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October 16, 1954, Le Cateau-Cambrésis, Nord:

Reference for this case: 16-Oct-54-Le-Cateau-Cambrésis.
Please cite this reference in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


The local newspaper L'Eclair du Cambrésis, of Le Cateau-Cambrésis, in the Nord department, reported on October 31, 1954 that "the other evening" people had gathered in the Auguste-Seydoux street for "curiously contemplating the moves of a luminous circle resembling what we use to call 'flying saucer'."

A soldier on leave planned to alert the air base at Espinoy, but eventually the people saw that the "saucer" was made of small balloons attached to each other, supporting a colored disc with electric lamps.

The newspaper Nord-Matin, in their local edition of Cambrai, on October 19, 1954, had already reported the incident, giving the date: October 16, 1954.





The other evening people gathered in the rue Auguste-Seydoux to curiously contemplate the moves of a luminous circle resembling what one uses to call "flying saucer". A soldier on leave did not find anything better than talking about alerting the Espinoy air base!!! what would he have taken for his rank even if he was only a private... Finally our observers recognized that they were small balloons attached to each other, supporting a disc of color with electric lamps. Everyone laughed at the adventure, guessing the advertising trick, and agreed that you have to have your feet on the ground before thinking of seeing Martians...



Whereas there is no doubt about the reality of hoaxes based on various devices during the 1954 wave in France, this one leaves me a bit skeptical. If people really looked at the moves ("evolutions") of the device, then it means it was flying, or even maneuvering - this term often used by the newspapers is most ambiguous.

I doubt very much that even with hydrogen-filled "small balloons", a prankster could have lifted several electric flashlight, as the batteries were quite heavy at the time.

Such hoaxes were usually set with with miniature hot air balloons, "fire-balloons" or "Chinese lanterns" as they were called later. In Bélesta, the pranksters had thrown like a Frisbee a bicycle wheel carrying electric lamps. But without balloons; which would only have shortened the flight.

I suspect that the "device" here did not "move", that it was just hanging on something like a tree or a lamppost, or even that the whole story was an invention of the newspaper.


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

Le Cateau-Cambrésis, Nord, negative case, saucer, balloons, flashlights, prank


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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross March 18, 2020 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross May 9, 2020 Addition [nmn1]. In the Summary, addition of the paragraphe "The newspaper Nord-Matin..." Case date changed from End October to October 16.

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This page was last updated on May 9, 2020.