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The 1954 French flap:

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

January 7, 1954, Orchies, Nord:

Reference number for this case: 7-Jan-54-Orchies. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Reports:

[Ref. of1:] "OUEST FRANCE" NEWSPAPER:

Scan

A fireball explodes
in the Dieppe sky

DIEPPE, 7. - This morning, between 4:30 a.m. and 5:15 a.m., nearly 70 dockers of the Dieppe harbor saw in the sky a blinding gleam [sic], followed four minutes later of a tremendous explosion that opened a large number of doors and broke the windows of the houses in the city.

Most of the Dieppe residents were awakened by the deafening noise. It does not seem that this may be an hallucination because testimonies are numerous and agree on almost all points. Only some discrepancies among the witnesses are recorded in regard to the direction of the light; which according to some came from the north, and for some others from the west.

The mail car that ensures the traffic between Dieppe and Rouen was around the first of these two towns when the light occurred. But according to the two occupants of the vehicle, the explosion would have occurred eight minutes after the glow.

The Dieppe semaphore contacted that of Fécamp and those of all the small harbors along the coast. All agree to say that the phenomenon was seen in these points. However, the semaphore of Le Havre did not notice anything.

However, several witnesses from the Mailleraye locality at about 80 kilometers south of Dieppe, are adamant that they saw the glow coming from the Dieppe area.

This morning, a railways employee took his duty at the station of Orchies (Nord) and saw a disc of fire that moved horizontally at a dizzying speed. A luminous trail followed the glowing disc in its path.

The same phenomenon was seen at about the same time in Arras (Pas-de-Calais). A witness said he saw the disc motionless in the sky for a moment. But he did not have time to contemplate it. It immediately resumed its course and disappeared over the horizon.

Finally, it should be emphasized that about a week ago, a fishing boat arrived at Dieppe all riddled with small holes that might have been caused by a fireball.

The Institute of Astrophysics of Paris believes, however, that the phenomenon was no other than a meteor. The very hour that made this observation - shortly before sunrise - concurs to support this opinion [!]. But, they add, such explosions are not very rare, and one was able to record many others of them across the globe.

We know that the fireballs are bodies whose origin and composition are unclear and that, moving in the sky extremely quickly, warm up when they come to meet the Earth's atmosphere because of the resistance thereof. Then they become incandescent.

Sometimes they go without other signs than a luminous trail. Sometimes they break silently, sometimes noisily. It also happens that they fall to the earth's surface, whole or fragmented: this is the origin of fireballs falls.

[Ref. re1:] REUTER PRESS RELEASE:

DIEPPE, FRANCE, Jan, 7, 1954 (Reuters) -- A powerful explosion rocked this port early today, shattering windows, blasting open doors and waking most of the inhabitants.

The explosion was preceded by a blinding flash in the sky.

Some people said the explosion came four minutes after the flash. Some said eight minutes. They also differed on the direction. It was seen 50 miles away.

A railwayman at Orchies, near the belgian border, said he saw a fiery disc in the sky at great speed about the time of the Dieppe explosion.

[Ref. lp1:] "LE PROVENCAL" NEWSPAPER:

A mysterious craft explodes in the sky of Dieppe

DIEPPE (A.F.P.).
Yesterday morning, between 4:30 and 05:15 nearly 70 dockers of the Dieppe harbor saw in the sky a blinding gleam followed, four minutes later, of a formidable explosion which opened very many doors and broke the windows of the houses of the city.

Most of the Dieppe residents were awaked by this deafening noise. It does not seem that it can be an hallucination for testimonys are very numerous and agree on almost all the points. Only certain divergences are recorded among the witnesses with regard to the direction of the gleam which, according to the ones, came from the North and according to the others, from the West.

The mail van which ensures the traffic between Dieppe and Rouen was around the first of these two cities at the time when the gleam occurred. But, according to the two occupants of this vehicle, the explosion occurred only eight minutes after the gleam.

Witnesses are categorical

The semaphore of Dieppe was put in relation to that of Fécamp and those of all the small habors of the seaside. All agree to state that the phenomenon was seen in these various points. On the other hand the semaphore of Le Havre did not notice anything.

