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UFOs in the daily Press:

The French saucer flap of 1954 in the US Press:

The article below was published in the daily newspaper The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, page 54, on December 12, 1954.


France Abuzz Over Saucers

Craze Matches Witch-Hunting

PARIS (Reuters) -- Frenchmen have taken to the flying saucer craze with all the enthusiasm that their medieval forebears devoted to witch-hunting.

Not a day passes without reports from all over France of "flying saucers," "flying cigars," "flying mushrooms," and "flying bells" piloted by 20th century sorcerers.

Villagers seize shot guns and pitchforks and sally forth valiantly to meet any saucer reported landing nearby. Police spend hours following up reports.

Flying saucer stories and speculation about their origin fill the national press. They have even driven sex from the front pages of some popular weekly newspapers. One has offered a reward of 1.000,000 francs (about $2800) to the reader who sends in the first authentic photograph of a flying saucer.

The Mayor of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a wine village of 1600 people has decreed that any flying saucer which lands in his village will be impounded.

Flying saucer stories come from all levels and ages of the population.

A select few claim that they have actually seen the creatures who pilot the saucers over France. They generally agree that the creatures, usually referred to as Martians, are shorter than human beings in size and appear to be very hairy. Most of these creatures, if they speak, utter unintelligible sounds, but some have made themselves understood in French and even Russian.

Thirteen year-old Gilbert Lafay [sic], of Chateaubriant, said that he saw in a field a flying saucer piloted by a man who spoke to him in French.

Baker's assistant Pierre Lucas of Loctudy claimed that he met a four-foot flying saucer pilot with a hairy oval face and eyes as big as crow's eggs.

A workman, Louis Ujvari, met a flying saucer pilot near Epinal who spoke Russian and asked how far it was from the German frontier.

Saucers with sirens

The saucers seem generally to be piloted by males. One exception was reported by a schoolmaster, Mr. Martin, who said he met two beautiful Martian girls on the island of Oloron [sic] off the French Atlantic Coast. They were about four feet, four inches, and wore leather helmets, gloves and boots.

The strange visitors from outer space are said to be equipped with "ray guns" which stop witnesses in their track with an electric shock effect and temporarily immobilize automobile engines, but no really unfriendly act by them has so far been reported.

Frenchmen are less well disposed towards their uninvited guests and some accidents have occurred in the hunt for Martians. At Sinceny, Jean Faisan fired two shots at his farmer neighbor, Maurice Ruan, who was repairing his car one night, narrowly missing his head but damaging the radiator.

Faisan explained that when he saw a figure illuminated by two lamps he thought he was in the presence of a "Martian repairing his flying saucer." He ran for his shotgun and fired.

In the village of Troussey, sugar beet gatherer Alexandre Ronneji, who had not had a haircut for several months, was manhandled by a crowd who mistook him for a hairy Martian.

At Tain-l'Hermitage, in central France, a wineyard worker decided that his neighbor, M. Neyret, looked "extraordinary" in the dusk and attacked him savagely, beating him so severely that one ear was torn off. Only then did he find that Neyret was not a Martian.

Press cartoonists and practical jokers are having a field day over the whole affair. Newspapers and popular weekly magazines fill their cartoon pages with saucer jokes.

Flying Saucer-ers

A worker at a Paris railway depot started his mates on a Martian hunt by capering about in a welder's helmet with a green light inside.

But the king of the saucer jesters was a retired miner of the village of Beuvry-Les-Bethunes, near Lille, who built some flying saucers in his backyard. He made his "saucers" out of gray paper on the fire-balloon principles and lit a paraffin-soaked rag at the base. The warm air lifted the "saucers", some of them over nine feet in diameter, and off they went with the wind showing orange and yellow lights from the flames.

Police found him out after one of his "saucers" had landed near a haystack and almost set it on fire.

Attempts to explain the saucer phenomena have varied from "mass hallucination" to a suggestion that they are new experimental aircraft built in cigar form which can take off vertically.

Another theory is that, under certain atmospheric conditions, exhaust fuel from jet aircraft solidifies and may form "saucer" shapes. It has been said to reach the ground in the form of a rubbery material which dissolved on being touched. Such a material has often be reported to have been found on saucer landing sites.

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