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The 1954 French flap:

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October 23, 1954, Saint-Avold, Moselle:

Reference number for this case: 23-Oct-54-Saint-Avold. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.



The puzzling documents of Jean Gérault

For the first time a photographer says he operated close to a "saucer"

If every day brings dozens of testimonies of the existence of flying saucers, it must be admitted that nothing tangible had hitherto furnished a more concrete proof of their presence.

The few photographic documents that we owned were far too nebulous, too much imperfect, if not questionable, to give a real idea of the conformation of the mysterious gear. That is why we do not think we exaggerate by claiming that the narrative below and the three shots of a saucer that we present opposite, constitute, especially in the photographic level, the most important documents in the world, now part of the huge file of the "saucers".

This narrative and these sensational views, we owe them to a young photographer of the Lorraine, Jean Gérault, aged 23 years.

He did not suspect that he was preparing to live, in the North of the Lorraine, the most moving minutes of his life.

The appointment of Saturday evening ...

It was Saturday, October 23, that destiny was going to put Jean Gérault in the presence of a flying saucer.

That day, around 8:15 p.m., as he does every Thursday and every Saturday, Jean was walking in front of the Cinema Eden, in the center of Sarreguemines. He was waiting for two comrades with whom he had agreed to go and spend the evening.

Tired of waiting, he set out on foot in the darkness of October, under the cloudy sky, towards Welferding. A disappointment awaited him. There was indeed a party, but at Ippling, beyond Welferding. Jean Gérault realized that he just had to go back to his lodger, Mr. Léon Bour, 20 rue Alexandre Geiger.

A bright light in the distance

Exceeding the last houses of the locality, on the road to Forbach, in the direction of Saint-Avold took a few more steps.

And he was about to return when, in the distance, on the road, it seemed to him, Jean saw a bright orange hue, which intrigued him. It was as if a parked vehicle was calling for attention by eaving a single powerful headlight on.

The power of this headlight was astonishing...

"People may have started a fire," he thought. Moving on the road that crosses a basin in these places, Jean Gérault walked towards the light. He was perhaps at one kilometer away. He was still two or three hundred yards away from it when he had a stroke of the body. He had just realized that the luminous focus emanated not from the unusual beacon of a vehicle, but from a dome of which he already clearly guessed the outlines, and that irradiated a mass that the dome dominated with metallic reflections. He observed at the same moment that the unknown device Was not on the road, but a little apart, in the neighboring meadows.

Instinctively, he looked around him. But no one stirred in the dim light.

Like a plate turned upside down

Then he ventured, flowing from tree to tree, along the road, driven by a curiosity which, in him, disputed with terror.

He now saw the saucer very well. For it was a saucer, of the most calssical shape, that which is compared a little to a hollow plate turned over.

Thus, the heart beating and the breath short, half crawling in the ditch that borders the road, standing up behind each tree, he succeeded in concealing himself behind a trunk, at about a dozen meters from the craft.

The latter stood motionless, one meter or one meter fifty in height, above the neighboring meadow. It was not posed on anything, but emitted a slight purr, like that of an electric motor in operation.

The lower part, with metal polish, was limited, on the outside, by a kind of quite thin strip, metallic too, at least in appearance.

The upper part was a semi-cylindrical cupola made of a material similar to frosted glass.

A strong antenna, fixed to the lower part, stood quite clearly above the whole. The entire interior of the dome was illuminated, and in some places the rays marked the "frosted glass" areas, as if several light sources had projected their beams from the inside to the outside. Because of the consistency of what was inside.

Four shots

In the pocket of his gabardine there was a small camera. Trembling as he was, Jean Gérault did not want to miss the exceptional opportunity offered to him. "Twelve meters from the saucer, trembling from head to foot, I took like this two pictures... And then the camera fell from my hands. I bent down to pick it up, I took two other shots still, always in pose, and then, without asking for more, bent as much as I could in the ditch, I fled back to sixty meters of the craft."

Departure obliquely

"I do not know why, but it was from that moment that I realized even more the fear that was in me."

"Behind another tree, I then looked at the saucer a little better than I had done when I was photographing it." It is in these terms that Jean Gérault tells us the most dramatic episode that he lived on this Saturday evening.

A minute perhaps after his return, without anything special, except that the intensity of its light had announced its departure, Jean suddenly saw the saucer rise obliquely towards the sky, pass very quickly over the neighboring groves, and disappear, far before him in the low clouds.