However, several witnesses from Mailleraye, localised approximately 80 kilometers approximately in the south-east of Dieppe, and at Serqueux, village at 50 kilometers in the south-east of Dieppe, are categorical: they saw the gleam which came from the direction of Dieppe.

Lastly, it is necessary to stress that one week ago approximately, a small fishing boat arrived in Dieppe very sifted of small pieces which may come from an aerolite.

One loses oneself for the moment in conjectures about the nature of this strange phenomenon.

Same phenomenon in Orchies-en-Arras

Lille (A.F.P).
Yesterday morning, at 04:27, a railroad worker which took his service in the station of Orchies, saw in the sky a disc of fire which moved horizontally at a vertiginous speed. A luminous trail followed the reddish disc in its trajectory.

The same phenomenon was seen about the same hour in Arras. A witness stated to have seen the disc motionless one moment in the sky, but he did not have the time to contemplate it. It began again its race immediately and disappeared at the horizon.

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

In the sky of Dieppe

Gleam four minutes after a terrible explosion

It is said it is a bolide...

Dieppe, January 7. -- This morning, between 04:30 and 05:15, nearly 70 dockers of the Dieppe Harbour saw in the sky, a dazzling gleam followed four minutes later by a formidable explosion which opened numerous doors and broke several windows of the houses of the city.

Most of the Dieppe residents were awaked by this deafening noise. The Dieppe semaphore contacted that of Fécamp and with them, all the small harbours of the coast. All agree to state that the phenomenon was seen in these various points.

However, several witnesses in Mailleraye, locality at 80 km approximately in the south of Dieppe, are categorical: they saw the gleam which came from the direction of Dieppe.

Lastly, it must be stressed that one week ago approximately, a small fishing boat arrived at Dieppe very sifted of small glares which might come from an aerolite.

This morning, at 04:27, a railroad worker which took his service in the railway station of Orchies, saw in the sky, a disc of fire which moved horizontally at a vertiginous speed. A luminous trail followed the reddish disc in its trajectory. The same phenomenon was seen about the same hour in Arras. A witness stated to have seen the disc motionless one moment in the sky.

But he did not have time to contemplate it as it resumed its race immediately and disappeared at the horizon.

A fireball

It is most likely, the Institute of Astrophysics of Paris estimates, certain that the observed phenomenon was nothing else than a bolide.

The very hour when this observation was made, little before the sunrise, contributes to support this opinion, are not rare and many others were recorded on all the surface of the globe.

It is known that the bolides are bodies whose origin and composition are little known about and who, moving in the sky at an extreme speed, warm up when they suddenly met the Earth's atmosphere because of the resistance that it opposes to them.

That is when they become incandescent. Sometimes, they pass without being reported differently than a luminous trail, sometimes with great noise. It also happens that they fall on the surface of the globe, entirely or fragmented. Such is the origin of aerolites falls.

[Ref. jg1:] JIMMY GUIEU:

Science Fiction writer and ufologist Jimmy Guieu reports that on January 7, 1954, at 04:30 a.m., a discoïdal craft seemed to explode after having followed a nonrectilinear trajectory, seen by several inhabitants of Dieppe, Orchies and Arras, with a three minutes variation between these cities which - according to him - excludes a meteor.

The author says that windows panes exploded, doors and of the windows were brutally slammed, walls vibrated as with a sonic boom from a supersonic plane. He says that the "ball of fire" had stopped and set out again at one time, and thus no astronomer in the world will be able to baptize it a "meteorite".

[Ref. am1:] AIME MICHEL:

Aimé Michel indicates that on January 7, 1954, to 04:27 a.m., a railroad worker who took his service in Orchies, within 40 kilometers north-east of Arras in straight line, saw, disappearing towards the south-west, a luminous disc moving horizontally at an extraordinary speed, trailing in its trajectory an intense orange light.

A few seconds later, all the department of Seine-Inférieur, from Fécamp in the west up to Dieppe in the north, from Mailleraye in the south to Gournay in the East, was illuminated by a general flashover of the sky. During one half-minute, the light was so intense that the railwamen of Serqueux could read the serial numbers of the coaches.

