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The 1954 French flap:

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

October 4 or 11, 1954, Sinceny, Aisne:

Reference number for this case: 4-11-Oct-54-Sinceny. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

Agence France Presse (A.F.P.), on October 16, 1954, issued a statement saying that Mr. Maurice Ruant, farmer in Sinceny, in the Aisne, was busy troubleshooting his car, in a meadow, when two gunshots were fired in his direction. The bullets crashed on the body of the vehicle, not far from his head.

The investigation quickly found the author of the two shots: a neighbor, Mr. Faisant, who said he had believed, seeing a silhouette moving in the light of two headlights, that he was confronted with a Martian repairing his flying saucer. He had then fetched his rifle and fired.

A.F.P. explains that "despite his good faith, Mr. Faisan will be prosecuted."

The incident quickly made the delight of the French press, with, curiously enough, local sources published after the A.F.P. dispatch, and including information that was not very consistent with each other. In Radar magazine, one added that it was told to Mr. Faisant before the incident: "You'll see that one of these days, the Martians will walk by in Chauny," and that Mr, Faisant, "brave farmer", had nodded his head knowingly, replying "I have what it takes to receive them!", before going home to sit near the window with his rifle, watching the shadow which gradually drowned the meadows and the woods. And Mr. Ruant declared that the bodywork of his car had been riddled with pellets. Radar gave the full names and firstnames of the protagonists, and photographed them, and indicated that the mistake had taken place with a viewing distance of 120 meters; which does not correspond at all to the few meters illustrated by a sketch in the same magazine...

Mr. "Faisant" told, according to Radar magazine, that whereas on Monday, it was maybe Mr. "Ruant" who was in the pasture, he is sure that "the day before, it was a man coming out of a flying saucer!"

The incident, real or not, is one of the rare to have also had the honors of the foreign press (USA, United Kingdom, India), on the basis of the A.F.P. dispatch, with all kinds of deformations, such as a location in Bordeaux (more than 500 km from Sinceny), or an "isolated road".

A law doctor's dissertation on the legal question of whether it is permissible under the law to shoot a "Martian" was also written. The ufology magazine Ouranos mentioned the case among other silly cases of that sort and called for "keeping one's calm."

The ufologist Jacques Vallée told that in France in 1954, "one fired on vagabonds that were mistaken for Martians."

And of course, the incident is cited in the "skeptical" literature as evidence of the "fallibility of human testimony."

Reports:

[Ref. li1:] "LIBERTE DIMANCHE" NEWSPAPER:

Scan

THE DIEPPE REGION ALSO HIT

SAUCER, CIGAR
and "strange being"
appeared to a resident of Londinières

The news makes a common consumption of saucers and other flying machines, and rare are the regions that have not yet found in these appearances matter to dissertation.

Let us admit, however, that Normandy was so far not been very spoiled, and one is justified in asking whether the wisdom of the Normands, who can hardly be influenced and taken to the so-called, does not play a predominant role in this matter.

If we admit, of course, that visions of flying saucers fall into the realm of a too fertile imagination, of an individual or collective hallucination...

But here comes from Londinières information that can allow our province (which shows its desire not to be out-fashioned) to reach to the level of other regions that "have seen".

And all of a sudden, we have four saucers, a cigar and a strange being (1 meter 20, as it should be, so as not to break the spell), accompanied by phenomena which, they too, have nothing so new.

Mr. Henri Robert drove by car on the RN 214, at nightfall, between Mesnières and Londinières - where he lives - when, at Bagnolet, he saw four superimposed machines, orange colored, "seeming to be flying saucers", which moved 300 meters high. One of them broke off, went down and came zigzagging in front of his car before disappearing. At the same time, Mr. Robert had felt like a strong electric shock and the controls of his vehicle had been momentarily annihilated.

Hardly had he recovered from his surprise that, 3 km away, Mr. Robert saw in his headlights, in the middle of the roadway, a strange being of about 1 m. 20. This time it was his headlights that went out, then lit up again. The motorist then noticed, at the edge of the embankment, a machine three meters long, pointed at both ends and cylindrical.

The famous cigar in all the meaning of the term took "only a second" to disappear, all lights extinguished, in the direction of the North.

It was at one o'clock in the morning, Saturday, that Mr. Robert came to the gendarmerie at Londinières to tell what he had seen and felt. But his words were incoherent, his words without continuity.

Effect of the concussion of which he claimed to have been the victim a few hours earlier, or reaction caused by the piling up of saucers of another kind, and of a more common model, on some pedestal table.

The gendarmes went to Baillolet where they found nothing abnormal, this being confirmed by a new trip, Saturday morning, by day. No trace, no other witness of the phenomenon...

This did not prevent Mr. Robert, at 9 o'clock, to confirm his story.

Attack on a fake "Martian"

LILLE. October 16 (A.F.P.). M. Maurice Ruant, a farmer at Sinceny (Aisne), was busy repairing his car in a meadow when two shots were fired in his direction. The bullets crashed on the body of the vehicle, not far from his head. The investigation quickly found the author of the two shots, a neighbor, Mr. Faisant.

I thought, he said, seeing a figure moving in the light of two headlights, to be in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer. I went to get my rifle and fired.

Despite his good faith, Mr. Faisan will be prosecuted.

[Ref. lf1:] "LE FIGARO" NEWSPAPER:

Mr. Ruant, farmer with Sinceny (Aisne) was busy, in the night, in repairing his car, in a meadow near his home, when two blows of shotgun were aimed at his direction. Leads crushed on the body of the vehicle, not far from his head. Mr. Ruant pressed charges and the investigation opened at once made it possible to quickly find the author of the two shots, who was a neighbor, Mr. Faisan. The latter last declared to the police force: "I believed, seeing a silhouette evolving in the light of two headlights, being in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer. I went to get my rifle and I shot." Mr. Faisan will be prosecuted, in spite of his good faith.