"I did not reveal anything"

Still shaken by chills, wondering if he had really dreamed, the young man went back to Welferding and Sarreguemines. The road was deserted. No other witnesses had attended the phenomenon.

"I went for a glass of white wine in a cafe, to recover a bit of my emotions. Then I went back to bed. It could have been midnight and a half. A comrade who lives with me, besides, saw me arrive.

"I revealed nothing that happened to my comrade and nothing to the others of my entourage. I was afraid that I would not be taken seriously. And since I had to go to Vézelise the following Saturday, I thought it was better to wait for my father to develop my film." In the days that followed, Jean received no news suggesting that there had been other witnesses of the passage of the saucer. From Welferding, it is true, one can scarcely see what is happening in the bowl where the craft landed.

Until midnight...

Saturday, October 30, evening, in their laboratory, Mr. Henri Gérault and his son worked until midnight to the development of the film and the printing of the photographs came yesterday. They were coming back from Stenay.

And it is in the offices of our central editorial office in Nancy that Jean Gérault, a young man of sympathetic and serious looks told us the unordinary story that we just delivered to our readers.

Between skepticism and astonishment

It is not for us to judge. We have just given the fact with objectivity which, without doubt, will motivate an investigation. This investigation will be followed and we will give conclusions to Mr. Gérault, it is certain that we are divided, throughout his narrative, between skepticism, doubt, and astonishment.

The opinion of an aviation specialist

Lieutenant-Colonel Leroy, vice-president of the Aero Club de l'Est, to whom we submitted yesterday evening, the documents we published on the front page told us:

"The documents I have just been submitted to are impressive." I had known until now of only one serious photographic document: one that was taken in the United States, already a few years ago. It was an overall photograph of a craft in the air. At the sight of the American document one evokes the possibility of luminous phenomena due to the lens systems, encountered often in the sky. Whereas the photo presented here has many material aspects more precise and more concrete. We remain perplexed in front of the photos that one just put under my eyes, whose details can hardly be the effects of optical illusions. If it is a trick, this trick, in itself, already, would be a tour de force.



It could not fly, obviously...

was born in the mind of a prankster

NANCY. -- Tuesday morning, one of our Lorraine fellow newspaper published photographs representing a flying saucer reportedly seen close to Sarreguemines. The photographs were taken by a professional photographer who approached, according to his statements, within 12 meters of the craft.

Needless to say that these images and the accompanying comments caused a sensation. At the same time they [] under the eyes ones of the one who, in the beginning, just wanted to play a prank to friends and are the [] took without his knowledge an unexpected turn.

[], [], who gave the photographs [] his brother, acknowledged mystification to the gendarmes. His photography of a flying saucer at 12 meters, is only a skillful assembly. This [] changed his statements soon afterwards in front of the journalists who [], and this prank, if it is a prank, [] to have legal consequences for him which he certainly did not expect.

A student of Sarreguemines revealed Tuesday morning the truth [] exclaimed [] the newspaper and by seeing the saucers. He went at once to meet the correspondent of a newspaper of the area and told him what had occurred. To play a prank on friends, this student had manufactured at home a flying saucer using a pan lid, an oven round and wire. He had placed moss on the table of his kitchen to make believe in grasses and, with clever lighting, he had let cigarettes burn behind his invention to produce smoke which further added to the mystery. He took several photographs and went to bring the film to a laboratory where [] worked. When he came back [] days later, Gérault [] film was bad [] the student soon forgot [] the photographs [] [] made use of it for [] hoax. Such is [] that the young photographer [] morning to the gendarmes.

He was [] Sarreguemines with sev[] came to investigate on [] representatives of the [] severe. They lead him to [] restaurant room [] more explana[]. [], Gérault was [] and admitted the hoax [] recorded his statements [] went without [] him . Moments later, Gérault [] the journalists and had lied to the gendarmes [] first version [] that's how far things are. [] hoax, it'[] cleverly done, because a journalist went to the spot that[] []ged saucer, n[] the topography of the t[] [] described by the young [] meadow, the ditch, the hol[] [] moreover, the owner at [] is adamant that [] honnest, helpful, [] seems to have all his [] [] first thought [] newspaper this morning was to [] [] who says this, so the [] Same story [] young photographer [] his son is unable to [] like that It is too []

In any event, there will be more talk in the area on the saucer of []


Robert Roussel indicates that in September 1953, the person in charge of the photo service of a newspaper of the East of France arrived from Nancy in the middle of the night at the Gare de l'Est, sent in all haste by his newspaper's management. He was to convey in the capital a photograph to be negotiated with the most important newspapers, which very distinctly represented a flying saucer and two of its occupants nearby, beings of small size locked up in their diving-suit.

