In November and December 1980, the eastern side of Britain was experiencing a major UFO sighting wave. There were chases of UFOs by police cars near the coast, a UFO that overflew an oil rig in the North Sea, and the wave culminated in the famous events on the East Anglian coast at Rendlesham Forest.
Just a month before these landings beside those NATO air bases, one of the most impressive alien abduction cases took place in the small Penninemill town of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, right in the centre of Britain’s most active window area known locally as “UFO Alley”.
Police Constable Alan Godfrey was on patrol on the night of 28 November 1980. Just before dawn he drove along Burnley Road on the edge of Todmorden looking for some cows that had been reported missing. They were only found after sun-up, mysteriously relocated in a rain-soaked field without hoofmarks to indicate their passage.
Giving up his nocturnal hunt, Godfrey was about to go back to base to sign off duty when he saw a large mass a few hundred yards ahead. At first, he thought it was a bus coming towards him that took workers to their jobs in town and that he knew passed about 5:00 a.m.
But as he approached, he realized that it was something very strange. It was a fuzzy oval that rotated at such speed and hovered so low over the otherwise deserted highway that it was causing the bushes by the side to shake.
The police officer stopped, propped onto his windscreen a pad that was in the patrol car to make sketches of any road accidents, and drew the UFO. Then there was a burst of light, and the next thing he knew he was driving his car again, further along Burnley Road, with no sign of the UFO.
Godfrey turned around and examined the spot where the UFO had hovered. The road was very wet as it had rained heavily earlier in the night. But just at this one location was a circular patch where the roadway had been dried in a swirled pattern. Only when back at the police station did he realise that it was a little later than he had expected – although any missing time was probably no greater than 15 minutes from estimates later taken on site.
Concerned as to possible ridicule, Godfrey at first chose not to make an official report, but changed his mind later that day when he discovered he was not alone. After breakfast that morning, a driver who had been on Burnley Road three miles further out at Cliviger reported seeing a brilliant white object and contacted Todmorden police.
The time matched that of Alan Godfrey’s. Furthermore, a police patrol from an adjacent force (Halifax) had been engaged in a stakeout for stolen motorcycles on the moors of the Calder Valley and had witnessed a brilliant blue-white glow descending into the valley towards Todmorden shortly before Godfrey experienced his close encounter. Their story, when it reached Todmorden police station, formed a second match.
Encouraged by this news Godfrey filed an official report, but was surprised when police chose to release the story to the local newspaper the following week. From here, UFOlogists discovered the case and a lengthy investigation was mounted by a Manchester-based UFO group.
Although Alan Godfrey had no further conscious recall of the missing time, he did have increasingly confused memory of the sequence of events surrounding the sighting (with an unexplained image of seeing himself outside the car during the sighting). There was also puzzling physical evidence.
His police-issue boots were split on the sole, as if he had been dragged along the floor and they had caught on something.
He also reported a previous history of seeing other strange things and having experienced at least one earlier time lapse as a youth—factors that UFOlogists have come to recognise as common with abduction cases.
When sure that all conscious testimony had been recorded, Godfrey agreed to be hypnotically regressed by a Manchester psychiatrist eight months after the incident. He eventually had several other sessions with different therapists, and his recall in later sessions was video-taped.
The doctor refused permission to the UFO group for the first session to be recorded.
The hypnotic testimony is very odd, and Godfrey was never to be sure what really happened. Under regression he told of the bright light stopping the car engine, causing his radio and police handset both to be filled with static and then to be swamped by blinding light as he lost consciousness.
His next recall was of being inside a strange room, more like a house than a spaceship, complete with a most unexpected large black dog. He was studied by a heavily bearded man who telepathically conveyed that his name was “Yosef” and whose clothing was very Biblical in nature.
Assisting Yosef were several small robot-like creatures “the size of a five-year-old lad” and with “a head shaped like a lamp”. They are reminiscent of the “Grays” of UFO lore; although with major differences.
Godfrey was supposedly asked questions, told that he “knew” Josef, and was promised a later encounter. But apparently he was not subjected to the more familiar indignities of abduction stories (especially from the US), such as bodily fluid samples and rectal probes.
Although there were periods of missing memory, the hypnotic recall that did emerge was a curious hybrid of mythic images, UFO case elements and dream like sequences.
When asked his opinion as to the reality status of this hypnotic testimony, Alan Godfrey was refreshingly honest. He told me he was certain that the UFO encounter was real, but he could not determine whether the story offered by hypnosis was a dream, a fantasy, reality, or a mixture of all three.
Unhappily, Alan Godfrey suffered terribly after this encounter. When I first wrote up the investigation (just before the regression hypnosis began) for Flying Saucer Review magazine in l981, I deliberately changed his identity to help protect him; although this was probably futile because the story had already been featured in the local press under Godfrey’s real name.
However, despite my refusal to assist them, a tabloid reporter traced the witness and devoted a front-page banner headline article to the story — read by millions over the Sunday lunch—which led to the officer being called to explain himself before his superiors.
He was forced to undergo medical investigation to determine his “status”, but was pronounced psychologically fit and healthy. Yet after some years feeling that he would never be allowed to forget his sighting, he took advice to honorably resign over an unrelated physical injury incurred during an incident in which he bravely intervened to avert a crime.
Todmorden, both before 1980 and in the years since, has been a hotbed of alien contact activity with several other major encounters having been investigated, including another abduction of a truck driver from Burnley Road only a little further out of Todmorden and on the same highway.
written by… Jenny Randles