[Ref. rt1:] "LA REPUBLIQUE DE TOULON ET DU VAR" NEWSPAPER:

MISSED SHOOTING
AGAINST
A FALSE MARTIAN

Lille, October 16 -. Mr. Maurice Ruant, farmer in Sinceny, close to Chauny (Aisne) was close to become the victim of the panic which some of the appearance of the flying saucers or other objects causes. Yesterday evening he busy repairing its car, in meadow near his place, when two blasts of shotgun were fired to his direction. Leads were crushed on the body of the vehicle, not far from his head. Mr. Maurice Ruant pressed charges and the investigation opened immediately made it possible to quickly find the author of the two shots, who was a neighbor of Mr. Ruant, Mr. Faisan.

The latter told the police forces:

"I believed, when seeing a silhouette evolving in the light of the headlights, to be in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer. I went to get my rifle and I shot".

Despite his good faith, Mr. Faisan will be prosecuted.

[Ref. vm1:] "VAR MATIN - REPUBLIQUE" NEWSPAPER:

Attack on a false Martian

Lille, 16 October. -- Mr. Maurice Ruant, a farmer in Sinceny, near Chauny (Aisne), was almost the victim of the panic caused by the appearance of saucers and other flying objects. Last night he was busy repairing his car in a meadow near his home, when two shots were fired in his direction. The pellets crashed into the body, not far from his head. Mr. Maurice Ruant filed a complaint, and the inquiry immediately opened, permitted the rapid discovery of the author of the two shots, who was a neighbor of Mr. Ruant. He told the police:

"I thought, seeing a silhouette evolving in the light of the headlights, being in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer, I went to get my rifle and I fired."

Despite his good faith, Mr. Faisan will be prosecuted.

Rene Mante

[Ref. at1:] "THE AMBALLA TRIBUNE" NEWSPAPER:

"MAN FROM MARS" SHOT AT IN FRANCE

LILLE (France), Oct. 16. -- The "Marsian" craze in France nearly cost a farmer at Sinceny (north France) his life.

He was trying to repair his car last night when a neighbour, taking him for a Marsian, fired two shots at him with a hunting rifle. They whizzed past his head and struck the body of the car.

The farmer, Mr. Maurice Ruant, complained to the police who soon identified the huntsman as Mr. Faisan.

Explaining what happened, the latter said: "When I saw a silhouette moving in front of the headlights, I thought it was a Marsian repairing his flying saucer. I went for my gun and opened fire".

Despite his good faith, Faisan will be prosecuted. - U.P.I. - A.F.P.

[Ref. hm1:] "LA HAUTE-MARNE LIBEREE" NEWSPAPER:

MYSTERIOUS CRAFT
continue to furrow the skies of France

Testimonies accumulate coming each day to bring some new detail either on the saucers, or on the flying cigars.

Whereas Saturday evening, several witnesses in good faith, including M. Béranger, Mayor of Saint-Laurent-du-Var, regional councilman, had seen above Nice, a disc of orange color, this time above Cannes, several people observed a luminous machine of yellow color with a green tail. But the most interesting witness was to be brought by an employee of the municipal receipt of Antibes, Mr. Casella, resident of Biot, who, returning home in the evening, was face to face with an enormous mechanical machine measuring 7 to 8 meters in diameter posed in the middle of the road. The witness who was on a bicycle approached the craft until almost touching it but then the latter rose vertically and, with a soft whistling sound, disappeared in the sky.

In the sky of Provence, in Venergues, several vintagers saw a craft of lengthened form like a cigar, one of them stated, and of white and blue color, a second specified. A third vintager indicated that the rocket appeared to emit luminous beams.

At Le Puy, a brilliant object was observed between 17:30 and 18:35 by the weather station of Puy-Chaudrac. The machine looked like a straight ["vertical" probably] olive with at the top, a kind of black antenna. The chief of the station specified that he believed being in the presence of the planet Jupiter, but the sudden disappearance of the object proved that he had made a mistake. The same phenomenon was seen by the center of meteorology of Ruyères (Cantal). One can bring closer these testimonies to that of thousands of residents of Tulle who, towards 15:30, saw in the sky, in the south south-eastern direction, a large shining and motionless dot. It seemed transparent and had the shape of a cylinder whose two ends were conical.

Attack missed against a false Martian

Mr. Maurice Ruant, farmer in Sinceny, close to Chauny (Aisne), failed to be victim of the panic which causes to some people the appearance of the flying saucers or other machines. He was busy repairing hiss car, in a meadow near his home, when two gunshots were fired in his direction. Bullets crushed on the hull of the vehicle, not far from his head. Mr. Maurice Ruant pressed charges and the investigation at once open allowed to quickly find the author of the two shots who was neighbor to Mr. Ruant, Mr. Faizan.

The latter told the police force:

"I believed, when seeing a silhouette moving in the light of two headlights, I was in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer. I went to get my rifle and I shot."

Despite his good faith, Mr. Faizan will be prosecuted.

[Ref. ak1:] "THE AKRON BEACON JOURNAL" NEWSPAPER:

Scan

Man From Mars?

No, It's Maurice

LILLE, France (UP) -- Maurice Ruant got out of his stalled auto to examine the motor and was narrowly missed by pellets from two shotgun shells.

An excited neighbor explained: "When I saw a man standing in the light of a machine I thought it was a Martian repairing his flying saucer."

[Ref. cp1:] "COURIER-POST" NEWSPAPER:

Scan

Man Shoots at Motorist He Thought a Martian

LILLE, France (UP) -- Maurice Ruant got out of his stalled auto to examine the motor and was narrowly missed by pellets from two shotgun shells.

An excited neighbor explained: "When I saw a man standing in the light of a machine I thought it was a Martian repairing his flying saucer."

[Ref. pd1:] "ST.LOUIS POST-DISPATCH" NEWSPAPER:

Scan

FIRED ON AS 'MARTIAN' FOE

LILLE, France, Oct. 18 (UP) -- Maurice Ruant got out of his stalled auto to examine the motor and was narrowly missed by pellets from two shotgun shells.

An excited neighbor explained: "When I saw a man standing in the light of a machine I thought it was a Martian repairing his flying saucer."

