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UFOs in the Press:

The French 1954 saucer flap in the daily Press:

The article below was published in the daily newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on page 9, on October 16, 1954.

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France In Grip Of Flying Saucer Fever

From June GODDARD In Paris

FRANCE, the land of logic, is in the full grip of the fever of flying saucers and of little men in space helmets, who make friendly, if unintelligible, advances to startled peasants, or nail them to the spot with a hypnotic "green ray."

For the past 10 days there have been unnumerable flying saucer reports from peasants, doctors, milkmen, butchers, farmers, housewives, gendarmes, teachers, from the Channel coast to the Mediterranean, from the Pyrenees to the Ardennes, from Britany to Alsace.

According to all these witnesses, the sky over France is alight with sparkling yellow "saucers," bluish globes, "flying cigars," (Once as dramatically reported from Mulhouse in Alsace, surrounded by "12 little cheroots"), plain aluminum "saucers," luminous "cigars," 10 "saucers" which seemed to perform a sort of ballet in the sky, and sometimes just plain "mysterious machines."

Unlike earlier flying saucers, those reported hovering over France fly low, sometimes at about 600 ft, and do not flash across the sky, but remain in view for as long as 15 minutes, or remain apparently immobile.

They variously spit flames, form luminous curtains of light, change color, land and take off vertically without a sound.

MANY French scientists, hitherto skeptical on the flying saucer question, are reported to be somewhat shaken by the multiplicity of reports, and by the fact that some are group observations, or individual reports which tally with others received from adjacent regions.

On the subject of little men or Martians, they reiterate that astronomers have never made any observations which could indicate a high form of life on Mars.

They point out that Mars is a thousand million years older than the earth, and that, if life did once exist there, it probably disappeared in the pink icy deserts which appear now to abound on the planet.

The protagonists of the flying saucers and the little men from Mars have been greatly encouraged by an article in the serious journal, "Forces Aériennes Françaises" (French Air Forces) written by a young aeronautical engineer, Lieut. J. Plantier, and approved by an engineer-in-chief of the Air Ministry.

Lieut. Plantier does not take sides, but merely demonstrates theoretically and by mathematical study that all the phenomenal behavior attributed to flying saucers is perfectly explicable if such machines were using cosmic ray energy,

Lieut. Plantier shows that the reports that flying saucers remain motionless in the sky, accelerate from immobility to 10,000 m.p.h. in a few seconds without any noise, and that living beings can fly in them without being harmed by the acceleration, are completely logical if it is admitted that energy of cosmic rays has been harnessed and that machines can fly at the speed of light.

IRRESPECTIVE of the views of scientists, however, French men and women continue to report daily appearances of saucers and cigars and their encounters with the space men.

First reaction of the honest French citizen in the face of any unusual happening or danger - including, it seems, phenomena from outer space - is to inform the gendarmes.

Accordingly, in villages and towns, bold gendarmes have been "alerted" as the French Press has it, and have been kept busy checking reports and examining alleged flying saucer landing areas for "traces."

Two gendarmes at Chateauroux in Central France themselves saw three luminous green flying objects.

Their police training immediately asserted itself, and they stopped a motor car driver and a cyclist so that they too could look and bear witness. Then the genarmes made out a full report.

The only tangible evidence to date of a landing is that produced by Mr. Marius Dewilde, a 28-year-old metal worker in the North near Valenciennes.

M. Dewilde, a young man with a hairline moustache, a long - and it must be admitted, humorous - face, said he first saw the "Martians" from his garden near the railway line.

"Two little beings, not more than three feet high," he reported, "each wearing a sort of diving suit with metal helmet, were standing near a 'flying cigar,' which had landed on the railway sleepers."

M. Dewilde had no chance to shake hands or welcome the visitors in the name of the Fourth Republic for, as soon as they saw him, they hypnotized him with a "green ray" while they leapt into their machine which, of course, took off vertically in a thick cloud of smoke without making a sound.

Next day the gendarmes "alerted" at once by M. Dewilde and two inspectors of the Air Force police, found a series of strange regular marks on the railway sleepers, which could have been caused by the "saucer" in landing.

MOST intimate contact with the space men was reported by M. Antoine Mazaud, a farmer, aged 58, with a bushy grey moustache, who lives near Limoges in the Massif central plateau of France.

M. Mazaud alleges that a "Martian" about three feet high emerged from a "flying cigar" and began to talk in an unintelligible tongue. When he realized that M. Mazaud could not understand him, he kissed the farmer on the cheek.

M. Mazaud's argumentative fellow-countrymen, questioning this strange story, immediately wanted to know why a creature from another world should adopt the habit - not even universal on earth, they pointed - of kissing.

"It is surprising that he did not pin a medal on your chest and kiss you on both cheeks," they scoffed.

In view of this unsympathetic response to M. Mazaud's story, it is not surprising, therefore, that M. Yves David, a farmer of Chatellerault, concealed for some days the fact that he had been touched on the arm by a "space man" before being momentarily hypnotized by the "green ray" like M. Dewilde.

M. David was afraid of being laughed at, he said, but eventually asked a friend if anyone else had seen the space man. The friend spread the news and, of course, told the gendarmes.

Two women in the Yonne department gave independent reports of having seen a strange machine in a clearing with a pilot standing next to it. Neither stayed to investigate, however.

DAILY the stories continue. No Parisians have yet reported an encounter with a "Martian," altough, as the wits point out, you would expect them to land on the "Champs de Mars" ("Field of Mars"), the esplanade in the front of the military school.

Cartoonists are fully exploiting the "Martian" and flying saucer season. One, in true Gallic vein, has drawn the classic wronged husband who returns home unexpectedly. He has thrown open the cupboard door to reveal a strange little figure in a spaceman's suit and helmet, and is saying to his guilty wife, cowering in bed: "And that, I suppose, you'll tell me, is a Martian."

Most celebrated flying saucer "spotter" to date in Paris is film star Michele Morgan, who reported seeing one near the Eiffel tower at about 10 p.m.

When Mademoiselle Morgan later complained of the flood of telephone calls from fans and friends who wanted to hear further details, her mother made the dry and essentially French comment:

"You lost a good opportunity that night to hold your tongue."

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