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The 1954 French flap:

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

May 26, 1954, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône:

Reference for this case: 26-May-54-Marseille.
Please cite this reference in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


In May, June and August 1954, a "Mr. Ates" produced so-called photos of flying saucers that he sent to the Press of Marseilles.

One of them appeared in the newspaper Le Provençal of Marseille on June 8, 1954, and later appeared in the general magazine Semaine du Monde for October 1-7, 1954, and Nord-France of the same date.

Le Provençal indicated that Mr. J. Ates, one of their readers, had sent them the photograph which would have been "made by an amateur photographer wishing to remain anonymous" and which had the following information on the back:

"Machine flying over Marseilles, May 26, 1954. Hour: 6.30 p.m., observation duration: three minutes, slightly cloudy weather, huge disk, coming from the east and heading west, going at medium speed, very sudden acceleration and complete disappearance on the horizon in a few split seconds..."

In Semaine du Monde, the version was a bit different since this magazine presented the authors of this photo and other photos as "L. Alyons and J. Ates", "two correspondents of our newspaper".

In the regional newspaper L'Oise-Matin for October 2, 1954, the photo is published, as coming from La Semaine du Monde magazine. One Mr. Ates, engineer architect from Marseille, says he photographed this saucer from his home on May 26, 1954 at 6:30 p.m., and that the saucer was extremely noisy since, he said, it made the tiles vibrate of his room while remaining motionless in the sky and that, when it rose to disappear, its acceleration was accompanied by an astonishing explosion.

The photo, visible in this file below, could be the superposition of a photo of the sky and that of a warship.



A flying saucer above Marseille?

They are definitely of topicality, these famous "saucers" reported a little everywhere without the mystery which surrounds them being dissipated. This time, here is a photographic document which relates to them. It was communicated to us by one of our readers, Mr. J. Ates, and it was carried out by a amateur photographer wishing to preserve anonymity. This photo bears at the back the following information:

"Flying craft above Marseille, May 26, 1954. hour: 06:30 p.m., time of observation: three minutes. Slightly covered weather. Enormous disc, coming from the East and speeding in direction of the West, going at an average speed, very sudden acceleration and complete disappearance at the horizon in some split seconds..."

This would be the first photograph of a saucer, if the fact could one day be confirmed scientifically.




The Martians of the Martigues

THAT'S exactly ten years ago, no one had heard the two expressions which are now the most pronounced in all the languages ??of the world; atomic bomb and flying saucer. But whereas the atomic bomb turns out to be a terrible reality, the least we can say is that unanimity is not made on the existence of the saucers.

Europe, for a few years, seemed curiously untouched by the mysterious craft. Then, from 1950 on, testimonies began to multiply. In 1954, two French "Vampire" pilots began a vain pursuit over the Alpilles. From month to month, the skies of France, Italy, Germany, England, are populated (for some) by dazzling craft. Perhaps favored by our rainy summer, the craft have multiplied for ten days, while the monsoon brought some samples to the Indies.

To the point that a deputy from the Seine, Mr. de Léotard, has just sent a written question to the Minister of Air "Regarding recent testimonies which did not failto intrigue, if not to worry, public opinion"; and calling for a systematic observation of these phenomena "so that it can be established that these are hallucinations or if there is reason to take them into account from the point of view of security and national defense."

So France, in turn, will give the problem a national interest.

But already we are putting into the file the first photos taken in France. All three were taken by two correspondents of our newspaper, MM. L. Alyons and J. Ates. The fact that they were photographed in the sky of Marseille does not allow us to infer anything as to the nature of the phenomenon. The one on the left, taken on May 26, at 6:30 p.m. "enormous, remained motionless at low altitude while vibrating the tiles of the room" before suddenly rush away. Top left: on June 7, this craft lent itself complacently to the telephoto lens. Right: on August 22, this craft, also resembling like a brother to a saucer, hesitated for a long time, sometimes going down to 100 meters and sometimes going up vertically, to land on the hills of Marseilleveyre for the evening pastis. Did the indifference shown by the Marseillais seem suspicious to the mysterious travelers?

More resolved, it seems, were those who in Dizes, near Auxerres, landed: "the time, said our private correspondent, to leave a trace on the road..."

How not to end on this poetic note? But in one of our next issues, we will expose to the French opinion the elements of the problem that will allow them to fear, smile or hope...




One is reported in the
sky of La Chapelle-en-Serval

Flying saucers continue to be talked about more than ever. And their detractors, like those who think they exist, are likewise spoiled.

The first ones in particular, by a precision relating to the "saucer" described last week in Grenoble by Dr Martinet.

The observations of a pilot from Challes-les-Eaux, who attended the same show, established that it was in fact a... flight of starlings.

The latter will be able to report new manifestations of the saucers.

In the Oise in particular, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph van Wymersch, of La Chapelle-en-Serval, who declared to have seen in this locality, Wednesday evening, around 9 p.m., for about 15 minutes, "a luminous craft which rose and fell in the sky to then disappear in the direction of the West."

Elsewhere in France, it is at Mas de Bruzy, near Perpignan, in Rixheïm, in Pau and in Nevers, that witnesses said they saw saucers.

At Mas de Bruzy, several grape pickers claimed to have seen a shiny circular object in the sky which, after moving vertically leaving a white trail, disappeared in the clouds.

