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The 1954 French flap:

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January 9, 1954, Gemeaux, Côte-d'Or:

Reference number for this case: 9-Jan-54-Gemeaux. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

An article in the regional newspaper La Bourgogne Républicaine, of Dijon, for January 11, 1954, told that according to their local correspondent in Gemeaux, on January 9, 1954, around 7:45 a.m., a strange phenomenon occurred in the sky of that city: several observers saw for a few seconds a red ball coming from the direction of Is-sur-Tille, at a vertiginous speed, absolutely silent and leaving no trace behind it. Suddenly, the ball immobilized, a quarter of a second said a young observer, then it set off again, still as quickly, in the direction of Tilchâtel and disappeared.

The children who saw "the saucer" were surprised by the bright red glow and the speed of movement which scared them somewhat.

The newspaper wondered whether this was a saucer or not, finding strange that unlike a shooting star, it had changed direction.

A dispatch of the Agence France Presse, found in the Swiss newspaper National Zeitung for January 11, 1954, itself cited in a CIA memorandum, indicated that for a few seconds, the residents of Gemeaux, in the Côte-d'Or department, had "recently" observed in the sky a red ball surmounted by a triangle. The phenomenon moved without leaving a trail.

It seems, according to a 1987 ufology catalog, that on January 13, 1954, the newspaper La Bourgogne Républicaine evoked among other things an observation of January 9, 1954, in Gemeaux, wondering if it was a balloon, a plane, a meteor or a flying saucer.

On his side, author Jimmy Guieu, in his late 1954 book on the flying saucers, indicated that on January 9, 1954, "a red object with greenish reflections was seen at Gemeaux between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.", according to investigator Charles Garreau.

Charles Garreau made the mistake of plotting the observation places of that day on a map, connecting the observation sites by a line according to the reported hours. Not realizing that these hours were essentially approximate, he denied that it was a meteor on the grounds that the trajectory would have been zigzagging.

In his 1956 book "Alerte dans le Ciel", Garreau said that on January 9, 1954, at 07:45 a.m., in Gemeaux, the witnesses had seen the "Mysterious Celestial Object" arrive at a "fantastic speed", mark a very short pause, perhaps a split second, and started again at the same pace after a sudden change of course of 120°.

This was explained by "skeptical" ufologists Jacques Barthel and Gérard Brucker in their 1979 book; but it did not prevent some from continuing to present this observation as "unidentified."

Reports:

[Ref. bre1:] NEWSPAPER "LA BOURGOGNE REPUBLICAINE":

Scan.

SAUCER OR NOT SAUCER?

A mysterious craft
was observed
over the East of France

Saucer or not saucer? A mysterious craft flew over eastern France on Saturday morning. We give below - for the sake of impartiality - the dispatches received from our correspondents. Note that while some observations are consistent, others differ significantly.

We leave it to our readers to draw the conclusions...

IN THE COTE-D'OR

Gemeaux (from our C.P.). -- It had to happen! Since our city was visited by the stars of the music hall, Misstinguett, and the stars of advertising, "Miss Lux", we expected the arrival of the flying saucers!

Saturday morning, around 7:45 a.m., a strange phenomenon occurred in the sky of Gemeaux. Several observers saw for a few seconds a red ball coming from the direction of Is-sur-Tille, at a vertiginous speed, absolutely silent and leaving no trace behind it. Suddenly, the ball immobilized, a quarter of a second said a young observer, then it set off again, still as quickly, in the direction of Tilchâtel and disappeared.

The children who saw "the saucer" were surprised by the bright red glow and the speed of movement which scared them somewhat.

Saucer or not saucer? Mystery. Still, this is a strange thing, different from a shooting star, if only by the change of direction!

IN THE HAUTE-MARNE

Langres (from our C.P.). - A mysterious craft flew over the Langres region on Saturday morning and the south of Haute-Marne. It was seen by many witnesses at different times and places.