[Ref. fa1:] "FEUILLE D'AVIS" NEWSPAPER:

LILLE, 17. -- Mr. Maurice Ruant, a farmer in Sinceny, close to Chauny (Aisne), was nearly a victim of the panic caused to some people by the appearances of saucers.

Sunday night, he was busy repairing his car in a field near his home when two shots of a hunting shotgun were fired in his direction. The shot crashed into the vehicle body, not far from his head. Maurice Ruant filed a complaint and the investigation opened immediately made it possible to quickly find the author of the two shots; who was a neighbor to Mr. Ruant, Mr. Faisant.

The latter told the police:

"I thought, seeing a silhouette moving in the light of two headlights, being in the presence of a Martian repairing a flying saucer. I went for my gun and I fired it."

Despite his good faith, Mr. Faisan will be prosecuted.

[Ref. sp1:] "THE STAR PRESS" NEWSPAPER:

Scan

France, Too, 'Invaded' By Martians

Paris (UP) -- A flying saucer epidemic has Frenchmen seeing men from Mars.

The other evening in the Lorraine village of Walscheid a terrified band of youngsters stampeded homeward to report that the men from Mars had landed in a villager's garden. Womenfolk dashed into the village church, hoping for Divine sanctuary.

The men grabbed scythes, clubs, and the few available guns and marched against the Martians. They marched to the garden. There stood the invaders, half human size, heads glowing motionless. Turned out they were big-blossomed chrysanthemums the resident had covered with brilliant cloth against the frost.

The Standard Model

When the big scale visitation from the outer reaches began, the flying saucer was the standard model. Since then luminous cigars, frying pans, discs, watermelons and even bells have hurtled through the French skies in increasing numbers.

Within the week the villagers of Momy (Basses-Pyrenees) took to the fields with makeshift weapons to deal with a flying saucer freshly arrived. They found a hollow pumpkin with a candle burning inside.

Two nights earlier a farmer in the Bordeaux area stopped to repair his car on a lonely road, and narrowly missed death when a resident mistook him for a celestial invader and fired both barrels of his shotgun at him.

Ten days ago Gilbert Lelay told his parents at Chateaubriant that a little Martian stepped from a flying cigar and readily gave him permission to look at it, but warned him not to touch it.

Near Toulouse, a mechanic, Jean Marty, 43, informed police he saw an orange saucer land near his home. It soon zoomed away into the night, but Marty found two sheets of paper on the ground, covered with cryptic markings which none could deny might be Martian literature.

The weekly magazine Express offered a reward of 10,000,000 Francs ($28.570) to the first person bringing a real live Martian to its office.

The more scholarly newspaper Le Monde, lamenting on the rash of flying saucers, mourned in print for "the days of our well beloved sea serpent."

[Ref. ra1:] "RADAR" MAGAZINE:

Three candidates to the
MILLION.

SHOOTING AT THE MARTIAN!

[Insert:] "You'll see that one of these days, the Martians will walk in Chauny" one said while laughing to Mr. Faisant. And this honest farmer of the Aisne had shaken the head with an understanding nod. "I have what it takes to reveive them!", he had retorted simply. Mr. Faisant had reinstated his home. He had sat down near the window, the eyes staring on the shade which drowned the meadows and the wood little by little. Suddenly, he trembled...

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Note:

The "million de radar" was a contest organized by this magazine, who promised a million of old francs (aka cents of modern francs, 7 modern francs being 1 of today's euro) to whoever would deliver a Martian to the magazine, DOA. The sketch for the Sinceny case is by Rino Ferrari.

[Caption of the 3 pictures:]

Mr. Faisant: "There was so much talk about it!"

"I was leaning on my rear wheel, says M. Ruault, when I heard whistling."

"Immediately after, a gunshot! ... My car's body is sifted with bullets."

[Ref. gu1:] JOURNAL "THE GUARDIAN":

Saucers Over France

Spotting of inexplicable objects in the skies over France is having a business sequel. Though some newspaper commentators have associated the spotting with excessive eating or drinking, three films with flying saucers as the main theme are to be made. One will tell a story of a reporter who tries to win a prize of $10.000 offered for the first photograph of a genuine flying saucer. The producers will follow some of the actual spotting that has been reported, including the case of a young photographer who spent a night away from his spouse during their honeymoon. He preferred to go saucer hunting with his camera.

Another remarkable authentic nocturnal incident to be included in the film will be the attempted shooting of a Frenchman by a friend who took him for a Martian. The producers intend to interview a hundred people who vow they have seen flying saucers, cigars, bananas, and other phenomena in thee skies.

[Ref. rp1:] REVUE DE LA PENSEE FRANCAISE:

The magazine indicates that in the fall of 1954, a resident of Sinceny fired a rifle at a stopped motorist as he believed to see a Martian repairing his saucer. As the gunman aimed as badly as he reasoned, the pseudo-Martian was only frightened.

[Ref. rc1:] R. COMBALDIEU, DOCTEUR EN DROIT:

R. Combaldieu, Doctor in Law, Substitute of the Attorney General at Court d'Appel of Paris, Member of the Commission d'Etudes Pénal Legislative, published an article entitled "Flying saucers, Martians and... Criminal law" in the issue of October-December 1954 of the Revue de Science Criminelle et de Droit Pénal Comparé.

He tackles the legal question of whether to shoot at a Martian is an act that can be judged according to the laws.

He notes from the start that that the question may seem to be silly or of science fiction relevance, without practical application, but it is precisely not the case because of Sinceny case.

It seems that the charges pressed against the shooter were not known to him, and since no wound was caused, he evokes as a possibility the attempt at murder, or something of the order of a hunting regulation violation, or that the case could have no qualification, which would exclude charges.

Approaching what the influence of the error can be on the penal responsibility in general, he concludes that the gunner wanted the action but not the outcome of having nearly hurt or killed a man.

He notes that the responsibility for the gunner can be established if it can be demonstrated there was a neglect on his part in the fact of not having checked what he shot at, and that in this case, the error being a negation of intent, charge for intended murder gets excluded.

