The Strange Case of Alfred Burtoo
Hynek Classification: CE3
Shape of Object: Disc
Number of Witnesses: Single
Special Characteristics: Humanoid/Occupant, Landing, Witness Sketch, Animal Reaction, Contact, Communication, Witness Photo
Having been a researcher of all things relating to UFOs and the paranormal, (together with experiencing my own interaction with aliens and a whole rash of sightings being reported throughout the late 70s into the 80’s, covering the areas of North East Hampshire and West Surrey), it was with great interest that I came across a particular newspaper article during mid-August 1983.
The Aldershot News carried a story that was submitted by a local UFO investigator, Mr Omar Fowler. The piece concerned an elderly gentleman who lived in the area, by the name Alfred Burtoo.
It was a warm summer’s night; Alfred Burtoo loved fishing in the early hours and decided to go to his favourite spot along the Basingstoke Canal near North Town, Aldershot. At Government Road he encountered a Ministry of Defence policeman on his beat; they briefly chatted, then once over Gasworks Bridge Alfred went down the embankment turning left and settled down for a nights fishing.
He had his dog “Tiny” with him for company and tethered the dog by taking the bottom joint of his fishing umbrella, sticking it into the ground and securing the dog to it; and then he cast out the fishing line into the canal waters, putting his fishing rod on a rest.
Through the night air he could hear the gong striking 1 o’clock at Buller Barracks; about 15 minutes later Mr Burtoo decided to have a cup of tea from his thermos flask.
Suddenly, a vivid light came over North Town.
Alfred watched in amazement as the illumination went into falling leaf motion over the nearby Aldershot to London main railway line, where the display blacked- out for a few seconds, before turning itself on again and seeming to land on the embankment on the other side of the Gasworks Bridge. He began hearing a strange whining noise, a bit like an electric generator.
"Then, as he looked on, the main lighting went out but Mr. Burtoo could still see some light through boughs of the trees in that area."
Mr. Burtoo thought to himself, well, that can’t be an airplane because of the strange sound and the way this thing had moved; so he lit up a cigarette, still keeping a watchful eye on the landing area, when the dog started growling furiously.
Even though it was a dark night, Mr. Burtoo could just make out a couple of tiny figures coming towards him along the towpath. Trying to stay calm and collected, he told the dog to shut up and stop growling, and being obedient, the dog obeyed his master.
As the figures neared all became clear. No more than five feet in front of Mr.Burtoo now stood two small humanoid figures, each about 4ft high.
He reported that incredibly, “they just stopped and looked at me and I did the same”. Alfred observed that from head to foot they where wearing light green coveralls which looked to be made “like plastic”, (no buttons or other fasteners were noted), and they had helmets of the same colour with black visors so you couldn’t see the faces.
Mr Burtoo said that one of the beings beckoned to him with his right forearm, then turned, still waving his arm; so Mr. Burtoo followed behind him and the other “being” followed, with the three forming a line.
“We walked along the towpath till we reached the railings by the canal bridge”.
The being in front simply went through the railings like a ghost; while Mr. Burtoo climbed over the top, then all three of them crossed Government Road then back down onto the canal footpath.
Going around a slight left hand bend, Mr. Burtoo saw a large object, about 40 to 45ft across, standing on the towpath, with between 10 to 15ft of it jutting out over the bank on the left of the path. Mr Burtoo thought, “Christ, what the hell is that?”
As they drew closer he could see that this craft had steps going up to it. The steps where off line to the towpath and they had to walk onto the grass to go up them; around the hull there seemed to be portholes and the craft rested on two ski type runners.
Following the leader, Mr.Burtoo climbed into the craft. Once inside he was taken aback by the futuristic interior all around him. He could see no sharp corners, everything was smooth and rounded-off; next he was taken into an octagonal room.
The little figure in front of Mr.Burtoo crossed over the room, and then the sound of a sliding door could be heard opening and closing. Mr Burtoo stood in the room to the right of the door, and the entity that had been behind him was standing between him and the door; Alfred didn’t know if this was to stop him leaving the UFO, or not...
For more than 10 minutes Mr.Burtoo stood taking in everything that he could see. The walls, the floor and the ceiling where all black, and looked to him like unfinished metal, whereas the outside looked like burnished aluminium; there was no sign of nuts and bolts anywhere, everything had a seamless, moulded look to it.
What interested Mr.Burtoo most of all was a shaft that rose up from the floor to the ceiling; it was about 4ft in circumference, and on the right hand side of it was a z-shaped handle; on the other side of that stood two more humanoids, similar to those that walked along the towpath with him.