At 6:10 a.m., it was above Neuvelle-les-Champlitte; at 8:10 a.m., near Langres. The residents of Jorquenay, Lannes, Champigny-les-Langres and station employees in Langres-Marne were able to observe it. It flew above the clouds, that is to say at a height greater than 1500 m., and shed an intense red light in the front and clearer in the rear, with greenish reflections arranged in a triangular beam. The pace was roughly equal to that of a jet aircraft and the direction of travel at that time was in a north-west-east direction. This machine did not make noise.

According to Mr. Baudot, technical agent at the S.N.C.F., who had time to follow the phenomenon with his eyes for several seconds, the craft's advance was jerky. It could not have been a jet airplane moving with navigation lights on, the light produced being in fact far too intense. Despite the already very clear sky, it was impossible to distinguish the shapes of the craft itself. Its capricious march as to the direction followed and its fairly low speed suggest that it could not be a meteorite.

IN LUNEVILLE

Nancy (A.F.P.). -- three residents of Lunéville claim to have seen, on January 9, around 6 a.m., a round-shaped craft, moving from north to south.

The craft, they say, flew slower than a jet plane and left behind a luminous trail of yellow color. It was moving silently, although it appeared to be moving at low altitude.

In addition to these three eyewitnesses, including a professor of literature, several students from the college of Lunéville also saw this craft.

[Ref. bre2:] NEWSPAPER "LA BOURGOGNE REPUBLICAINE":

Scan.

CHANGES OF DIRECTION, VARIATIONS IN PACE,
DIFFERENT ASPECTS DEPENDING ON THE VIEWING ANGLE

The aerial object observed on January 9 is not a meteor

Could it actually be a flying saucer
that flew over our region for a long time?

PRECISE REMARKS, SERIOUS ARGUMENTS WOULD LEAD TO ASSUME THIS...

After the celestial phenomenon of August 12 which, from the Jura to the Morvan, had thousands of witnesses, the appearance of November 9 [sic] seems to be a date, in turn, in the voluminous file of "non-identified aerial objects."

Information has poured in from all over the region.

Our correspondents, our readers have communicated to us the observations they have gathered.

Observations which cast a strange light on the extraordinary object which, on Saturday morning, moved for nearly two hours over eastern France.

The first reports left the door open to all hypotheses: meteor, balloon, jet plane... or saucer!

Those that we have since collected allow us to reject outright the hypothesis of a meteorite [sic], whose trajectory is perfectly regular in direction and speed, always very high: around 40,000 km. per hour.

They also make it possible to reject the hypothesis of the balloon, as its apparent speed cannot exceed those of the most violent currents: 300 km.-hour.

Indeed, what did we see on Saturday?

AT THE SPEED OF A BURGUNDY SNAIL...
THEN LIKE A BOLID
THE OBJECT MADE
AN EXTRAORDINARY PERIPLE

Saturday morning, 6:15 a.m. With a flash of blinding light, a craft of round shape tears the sky of Lunéville. It flies from North to South. No noise.

7:20 a.m.: in Neuvelle-les-Champlitte, a red glow casts a reflection of blood on the snowy countryside. Very high up, a rather long object, followed by an incandescent trail, describes an immense arc of a circle and heads north.

From Lunéville to Neuvelle: 130 km, in straight line, that the craft covered in one hour.

7:40 a.m.: in Nancy, a yellowish disc spins in the low sky, trailing behind it, a beam of light. Its size seems approximately that of a quarter of the moon.

From Neuvelle to Nancy: 125 kilometers, covered in 20': the pace, although still reduced, increases: 375 km per hour.

7:45 a.m. Chaumont-Montigny-le-Roy-Langres-Gemeaux. In a few tens of seconds, at an altitude which seems relatively low to the witnesses, a dazzling craft, with a capricious trajectory, splits the emerging day with its intense light, red at the front, clearer at the rear, with greenish reflections forming like a triangular bundle.

In Gemeaux, change of direction: the craft veers clearly towards the east. We see it in Oisilly, Vesoul, where a witness gave the exact time of his passage: 7:46 a.m.

Watch mismatch or temporary slowdown? It was not seen in Besançon until 4 minutes later.

