on a strange form as I trudge up the hill, occasionally looking backward in apprehension of being stalked by the unknown.

However, no beings materialised and eventually the shape of the guard house came into view with the barrier for some unaccountable reason raised into the open position. Was this some sinister invitation to enter?

The planets Mars and Jupiter looked down in silent scrutiny as I shone a torch inside the building but ther was no one in occupation. The muted roar of the wind in a nearby copse and its whistling sound round the hood of my anorak were sufficient to drown most other noises, I reflected as I peered round the hut into the forbidden territory, to see to my apprehension what appeared to be a crowd of formless black shapes a hundred or so yards away and an indistinct, saucer-shaped white patch reflecting the moonlight slightly to the right, whilst the distant glow of some reflected light enhanced the eeriness of the situation.

I determined to press on, come what might, and gingerly eased round the barrier onto the concrete apron.

To my surprise the dark shapes materialised into the forms of wrecked cars and I clambered onto one of them for a better look round.

The reflected light seemed to come from a naked bulb somewhere out on the range and the white shape was in fact a long mound of chalk bulldozed out of the hillside to create what appeared to be a refuse pit of some description.

Then I saw a faint yellow light glide across the sky at a low elevation from east to west and I focused the binoculars on it as it passed close to the star Deneb, almost due north of the constellation Cygnus. A pulsating red light could now be seen and a faint drone was borne on the wind above the nearer sounds. The object was evidently an aeroplane bound for some unknown destination, possibly Bristol. The time, 4.10 a.m.

Cold but reassured I returned to ground level and continued my reconnaissance, but without meeting anything further out of the ordinary.

I looked at Jupiter to pass the time. Two of the Galilean satellites were visible close to the planet. Nothing unusual there.

No clouds, either, to be investigated, so at five-thirty I began to walk downhill to the car which I was relieved to find still where I had left it and without any sinister occupants waiting to escort me to an exciting rendezvous.

A quick cup of hot tea and I was on my way back to Warminster, though not without first finding the origin of the mysterious lights. It was the Golf Club-house, strategically situated, I thought, for UFO observation, though why the outside lights should be on remained a mystery. Perhaps the members liked to play by moonlight. Or did they?

Arrived in Warminster, I surprised an early milk roundsman and made two purchases. He seemed to take my odd appearance for granted fortunately and, armed with refreshing fluid, I parked the car and eventually climbed back into bed as the first signs of dawn appeared in the eastern sky, a somewhat disappointed but perhaps rather relieved ufologist.

Interestingly enough I had seen no satellites during my sojourn but a quick glance at the official predictions showed that Echo I had been visible earlier in the night, but had moved too far to the west, while Echo II was in southbound transit and hence was eclipsed in the earth’s shadow.

Looking back now I am glad I made the trip; it was an adventure, but the vigil was not one which I could recommend to anyone of a nervous disposition.

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