All of a sudden a voice emanated from somewhere in the room and said to Mr.Burtoo, "come and stand under the amber light"; but the poor man couldn’t see any amber light until he took a step to his right, then he could see it…up on the wall just under the ceiling. He stood there for about five minutes, then a voice said, “what is your age”, to which he replied that he would be 78 next birthday.
After a while Mr Burtoo was asked to turn around, which he did, facing the wall; about five minutes later the voice said to him, “you can go, you are too old and infirm for our purpose.”
"As Alfred walked down the steps of the craft using the handrail, he observed that it was made out of interlocking sections…in other words, telescopic."
Stopping halfway between the object and the canal bridge Mr Burtoo looked back and noticed that the dome of the craft looked very much like an oversized chimney cowl, and that it was now revolving anticlockwise.
Then going back to the spot where he had left his faithful dog guarding his fishing tackle, the first thing he did when he got there was to pick up his cold cup of tea and drink it!
Suddenly Mr Burtoo heard the noise that he had heard earlier, just like as an electric generator…which was now starting to carry through the dark night air. Then another major spectacle, he saw the strange craft lift off and the bright lights around it came on again; in fact, this time it was so bright that he could see his fishing float in the water 6 feet away from the opposite bank of the canal; he could even make out the thin iron bars on the canal bridge.
The craft took off at a very high velocity out over the military cemetery in the west, then a little later Mr.Burtoo saw the same light going over the Hogs Back area and out of sight; it was now around 2.00am.
Mr.Burtoo settled down to wait for dawn, which came at 3.3Oam and then, got down to do some fishing, and as incredible as though it may seem, he did not feel inclined to report his experience to anyone immediately. He sat there fishing until 10 o’clock in the morning, at which time two Ministry of Defence mounted policemen rode up to him.
“Any luck mate?” one of them asked.
Mr. Burtoo replied yes “I've had three roach, five rudd and a tench of two and a half pounds and lost a big carp which took me into the weeds”.
Then Alfred started telling the two policemen about the UFO that he had seen, and one of them said, “yes I dare say you did see a UFO. I expect they were checking on our military installations.”
Was this a tongue-in-cheek comment to placate Mr.Burtoo?
As they chatted a man from the lock yard came along and told the MoD policemen that horses where not allowed on the towpath, so the conversation was cut short. Mr.Burtoo continued fishing until 12.30pm, and then returned home at 1.00pm.
His wife Marjorie and a friend noticed straight away that he was somehow different; then Mr.Burtoo went on to tell them that he had seen a UFO, but didn’t dare to say that had been taken onboard the craft!
Returning to the landing site two days later, Mr. Burtoo noticed straight away the foliage where the UFO has stood was flattened and in disarray, yet unfortunately, no photos or soil samples where taken as he feared ridicule and that no one would believe him whatever evidence he produced.
I have learned that just on the other side of the Basingstoke Canal there are some Mechanical Engineers workshops; surely they must have seen or heard something; but apparently no, checks by local investigator Mr. Omar Fowler drew a complete blank; nor could he trace the two mounted policemen, and the occupants of a bungalow near the canal lock, right beside Gasworks Bridge, were away at the time.
One very important fact is that Mr. Burtoo suffered none of the effects often reported by Close Encounter witnesses, such as temporary paralysis, nausea, diarrhoea or time lapse, but as his wife and friend verified, his manner was different. Another thing his wife noticed was that he wasn’t eating much, resulting in weight loss for a time.
Despite the lack of hard data I think that this is one of the most convincing and important reports of a UFO encounter of the third and fourth kind, not to be dismissed lightly….One of the key points which leads me to such a conclusion is that this witness was generally considered by all those who knew him to be a genuine, honest and trustworthy person who had fought in two World Wars…so why on earth would anybody like this make up such a story?
"It certainly wasn’t for financial gain, as he didn’t even seek publicity, although one or two publications did eventually get hold of the story."
AUTHORS NOTE: I have been periodically checking out this spot , walking the canal path and exploring nearby, and have found that the surrounding area is becoming increasingly restricted, (and this all began long before 9/11 or 7/7).
Basically there is special soldier presence in many locations around here, which could be expected to a degree given its military status, but these soldiers include SAS dressed in black, and all fully-armed, which strikes me as a bit OTT: I wonder, could there be something else near this canal that they don't want anyone to accidentally stumble upon?
In early December, 2006, I randomly took lots of digital photos at the alleged landing site - and on one of the images I noticed a very peculiar anomaly.