New change of direction, less accentuated: Dole is overflown. From Chaumont, the object traveled about 250 kilometers, in 5 minutes. The morning snail has given way to a real racing car: 3,000 km.hour! (approximately).

And the extraordinary journey continues: Poligny, where it is seen as a disc of red yellow color, seeming to spin on itself, and followed by a bluish trail. Lons-le-Saulnier, where it moves slowly, stopping almost completely for ten seconds, before starting abruptly towards Switzerland, leaving behind it, as it accelerates, a huge glowing plume.

Which meteorite, which balloon would have indulged in such astonishing maneuvers, and, for a balloon, at such speeds?

However, to leave no doubt, we questioned the various weather stations in the region.

"No ballon was released" we were told.

Same answer at the American base in Semoutiers: it was neither one of our planes, nor a balloon launched by us!".

The Besançon observatory saw nothing, and for good reason: employees do not take service until 8:30 a.m.!

So, no question of balloons, even if we tried to admit an error of approximation of speed, speed otherwise confirmed by the figures.

OTHER HYPOTHESES

These two hypotheses being eliminated, what remains?

There are only two possible explanations left: unmanned earthly vehicle... or a saucer.

However, to our knowledge, since the removal of the Mailly test station, there is no longer either in France or in Western Europe any launching base for such devices.

So here we are, once again, in front of a beautiful question mark: what was it then?

DID FLYING SAUCERS
OVERFLY THE REGION?

Another troubling point adds to the problem. At the same time as Haute-Marne, Doubs, Côte-d'Or, Jura were flown over, the region of Beaujeu and Mâcon also saw a circular, yellowish object moving quickly in the NNW-SSE direction, and seeming to move at a fairly low altitude.

It seems unlikely that this is the same object. Indeed, a simplified triangulation determines fairly approximately the "necessary and sufficient" conditions for the craft to have been seen from both Nancy and Beaujeu, 350 kilometers away in straight line!

Required altitude: 30,000 meters, in formal contradiction with the estimates given by witnesses, and which vary between 1,500 and 3,000 meters.

Minimum diameter so that the object has been seen as a single point (assuming that the separating power of the eye is equal to 1°) and not as "a large tangerine" or a disk as big as a quarter of the moon: a hundred meters.

And these conditions are all theoretical. They require, indeed, perfect visibility, which was not the case, many nebulous clusters covering certain places of the region.

In Dijon, and its surroundings, for example, there were two eighth covers, at 1,000 meters, at the time of observation. In Besançon: five eighths at 400 meters. In Nancy, no ceiling. The wind was calm everywhere.

We can therefore reasonably assume that it is not just one, but several unidentified objects, which furrowed the sky on Saturday morning.

[Map caption:] From Lunéville (top, right) to Lons-le-Saulnier, here is, roughly reconstructed from the testimonies collected, the extraordinary journey of the strange "unidentified object." Better than long comments, this sketch highlights the changes of direction and the variations in pace noted by the witnesses. A question mark: was it another craft that was seen at the same time in Saône-et-Loire?

And these objects were not optical illusions. Too many reliable witnesses (among them professors, school directors, engineers) in too many different places, gave details which clearly locate a material object:

What remains then as an explanation?

Those who have seen have their opinion more or less fixed: they saw one of these mysterious saucers, whose appearances in all parts of the globe have unleashed the most heated controversies.

To the others, I leave it to them to draw the conclusions that they find most satisfactory.

Anyway, here's a nice extra piece to the bulky "unidentified aerial objects" file!

Ch. GARREAU.

What does the
U.S. Air Force knows

After America, France increasingly sees strange objects appear in its sky...

What are they? Where do they come from? The question, so far, has remained unanswered.

But the United States Air Force, the first, has opened an investigation that has dragged on for seven years.

Very soon, under the signature of an American expert [Donald Keyhoe] our journal will start publishing a fascinating series of articles; which will reveal to our readers some of the secret files of the US Air Force.

[Ref. cia1:] CIA:

Scan.
Scan.