He notes that there is a real error in this case, because he did not shoot to hurt or kill is neighbor if one believes the reports, but he shot while sincerely believing to be confronted to a Martian, which however does not cancel his penal responsibility.

He notes that the gunner wanted "to kill Paul and killed Peter", but that that is did not happen within an error of shooting, he wanted to kill Peter, so there is still an intent at murder.

This brings logically to a discussion of the obvious question: his attempt at voluntary manslaughter makes sense if he had wanted to kill a human being, but is there any sense in that since he wanted to kill a Martian?

He must indeed be judged for having wanted to kill a Martian, and not for having wanted to kill a man.

This brings the following questions: can it be said that a Martian equates a man whereas it is not known what a Martian is? Can a Martian be equated to a man insofar both are anthropomorphic (we say "humanoid" today)?

He concludes in the negative: "human" comes from homo and is related with humus, or the ground. The human is terrestrial by virtue, in opposition to celestial creatures. The Martian could be pronounced a being, necessarily adapted to the physical conditions of his original environment, and also as an evolved being, with reason and intelligence, insofar he invents and uses spacecraft to come on our planet (not without humor, he notes that it is not reciprocal).

But he concludes: "It nevertheless remains true that any assimilation of the "Martian" with the human would be purely baseless, as it is not proven, and thus without value, in a matter where any argument based on analogy must be banished."

He mentions quotes of Professor Oberth, the inventor of the V-2 rocket, that had been published in the Press in a naive form: Oberth had explained that Martians, or other extraterrestrial beings, are perhaps as different from us than a vegetal of an animal, and the newspapers had thus headlined that according to Oberth, the Martians are vegetal!

From this, he shows that in this legal problem, there is a complete disintegration of the concepts and framework for which our laws had been established.

He condemns the act of the shooter: the existence of "Martians" not being proven yet, even if at that particular time more and more in more people believed in the existence of Martians - which would have been reason for psychiatric intervention a few months earlier - to him the gunner should have thought: "If what I interpret as a Martian has a chance to be a normal human being, I should not shoot before checking."

For the purpose of the discussion, he then takes the business under the angle of a hunting regulation violation. But it would then be necessary to view the Martian as a noxious or dangerous animal, "whereas they appear peaceful and even tender, if one believes some witnesses!" He also evokes the motivation of the shooting, which is not known or is not known to him: is it fear, a defensive reaction against the Martian thought to be dangerous, or is this an attempt to neutralize the Martian, even if it meant to kill him, so as to seize him or it, to get a proof of his or its existence?

Beyond the humorous aspects of the legal discussion of the case, he notes that the shooter, "lacking the most elementary interplanetary courtesy, took the risk, with this ill-considered gesture, to start the most incredible war of the worlds."

[Ref. ou1:] "OURANOS" UFOLOGY MAGAZINE:

In an article titled "Stay calm, please!" the C.I.E.O. Ouranos ufology group recalled "silly" incidents and gave some advice:

Stay calm please!

The most saddening and stupid incidents have been multiplying for several weeks. In Chauny (Aisne), a farmer shot at a quiet motorist whom he had mistaken for a "Martian".

At Train-l'Hermitage [sic] (Drôme) a peasant savagely hit one of his neighbors who had seemed "extraordinary" to him. Here an entire family barricades themselves at home, terrorized by the passage of a F.S. There a terrified witness must be driven urgently to a psychiatric hospital. Everywhere, strong and well-built men declare to have fled at the approach of a being descended from a F.S. ...

The C.I.E. OURANOS wishes to recall a number of positive facts that must put an end to these dangerous comedies and panics:

1° - It has been centuries since "objects" similar to F.S. have been observed in the Earth's atmosphere. While they are more numerous in recent years, however, there is no reason to suppose that they present a more dangerous character than in the past.

2° - F.S. never attacked an airplane or an individual. It is merely possible that accidents occurred due to the imprudence of some curious.

3° - If the observations of "Uranians" are accurate, it has been noted that the attitude of these beings is peaceful and that their reactions are only defensive.

In these conditions, the simple caution advises to remain in the expectation in case of encounter with "Uranians" and not to provoke them under any pretext. It is at the same time a duty of being civilized. Above all do not run away, nor toward of them. If they noticed you, try to get in touch, verbally or by discreet gestures. And observe them precisely.

Then send, as soon as possible, a detailed and objective report of your observation to the C.I.E.O., 27, rue Etienne Dolet, BONDY (Seine), which centralizes and studies worldwide information on these facts.

Lastly, protest energetically with those newspapers that would have distorted your testimony, and send a copy of your update to the C.I.E.O. (Join a stamped envelope for answer, please.).

One last piece of advice: refrain from hoaxing; it only amuses imbeciles; and it is dangerous.

And stop calling "Martians" beings whose origin we do not know! Simply baptize them, as we did, with the vague and general name of "Uranians", which means: coming from some part of the sky.

The C.I.E.O.

[Ref. mc1:] MICHEL CARROUGES:

The author reports in the chapter on the confusions cases at the time of the French 1954 saucers flap that in Sinceny in the Aisne, a serious confusion has resulted in a shooting at a neighbor, according to the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche for October 17, 1954. The author of the gunshot had stated:

"I believed, when seeing a silhouette evolving in the light of two headlights, to be in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer. I went to get my rifle and I shot."

The concerned Martian was in fact Maurice R., who was busy repairing an ordinary car in a meadow next to his place. Luckily, leads of the shotgun by Mr. F only hit the car.

[Ref. jv6:] JACQUES VALLEE:

Jacques Vallée mentions that that during the 1954 French flap one shot at vagabonds mistaken for Martians.