A weird object has appeared in one frame of a sequence. Nothing untoward was visible in the picture shot directly before this or the one after.
Taken in exactly the same spot as the ‘landing’, (an area which was obviously less overgrown in 1983 than it is today), a mystery object, (looking like what I have called “an ectoplasmic object”), can be clearly seen…something that certainly wasn’t there to the naked eye when I took the picture; nor was it there when I rushed back to check the location again just minutes later.
Upon magnification it looks as if something is manifesting or shape-shifting, about to expand in size…perhaps existing on an interpenetrating dimensional level, making such things detectable only by the eye of the camera or other equipment under certain circumstances.
Despite Mr Burtoo having passed away on August 31st, 1986, with almost religious regularity the local news papers write an abbreviated story about Mr.Burtoo’s encounter each year to coincide with the anniversary of this now famous encounter, and always they trivialise the case, running him down and generally making this witness a laughing stock.
To my mind they seem very keen to do this…and again, one must question ‘why?’ in this area of military D-Notices, (whereby nothing of defence significance can be printed in any of our papers around here), do they go to such lengths to ensure they make it crystal-clear to people that UFO’s don’t exist, and anyone who claims they did see one will be treated in such a detestable manner…period!
An interesting aside/update: In April 2013 we located a friend of Alfred's, who used to go fishing with him.
He confirmed to us in conversation that; 'Alfred was a really nice man, and certainly not given to making stories up'.
The remarkable story of Alfred Burtoo's alleged close
the Basingstoke Canal in Aldershot, Hampshire,
during the small hours
of the 12th
of August 1983, is a
fisherman's tale with a difference:
the one that
was a flying
saucer -- complete with little "green" men. If the
was not lying -- and I for one am convinced he was
presented with an important and highly
detailed account which may teach
a great deal about the
UFO phenomenon, irrespective of
what interpretation we choose to place on it. We
come to understand
more of the reasons why the
authorities are anxious to play down the
Because of its many military establishments Aldershot is known as "The Home of the British Army," and Alfred Burtoo himself had an Army background, having served in the Queen's Royal Regiment in 1924 and the Hampshire Regiment during World War II. Well known as a historian, he had in his time worked as a farmer and gardener, and while living in the Canadian outback hunted bear and fought wolves. Mr. Burtoo told me that he was afraid of nothing, and regarding his encounter, which would have terrified most people, said: "What did I have to fear? I'm seventy-eight now and haven't got much to lose." Prior to his experience he had read no books or magazines on the subject of UFOs, which held no interest for him, yet much of what he claimed has been corroborated by other witnesses.
Alfred Burtoo was a keen and experienced fisherman, and since
weather report for 11/12 August predicted a warm, fine
night, he set off
from his home in
North Town, Aldershot,
at 12:15 a.m., accompanied
by his dog Tiny. On reaching
Government Road he encountered a Ministry
policeman on his beat,
and after a brief chat headed toward
his selected fishing
site, about 115 yards north of the
on Government Road. He undid his fishing
rod holdall and took out the
joint of his fishing
umbrella, pushed it into the soil,
and tied the
dog to it. While unpacking his tackle box he heard the gong at Buller Barracks strike one o'clock. He set up the rod rests, cast out his tackle and then sat down watching the water for fish movements.
"After about fifteen minutes," Mr. Burtoo told me, "I decided to have a cup of tea, which I poured from my thermos. I stood up to ease my legs and was putting the cup to my mouth when I saw a vivid light coming toward me from the south, which is over North Town. It wavered over the railway line and then came on again, then settled down. The vivid light went out, though I could still see a light through the boughs of the trees. I thought, well that can't be an airplane; it's too low, because it was at about 300 feet.
"During this time I had set the cup down on the tackle box and lit a cigarette, and while smoking it my dog began to growl. It was then that I saw two 'forms' coming toward me, and when they were within five feet of me they just stopped and looked at me, and I at them, for a good ten or fifteen seconds." Tiny, an obedient dog, had stopped growling by this time, on her master's command.
"They were about four feet high, dressed in pale green coveralls from head to foot, and they had helmets of the same color with a visor that was blacked out," Mr. Burtoo said. "Then the one on the right beckoned me with his right forearm and turned away, still waving its arm. I took it that he wished me to follow, which I did. He moved off and I fell in behind him, and the chap that was on the left fell in behind me. We walked along the towpath until we got to the railings by the canal bridge. The 'form' in front of me went through the railings, while I went over the top, and we crossed Government Road then went down on the footpath.