CLASSIFICATION [Blackened out]

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
INFORMATION FROM
FOREIGN DOCUMENTS OR RADIO BROACASTS

  REPORT NO. 00-W-30339
  CO NO.: ..
COUNTRY: Non-Orbit   DATE OF INFORMATION: 1953-1954
SUBJET: Military - Unidentified aircraft  
HOW PUBLISHED: Daily newspaper   DATE DIST.: 26 May 1954
WHERE PUBLISHED: As indicated   NO. OF PAGES: 3
DATE PUBLISHED: 10 Dec 1953 - 2 Mar 1954  
LANGUAGE: Various   SUPPLEMENT TO REPORT NO.:
[Blackened out] [Blackened out]   THIS IS UNEVALUATED INFORMATION
SOURCE: As indicated  

NON-ORBIT SIGHTINGS OF UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS,
10 DECEMBER 1953-2 MARCH 1954

[... (Reports from other countries and France) ...]

CELESTAL PHENOMENON AT GEMEAUX -- Basel, National-Zeitung, 11 Jan 54

(AFP) -- For a few seconds, inhabitants of Gemeaux, Cote d'Or Department, recently (date and time not given) observed in the sky a red ball surmounted by a triangle. The phenomenon moved on without leaving a trail. The same observation was reported by several witnesses from Nouvelles-les-Champlitte [sic] and Langras [sic].

[... (Next reports)]

[Ref. cgu1:] CHARLES GARREAU:

French journalist and pioneer of French ufology Charles Garreau drew the map underneath to plot sightings which all occurred on January 9, 1954, between 06:15 A.M. and 7:50 A.M. in the East of France.

Though no narrative is joined, it is visible on the map that according to Garreau a sighting of some sort occurred on January 9, 1954, in Gemeaux. Paradoxically, Garreau does not indicate the hour.

[Ref. jgu1:] JIMMY GUIEU:

The author indicates that on January 9, 1954 a red object of a fading red with greenish reflections was seen in Gemeaux between 6 hours and 8 hours of the morning, according to the investigator Charles Garreau.

[Ref. cgu2:] CHARLES GARREAU:

The journalist, author and pioneer ufologist indicated that on Saturday January 9, 1954, at dawn, there was a "flash invasion" on the east of France; which according to him "seems to be a highlight in the voluminous 'flying saucers' file."

Garreau indicated that from "all places" in the region, information flocked to his desk, about an object that "flew for almost two hours above the East."

He said that the first reports left the door open to all hypotheses, meteor, balloon, jet plane, "or saucer!", but that the reports which reached him later would eliminate all these hypotheses except that of the flying saucer.

He recalled that meteors always have a perfectly rectilinear trajectory, a relatively high constant speed of 30.000 to 40.000 km/h, and that balloons have an apparent speed which cannot exceed that of the strongest stratospheric currents, from 300 to 400 km/h.

Among the cases he discussed, were sightings at 7:45 a.m. at Chaumont, Montigny-le-Roy, Langres, Gemeaux.

He specified that in Gemeaux in the Côte-d'Or, the witnesses had seen the "Mysterious Celestial Object" arrive at a "fantastic speed", mark a very short pause, perhaps a split second, and started again at the same pace after a sudden change of course of 120°.

He explained that no meteor or balloon could have engaged in the "zigzag" shown according to him by the observations of this morning, and that no plane of the time could have been able "to stop then accelerate at more than 3,000 per hour", performances which he deduced from some of the observations and distances between observation spots relative to the reported observations hours.

Garreau added that "to leave no doubt", he had questioned the various regional weather stations, and that he had been told that no balloon had been launched.

At the American base in Semoutiers, near Chaumont, he was told "It was neither a balloon, nor a plane, from here."

He added that the Besançon observatory had seen nothing, and that the Contrexéville and Dijon radar sets as well as the Perrogney goniometer in Haute-Saône had seen nothing, since their specialists only took their duty at 8 a.m.

He added that the "Scientific bureau" had hesitated to take a position, saying that the only possible "natural" explanation would be that of a meteor, but "the journey described by the object is such that it could not have been a single meteor. It would therefore have to be admitted that it was a swarm of meteorites which crossed "(under the clouds !!!)" the sky of eastern France following different trajectories."

