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October 3, 1954, Haillicourt, Pas-de-Calais:

Reference for this case: 3-Oct-54-Haillicourt.
Please cite this reference in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


In 1978 and around 2017, "skeptical" ufologist Dominique Caudron, based in the Nord, cataloged sightings in the Nord region for October 3, 1954, neglected by ufologists, including many that were previously unpublished, and mostly explainable by a red moon whose appearance was altered by clouds.

One of these observations was reported in the regional newspaper La Voix du Nord, in their Béthune issue ofr October 10, 1954:

At an unspecified hour, in Haillcourt in the Pas-de-Calais department, witnesses reportedly saw a mysterious object coming from Béthune (to the northeast).

The journalist thought of one of the hot air balloons launched by Beuvry's retiree as a "saucer" prank.

Dominique Caudron indicated that within the 4 observations of October 3, 1954, in the Nord region that did not correspond to the moon, there was this one in Haillicourt, where the direction of observation is incompatible with the moon; so it might have been a hot air balloon of that prankster.

In 2021, I found the article in the newspaper La Voix du Nord, in the local Béthune edition of October 10, 1954, which reported that several people had come to tell them that a phenomenon had manifested under the sky of Haillicourt, "last Sunday."

The newspaper had asked which direction the famous object came from, and learning that it was "From Béthune (...well, from Beuvry)", they understood: "We knew enough"; which indicates that this newspaper had already at the time attributed the sighting to the Chinese lanterns of the prankster of Beuvry-les-Béthunes.





The flying saucers hold, as one colleague said, "the top of the news".

Without us having moved - remember our recommendations - several people came to tell us that a phenomenon had manifested itself under the sky of Haillicourt, last Sunday.

Curious by nature, we asked which direction the famous object came from.

From Béthune (... finally from Beuvry).

We knew enough.



The weekend of October 2-3 appears on all charts as the maximum-maximum of the 1954 wave. Various newspapers and magazines that I have been able to check for this period give us an almost complete overview, in any case very broadly representative of the regional observations that were reported in the press for Sunday October 3rd. I have included the observations of the Somme which seemed to me inseparable from those of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and which appear moreover in the chapter entitled "Zigzag on the mining country" of the book by A. Michel: "Mysterieux Objets Célestes." I count, as one case, each observation made by an independent group of witnesses. The astonishing number of observations reported below, once again shows the interest of thoroughly digging into the newspapers archives.

OCTOBER 3, 1954:

[...other cases...]

40) ditto [=time not specified] - HAILLICOURT -62-: Witnesses saw a mysterious object coming from Béthune. The journalist thought of one of the hot air balloons launched by the retiree from Beuvry. (VdN-Béthune, 10/10, p.5)

[...other cases...]


We know that that evening, at 9:30 p.m., the crescent Moon was setting in the southwest and that according to case 9 it was distorted by low clouds...

Disaster! This bundle of suspicions throws a total discredit on this magnificent series of observations, one of the most beautiful that we have ever found yet. We will have to verify certain data, the direction of certain sightings, the weather conditions, but already the doubt is too great for us to be able to classify these sightings as UFOs.


In his article, Dominique Caudron listed 46 cases for October 3, 1954 in the north of France; he explained that this corresponds to hundreds of witnesses who do not know each other within an hour and a half time interval, which gives an impression of a "real phenomenon".

He noted that the times do not always match, that there are gaps of up to 40 minutes for the same case depending to its different versions.

He noted that "all these cases are a bit similar", listing the part of the cases where the phenomenon splits in two, or where is said that a disc detached to go to the ground, and recalls that one of the witnesses, Mr. Bonte, explained that the moon was barred by a stratus.

He noted that in 5 of the cases the object is described as a crescent, in others it is a disc, a dome, a collar, in others it is compared to the moon. In 7 cases, the object is said to follow a moving car, but stops when the car stops.

He indicated that in 13 of the cases there was an indication of direction, always the southwest, where the moon was.

He indicated that in 7 cases the object was lowering on the horizon, and that the moon was indeed setting.

He noted that some cases may be explained by the hot air balloons of the retiree from Beuvry-les-Béthune.


Dominique Caudron drew up an inventory of observations in the Nord region on October 3, 1954, containing 51 reports, including this one:

The Fabulous day of October 3, 1954


Chronology of the observations of October 3.

We give here only a summary of what was published in the press of the time, for the nord region, regardless of what the ufologists could later say. We have numbered all these observations, the first of which have nothing to do with the setting of the moon, in order to be able to study them globally in a table. Some are already the subject of a special file.

[... other cases...]

40) Hour not specified, HAILLICOURT (62)

- Witnesses saw a mysterious object coming from Bethune (to the northeast). The journalist thought of one of the hot air balloons launched by Beuvry's retiree.

( La Voix du Nord-Béthune -issue 10/10 page 5)

[... other cases...]

All this is only a compilation of the information given by all newspapers of the time, including local editions, and of which ufologists only used a part.

We will see [dcn4] that the analysis of this information makes it possible to eliminate the hypothesis of a flying saucer, in favor of those of multiple observations of the moon, whose image was reddened and deformed by clouds, which also gave it a illusory apparent movement.


Analysis of the observations of October 3, 1954

[... other cases...]

40) Hour not specified, HAILLICOURT (62)

Direction incompatible with the moon, supposed montgolfier, but not proven.

[... other cases...]

In his conclusions, Dominique Caudron indicates that within the 4 observations of October 3, 1954, in the Nord region that do not correspond to the moon, there is Haillicourt where the direction is incompatible.



In the beginning of October 1954, police officers arrested Victor d'Oliveira, 60, a retired miner of Beuvry-lès-Béthune who built Chinese lanterns, and bragged that he released "thousands" of them. He may not have released so many, but according to the Press, police officers found "numerous models" of his handcrafted mini hor air balloons at his place.

This was reported widely in the French Press from October 5 and 6, 1954 and on, and then also in the foreign Press.

(See the file for sources and more details.)

For long, I did not find any 1954 French case that would be obviously explained by the man's prank; this is the first one I found that could have this explanation, with Caudron's suggestion of this explanation. In Caudron's file of the alleged saucers in the Northern region of France on October 3, 1954, some other sightings, but a minority of them, may have the same explanation, though most of them were caused by a red moon distorted by clouds.

For this observations the geographical landmarks are as follows:


This is interesting since, if the Chinese lanterns of the minor are the explanation, as we learn that the wind had to blow from the Northeast to the Southwest in the region this October 3, 1954 at a certain time of that day. And we also learn that these lanterns could travel at least 5 or 6 kilometers, to even a little over 12 kilometers, the distance between Beuvry and Haillincourt in a straight line being 8.8 km.

(I tried to get the corresponding weather data, but did not find them for now.)

(Beuvry-lès-Béthunes amalgamated with Béthune at the end of 1993 and took the name of Beuvry.)


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

Haillicourt, Pas-de-Calais, object, Béthune, Chinese lantern


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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross May 26, 2019 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross October 13, 2021 Addition [vdn1]. In the Summary, addition of the information from [vdn1].
1.2 Patrick Gross July 11, 2022 Addition [dcn1]. In the Summary, "Around 2017" changed to "In 1978 and around 2017".

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This page was last updated on July 11, 2022.