"Going around a slight left-hand bend I saw a large object, about 40 to 45 feet across, standing on the towpath, with about 10 to 15 feet of it over the bank on the left of the path. And I thought, Christ, what the hell's that? -- didn't think about UFOs at the time.
When we got down there this 'form' in front of me went up the steps and I followed. The steps were off-line to the towpath and we had to step onto the grass to go up them." Portholes were set in the hull, and the object rested on two ski-type runners.
"Going in the door, the corners weren't sharp, they were rounded-off. We went into this octagonal room. The 'form' in front of me crossed over the room, and I heard a sound as if a sliding door was being opened and closed. I stood in the room to the right of the door, and the 'form ' that had walked behind me stood just inside, between me and the door.
I don't know whether it was to stop me going out or not...."I stood there a good ten minutes, taking in everything I could see. The walls, the floor and the ceiling were all black, and looked to me like unfinished metal, whereas the outside looked like burnished aluminum.
I did not see any sign of nuts or bolts, nor did I see any seams where the object had been put together. What did interest me most of all was a shaft that rose up from the floor to the ceiling." The shaft was about four feet in circumference, and on the right-hand side of it was a Z- shaped handle. On either side of that stood two 'forms' similar to those that walked along the towpath with me.
"All of a sudden a voice said to me, 'Come and stand under the amber light.' I could not see any amber light until I took a step to my right, and there it was way up on the wall just under the ceiling. I stood there for about five minutes, then a voice said, 'What is your age?' I said, 'I shall be seventy-eight next birthday.' And after a while I was asked to turn around, which I did, facing the wall. After about five minutes he said to me, 'You can go. You are too old and infirm for our purpose.'
"I left the object, and while walking down the steps I used the handrail and found it had two joints in it, so I came to the conclusion it was telescopic. I walked along the towpath to about halfway between the object and the canal bridge, stopped, and looked back and noticed that the dome of the object looked very much like an oversized chimney cowl, and that it was revolving anticlockwise.
"I then walked on to the spot where I had left my dog and fishing tackle, and the first thing I did when I got there was to pick up my cold cup of tea and drink it. And then I heard this whining noise, just as if an electric generator was starting up, and this thing lifted off and the bright light came on again. It was so bright that I could see my fishing float in the water 6 feet away from the opposite bank of the canal, and the thin iron bars on the canal bridge. The object took off at a very high speed, out over the military cemetery in the west, and then a little later I saw the light going over the Hog's Back and out of sight. This was around 2:00 a.m." Mr. Burtoo settled down to wait for dawn, which came at 3:30 a.m., and then, he told me, "I got into what I had come out for -- the fishing!"
Incredible though it may seem, he did not feel inclined to report his experience to anyone at the time. He sat there fishing until 10 o'clock in the morning, at which time two Ministry of Defense mounted policemen rode up to him. "Any luck, mate?" one of them asked. "Yes," replied Mr. Burtoo. "I've had three roach, five rudd, a tench of 2 1/2 pounds, and lost a big carp which took me into the weeds." He then started to tell them about the UFO that he had seen, and one of them said, "Yes, I dare say you did see that UFO. I expect they were checking on our military installations."
Was this a tongue-in-cheek comment to placate the old boy? At that moment, anyway, a man from the canal lock yard came along and told the MoD policemen that horses were not allowed on the towpath, and so the conversation was cut short. Mr. Burtoo continued fishing until 12:30p.m., and returned home at 1:00 p.m. He told his wife and a friend of hers that he had seen a UFO, but refrained from telling them that he had been taken on board. "I knew the wife would say, 'No more fishing for you, old man!'"
Alfred Burtoo did not return to the landing site until two days later, when he noticed that the foliage between the canal and the towpath was in disarray. Unfortunately, no photos or soil samples were taken. Mr. Burtoo feels that someone in the guard hut of the nearby Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers workshops must have seen or heard something, but checks by investigator Omar Fowler drew a blank. He was also unable to trace the two mounted policemen. And the occupants of a bungalow near the canal lock beside Gasworks Bridge were away at the time.
Throughout his experience Mr. Burtoo was hoping that a train would cross the railway bridge (Aldershot to Waterloo main line) which is about 100 yards to the south of the landing site, but there was none, at least, not while he was outside the craft: But even if a train had gone by it is doubtful if anyone would have noticed the object except at those times when it was at its most brilliant, i.e. during landing and takeoff. No cars were seen on either Government Road or Camp Farm Road, which runs beside the Basingstoke Canal at the spot where Mr. Burtoo was fishing, nor have any witnesses come forward.