[Ref. bb1:] GERARD BARTHEL AND JACQUES BRUCKER:

The two authors cite the AFP news release about this confusion:

"Lille, October 18 (A.F.P.). -- Mr. Maurice Ruant, farmer in Sinceny, close to Chauny (Aisne), almost became the victim of the panic that the appearance of the flying saucers or other objects causes to some people. He was occupied repairing his car in the meadow near his residence, when two hunting shots were fired in his direction. The leads crushed on the body of the vehicle, not far from his head. Mr. Maurice Ruant pressed charges, and the at once opened investigation allowed to quickly find the author of the two shots, who lived close to Mr. Ruant: Mr. Faisan, himself a farmer. The latter told the police force:"

"I believed, by seeing a silhouette evolving in the light of two headlights, that I was in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer. I went to get my rifle and I shot." Despite is good faith, Mr. Faisan will be prosecuted."

[Ref. vi1:] MAGAZINE D'UFOLOGIE "VIMANA 21":

MONDAY OCTOBER 18 [Publishing date] : DON'T SHOOT AT THE MARTIANS! -

Lille - Mr. Maurice Ruant, a farmer in Cinceny [sic], near Chauny (Aisne) was almost the victim of the panic caused to some, by the appearance of flying saucers or other flying objects. The other night, he was busy repairing his car in a field near his home when two shots were fired in his direction. The bullets crashed on the car body, not far from his head. Mr. Ruant filed a complaint, and the investigation immediately opened allowed to quickly find the author of the two shots, who was a neighbor of Mr. Ruant, Mr. Faisan. The latter told the police: "I thought, seeing a silhouette moving in the light of the headlights, to be in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer, I went to get my rifle and I fired!..." Despite his good faith, Mr. Faisan will be prisoner [sic].

The source of the text is indicated to be the newspaper Le Bien Public.

[Ref. to1:] PAOLO TOSELLI:

This particular psychological state of the witnesses [that of "giving UFO characteristics to IFOs" by a "subconscious impulse"] will be discussed later, to help explain certain reactions. For example, the case of a Frenchman who, in 1954, fired on his neighbor busy in front of his headlights to repair his car, believing he was confronted to a "Martian" near his saucer!

Paolo Toselli reproduces below this, the Radar page (without source reference):

[Ref. mf2:] MICHEL FIGUET:

CASE Nr CLASSIFICATION DATE HOUR PLACE ZIP CODE CREDIBILITY SOURCE
92 CE3 .. 10 1954 hnp [= hour not specified] Sinceny D2 E [= explained], F.G. (confusion)

[Ref. mf1:] MICHEL FIGUET:

Michel Figuet notes in his catalogue of solved Close Encounters:

10.1954
Sinceny
Confusion, E. Zurcher, p. 175

[Ref. cc1:] "CIRCULAIRE CNEGU" UFOLOGY BULLETIN:

The explained cases of Francat

[...] 10.54 : Sinceny (02), [...]

[Ref. dc3:] DOMINIQUE CAUDRON:

Dominique Caudron indicates that in France in 1954 a farmer shot at a neighbor he mistook for a Martian.

[Ref. op1:] "OVNI-PRESENCE" UFOLOGY MAGAZINE:

History buffs may remember that during the great wave of saucers of the fall of 1954, one Mr. Faisant of Sinceny (Aisne) fired on a Martian who turned out to be only his neighbor.

[Ref. je1:] JOHN SPENCER:

NAME: SINCENY MISJUDGMENT

DATE: OCTOBER 1954

PLACE: SINCENY, AISNE, FRANCE

MAP REF: G14

EVENT: SLIGHT ERROR OF MISJUDGMENT

'Seeing a silhouette moving in the light of two lamps, I thought I was in the presence of a Martian in the process of repairing his flying saucer. I went to get my gun and I fired at him.'

A perfectly reasonable assumption you might think (and a charming gesture of greeting), but one which was unfortunately a bit wide of the mark. In this case the target turned out to be the witness’s own neighbour repairing his motor car. Fortunately his aim was no better than his judgment and the shot only damaged the car, presumably leaving his neighbour somewhat startled.

Our witness might have had even more trouble explaining himself if he had offered the explanation 'I'm sorry. I thought you were someone else...!'

[Ref. md1:] "LES MYSTERES DE L'EST" UFOLOGY MAGAZINE:

[...] the newspaper L'Alsace for 10/19/1954 also mentions a case of misinterpretation of this type [car mistaken for saucer] near Chauny (02), [...]

[Ref. lg1] LOREN GROSS - UNKNOWN US NEWSPAPER:

Scan

November 2, 1954

French Have Epidemic Of Disks

By Priscilla Buckley

PARIS, (UP). -- A flying saucer epidemic has Frenchmen seeing men from Mars.

The other evening in the Lorraine village of Walscheid a terrified band of youngsters stampeded homeward to report that the men from Mars had landed in a villager's garden. Womenfolk dashed into the church, hoping for divine sanctuary.

The men grabbed scythes, clubs, and the few available guns and marched against the garden. There stood the invaders, half human size, heads glowing motionless.

Turned out they were big chrysanthemums the resident had covered with brilliant cloth against the frost.

When the big scale visitation from the outer reaches began, the flying saucer was the model. Since then, luminous cigars, frying pans, disks, melons and even bells have hurtled through the French skies in increasing numbers.

Within the week the villagers of Momy (Basses-Pyrenees) took to the fled with makeshift weapons to deal with a flying saucer freshly arrived. They found a hollow pumpkin with a candle burning inside.

Two nights earlier a farmer in the Bordeaux area stopped to repair his car on a lonely road, and narrowly missed death when a resident mistook him for a celestial invader and fired both barrels of his shotgun at him.

Ten days ago Gilbert Lelay told his parents at Chateaubriant that a little Martian stepped from a flying cigar and readily gave him permission to look at it, but warned him not to touch it.

Near Toulouse, a mechanic, Jean Marty, 43, informed police he saw an orange saucer land near his home. It soon zoomed away into the night, but Marty found two sheets of paper on the ground, covered with cryptic markings which none could deny could be Martian literature.

The weekly magazine express [L'Express] offered a reward of 10 million francs ($28.570) to the first person bringing a real live Martian to its offices.