A few hours before at the end of the afternoon, a still trembling young man had rushed in the newsroom of the daily newspaper telling with details its confusing adventure: walking in the countryside, he was suddenly confronted to a strange apparatus in the shape of a saucer and as he had a camera with him he had the reflex to record the fantastic event. The photographer specified that he had then developed his film himself before proposing his extraordinary photograph to the newspaper. He did not want money, he only wanted to be exployed at the photo service of the newspaper.

Some members of the editing board had expressed some doubts but a fast study of the negative had however made it possible to think that the photograph was authentic.

As at this time the newspapers literally hustled themselves to offer to their avid readers the increasingly stranger stories of flying saucers, the search for photographic document was in the air and Radar magazine had offered a million francs to the person who could bring such proof, and it was in this context that the editors had decided to publish the photography on first page of their newspaper.

The Parisian newspapers had been svery interested by the acquisition of the document, even at a very high price. The next day, the publication on eight columns of this memorable moment caused a true sensation, the newspaper copies sold like madly and, very quickly, during the day, all the copies were bought. The sales of the daily newspaper had never known such a rise since its creation and the concurrent newspapers were frusrrated, but not for a long time.

The very same day of the publication of incredible photography, another young man asked to be heard by the chief editor, a student who said that it had an important statement to make about the photography which had been just published. His story was quite different from that which had reported, the day before, the "generous donator". He also was a photo hobbyist and his favorite pastime was to make photographs of models. He remembered to have recently entrusted a roll of film to a professional photographer to have it developped. On this film was, precisely, the image of a model he manufactured of a flying saucer beside which one could see two small beings in diving-suits, and that is the image which did the headline that day.

Robert Roussel says that this was the first case of hoaxed photography in the histoiry of the UFOs, and the deal with the Parisian newspapers did not take place.


The two authors start by quoting an article published by the newspaper "L'Aurore", for November 2, 1954:

"A young photographer, Jean Gerault, aged 23, working at Mr. Meyer's in Sarreguemines (the Moselle), founf himself acing a fying saucer in Welferding, a locality 2 kilometers of Sarreguemines."

"Having his camera in his pocket, he managed to approach a dozen meters of the machine, whose top was illuminated by a rather intense reddish light, and succeeded in taking three photographs."

They then induge in irony, with "finally an irrefutable proof", and tell that they made all possible efforts to find "the photograph of this spacecraft of another world."

They then indicate that to have discovered that the saucer had consisted of an electric bulb cut out and stuck on a piece of furnace with an antenna made up of a copper wire planted in loam. They add that the "receipt" for such a saucer had been published by "Radar" magazine for October 14, 1954.

This is followed of a paragraph which tells that they have "the proof now" that "if flying saucers exist" it is "only in the spirit of those who wish they do."


The regional daily newspaper, in a retrospective of 2004 bearing over the year 1954 in Alsace, mentions one saucer affair.

The newspaper recalls that on November 2, 1954, the 23 year old photographer Jean Gérault of Sarreguemines contacted the local Press and handed over photographs of a flying saucer which he said to have taken one evening while returning home.

The newspaper specifies that the news caused a commotion, everywhere in Alsace-Lorraine, where it was said that extraterrestrial life does exist. The saucer is as the saucers were always imagined, with the shape of a "reverted plate on four metal feet."

The newspaper adds that an investigation uncovered the forger within 24 hours, and that his saucer was made of modeling clay.



DATE: 1 November 1954 (approximate day)
LOCATION: Welferding, Moselle (France)
FORMAT: Picture


REFERENCES: Gérard Barthel and Jacques Brucker, La Grande Peur Martienne (Nouvelles Éditions Rationnalistes, Paris, 1979), pages 192-193 and plates. It quotes the original source, the journal L'Aurore, November 2, 1954, and the magazine Radar, November 14, 1954, which reveals the deceit.



The incredible stories of Meurthe-et-Moselle

Toul: the flying saucers "invasion" of 1954

At the end of October 1954, from Toul to Sarreguemines, abundant testimonies of UFO sightings multiplied.

October 10, 1954. The day has not yet risen in the region of Toul and a fairly dense fog makes it difficult to see. On his way to his workplace, the Ecrouves penitentiary, a 40-year-old supervisor nevertheless managed to see an aluminum shape at a crossroads in the light projected by the headlight of his motorcycle. For the prison guard, no doubt, this is a "saucer". At least that is what he entrusts to our colleagues. In our October 24 columns, he said: "It was about 2 m in diameter and 1 m 40 in height. It was circular with a dome and pierced on its periphery with two portholes.