The story of Alfred Burtoo's encounter made headline news in the local paper two months later, as a result of his having written to the Aldershot News initially inquiring if anyone had reported an unusual light at the time of the incident." The paper then notified Omar Fowler, Chairman and Investigations Coordinator of the Surrey Investigation Group on Aerial Phenomena (SIGAP), who subsequently interviewed Mr. Burtoo in October. My first interview with the witness took place the following month, in the presence of local reporter Debbie Collins. The Aldershot News published our positive findings, and this attracted the attention of America's largest-selling tabloid, the National Enquirer, which ran a story on the case in 1984."
Details of the Craft
Mr. Burtoo told me that the shape of the central room was octagonal and the ceiling very low. The floor appeared to be covered with a soft material of some kind because he was unable to hear his footsteps. The internal lighting did not appear to emanate from any particular source, with the exception of the beam of amber light underneath which he was asked to stand. The lighting in general was rather dim. There were no dials, controls, seats, or other objects seen, apart from the central column with its Z-shaped handle.
Mr. Burtoo said that the temperature inside the craft was a little warmer than outside, which would make it about 65 F. He noticed a faint smell similar to that of "decaying meat." If there is any truth to some of the more outlandish hypotheses about the motives of UFO operators, it is perhaps just as well that Mr. Burtoo was found to be too old and infirm for their purpose!
The occupants moved like human beings, although they walked with a rather stiff gait, Mr. Burtoo explained to me. No facial features could be detected since these were covered by the visors. The pale-green one-piece suits also covered the hands and feet, and appeared to be molded onto their thin bodies "like plastic." Mr. Burtoo did not notice if the gloves covered fingers. There were no belts, zippers, buttons or fasteners. All four beings were of the same size and unusually thin shape. Had any females been present, Mr. Burtoo felt sure he would not have failed to have noticed!
The beings spoke in a kind of "sing-song" accent, similar to "a mixture of Chinese and Russian." Mr. Burtoo, in fact, was convinced that they originated here on earth. "I myself do not think they come from outer space," he said, "for we are told by scientists that this planet is the only one with water. If that is the case, how can they survive?"
I asked Mr. Burtoo why on earth he refrained from asking any questions: surely that would be the first thing to do in such a situation? He explained that he simply did not feel it was the right thing to do, as he was anxious to avoid causing offense. As to his "rejection," which he found mildly disappointing, he attributed this to his bronchial and arterial problems, and thought that the amber scanning device (if that is what it was) detected the plastic replacement(s) following an operation for arteriosclerosis.
Alfred Burtoo suffered none of the side effects sometimes reported by close encounter witnesses, such as temporary paralysis, nausea, diarrhea, skin disorders, eye irritation, and so on; nor is he aware of any amnesia or time lapse. But he told me that he did feel "different" after the experience: He ate little for a while, resulting in some loss of weight, and felt less inclined to go out. He also found difficulty getting to sleep, due to continually turning the events over in his mind. But he had few regrets about his extraordinary experience, which in my opinion ranks as one of the most convincing close encounter cases I have investigated.
"Until I had this encounter with the UFO," he told me, "I always took the talk about them with a pinch of salt, but now I know they are a fact. During the time I was with them I felt no fear, only curiosity, nor were they hostile toward me nor I to them. My only regret about the whole affair is that I did not have another person along with me to see and experience something that I did not believe until it happened to me, and I think myself lucky that I am here today to speak about it, for I am sure that these men were out to abduct some person, and that person could have been me. But at the same time I will say that it was the greatest experience of my life."
Alfred Burtoo died on 31 August 1986, aged eighty. Mindful of the possibility that he had finally confessed the story to be a hoax, I wrote to his wife Marjorie and asked if this was so. "It was not a hoax," she replied. "What Alf told you was the absolute truth. My friend who was with me when Alf came home can verify what he said. He looked ab solutely shaken and he told both of us about his experience that he had with the UFO.... He was just like a man that had seen a miracle happen, and we knew he was telling the truth: My husband was not a man who believed in fantasies or had hallucinations.
He was down to earth, and you can take it from me that Alf never changed his mind on the story of what he had seen and experienced."
But the Ministry of Defence remains unmoved. "I was interested to see the report of Mr. Burtoo's alleged encounter," wrote Peter Hucker of Secretariat (Air Staff) 2a. "We have no record of corresponding reports which might support this story. There was certainly no report submitted to us by the MoD police concerning the incident: MoD interest in the subject is limited to those sightings which are directly relevant to the air defence of the UK.
The majority of reports received here are often weeks old, and we simply cannot devote public funds to the detailed investigation of such sightings when no threat to national defense has been demonstrated."