The more scholarly newspaper Le monde, lamenting the rash of flying saucers, mourned in print for "the days of our well beloved sea serpent."

[Ref. dc1:] DOMINIQUE CAUDRON:

In Sinceny (Aisne), a certain Mr. Faisant [sic] shot at a "Martian" who was repairing his saucer, but it proved to be only his neighbor who was repairing his car.

[Ref. lh1:] LARRY HATCH:

! 1954/10/15: Sinceny, Aisne, France: Farmer fires shotgun at Space Alien repairing flying saucer. Numerous sources.

Space Alien was a stranded motorist. Farmer in deep legal trouble. Ufologie.net [This is the old URL of my website's home page.]

[Ref. dt1:] DIANA G. TUMMINIA:

The author says that when a UFO wave engulfed France in 1954, one man shot at his neighbor because he thought he was a Martian.

[Ref. ud1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that on October 17, 1954, in Sinceny, France, "Close encounter with an unidentified craft and its occupants. An unidentifiable object and its occupants were observed at close range."

The source is indicated as Carrouges, Michel, Les Apparitions de Martiens, Fayard, Paris, 1963.

[Ref. at1:] SITE WEB "ASSOCIATION ON OFFICIELLE DES TEMOINS D'OVNIS":

REAL STORIES ABOUT THE UFOs

The Martian neighbor

During the Autumn of 1954, France saw a true frenzy of "Martians". Tens of observations are reported each day so that quasi-hysteria seizes the population. Not astonishing, under these conditions, that one assists to a certain number of more or less dangerous "overflows" of which the most known remains that of Sincery [sic]. Seeing a light in front of which a silhouette was moving, M.F. opened fire with a shotgun. Later he told the newspapers: "I believed to be in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer. I went to get my rifle, and I shot". In fact, the extraterrestrial was his neighbor busy fixing his car's engine, headlights lit. A neighbor who really was lucky no bullet hit him.

[Ref. lm2:] "LA MONTAGNE" NEWSPAPER'S WEBSITE:

[... Other case ... ]

In certain areas, the fear takes sometimes dramatic forms. In Sinceny (the Aisne), Mr. Faisan shoots two cartridges at his neighbor who fixes his car: "I believed to be in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer" the gunman says. The victim survives.

[... Other case ... ]

[Ref. ov1:] "LES OVNIS" WEB BOARD:

Posted on: Mon Feb 28 - 08:20 p.m. (2011) Subject of the message: 1954 French flap

The year 1954 remains the period when one recorded the most UFO sightings in France. 2000 cases reported by the press, according to ufologist (UFO specialist) Dominique Caudron. Between September and November, testimonies multiply, from the most disturbing to the most wacky.

[...]

In some areas, fear sometimes takes a dramatic turn. In Sinceny (Aisne), Mr. Faisan fires two rounds at his neighbor who fixes his car: "I thought I was in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer," said the gunman. The victim survives.

[...]

[Ref. ub1:] "UFO-DATENBANK":

Case Nr. New case Nr. Investigator Date of observation Zip Place of observation Country of observation Hour of observation Classification Comments Identification
19541000 00.10.1954 Sincey [sic] France
19541017 17.10.1954 Sinceny France CE III

[Ref. dc2:] DOMINIQUE CAUDRON:

No Martian in Sinceny

In Sinceny, near Chauny (Aisne), Mr. Ruant just escaped it. Mistaken for a Martian, he almost received lead in the head. As for his attacker, Mr. Faisan (or Faisant), he can be congratulated for having missed his target: he could have been charged with homicide by imprudence.

Strange gleams worry Mr. Faisan, who shoots.

DO NOT SHOOT AT THE "MartiAN"!

A neighbor of Mr. Marcel Faisant, staying at Sinceny, came to fetch him the other evening, for he had perceived, he said, strange lights in a meadow on the side of the road to Soude; the day before, this neighbor had already noticed these suspicious gleams.

Martians or poachers?

Mr. Faisant wanted to be sure: he took down his shotgun and the two men went out. Mr. Faisant saw the gleams, whistled, put the weapon on his shoulder and fired. A scream answered the shot and the two men fled.

One learned the next day, from Mr. Maurice Ruaut, farmer at Sinceny, who was repairing his car in a meadow on the path of Soude, that his vehicle had received bullets, the bodywork of th car bore traces. The bullets had crashed close to Mr. Ruaut's head.

The gendarmes, continuing their investigation, discovered that the gleams seen by Mr. Faisant's neighbor were not a myth and had been provoked by a farmer who was nursing a sick animal in his meadow.

(L'Aisne Nouvelle, October 19, 1954, page 1)

Sensational! One shot at a Martian. Numerous newspaper would cite the case from a dispatch of October 16.

MISSED ATTENTAT...
... AGAINST A FALSE MARTIAN

Saint-Quentin, October 16. - Mr. Maurice Ruant, farmer in Sinceny, near Chauny (Aisne), was almost a victim of the panic caused by some appearance of saucers or other flying machines. Last night, he was busy troubleshooting his car in a meadow near his home when two shots were fired in his direction. The bullets crashed on the body of the vehicle, not far from his head. Mr. Maurice Ruant filed a complaint and the investigation immediately opened to quickly find the author of the two shots who was a neighbor of Mr. Ruant, Mr. Faisan.

The latter told the police:

"I thought, seeing a figure moving in the light of two headlights, to be in the presence of a Martian repairing his flying saucer, I went to get my rifle and fired."

Despite his good faith, Mr. Faisan will be prosecuted..

(Liberté, October 17, 1954, page 7)

Other newspapers told of the cas in a more ironic manner:

Hunting forbidden

Where we see
M. FAISANT

shoot two cartridges
on a Martian

While Mr. Maurice Ruant, farmer in Sincen[y], (Aisne), was busy, at dusk, troubleshooting his car in one of his meadows two shots of shotgun were fired in his direction and some bullets fell on his vehicle.

Mr. Ruant, who thought he had been the victim of a stray bullet, did not believe that one could take his modest person for a Martian on a special mission let alone his capricious car for one of these flying saucers who never know any breakdown.

