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UFO Sighting Cyprus


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The Cyprus UFO – From the Archives of The Plymouth UFO Research Group

One of the very best UFO cases that our UFO Research Group ever investigated (and indeed, in my opinion, one of the best UFO cases of all time), came from a retired Regimental Sergeant Major with the Royal Marines whilst he was in command of doing night manoeuvre exercises with 1400 marines in Cyprus in1971.  Photographic evidence of the UFO was also obtained, and the 4 photographs are reproduced for this article, but please bear in mind, these photos are time exposures, so shows the object as it trailed across the sky.

The retired Regimental Sergeant Major  (now to be referred to as ‘Steve’ for this article) contacted our group shortly after hearing us on the local BBC Radio in 1993, to let us know of the extraordinary incident which occurred.  Our report was published in several journals, including Issue One of the best ever UFO magazine (but now sadly no longer in publication) ‘UFO Reality’. What is now detailed below is a verbatim by ‘Steve’ of this astonishing UFO incident, witnessed by 1400 Royal Marines, and virtually the entire population of Cyprus!  What then follows is further research and conclusions.  Enjoy!

“I used to be a member of the Royal Marines, and we were part of a group called 41 Commando Group that was stationed in Malta. We used to depart from Malta 2 or 3 times a year and go to Cyprus for what’s called field exercises. I don’t know if you know the shape of Cyprus, but it looks something like a rugby ball laid on its side. On this particular night (31st May, 1971), we were deployed in the field. The unit deployed with Echo company on the left hand side, in other words on the west end of the island. We had 2 companies on the north and my unit which was Command HQ, was due south at a place called Ghoshi Trooli. Altogether there were about 1400 men on the exercise.

At our position, we were doing what is known as a night move, and what happens is you move a Command HQ from one place in the field to another place in the field in darkness. One of my jobs was to control that move. So I would depart, set up a new location and then the unit would have to move to me, and we would have the spaces where they all went. Shortly before 8.00 pm, we drove to a new location. There was a particularly bad piece of track on the way there and I dropped off a young marine, a policeman, and said to him to stay on this track and when the unit comes, make sure you push them towards me in the right direction. There was one place where they could make a bad turn.

Shortly after getting on the ground, I located the various places and cleared them out. About 8 o’clockish a very bright light appeared behind a crest maybe a thousand metres away. What it looked like initially was the headlights of a car on full beam, situated behind the hill. Because this was a night move with no lights, I got on the radio, gave my call sign and told them to turn their lights off. The light just got stronger so I transmitted again, negative lights. As I’m talking this light came over the crest about a thousand meters away and you go, ‘it’s not bloody headlights, it’s a flare’. I thought at first this was a mortar flare I was looking at. Mortar flares are stationary. You fire it up in the air and the aim is to illuminate the area. They hand by a parachute. The initial reaction was mortar flare and I was pretty concerned because we were in carbon grove, which is dry trees and if a flare lands amongst them you’ve got major problems. Twelve men had been killed in similar circumstances. A flare started in the Troodhos forest and a large number of English troops were killed. This was years before in 1957, which was in my time.

So now when I’m in a senior position in 1971, I think I’ve got a phosphorous flare hanging above a bloody carbon grove and I’m not going to be very happy. It appeared from a thousand meters, which as I said was from behind the crest but it could have been quite high in the sky. The impression I got was that initially it was quite low. My initial impression was that this object of light was about 5-10,000 feet. That’s a complete guess.

There was about 20 of us at this place, looking at this light, when we suddenly realise that it isn’t a flare and you say ‘well, what else can it be.’ The more you looked and the more people spoke, you couldn’t relate it to something else you’d seen, it was difficult to pin a label on. This was a massive thing. It appeared to be about the size of a golf ball at arms length. That’s the angle we were looking at (pointing 45 degrees). You had no obvious sign of movement. The main mass of light was almost spherical but it was putting out so much radiance, it looked like nothing you’d ever seen before. All it was like, was a burning ball of light. The light was extremely bright and when I’m talking about extremely bright, I’ve never seen anything as bright in my life.