[Ref. bbr1:] GERARD BARTHEL AND JACQUES BRUCKER:

The authors indicate that the Dépêche du Berry for January 11, 1954 said of the case of Gémeaux at 7:21:

"Several people saw in the sky, during a few seconds, a red ball, surmounted of a triangle. The object, which came from the area of the Is-sur-Tille, passed without leaving of trace and was immobilized on the village before starting out again like a flash in direction of Til Chatel, to disappear at the horizon. About the same hour, the same phenomenon was observed in Neuvelle-les-Champlites [sic] and Langres."

The authors give two sketches, the one on the left is the trip of the flying saucer according to Charles Garreau, the one on the right is the trajectory of the meteor according to them:

The authors fustigate [rightly] the ufologists who like Charles Garreau took the hours of observations given in the newspapers literally [as if people were then provided with stop watches! These hours are generally only approximations made a posteriori] and then believed in a complicated flying saucer travel where a meteor had actually passed.

Barthel and Brucker specify that the North-West to South-East trajectory of the meteor of 7:50 is confirmed by testimonies coming from other countries.

[Ref. via3:] "VIMANA 21" UFOLOGY MAGAZINE - ADRUP:

This magazine listed this case:

54 01 09 7H45 LN Oisilly and Gemeaux

[Ref. via2:] "VIMANA 21" UFOLOGY BULLETIN:

THE METEORS

[...Other cases...]

JANUARY 9, 1954

The aerial object that flew over the Côte d'Or left the door open to various assumptions: meteor, balloon, jet plane or saucer, according to the newspapers! The witnesses describe it as an object at the speed of a (Burgundian) snail, then as a fireball describing an extraordinary journey: Nancy, Neuvelle les Champlittes, Chaumont, Langres, Gemeaux, Besançon. It was reportedly also seen in Dijon, Oisilly and Auxonne. It was also described as a reddish trail or yellow disk, depending on its speed and angle of observation (ref. 21)

[...Other cases...]

The source "ref. 21" is indicated further on, as "21 - Bourgogne Républicaine for 1/13/54, Mystérieux objets célestes by Aimée [sic] Michel, page 96 to 99 -"

[Ref. via1:] "VIMANA 21" UFOLOGY BULLETIN:

54 01 09 / GEMEAUX / 7:45 / NL / P /

Same observation. An article in the press describes the path of the celestial phenomenon such that it could not correspond to that of a meteor.

(Source: Bourgogne républicaine 13.1.54)

[Ref. lgs1:] LOREN GROSS:

[... Other cases...]

France too.

Similarly, a UFO was reported wandering about over the countryside of France. The thing put on quite a show for two hours 6-8 a.m. on January 9th.

According to an investigator of the French civilian UFO group Ouranos, Charles Garreau, the sky object in question appeared first over the community of Luneville where it was seen glowing a brilliant scarlet. The same object was then over Nancy glowing yellow, and then above Montigny-le-Roy and two other towns, Langres and Gemeaux, where the object appeared red with green stripes. Finally, the thing was visible moving over Poligny showing a yellow-red color and leaving a blue trail behind it. Garreau makes no mention of the color of the UFO when it passed over two more towns but did say something about the object's maneuvers. As the thing sped over Chaumont it changed course while under observation, making a sharp turn and when arriving at Lons-le-Saulnier the thing hovered for a bit before speeding away leaving behind a huge red plume of smoke. Generally, the UFO's speed varied as did the altitude as indicated by witnesses statements, and the apparent size ranged from an orange to the full moon. 43.

[... Other cases...]

"Celestial Phenomenon."

We have no date and time concerning the case, but there was a curious story in a Swiss paper dated January 10, 1954. The CIA collected the following clipping and translated it into English. It read:

"For a few seconds, inhabitants of Gemeaux, Cote d'Or Department, recently observed in the sky a red ball surmounted by a triangle [*]. The phenomenon moved on without leaving a trail. The same observation was reported by several witnesses from Nouvelles-les-Champlitte [sic] and Langras. [sic]" 46.

[... Other cases...]

[*] The trail is the triangle.