Yet that was the explanation for these shots.

Mr. Faisant, who had noticed the light projected in the field by the headlights, had approached with Mr. Bonneton to see what was happening not far from them.

As improbable as it may seem, the two men had not yet seen flying saucers. Hence an unpleasant inferiority complex that they were anxious to get rid of. This time, finally, they were holding their saucer and what's more their Martian that had to be brought home dead or alive.

And this is how doing well, A. Faisant shot two cartridges at the man of the planets.

The man of the planets has filed a complaint, and M. Faisant, for want of Martian, will no doubt soon bring home a very "earthly" fine.

(La Voix du Nord, October 17, 1954, page 3)

After such a sensational action, Mr. Faisan was entitled to the honors of the cover of Radar magazine.

"You'll see that one of these days, the Martians will walk by at Chauny!", one jokingly told Mr. Faisant. And this brave farmer from the Aisne had nodded his head knowingly. "I have what it takes to receive them!", he had simply replied. Mr. Faisant returned to his home. He sat down by the window, his eyes fixed on the shadow, which gradually drowned the meadows and the woods. Suddenly he flinched...

(Radar, October 31, 1954, page 1)

A glow filtered through the bushes - then disappeared.

"Is it the Martians? Mr. Faisan asked himself. And this idea worked him all day.

So when, in the evening, the peasant saw the light move again, he had no doubt: "It's some Martians who landed!"

Mr. Faisant rushed at his neighbor's house, "Bonneton," he said to him, his eyes bulging and his voice trembling, "there are Martians in the thicket," "What are you saying?" "There is a flying saucer that has landed." "You've got to see that!" decided the neighbor Bonneton "- Wait, I'll take my gun... You never know...".

The two men crossed the road. On a small dirt road, a dark mass spread over the ground; a bizarre glow circulated around it: "It's the saucer," whispered Mr. Faisant to his companion. And he added, "I see the Martian... he's built like a real monster." They were about 120 meters from the mysterious visitor. "I'll whistle," said Mr. Bonneton, "if it moves, you shoot!"

He did as he said. The shadow moved. A shot rang out in the night...

After that the two friends ran back to their farm where they padlocked. We cannot be too careful, right!

A few moments later, a man, furious and distraught at the same time, entered the gendarmerie: "I come to complain," he exploded. "They wanted to kill me! My name is Ruault Maurice. I am 25. My clerk Pierre Bouthillier came to tell me a moment ago: "There is a sick cow in the meadow of the Soude path". I then took my traction [Citroën Traction Avant car] to go see. But when arriving in the dirt road, my rear wheel gets bogged down! I get out; I take my electric lamp: the cow was dead, nothing to do. I'm back to my pull, but with that mud dirt, impossible to restart, the car was skidding... So I hear a whistle. I stood up and blam! Here is a shot that breaks. No doubt, there was someone who wanted to murder me; the car was riddled with bullets..."

It took the gendarmes of Chauny eight days to clear up this dark affair. "Possibly I shot at Mr. Ruault, thinking he was a Martian," said Mr. Faisant. But if, on Monday, it was him who was in the thicket, I'm sure that the day before, it was a man out of a flying saucer!"

For such is the strength of persusasion [sic]...

Note: Comparing with the article in the local newspaper, we can see how much this story is fictionalized, at least as far as Faisan and Bonneton are concerned.

On the other hand, despite the talent of the illustrator, we see that something is wrong in the sketched scene: a few meters away Mr. Faisan could not have been wrong. In fact, according to the text, he was 120 meters away.

(Radar, October 31, 1954, page 2)

So Mr. Faisan was liable to the court. A court, quite unable to determine what law to apply, as a brilliant lawyer will explain it to us:

Shooting a shot at a "Martian", is it equal, under the criminal law, to the same gesture exercised on a man?

...

We would be curious to know what is the qualification chosen: no injury resulting for the victim, we can think - depending on whether we retain "the animus necandi" or not at the expense of the author - either the attempted murder or the willful violence of Article 311 of the Penal Code. Could the inadvertent offense of article 320 of the Penal Code, which would be best suited to a case of this nature, be upheld in the absence of any injury, sickness or incapacity of the victim? One could also think of a characterization of hunting offense - which is not as extravagant as it may seem a priori. Finally, it can be considered that the fact cannot be cast into the mold of any criminal classification, which would preclude any prosecution or would result in the release of the accused.

...

We believe that, in this case, Mr. Faisan did not commit either error personae or aberratio ictus; which have the effect - as we have just seen - of changing neither the nature nor the gravity of the accomplished offense. His error is not only formal, therefore ineffective; it is essential, therefore operative, since it relates to a constitutive element of the crime.

...

Whatever one thinks about applying to the "Martian" laws - in the broad sense of the term - made for humans, is obviously wanting to shatter the framework for which these laws had been designed.

...

At the risk of being accused of originality, we risk, in this case, the charge of hunting offense.

But anyone would ask, how?. Besides that Mr. Faisan - despite his name - would not be the target, but the hunter, one should - in this case - take the "Martians" for pests or dangerous animals, just good to chase, while they were friendly and even tender, to believe some witnesses!

It is true that Mr. Faisan, totally lacking the most elemental interplanetary courtesy, risked, by his ill-considered gesture, to trigger the most incredible war of the worlds;

...

We may witness the birth of a new law, no longer international, but interplanetary. After all, why not?

(Revue de Science Criminelle et de Droit Pénal Comparé, #4, New Series, October / Decembre 1954, )

[Ref. ja1:] JEAN-MICHEL ABRASSART:

Chapter 1: Saucerism

In 1954, a Frenchman fired a gun at his neighbor while the latter was repairing his car in the light of his headlights, believing he was a Martian near his flying saucer. (Toselli, 1982, 23). This kind of anecdotes can only arouse the interest of the researcher in the human sciences: how can one explain this kind of misinterpretation? How to understand that someone could confuse his neighbor with an extraterrestrial?

