We have all heard authors talk about that difficult second novel. It can come with great expectations and great pressure. This wasn’t the case for me writing The Watchers. Why? Because in many ways my second novel is my first. You see, this was the story I wanted to write before I penned my debut, The Ghost Hunters. In a way, the story had lived in my head since I was a boy. And it was inspired by a true story.
“Do you believe in UFOs?”
I didn’t. But that was before I heard the story of the thing that came out of the sky and landed in a field behind a primary school in the Welsh village of Broad Haven in 1977.
The tale was relayed to me, many years ago, by the owner of a Welsh bookshop. I was sceptical. But intrigued. So I went to Broad Haven, looked up the history of the place and gradually, over many weeks, my opinions on the matter began to change. I travelled to the village a sceptic and came away a believer.
What happened in Broad Haven?
During the winter of 1977, UFOs and giant silver suited entities appeared to people all over an area of the Pembrokeshire National Park. The events caused alarm at the highest levels of Government, with officials deliberately keeping ministers in the dark as they quietly ordered a military police investigation into the happenings.
Don’t take my word for it.
The events are now a matter of public record, with declassified documents making clear that the Welsh “Terror Triangle” – as it was referred to in the national media – was a distinct threat to the security of our nation. Why? Because the immediate locality was scattered with sensitive military installations, including RAF Brawdy and a top secret US Navy research establishment that was covertly monitoring Russian submarines.
This was the height of the Cold War, remember. Which government official wanted to admit that we were not in control of our own skies?
Declassified documents show that the officials at the MOD asked the military police to look into the happenings. They deliberately did not inform ministers they had done so.
No Final Report on the Welsh UFO mystery has survived or, if it has, it has not been released.
Nick Pope, who investigated UFOs for the MOD, said: “This bombshell document shows how the MoD’s UFO project asked the RAF Police to conduct a secret investigation into these mysterious events, while Parliament, the media and the public were being told the subject was of no defence significance. Defence Ministers were cut out of the loop so as to allow for plausible deniability.”
And Lord Black of Brentwood commented: "A number of recently released Ministry of Defence files leave little doubt that a small number of sightings of aerial phenomena – particularly by military personnel, pilots and air traffic controllers – remain unexplained and unidentified. Neil Spring’s fascinating new novel The Watchers, inspired by declassified MoD files, underlines how many unanswered questions there are. There needs to be further examination of these issues in the hope of learning something new."
The Broad Haven Primary School
By far the most intriguing report from the area was the sighting of a landed UFO in a field behind the local primary school. The children all swore they saw something and still stand by their accounts. No explanation for the dome shaped object they saw on the ground has ever been found; though their original drawings survive to this day, and were an early inspiration for the novel.
Though the novel is loosely inspired by these events, it is of course a work of fiction, following Parliamentary research Robert Wilding as he returns to his home village to investigate the unusual sightings at the bequest of a high ranking Government official. From secret tunnels beneath Westminster, to the farthest reaches of the British coastline, Wilding must face the truth about his parents’ deaths and the truth about Broad Haven.
He must face The Watchers.
The Watchers is published by Quercus Books on the 24 September. Already television and film production companies are offering on the rights.