How A UFO Sighting Lead Urban Explorer Matthew Williams To Infiltrate Secret Government Bases
After witnessing an unexplained triangular light across a valley in Wales, Matthew Williams began investigating UFOs, an interest that in the mid-90s led him to RAF Rudloe Manor. At that time, the military site in Corsham was rumoured to be the focal point for the government's UFO reporting and investigation process. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) commented on these claims in 1992, stating that Rudloe is "constantly misrepresented and exaggerated by UFO enthusiasts and the media."
However, a trail of declassified government documents not only helped Matthew uncover Corsham's UFO link, but also expose the government secrets that were hidden in a network of tunnels there beneath the Wiltshire countryside.
Matthew, who is now a popular YouTuber with a fast-growing urban exploration channel, has always had an interest in UFOs. He recalls his collection of paranormal books as a teen, "I did have books on the paranormal and copies of the Unexplained Magazines, which used to come out every fortnight and I collected them into the big binders."
The strange tales of mysterious disappearances, ghosts and aliens fascinated Matthew, especially the reports of spontaneous human combustion, which strangely enough seemed to happen in a large concentration in Ebbw Vale, not far from where Matthew lived. He remembers, "I used to think 'what's special about Ebbw Vale that everyone just keeps exploding there?'"
As a teen, Matthew described himself as a sceptic, someone who doubted other people's stories of UFO sightings. He said, "I actually thought back then that things like religion and spirituality and ghosts and all that were kind of bullshit and probably people just making up stories." He added, "I didn't really pay it a lot of heed."
But that all changed one night when Matthew was driving along a lonely mountain road in the Welsh valleys. He said, "as I rounded the top of the mountain road, I could see out on a distant mountain across the way, what appeared to be a triangular-shaped object." Matthew described the shimmering object on the distant hillside as orangey-yellow in colour, but said, "as I looked, I realised it couldn't have been flames, it was more like a heat haze, but I couldn't make out what it was because I was driving at the time, so couldn't get a proper look at it."
Within seconds of spotting the mysterious triangle, the view was obstructed as Matthew drove past some trees. He explained, "I got maybe 10 seconds worth of sight of this thing, and then it went out of view because trees passed me on my side of the road, so I couldn't see it. It must have had an effect on me because I actually stopped the car."
Knowing that if he carried along the road he'd lose sight of the object, Matthew reversed the car, but the object had gone. Matthew turned to his friend who was in the car with him and asked if he'd seen anything, unfortunately he'd been looking at the impressive full moon and hadn't noticed anything of note, although he told Matthew he had seen something out of the corner of his eye.
The friends continued to their destination and never talked about the strange occurrence, in fact Matthew didn't even think about what he'd seen. He said, "about a week later, I was just doing some things around the house and it was like somebody had just chucked cold water over me, like one of these ice bucket challenges or something like that. It was literally like the realisation hit me very squarely that I had seen something very unusual a week ago."
Matthew was left wondering why he was only thinking about it now, "I don't know why I didn't think about it, because it seemed like something I should have taken extreme interest in, but I hadn't for some reason. So, that got me interested in why I had this weird delayed reaction to it."
The incident forced Matthew to question his own beliefs. He explained, "I started thinking, if I've had this experience I can't explain, then I have to kind of bear in mind what other people say they've seen. It doesn't mean it's aliens, it doesn't mean it's government or even paranormal, maybe there's a physical explanation for it, but it means that I could accept their points of view a bit more easily now."
The experience drove Matthew to start researching UFOs and alien visitation more heavily. "I got loads of books on the subject and read up on it," said Matthew, who turned to a 1987 book called 'Above Top Secret' by the British author, Timothy Good. This book mentioned a link between UFOs and secretive military base in the Wiltshire market town of Corsham.
Known as RAF Rudloe Manor, it wasn't long before Matthew and his friend, Paul, drove over for a nose a round the base. They were already particularly drawn to Wiltshire due to the county's famous links to crop circles at that time. Matthew remembers, "we were sneaking over to Rudloe Manor, walking the fence line and looking through." They made a habit of coming over for a nose through the fence, but soon found staff from the base were waiting for them, "we got picked up by the security for just driving in the area," Matthew told us, "it seemed like every time we went to Corsham, it was like 'boom' police!"
Of course, this was long before police had access to modern-day cameras which are scattered across the country and capable of reading cars' registration numbers, allowing the authorities to track its movement across the road network. Matthew says, "they must have had ANPR cameras before anyone else, or they were watching our phones and working out when we were in the area. They had some pretty sophisticated equipment there that they were playing with to know where people were." Whatever they were using, they seemed to react to Matthew's presence in the area within minutes of him arriving and question him about his reasons for being so close to a military installation.
Matthew said his tales of heightened security at Corsham were often met with disbelief or even mockery, especially when he told people about the dog walkers. He explained, "I used to say we witnessed people wearing the same type of clothing, all walking dogs around the base. Then if you watch them long enough, they'll tap in a code or unlock a gate and go into the base."
Were these innocuous looking people really undercover security patrols? If they were, then what were they protecting? Well, it turns out the secrets at Corsham ran much deeper than Matthew could have ever imagined.