In Rheim [sic], near Mulhouse two people said they had observed a luminous craft with binoculars. They found, they say, that the object was shaped like a long cigar and was surrounded by a dozen small satellite cigars. A railway worker on night duty said he had observed the same phenomenon.

Finally in Pau, Wednesday morning, around 11:45 a.m., numerous people, says an A.F.P. dispatch, saw a cigar moving at very high altitude and, near Nevers, a farm worker who was riding a bicycle on the road to Saint-Pierre-le-Moutier, saw, he claims, a semi-spherical object that moved silently with great rapidity in a northeast direction.

The "saucer" that Mr. Ates, engineer-architect from Marseille, specifies having photographed from his home on May 26, at 6:30 p.m. - our photo - was, on the contrary according to him, extremely noisy since, he said, it made the tiles of his room vibrate while remaining motionless in the sky and that, when it rose to disappear, its acceleration was accompanied by an astonishing explosion.

[Photo caption:] This photograph, where the only terrestrial element seems to be the clothesline that can be seen below, was taken by an architect from Marseille, and was communicated to us by the great weekly "Semaine du Monde". It was taken on May 26, 1954, at 6:30 in the evening, in a foggy weather. The second photo was taken at night. It would translate an impression of "flying cigar" rather than that of a "saucer".

[Ref. ben1] ON THE INTERNET:


The comment of the blog where this picture appeared indicates that it was published in "Semaine du Monde" for the week of October 1st to October 7, 1954 #99."

The article is cited as saying about this photograph:

"Thus France, in its turn, will give to the problem a national interest. But already we pour in the file the first photographs taken in France. All three were taken by two correspondents of our newspaper, Misters L. Alyons and J. Ates. The fact that they were photographed in the sky of Marseille does not allow to infer anything as for the nature of the phenomenon."

"That of the left, caught on last May 26, at 06:30 p.m., "enormous, remained fixed at low altitude while making the window of the room vibrate" before fleeing suddenly. In top on the left: June 7, this apparatus lenghtily showed itself to the teleobjective. On the right: August 22, this apparatus, resembling also like a brother to a flying saucer hesitated a long time, sometimes coming down as low as 100 meters and sometimes going up vertically, to land over the hills of Marseilleveyre for the evening pastis. Did the indiference expressed by the residents of Marseille seem suspect to the mysterious travelers?"



Date: 26 May 1954

Time : 18:30

Location: Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône (France)

Format: Picture

Photographer: Unknown (communicated by a Mr. Ates)

Explanation: Not available

References: Le Provençal (Marseille), June 8, 1954. Patrick Gross web site quoting the weekly Semaine du Monde, number 99, October 1-7, 1954. and [Old URL of my file.]

Remarks: Poor information.

[Ref. ubk1:] "UFO-DATENBANK":

Case Nr. New case Nr. Investigator Date of observation Zip Place of observation Country of observation Hour of observation Classification Comments Identification
19540526 26.05.1954 Marseille France


Date Approx UFO Nation Photo Film Media Duration Blue Book
05-26-1954 18.30 Fake OK Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône (France) FRA 13 PHOTO L. Alyon/J. Ates 180 Le Provençal (Marseille), June 8, 1954. Semaine du Monde, 99, October 1-7, 1954. Don Ledger. (entry 2008.04.19). Patrick Gross May 26, 1954



One American ufologist notes that the silhouette evokes that of a military ship of the corvette or destroyer type, and that the photograph could show water and not the sky (At that time the full picture with the clotheslines was not available to him).

The silhouette indeed matches for example that of the fast escort ships of "Le Triomphant" type, in use 1954, or some other.

In this class of escort ships, Fantasque, le Malin, le Terrible, le Triomphant, le Chateaurenault, le Guichen, l'Albatros, le Hoche, le Marceau, le Kléber, and le Lorrain were active in 1954. I have le Triumphant in mind because it was decommissionned in December 1954 in Toulon close to Marseille.

I could not locate photographs of this class of ship exactly under the appropriate angle, here is however a photograph of a model kit of "le Terrible":

And a photograph of "le Fantasque":

I then found on April 17, 2008, on a web blog a long collection of articles coming from my own site, not credited and deprived of the links to my corresponding case files, but also among those, the transcription of the article indicated to be of "Semaine du Monde" and the image presented here, which I did not have in my collection.

In this better version, it is obvious that the explanation by a ship does not stand anymore, except in the form of a double-exposure.

The fact that all four "flying saucers pictures" come from the same persons though at four different dates highly suggests that they are all hoaxed.


On June 7, 1954, in Marseille;
On August 9 in Marseille;
On August 27, 1954 in Marseille.


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

Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, photograph, anonymous, object, craft, weather, disc, cupola, acceleration, duration, L. Alyons, J. Ates, Alyon


[----] indicates sources that are not yet available to me.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 17, 2008 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross January 6, 2010 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version.
1.1 Patrick Gross May 15, 2019 Additions [jbs1], Summary.
1.2 Patrick Gross April 26, 2020 Addition [nfe1]. In the Summary, addition of "and Nord-France of the same date".
1.3 Patrick Gross May 7, 2021 Addition [lon1].
1.4 Patrick Gross November 25, 2021 Addition [jbo2].

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This page was last updated on November 25, 2021.