A few minutes later, Dieppe was shaken by a gigantic explosion which broke many windows and woke up from their sleep three quarters of the city.

Aimé Michel notes that after the observations of that day, in the evening, a spokesman of the Institute of astrophysics of Paris stated:

"It is very likely that the phenomenon observed this morning in the area of Dieppe was nothing else than a fireball."

[Ref. lg1] LOREN GROSS:

[... Other cases...]

Meteor or what?

The American CIA surveying foreign newspapers found the following in the Liege, Belgium, newspaper Le Monde du Travail:

"On 7 January 1954 at 0420 hours, a Sabena pilot preparing to land at Melsbrock saw a ball of fire low on the horizon, moving in a northnorthwesterly direction. The ball was white, edged with green, and was followed by a long trail. The phenomenon illuminated the whole sky and the pilot supposed at the time that it was a green rocket signal set off by the airport authorities. Since the latter denied this, it was assumed that he had seen the same light which was seen over Dieppe." 31.

We have two sources that mention the phenomenon at Dieppe. Both tell of a blinding explosion that turned night into day and broke windows. It was said the remains of the meteor, or whatever it was, fell into the English Channel off shore near Dieppe. Witnesses abord a French trawler reported the passage of a tremendous ball of fire leaving sparks in its wake. 32.

Jimmy Gieu [sic, Guieu], a French source for this episode, asserts that the object passed over the towns of Arras, Orchies, and Dieppe in a "series of short curves" and for a time "hovered for a few seconds." 33.

A CIA agent in North Africa discovered the following in a French language newspaper. The agent documented this:

"At approximately 0427 hours on 7 January 1954, a fiery disk, followed by a luminous trail, was sighted in Arras, Pas-de-Calais Department. An observer stated that the disks [sic] remained motionless in the sky for an instant, after which it flew away and disappeared over the horizon." 34.

(See French newspaper clipping from the La Bourgogne Republicaine) [Wich is not about this meteor but about another one 2 day later, see January 9.]

Scan

[... Other cases...]

  • 31. Liege, Belgium. Le Monde du Travail 10 January 54.
  • 32. Wilkins, Harold T. Flying Saucers on the Attack, p.314.
  • 33. Guieu, Jimmy. Flying Saucers Come From Another World, pp.147-148.
  • 34. Casablanca, Morrocco. Le Petit Marocain. 8 January 54.
  • 37. Boulogne, France. La Bourgogne Republicaine. 12 January 54. May be located in Air Force BTUEBOOK Files by the date: 7 July 54.

[Ref. jc1:] JACQUES COSTAGLIOLA:

The author indicates that on January 7, 1954 at 4:27 in France, "Orchies, disc".

[Ref. lc1:] LUC CHASTAN:

Luc Chastan indicates that in North in Orchies on January 7, 1954, at 04:30 hours "a railwayman observed a luminous object crossing the sky at high speed."

The source is said to be my website, "Les OVNI vus de près par Gross Patrick ** http://ufologie.net". [This being the old URL of the home page of my website - Chastan chose to ignore my explanation.]

[Ref. ud1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that on 7 January 1954 at 04:27 in "Orchies Gare, France", "An unidentified object was sighted, but with appearance and behavior that most likely would have a conventional explanation. One object, the size of the moon, was observed by one witness for a few seconds."

The sources are indicated as "Michel, Aime, The Truth About Flying Saucers, Pyramid T1647, New York, 1967" and "Vallee, Jacques, Computerized Catalog (N = 3073)."

Explanations:

The January 7, 1954, meteor.

Keywords:

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

Orchies, Nord, railwayman, disc, fiery, luminous

Sources:

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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross December 4, 2005 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross December 17, 2009 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Additions [jg1], [lc1], [ud1].
1.1 Patrick Gross February 11, 2010 Addition [jc1].
1.2 Patrick Gross March 4, 2010 Addition [vm1].
1.3 Patrick Gross April 9, 2010 Addition [lp1].
1.4 Patrick Gross October 19, 2016 Addition [of1].
1.5 Patrick Gross November 30, 2016 Addition [lg1].

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This page was last updated on November 30, 2016.