[Ref. goe1:] GODELIEVE VAN OVERMEIRE:

Godelieve van Overmeire indicates that in 1954, on January 9, in France, in France, in Chaumont, Montigny le Roy, Langres, Gemeaux, "7:45: In a few tens of seconds, at an altitude which seems relatively low to the witnesses, a fulgurating apparatus, with a capricious trajectory, vaguely adopting the form of a cigar, streaks through the beginning day with its intense light, red at the front, lighter-colored at the back, with greenish reflections forming a triangular beam. Mr. Thibault: 'But the more surprising is that I recognized a disc, that I distinguished by its lighter color, at the bottom of the luminous spot, that is to say not at the head, but in the tail.' (Charles GARREAU: 'Alerte dans le ciel: le dossier des enlèvements' Alain Lefeuvre pub. 1981, p. 101,102)"

[Ref. lcn1:] LUC CHASTAN:

Luc Chastan indicates that on January 9, 1954 in Gemeaux in "Côte d'or (21)" at 07:45, there was an "Observation of a discoidal object of a blinding fading red and greenish hue forming a triangular beam. Coming from the north east and leaving towards the south east."

The source is indicated as "Les soucoupes volantes viennent d'un autre monde by Guieu Jimmy ** Fleuve Noir 1954".

[Ref. uda1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that on January 11, 1954 in Gemeaux, France, there was a "Ball and triangle."

The source is indicated as Hall, Richard H., UFO Reports from the Files of the CIA, Fund for UFO Research, Washington.

Explanations:

The January 9, 1954, 07:48 a.m. meteor.

Note that the child who reports a "stop" of the thing specified that it lasted only a quarter of a second... it was thus vers very short.

Coming from behind the visual horizon, a meteor first seems to go up, then pause, then start again. As for the 120° change of direction invoked by Garreau, it is not reported in available sources of the time, and may have been just his "deduction" from the erroneous path he gave to the object, which he thought he was coming from Langres and then veering to Oisilly (see his map).

When the AFP told of a "red ball surmounted by a triangle" that "moved without leaving a trail", it must be realized that the trail was the "triangle" that surmounted the ball, trail visible from this angle on the meteor going down while going away.

This correlates well with the content in [goe1], "at an altitude that seems relatively low to the witnesses" so potentially already distant, but not it does not match the disc being "not in front, but at the tail" mentioned by Mr. Thibaut. However, nothing tells us he was a witness in Gemeaux...

Map.

[bre1] believed in a change of direction. The newspaper said that in Gemeaux, one saw the "craft" come from the direction of Is-sur-Tille and go away in the direction of Tilchâtel:

It is clear that in fact, the craft was simply seen flaying apparently from the Wes to the East - it could have been from the Northwest to the East, from the North to the East. It only appears that it was always roughly to the North of the witnesses and moved from their left to their right. The probable misconception of the newspaper was to imagine that it flew from Is-sur-Tille to Gemeaux, then from Gemeaux to Tilchâtel. The "change of direction" is not obvious at all.

Keywords:

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

Gemeaux, Côte-d'Or, multiple, ball, triangle, red, sky, duration

Sources:

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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 5, 2006 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross December 17, 2009 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Additions [jgu1], [lcn1], [uda1].
1.1 Patrick Gross January 10, 2010 Addition [goe1].
1.2 Patrick Gross November 2, 2016 Addition [lgs1].
1.2 Patrick Gross January 25, 2019 Additions [via2], [via1], Summary. In the Explanations, addition of the paragraphs "When the AFP told..." and "This correlates well..."
1.3 Patrick Gross February 2, 2020 Addition [cgu2]. In the Summary, addition of the paragraph "In his 1956 book..." In the Explanations, addition of the paragraph "Coming from behind the visual horizon..."
1.4 Patrick Gross January 3, 2021 Addition [bre1]. In the Summary, addition of the information from [bre1]. In the Explanations, addition of "Note that the child who reports a "stop" of the thing specified that it lasted only a quarter of a second... it was thus vers very short."
1.5 Patrick Gross January 98, 2021 Addition [bre2].

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