The brilliance wasn’t burning enough to burn your eyes but it was just… awesome. The nearest I can get to it is if you lowered the sun. And this is what I mean by a burning ball of light. The thing was that bright you see. It was like a burning orb of light, one orb of brilliance. I could also see other lights amongst it or thought I could. Not obvious lights. They weren’t like porthole lights with little people putting their heads out and waving at you. It was just what I thought indications of other lights, the same colour as the main one. You had this burning ball coming overhead like that and I am seeing something, not actually a cross but other lights roughly that shape within the centre light.

Front and back of it, especially when it was lower in the sky, you had like a vortex of movement as though you had displacement of air. In other words, if a thing is moving it would push air backwards and forwards. I could see something like that. You get a lot of dust in Cyprus, especially at that time of year. Very dry dusty conditions and you get a lot of dust in the atmosphere. If you had a burning ball of phosphorous, you would have the central core of phosphorous, then the glare of the diffused light. If you were moving that phosphorous through conditions where there was dust, you would get movement, a push vortex and a vortex behind.

There was a lot of chat among the 20 men. You’re all talking about it. You’ve never seen anything like it in your life. We are now watching this for some minutes. Remember I told you that I’d left a marine corporal guarding at the track. We all of a sudden hear this (beats hand on table) and this guy came over the hill doing about 600 mph!! This is in full kit. And you know Cyprus is a hot and sticky place. Anyway, he came up and after panting for a bit said, ‘Can you see that?’ We said yes and he said ‘Thank Christ for that’. It wasn’t till that happened that you realized that by being in a group of people watching, it wasn’t frightening as it was if you were alone. I mean for a Marine Corporal to disobey my orders and bugger off, then it was something. To a lone individual…..to run away from something is a serious offense, let’s not disguise the fact. He deserted the post that I had given. For a lone individual, what he saw by himself…..meant it was a bit more serious than that.

Everybody on the exercise, about 1400 men, saw the light. During this period the unit, you remember, is doing a night move. As I said we had radio sets and we could hear transmissions of other people taking about the light, and at one stage the following dialogue took place between a call sign which is a unit and a commanding officer, Sunray. There was a little bit of chat about the light then Sunray said, ‘It must be a flying saucer ha ha’. There were the words he used.

We watched this for 22 minutes. We were all professional observers. I carry powerful binoculars, night glasses, and there was about half a dozen pairs of binoculars there. Now you may think that what I was going to tell you is stupid, but the light went from ground zero and took 22 minutes to disappear out of sight of binoculars to the right of the moon. We didn’t use the glasses when the light was easily visible because it was so bright it might have damaged your eyes through binoculars. It was when it was at height that we used the binoculars. So using night glasses leaning on a land rover, watching this light, the moon is now hanging over Dhekelia Garrison and the object ended up to the right of the moon.

A point I want to make is that there was no impression of speed, sound or movement. You were looking at something that seems to drift past you. I’ve been trained for 27 years to judge distances, that’s what I’m paid for. But I couldn’t tell you if that was 1000 meters high, 5000 meters high, 50 mile high. I’m also a professional parachutist, so I knew distances in the air, but I couldn’t tell you how far away it was or how high. It was just something you’d never seen before. The day we saw the light was the same day that the Americans had launched one of their moon shots. I think it was the second one.

pic1 ufo

We then moved back to the barracks. When I got back to base, I wrote a complete report of everything we’d seen that night. It covered about 5 pages. I posted it to my wife first and told her to keep the letter because I knew it was something different – and she ditched it!! The next morning, we were all talking in the mess about the light, so I rang Akrotiri and asked to speak to the station Net. Officer and I couldn’t get hold of him. The lines were burning. So I contacted my opposite number there and spoke to him. He said, ‘Is it about the light we saw last night,’ and I said yes. He said ‘the switchboard had been jammed solid’. Then he said that ‘it was the Mariner shot (NARAS) that’s all we were watching’.


