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The 1954 French flap:

The index page for the 1954 French flap section of this website is here.

June 12, 1954, Ussel, Corrèze:

Reference number for this case: 12-Jun-54-Ussel. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

In 1954, from May to June, there was a wave in the United States and then in France of newspaper stories reporting "explosions" of automobiles windshields, estimated to be mysterious in their number especially, and attributed to various causes: sometimes to the "Martians", sometimes to a "collective hysteria", sometimes to manufacturing defects or wear, or even to "vandals".

A French case of this "glass cancer" reported in the newspaper Le Bien Public, Dijon, June 15, 1954, and published by the ufology group ADRUP in the 1980's, is as follows:

It was reported from Limoges that Mr. Henri Escurat, a merchant in Saint-Etienne-la-Geneste, was driving on June 12, 1954, on the road from Neuvic to Ussel, when he suddenly heard a sharp noise and realized that his car's windshield was all streaked. The visibility remained good, so he had resumed his route, but 5 km further, the glass completely crumbled and was reduced to pieces.

Reports:

[Ref. vi1:] "VIMANA 21" UFOLOGY BULLETIN:

TUESDAY JUNE 15: A CASE OF WINDSHIELD CANCER CASE OF THE CORREZE -

Limoges: a case of windshield cancer has just been reported in the Ussel region. Monsieur Henri Escurat, a trader at St. Etienne la Geneste, who was driving on the road from Neuvic to Ussel on Saturday, suddenly heard a sharp noise and noticed that the windshield of his car was all streaked. As the visibility remained good, the driver resumed his route, but 5 km further, the glass split completely and was reduced to crumbs.

The source is said to be the newspaper Le Bien Public.

Explanations:

The windshields "explosions" in 1954, called "window cancer" or "parebrisite" in French, has become an often cited example of "collective illusion" or "mass hysteria". Sociologists and psychologists refer to these incidents in France and in the United States to ensure that "crowds" can easily fall into unfounded collective myths.

And of course, some "skeptical" ufologists explain that the "window cancer" that preceded the wave of "flying saucers" of 1954 proves that the saucers too were only illusions.

None put forward the following point: "collective hysteria" here would in any case concern only the interpretation of the facts, not the facts themselves. And the interpretations were not really "hysterical", they were attempts at rationalization quite understandable and sensible in the context of the time.

All sorts of explanations were advanced at the time for the "window cancer", such as an effect of atomic experiments, Martian activity, or "vandals". In the United States, the police found that the epidemic affected mainly old cars, and it was thought that the windows would explode as a result of their wear.

In the windshield explosions reported in France in 1954, I find "constants": the mention of a light or a flash, blue when the color is mentioned, the lack of sens of the explanations by vandals, Martians, atomic tests, the insistence of the witness(es) that no pebble struck the windshield, the hearing of an explosion sound, the opacity of the window after the explosion.

Some of these characteristics have really no strangeness: an explosion noise is perfectly normal when a windshield breaks. The window becomes opaque because the anti-burst protection layer produced this. The lack of notice of a shock by a pebble or something else can also be explained: the windshield may have been hit and weakened by a hit long before, and then explodes only later when nothing hits it.

I have less idea about the flash or the light. Is it an illusion caused by the sudden opacity of the glass?

Jimmy Guieu linked this mystery to the extraterrestrials, but few ufologists followed him on this path. The Press did it sometimes, but without claiming this "explanation" was serious.

For the present case, there is really no reported strangeness. But like ADRUP, I think it is useful to document these occurrences, as this is the only way to then evaluate the meaning of this phenomenon.

Keywords:

(These keywords are only to help queries and are not implying anything.)

Ussel, Neuvic, Corrèze, Henri Escurat, windshield

Sources:

[---] indicates sources which I have not yet checked.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross February 3, 2019 First published.

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This page was last updated on February 3, 2019.