The ufologist took a methodical approach to trying to answer this question, "I think a good way to do research is to just talk to people." He explained, "you're a researcher so you ask questions, it's not all done in libraries, books and documents." He decided to ask the locals, after all much of the population of Corsham are likely to have worked at the base or will know someone who has. Matthew and Paul went literally knocking on doors asking people 'have you ever seen anything weird around here?'
Matthew recalls, "it's amazing how helpful people can be and in Corsham, I was expecting people to tell me that Corsham has an involvement with UFOs and investigating UFOs, which they've long denied. But they didn't say that." Instead, the locals started telling the researchers about an underground base. Matthew confessed, "I really wasn't expecting it and had never heard about it."
But of course, it got Matthew's attention, after all researching UFOs isn't too far removed from researching government conspiracies and coverups. He explained, "if you're interested in the paranormal and UFOs, you probably will become interested in conspiracies, because it's all about what you're not being told by the church, the government, them in power, you know, it's all the stuff they hide that could open your mind."
Matthew's research work shifted at this point, delving deeper into government conspiracies. This required a lot of digging through declassified documents from the Public Records Office. And it was here that Matthew got the first hint of an admission that there was a link between the secret base at Corsham and UFOs.
He knew the information he wanted wasn't going to be handed to him on a plate, so decided to trawl the archives for mentions if UFOs in Air Intelligence documents. Matthew said these documents "didn't necessarily come up on the index system as having anything to do with UFOs, but I thought, I'll just pull the files and look at them. I just wanna see what's in these files." And it was here he stumbled upon a document the listed all the government departments involved with collating and investigating reports made about UFOs. The ufologist said, "we'd heard rumours about these departments, but this document actually said these are the places dealing with UFOs."
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Matthew got the feeling that the document he'd found was going to be "dynamite" and immediately photocopied it and publicised it. He said, "I realised nobody's got anything like this and thought other people are going to challenge me on this and they're going to want to see this document for themselves so they know it's not a fabricated document. I remember thinking it was really good that it's been made public for everyone to see."
Matthew tells us that once a document has been released to the public, it can't be retracted, but it seems on this occasion he was wrong. "The document was withdrawn from the Public Records Office, the crafty bastards," he laughs adding, "now that's illegal, they're not allowed to do that. Once a document has been made public, it has to remain public."
"I wasn't taking this lightly," the ufologist told us, "I wrote to an MP and he wrote to the MOD. They told him the document was lost and said they're going to do an audit and hopefully find it's been misfiled."
"How do you lose a document?" Matthew asked and wanted answers. So as a former Civil Servant who knew a little about phone hacking and the military telephone network, Matthew managed to call the government department that was responsible and make it appear that he was calling from another military location.
The operator, with the false sense of security that she was talking to military personnel, admitted that the document was now in the office of a high-ranking general. Matthew said, "I was like, yes! Got you, you bastards!" After Matthew got back in touch with the MP, questions were raised in parliament and two days later, the document was back in the Public Records Office after being missing for a year.
Finally, the UFO community could confirm that the explosive document Matthew was touting about was real. It mentioned various government departments referred to by vague initials, such as DI55.
These departments were part of the government's UFO report-handling chain, which started with reports of something strange in the sky being made to base staff at the Provost and Security Services (P&SS) based in Corsham.
Matthew explained, "they'd get everything from military pilots reporting they'd chased other aircraft out of their space, right through to low-flying complaints, and anything else that's weird and wonderful." Since this was during the Cold War, these reports could have included complaints relating to Soviet aircraft.
In 2010 the MOD finally confirmed what Matthew had known for almost two decades, when they released a set of documents verifying that P&SS was indeed the central co-ordination point for reports of UFOs made by members of the public and service personnel from across the whole of Britain.
Before being passed up the line to the other departments listed in the document Matthew had uncovered, it wasn't uncommon for plain clothes officers from Corsham to be sent out to interview witnesses about their encounters. Matthew said, "a woman called Anne Henson was visited by officers from the MOD, they were plain-clothed and they told her not to talk to anyone about her sighting. So basically, it's kinda like a 'Men In Black' scenario. You know, guys from the government turn up telling you not to speak about what you've seen." Matthew says that several years later, a file turned up that allowed them to confirm that the officers that visited this witness were officers from Rudloe Manor.
Now understanding a little more about what was going on at Rudloe Manor, Matthew once again turned his attention on the base. Matthew said, "we flew an aircraft over there and got aerial photographs of Rudloe, people didn't have drones or Google Maps back then, so I had photos of the place from the air, that nobody else had." He added, "by flying over, I was able to identify entrances and lift shafts, and a lot of them were still in use at that time."
Armed with his knowledge of the clandestine government departments working out of Corsham, his own experiences of encounters with security, and his unique photographs of the site, Matthew started to publicise his findings and by the mid-90s was hosting regular talks and lectures all over the country. Matthew said, "my talks back then were with a slide projector and slides I'd taken over Rudloe Manor in the aircraft."