Later that morning the colonel sent for me and (we were referring to the light in general discussion) he instructed that all sub-units who’d seen it, were requested to write a report on it and anybody who had taken photos to hand them in as part of the research into this Mariner thing. And this was done. I then got to draw ammunition. I used to lodge my ammunition in a compound. Bring it off a ship, put it in the compound and draw from the army barracks. Everyone you saw would say, did you see that light and you’d have a chat about it. I go down there and was talking to the blokes about it. One bloke had come out of the mess, drunk: out of an army mess, drunk. He gets to the car park and goes to start his car and he looks up and sees what we saw and he said in seconds he was stone cold sober. He raced back into the mess goes ga a ga and they all run out to watch the light.

The Turks or the Greeks, I don’t know which but one of them believes a light, a bright light like this means the coming of the new Messiah. When I went for the ammo, locals worked in the ammunition dump, and one of them was telling us that his village had seen this as part of their sort of religion of Christ and that, and they all turned out and were praying in the streets, thinking that the Boss Man had arrived again. It wasn’t just a few people. It was reported in the local press so it could easily be checked, I’m not giving you a load of waffle. You could dead easy get a check of it.

I started collating the reports and listening to other people talking about it. Echo Company was on the left of the Island. Now they had observed what we had observed, maybe ten minutes prior. So let’s say at about 7.35 pm, they’d noticed this light coming from West to East, so it was coming straight towards them. This light came from West to East. Halfway across the Island, it then turned from North to South. So Echo Company watch it coming towards them, it then comes inland turns from North to South. We watch it as it came over the mountain and flies south. I didn’t know they had Mariner craft that turn a right angle basically and then disappear. All the reports were handed in, photos and negatives and quite a lot got handed in. If you’ve got 1400 blokes in the field, you’re going to have a hundred of them with cameras, aren’t you? There was a large quantity of films handed in. I would say over a hundred rolls of film.

 pic 2 ufo

Weeks later it was confirmed that this was a UFO. You see what happened, the first morning when the colonel asked me to get the reports, he didn’t give me a full brief. I would be responsible for running the unit and he would normally be dead straight with me. Now for some reason he had a top level meeting with his company commanders and would have discussed it with them, but he didn’t tell me the full story. In the centre of Cyprus is a place called the Troodhos Mountains, on top of which they’ve got the most sophisticated radar in the world. They’re called golf balls because of their appearance and are maybe 3-400 feet in circumference. They used to monitor the U2 flights and long range radar transmissions. There’s a fighter base at Akrotiri and it’s a very sophisticated fighter base. On RAF bases abroad, they always have QRF (quick response) fighters burning internally. So on an operational base you always have the latest aircraft there, ready to go.

About 2 or 3 weeks later we were off the coast of (location deleted) doing a job. I went in for my morning sherry with him and he said, ‘That UFO’s been confirmed.’ So I said, what UFO? “Didn’t I tell you?’ he said. I said, no but you’re going to tell me now, aren’t you? And then he explained that this was a UFO and it was an official job from reports, they went off and then it then came back as confirmed as a UFO. I was told this by him – that is the colonel – that during this, those ‘golf balls’ up on Troodhos had traces early on in the game. They put 2 Lightnings up (RAF fighter aircraft), which were capable of about 1200 mph. They would obviously have an early interception course on this particular object, whatever it was, and they could be put alongside it. And the way it was said to me was, ‘Two Lightings couldn’t touch it’. In service parlance that means that you can up two aircraft and they could not get those planes in contact with the object.


The radar at Troodhos pinged them early, and the Lightning’s went up. You never get a single plane going off QRF, you always get two. You’ve got two fighters depart from Akrotiri to investigate, told them to have a look, so they get a vector course. They pick it up on their radar long before it’s visible, probably 5 to 600 miles away. So the Troodhos radar would have picked it up at distance, the Lightings would be sent up to investigate it and they can’t touch it doing 1200 mph. Yet when you ask me how fast is it going and I’m telling you it is almost stationary. If it looked almost stationary, and the Lightning’s couldn’t touch it, it must have been a fair old height. But none of the facts relate, it doesn’t fit in with anything you’ve seen before.

