Many years ago my friend Paul and I used to work for an investigation agency. One job that we had taken on was for a farmer who lived way out in the countryside down in Cheshire and near to the Welsh border. About once a month five or six of his sheep would disappear despite them being taken inside at night, never a sign of forced entry or anything.

It seemed fairly straightforward, just hang around at the appropriate time of the month and scupper the 'ne'er do wells' as they stuff sheep into a truck, we didn't think they were just running off with one under each arm or something. Thirty minutes to the Welsh border and then they would have been clear as the English police wouldn't follow them there and in large flocks who can tell one sheep from another?

That's why in the early hours of the morning Paul and I were sitting in a 1968 mini car parked near a drystone wall surrounding a fairly large reservoir. Paul in the drivers seat and me as passenger, a girl called Linda who worked for the same agency was in the back seat. Actually she was Pauls' girlfriend and it was her car. The farm we were watching was about a quarter mile away and from our position we could see most of the buildings and the only approach road. We took turns with a pair of 8x50 binoculars but mostly sat playing cards and downing the occasional beer while we waited for the sheep snafflers.

Paul was shuffling the cards and I lit a cigarette while looking out of the windscreen. A mile or two away there was a small wood and the trees were pretty much silhouetted against the sky glow. Drifting slowly from right to left (or north to south if you have a map) was a bright 'electric violet' light. It left a sort of wobbly, illuminated smoke trail behind itself as it drifted closer and closer to the trees not moving at much more than ten miles an hour or so.

To be honest I just thought "Hmmmm, that's odd" and went back to the card game. Then it struck me!!!! I looked at Paul and pointed silently at it. We all got out of the car and moved back down the road a bit to get a better look (and be sure it wasn't just some sort of reflection from the windscreen or something). It was still there, drifting lower now. Some of the trees were lit up from the front and some from behind so it must have been just above them. Then it sank out of sight and the light faded.

Disappearing sheep are unusual and so are odd lights in the sky. Perhaps it wasn't a farmer looking to increase his flock over the border, maybe the 'Spiders From Mars' liked a bit of mutton now and then?

A map showed the way to the woods and it was only about five minutes drive away. When we got there we turned the car to face the shortest route to a major busy road. None of this turning around on a narrow road while death rays fall from the skies for us.

We looked to the left where about five hundred metres of fairly ploughed field separated us from the dark and forbidding woods.

Paul. "What now then?".

Bernie. (shrugs) "I dunno. Have a sit down and think?".

Paul. "We are sitting down you turnip. We're in a car.".

I pulled out my hipflask and we both took a healthy slug of 'Thought Provoker'. The woods looked much the same...... Forbidding and dark.

Bernie. "I suppose we should wander over and take a look. Investigate sort of thing."

Paul. "I saw 'Quatermass And The Pit' on the telly last week. You know? Giant grasshoppers come down from space and rip you to bits, turn you into zombies too.".

Bernie. (blinks) "That was just a film man. Anyway. It was in black and white so it doesn't count.".

We all got out of the car and had another drink while we made our plans. Linda would stay with the car, actually, a few hundred metres down the road from the car and behind a good tree. The engine would show up really well in infra-red and we didn't think anybody should be sitting in it. She tottered off down the lane while Paul and I looked at the field and the woods about five hundred metres away.

In good weather it might be Farmer Browns arable field but with approaching winter it was Farmers Browns less than arable mud pit.

We gazed at it gloomily. We were both familiar with those old WW2 prisoner of war films where, just as our heroes are crossing an open bit of land, the searchlights go on and the MG42's open up. Paul would stick close to the ten foot high hedge on the right and I would go along the left. We climbed over the gate and separated. A few minutes for me to move over and then a double squelch on the radio, Paul was in position. I double squelched back and started to move. Five hundred metres.

Four hundred metres and there was no sign of light or movement in the woods. My radio clicked.

Paul. "I saw 'War Of The Worlds' last month. That was in colour. They eat people too.".

Bernie. (Grunts)."I saw it".

Three hundred metres. Not a breath of wind. Perfect silence. Radio clicks again and I jump.

Paul. "You know at the beginning, when those two blokes go up to the flying saucer and it turns them both into piles of dust? Was that a green ray or a red ray?"

Bernie. "It was green. The red sparkley one got the tanks. And one car.". There was a squeak from Linda back in the lane.

Two hundred metres and the radio clicks again. This time it's Linda and she can hear something moving in the trees near her. I'm about to tell her that it's just the wind when I realise that there isn't any. It's so quiet, none of the noises that you normally hear in the country at night. I felt like my ears were stuffed with cotton wool. Everybody is jumpy but sheep had been disappearing. Perhaps the sheepnappers had come back to fleece Farmer Brown and Linda was alone back on the lane. Anyway, it was a good excuse to go back.

We crept back and took a shufti over the gate. Linda was dithering about in the lane, no obvious critter clinging to her back and controlling her mind, no rolling zombie eyes or anything so we hopped over to join her. Paul and I stayed near the woods where she said she had heard something while she went to fetch the car. Perhaps we flinched a bit when she started the motor (after all cars had been known to go bang before and it had been left alone for a while) But, everything was OK. We couldn't see much point in hanging around after all that and so we called it a night.

The next morning (Sunday) Paul and I went back alone pretty early. We felt my AR-15 and Pauls' shotgun might even the intergalactic odds a bit too. Lots of ground mist covering the worst of the mud in the field. It drifted around the trees in the woods pretty impressively. In the centre of the woods there was a natural depression about thirty feet deep and around two hundred feet across, the trees surrounding it had broken branches and some scorch marks on them. The mist filled the hollow but soon cleared up as the sun rose. There were no marks on the ground that we could see. Scorch marks prove nothing, neither do a few broken branches.

We filled in our reports and left it at that. Paul and I were talking about this a few years ago. Strangely he remembers three lights in the sky while I only remember one. I understand that this is quite common in UFO reports, the witnesses having differing memories.

So, I have no idea what we saw. I can't bring myself to believe in little critters with big heads swooping about making off with a few sheep, but, I'd like to think of an explanation that doesn't involve white coats and butterfly nets.