It was actually these early lectures of Matthew's that played a part in the creation of this very website. The intriguing talks inspired many to follow in his footsteps and not only learn about these military secrets, but also go and explore many of them.
Photo: © Crown Copyright
Of course, visiting the underground tunnels was Matthews next step too, something that earned him the title 'Bunker Buster'. He remembers, "after our first encounters of going up to the gates to ask about UFOs and having guns pointed in our faces, I became even more interested." Matthew tells us that at this point a lot of cavers had already ventured on sneaky trips into the old stone mines that border the MOD bunkers. He said, "I got a book that said you could send off for a map from Shepton Mallet Caving Club that covered some of the accessible underground areas. I thought it was too good to be true, but lo and behold in the post came some laminated maps of how to get in and where you go underground."
He added, "in those days, because so few people knew about how to get in and what it was all about, all the entrances were open, so we were just able to walk straight in. We were able to get through the quarry tunnels up to where a door separates you from the military tunnels. The famous red door was watched over by a CCTV camera and we couldn't get beyond that."
While cavers before him hadn't been caught or publicised their trips, Matthew wrote about it afterwards in his UFO zine, 'Truth Seekers Review'. "So therefore my card was marked," he said, "they were obviously looking into me and people from Rudloe Manor actually went to visit a number of people that knew me to ask questions."
The MOD also responded to the unwanted attention Matthew was bringing to the base by shutting down parts of it. Matthew explained, "they moved the military police to another area and they then went into this sort of overdrive media campaign of saying 'it's all shutting down, there's nothing here.' It was all a facade."
This change of tact resulted in the tunnels under Rudloe Manor being declassified in 2004, finally Matthew was vindicated. He said, "I got pulled over the coals for saying that they had 25 miles of underground tunnels, and that proved to be true because a naval commander went on Channel 4 television and he literally said to the reporter, 'we have 25 miles of underground tunnels.' So that's another thing I was laughed at when I said but turned out to be true."
By this point, Rudloe Manor was gaining more and more attention from ufologists, being featured frequently in magazines and television programs.
Matthew thinks that it was at this point that the MOD decided to drop the cover-up and go for broke. He explained, "eventually they gave up that policy of trying to hide the fact that they were really doing stuff there, and they built a new, £690 million, intelligence centre, which they called the the Global Operations Security Control Centre (GOSCC)."
There's also a new data centre nearby, which Matthew tells us, "has had hundreds of millions ploughed into it from GCHQ under the auspices that it's a privately owned and run business, but it's all a front. The military are renting server space there and they have military guards there." Matthew says that the Ark data centre extend into the underground tunnels below resulting in them becoming classified once again.
But this isn't the only rumour about the current uses of the Corsham tunnels, as the urban explorer explains, "I've been hearing recently that because so many of these underground bases have all been closed down and many bases have been mothballed, that they've actually started storing nuclear weapons underground at Corsham, which is another reason why there's high security there."
Matthew says this claim is backed up by the fact that the tunnels have recently been opened up to specialist Armed Forces teams, who have been training underground. The official line from the MOD is that they are conducting underground warfare training there, but Matthew thinks this might be a cover story. He said, "they could be training in case there's a fire, they might be able to combat the fire and make sure that it doesn't get as far as the nuclear weapons."
He added, "you need to train people for a reason, and the reason they're training people is because of what they've got stored down there. They don't want the locals knowing about that because there will be an almighty uproar."
Whatever is happening beneath Corsham today, the speculation and rumours haven't gone away. Matthew says, "if the government wants an underground base to hide their secrets in that people cannot get into, then that's fair enough. But when they decide they want to hold their secrets at somewhere like Corsham, they're putting their secrets in a place that is very publicly on the map and surrounded with quarries that people like to explore. These quarries give access to tunnels that go right up to the walls that protect those secrets. Clearly they've chosen a bad place to hide their secrets."
He added, "so you can't blame people for saying, we're not having this, we're gonna continue to explore the tunnels." At the end of the day, people love to uncover a secret. "To know what we're not supposed to know, I think is fascinating," Matthew confessed.
This fascination has lead Matthew to create his YouTube channel, TheSecretVault. Talking about his videos, he said, "on my channel you'll see I love bunkers and tunnels and secret military bases that have now become disused. It's like trying to piece together what might have really been going on at these places in the past, sometimes without knowing too much about them."
Matthew has recently written a foreword for Higgypop.com founder, Steve Higgins' new book entitled 'Hidden, Forbidden & Off-Limits'. Matthew joked, "when Steve asked me to write a foreword for his book, my first thoughts were 'the bastard watched my videos and came to my lectures and then managed to get invited into the place I really really really wanted to go and they never invited me,' just typical isn't it?"
But actually the "bunker buster" is pleased to have influenced people like Steve. "I'm very proud to have inspired people to look into this stuff and to become excited and interested in it," he said, "because to a lot of people it might seem quite geeky to want to find out what happens on a military base. I see no difference in having a fascination in military infrastructure, and the more acceptable pastime of going to military air shows."
You can follow Matthew's adventures on his YouTube channel, TheSecretVault. Be sure to subscribe to ensure you don't miss out of future explorations.
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