[Ref. jb1:] JEROME BEAU:

Jérôme Beau reproduces the [rc1] source, masking all protagonists' names.

Explanations:

I have the impression that, even though there may be a real incident at the base of this story, the press of the time exaggerated, for "sensation" purpose, an incident that could to be much less "telling" than one wants us to believe.

There is, to begin with, the remark by Dominique Caudron ("skeptical" ufologist certainly not guilty of Martian sympathies) on the distance given by Radar as 120 meters, and not a few meters like the sketch published by the same magazine suggested. Certainly Radar is not a bulletproof reliable source, but there is already an indication of a distorted presentation of the possible events. At 120 meters in the night, the misinterpretation is not at all so dramatic as what is shown in the sketch.

Then, what intrigues me the most is this chronological oddity with the sources.

It all starts with a national source, the Agence France Presse, who issued their dispatch on October 16, 1954. Logically, this press release should bring to the national scale news published locally earlier. Now, the local versions, found by Dominique Caudron, seem to be posterior: La Voix du Nord of October 17, 1954, and especially L'Aisne Nouvelle of October 19, 1954. In the meatime, the "sensational" story has already appeared in newspapers around the world... This suggests that there would have been another local source before September 16, 1954; which is not yet known.

Above all, I notice that the local versions give details that somehow change things:

  1. L'Aisne Nouvelle indicates, without naming him, that it was a neighbor of Mr. Faisant, the shooter, who saw strange gleams, and this, already the day before the incident. He was the one who warns Mr. Faisant. These gleams were probably not Mr. Ruant's car out of use with headlights on for two days. So there is no longer a "simple and immediate" mistake, but a whole context was being built.
  2. L'Aisne Nouvelle indicates, by "Martian or poacher?", that for Mr. Faisant, he did not necessarily fire at a Martian, but perhaps at a poacher. A shot on a possible poacher may not have been sensational enough to the press, nor is it for a "socio-psychological" thesis on UFOs. So was there some too heavy insistence on the "Martian" side of the story?
  3. When I read L'Aisne Nouvelle, I even came to wonder if Mr. Ruant did not just get "stray pellets"! Moreover La Voix du Nord speaks of "some pellets" that "fell" on the car, and indicates that Mr. Ruant thought to have been "victim of a misplaced bullet". What seems certain in any case is that at the moment, he absolutely did not see who was shooting at him or where from; in other words, Mr. Faisant must not have been very visible, or had to be at some good distance from his target. Which would go fit with the "120 meters" evoked by Radar.
  4. The A.F.P. version contradicts L'Aisne Nouvelle version. In L'Aisne Nouvelle, Mr. Faisant picked up his rifle and went to see, with the other man, what the gleams were. For the A.F.P., he seems to be alone, he sees two headlights, and goes home to get the rifle.

In Radar magazine, we also get evidence that Mr. Faisant was pushed to expect a Martian invasion, "You'll see that one of these days, the Martians will walk bx in Chauny!" (Chauny is a bigger village 3 km from Sinceny). But this may have been invented by this magazine. But an invention is not certain, the fact that only that magazine gave the names and firsnames of the protagonists would suggest that they actually investigated the case.

Another contradiction: according to the A.F.P., the police immediately found the "culprit"; according to Radar magazine, it took 8 days... This brings the question of the date of the incident.

Mr. Faisant said, according too Radar magazine, that "on Monday", he may have (as in inadvertently) shoot at Mr. Ruant, but, "I'm sure the day before, it was a man coming out of a flying saucer! " Either he shot during each of two nights in a row, or he invented a Martian for an excuse of his shooting (*)...

So, on Saturday, October 16, 1954, the first information on the case appears via A.F.P., and it took 8 days, perhaps, to find the shooter, and he said it was "on Monday". It would then be Monday, October 11 or Monday, October 4, 1954. If it did not take 8 days (if the police quickly found Mr. Faisant, as indicated by A.F.P.), it would be Monday, October 11, 1954.

(*) Wacky? But in 1954, we have so many "flying saucers" that it even seemed to happen that one invented encoutering a Martian and his saucer as an excuse for arriving late to his work...

I took an interest in the names of the protagonists. We have:

There is a "chemin de Soude"; which goes, from the east of Sinceny, to Chaunay, bordered by meadows or fields.

In short, the edifying misintepretation seems to me to be a very confused story, it does not have such clarity that it should be used to calmly evacuate the entire UFO issue, in my opinion.

No one should deny the existence of misinterpretations, be they simple, complex or funny. But a real skepticism shoult be at work, as does Dominique Caudron about the different distances between the narrative and sketch in Radar, also when we are offered such "educating" stories of misinterpretations.

Keywords:

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

Sinceny, Aisne, confusion, martian, humanoid, road, car, saucer, light, gun, law, charges

Sources:

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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross 12 décembre 2004 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross April 24, 2009 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Additions [rp1], [ud1].
1.1 Patrick Gross March 18, 2010 Addition [hm1].
1.2 Patrick Gross April 5, 2010 Additions [mf1], [dt1].
1.3 Patrick Gross June 17, 2010 Additions [dc3], [at1].
1.4 Patrick Gross October 22, 2011 Addition [lm2].
1.5 Patrick Gross September 23, 2014 Addition [li1].
1.6 Patrick Gross October 10, 2016 Addition [fa1].
1.7 Patrick Gross November 25, 2016 Additions [lg1], [ub1].
1.8 Patrick Gross January 20, 2017 Additions [vm1].
1.9 Patrick Gross September 18, 2017 Addition [sp1].
2.0 Patrick Gross September 19, 2017 Additions [ak1], [cp1], [pd1].
2.1 Patrick Gross January 22, 2019 Addition [ou1].
2.2 Patrick Gross July 5, 2019 Addition [ja1].
2.3 Patrick Gross August 2, 2019 Additions [at1], [gu1], [vi1], [mf2], [je1], [md1], [to1], [cc1], [op1], [lh1], [ov1], [dc2], [jb1], Summary. Explanations changed, was "Confusion, known as such at the time."

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