Is it an hallucination? Two of his colleagues will confess to having seen this same day, this time around 4 pm, a disc that left behind a glowing trail. Yes Yes! Even better. In Longwy, again and again on October 10, 1954, an observer will claim to have witnessed an identical phenomenon at around 1:30 am where the delirium eventually prevailed is when the supervisor said he did not believe in a Martian explanation but "weapons built by a foreign power" and which would have taken off from "the Antarctic, land of refuge of foreign political and scientific leaders". But of course.

At the same time, testimonies of UFO observation multiplied in Lorraine. One narrative receives particular media attention. That of a young photographer of 23 years of Vézelise. He says he was the first to have photographed a flying saucer. Photographs he unveiled to the press and which he assures to have taken on Saturday 23 October 1954, in the district of Welferding, in Sarreguemines. That evening, he had an appointment with two comrades to go and chew a movie at the communal cinema. Tired of waiting, he decides to go to the Welferding district where, he believes, a party is in full swing.

"Twelve meters from the saucer, trembling from head to foot, I took three views"

Along the way, he sees a bright orange shade in the distance intriguing him, he recounts. Carried by a curiosity which "frightened him," it can be read in the newspapers of the day, he approaches this object which resembled a hollow plate turned upside down. "Twelve meters from the saucer, trembling from head to foot, I took three views," he said. Photographs that he will propose to the newspapers and that will make the buzz of the time. Aviation specialists will be contacted. They will be skeptical, but by the end of 1954, the population is wondering about the existence of an extraterrestrial life, especially since testimonies abound. A few days later, several people will claim to have also seen saucers in Sarreguemines.

The truth broke out very quickly. A student of Sarreguemines will indeed declare to be the author of the photographic montage that the young man of Vézelise used to make the buzz.

However, an investigation was opened by the gendarmes. Harassed by questions, the resident of Meurthe-et-Moselle fainted during his interrogation before confessing. The motive is as funny as it is unlikely. The young student who made the photographic montage had the idea to make a saucer at the end of a cinema show, discovering an advertising poster of the "Pie qui chante". It said: "We offer a kilo of candy to anyone who can bring us a picture of flying saucers"! His friend used it to build up his story from scratch.

Whereas the two young people had a bad time, their abracadabra narrative had the merit of shutting down the extraordinary psychosis around the flying saucers which reigned at the end of 1954 in Lorraine. Since then, the observation evidence of saucers are concentrated in the summer. Often on Saturdays. At the moment when newlyweds let go of luminous balloons [Chinese lanterns] that many perceive as objects from an extraterrestrial life.



UFO wave in Metz and its region

Comments »0

Spheres, luminous cones or cigars, discharging of batteries, dancing colors, etc., between the 1st and the 21st of October 1954, some twenty testimonies and observations of UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) were collected in the Moselle, the more particularly in the communes of Vergaville, Bidestroff, Kerprich, Guébling, Morsbach, Moncourt, Saint-Avold, Saint-Quirin and Jouy-aux-Arches. In Pournoy-la-Chétive, near Metz, two children declared that they had seen an alien with a hairy face come down from his flying saucer to come and speak to them in an incomprehensible language.


Underneath: the hoax exposed by the gendarmes, Radar magazine photograph.

Underneath: Radar magazine photograph.


Contrarily to what was indicated in certain newspapers, the flying saucer was not in modeling clay. It was the four "Martians" who "came out of it" that were in modeling clay, as one of the photographs reproduced in the Press of that time shows (see above).

Once again, Barthel and Brucker use half-truths in attempt of ridiculisation of the ufologists:


Photographic hoax, as per the newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace for November 3, 1954.


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

Sarreguemines, Moselle, photograph, picture, hoax, saucer


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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross September 30, 2005 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross December 26, 2008 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Addition [dn1].
1.1 Patrick Gross January 4, 2009 Addition [bo1].
1.2 Patrick Gross April 9, 2010 Addition [bo1].
1.3 Patrick Gross November 1, 2011 A search on the web and in my documentation did not reveal other sources.
1.4 Patrick Gross January 6, 2017 Addition [er1]. Change of case date from November 2 to October 23.
1.5 Patrick Gross January 26, 2017 Addition [er2]. Change of case place from Sarrebourg to Saint-Avold.
1.6 Patrick Gross Fabruary 11, 2017 Additions [bl1].

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