 pic 3 ufo


I would be very interested in seeing what the Lightning’s saw. They would have been put up early enough by radar to get within good seeing distance to it. They all actually carry cameras on board, so they would trigger the cameras if nothing else. These would be cine cameras. These photos I’ve given you were taken by a naval publicity photographer. In the middle of the Island you had the support company, which was firing the weapons. The photographer who took these, was with that company. He was using tripods set up for night firing. It wasn’t just a hit and miss affair with a guy with a camera. This is one of the few occasions that a guy was there with a proper set of equipment, tripods, etc. This guy was photographing what is known as Wombats and Nobats. They’re anti-tank guns and have an open breech called venture and when the round fires, the propellant burns out the back in a big flash, so when you see them they look very dramatic. You know the gun crew, the hooded figures, the round going out, a big flash at the back. That’s what his camera was set up for.

When the light appears the guy put his camera on it and included these on the same reel of negs. And these were handed in as part of what I told you. These I imagine are the only 3 surviving photos of this. He handed the roll in but a couple of days later, he was in the same mess as me, gave me a set of the prints he had done. And that’s what these are. I had more photos than this but a couple have been nicked. I think I had 5 or 6 originally. When I showed them to people, I loaned them to one or two of them and possibly they kept one or two. I had about half a dozen at first. Luckily I’ve still got these. I’m well aware that it’s taken me 20 years to tell you this. Now if I was trying to do a snow job, I wouldn’t wait 20 years to tell you what I saw. I’m also no idiot. You could probably falsify photos 1, 2 & 3, by a dark room, a neon light and a clever photographer. But there is no way you could do this one (photo 2) which shows the lights of Dhekelia Garrison, 6 or 7 miles away.

The photos are time exposures, so don’t show the ball of light as such but its trail across the sky. I don’t know how long he left the shutter open. You can get a good idea of how bright it was. The photos also show the illuminated dust in the atmosphere as it passes through. Lots of people who saw this are still serving. You’ll find that the senior officers like me have gone but lots of the younger ones will still be serving.

It’s taken me 20 years to tell you now, because you don’t like getting ridiculed. I’ve told it to other people because the beauty of it is I can prove what I’m saying. Luckily I’ve still got the photos showing the horizon. There was no cover up or hush up on the base because it fitted in with the Mariner thing, but we all knew it wasn’t that. What was surprising was that it didn’t make the English press. I’ve sometimes read or heard on the radio, that someone has seen a flying saucer. It’s amazing that on a thing like this where you’ve got, in my case, at least a thousand or more trained observers, whether they be junior or senior, all looking at the same object, and I’m talking about at least half an hour or more. Plus from different locations spread over an area of a couple of hundred square miles. You’ve got the whole small isolated community like Cyprus seeing it, and reported on their radio, their own media and yet it never got any massive press coverage over here.

I just heard you by accident on the radio and what clicked in my mind was when you said the MoD had got something on these lines. I thought I’ll tell him about the photos. Otherwise they would have just lain there forever.”

That is the end of ‘Steve’s’ account of what was witnessed.

We at PUFORG contacted the MOD in 1993, and got this response:

“The files for 1971 would have been sent to the public records office a long time ago and are covered by the terms of the public records act, remaining closed from public viewing, until 30 years after the last action was taken” Since 2008, the MOD has been releasing it’s UFO files to the National Archives Database, and interestingly, the Cyprus UFO event is never mentioned.  This is very surprising, and is also highly notable by its absence, when you consider “Steve” was ordered to collect all photos and reports, and that later his Colonel had confirmed that it was a UFO!

Further research has been carried out regarding the launch of the Mariner 9 probe.  Experts in this field have ruled out any possibility that the object seen over Cyprus could have been misidentified as being the space probe, which was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 22:23 GMT.

The Royal Marines are amongst the best trained observers anywhere in the world, and to have 1400 of them, along with the population of Cyprus, to observe this, makes this report one of the best UFO cases on record.

 Written By Martyn Hicks and the Plymouth UFO Research Group



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