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Landing in the Ardennes, October 1954

The first page of a gendarmerie report regading the landing of a UFO - and an encounter with its occupant - at Villers-le-Tilleul, in the Ardennes, on the evening of 4th October 1954. (Patrick Gross's website)

A young girl’s testimony, as given to the local gendarmerie, suggested that a UFO and its occupant had landed in the Ardennes region during the early evening of 4th October 1954. She lived in Villers-le-Tilleul, and her sighting was reported to the local Gendarmerie National office. Released in the early 2000s, the latter’s own report reads as follows:


“Report by Chief-of-Squadron [redacted], Commander [redacted]

on the presence of a "flying saucer", in Villers-le-Tilleul, Ardennes.

Reference; Note Nr 15/4. Legion of 1/11/1954.

On October 4, 1954, young [redacted] said she was in the presence of a ‘flying saucer’ machine, under the following circumstances:

On October 4, 1954, between 6:40 p.m. and 7 p.m., this child, who had just brought back the cows into a paddock located at the east end of the locality and about 200 metres from the last house of the village, saw a machine that attracted her attention. According to the child, this machine was 20 metres on her left along her direction of march, on a grassy field emerging into a small clearing, which reached the dirt road on which the child walked on.

[Redacted], who was riding a bicycle, stopped and thought she was in the presence of a ‘camping’ tent. As she tried to approach, a door opened from the bottom to the top from where a human being jumped out and immediately closed the door behind him and then remained motionless for a while.

That time was sufficient for the child, according to her words, to give the following description of the individual: a man of normal height, appearing to have his head surrounded by a square shape with very sharp eyes. Arms hanging down, hands appearing to be one piece with fingers welded to each other. Dressed in a long long-haired garment of brown-red colour. At one time, the man moved forward towards the young [redacted] who took fright and pedalled away on her bicycle without looking back.

From the words of the child, the machine might measure 2 m. 50 to 3 m. of height, and 2 m. width. It had an oval body, crowned with a conical shaped ‘hat’ but rounded on the top and resting on the ground on a rectangular shaped section. The hatch would have dimensions as follows: height 1 m., width 0 m. 60 approximately, ground distance: 60 to 80 centimetres approximately.

The young [redacted], questioned by M. [redacted], teacher and by other people of the village, never changed anything in her first statements. She is deemed very intelligent and recognized sane of mind by her teacher and Doctor [redacted]. This child does not appear emotional or sensitive to suggestion. She reasons like a child of her age but seems very thoughtful. According to her parents, she does not engage in reading that may disturb her reasoning.

Mme. [redacted], aged 24, living in one of the last houses at the east exit to the country did not see anything but heard for a long time a sound resembling that done by a creamery skimmer in the direction where the young girl had seen the machine and at the same time. She even ventured on the road for the sole purpose of finding out if it was a vehicle. She says she did not mistake it for a farm creamer, it being far from the nearest one at the time she heard it.

Finally, it should be noted that M. [redacted], aged 49, father of the girl in question and M. [redacted], aged 46, both farmers, went to the scene that same evening at 9 p.m. They did not notice anything abnormal except that the grass was somewhat crumpled in a roundabout way.

Brigade Officer [redacted] visited the scene on October 6, 1954, and was unable to make any findings.

For his part, the Company Commander did not gather further details on this case. It is certain that the above information seems to have a certain "consistency" but it is difficult to admit the statements of the young girl to be entirely true. The population of Villers-le-Tilleul keeps its composure. An important part of this population believes the declaration made by the young [redacted] to be sincere and real and think there is something. The most general view is that it would be a sophisticated flying craft sent by a foreign nation rather than a monster arriving from another planet.”[1]


The witness was 10 year-old Eliane Berthaux, and details of her encounter were published by ufologists Charles Garreau and Raymond Lavier:


“A little in front of me, within ten metres of my left, I saw a thing which I initially took to be a camping tent. When I approached, I saw a trap door being raised on the top of this thing, which was not a tent but a 3 metre high machine, one which resembled a large egg. It rested on the ground on a rectangular-shaped ‘foot’. The trap door was about a metre high, and 0.60 metres across.\

A small character appeared. He jumped to the ground. His head was surrounded by a square shape. His eyes were very sharp. He had hanging arms, but these seemed to be made of only one part, with his fingers welded together. He wore clothing which seemed to be long-haired, of a brown-russet colour. He advanced in my direction. I became frightened. I fled at high speed, without looking back.”[2]


Corroboration of a sort came from another local resident, M. Barrois, who reported seeing a luminous craft moving across the sky at the same time, whilst a third witness had heard a strange buzzing noise – this may have been the same as the “creamery skimmer” sound reported by the young girl.[3] Years later, Mme. Eliane C. (the former Eliane Berteaux), was able to confirm her original testimony as being accurate. She refused to read UFO-related books or magazines for fear of being frightened again.[4]

An artist's impression of the encounter. (Dominque Caudron's webpage)

In 2018, after examining the available evidence and documentation for this case, sceptical ufologist Dominque Caudron suggested an explanation for the egg-shaped craft that Eliane Berteaux had encountered. He stated that a helicopter had been to blame:


“In this report, it is a craft of oval appearance, of 2m. 50 to 3m height, and 2m. wide, surmounted by a rounded cone. It has a hatch that opens up, it makes a sound like a farm creamer, and it crumples the grass in a gyratory direction.

Taken together, these details inevitably refer to the culprit: it was simply a helicopter! (It’s odd that the gendarmes did not notice it.)

At the time, various NATO bases had begun to be established in the region. Most were not yet operational for airplanes but were already operational for helicopters (which do not require a runway). It only remains to find which model corresponds to the description, and therefore on what air base it was based.”


Caudron clearly fell into the trap of trying to find a machine that would fit his established hypothesis – but failed. He ruled out various types and eventually settled on three Sikorsky designs, the H-5, H-19 and H-34. (He even suggested that an H-34 might have been responsible for the Socorro incident in 1964!) Ruling out both the H-19 and H-34, Caudron settled on the remaining helicopter, the Sikorsky H-5 (S-51). He also suggested that the craft was likely to have been a Royal Canadian Air Force example, one from the NATO base at Marville-Montmédy, the only site that H-5s might have been based at – and a location just 50 kilometres away from the alleged landing site.[5]

US Navy Sikorsky HO3S-1 (the naval equivalent of the H-5) 124350/UP-21 belonged to HU-1 and is pictured here off Korea in April 1953. Was a similar helicopter, operated by one of the NATO air arms, responsible for a child's UFO sighting in Villers-le-Tilleul in early October 1954? (US Navy, public domain)

However, Caudron could find no evidence that RCAF H-5 helicopters were indeed used at Marville-Montmédy in October 1954. In addition, the girl never mentioned rotor blades, which would have been obvious, even if she was looking at an H-5 (S-51 Dragonfly) head on – which might have resembled an egg to the uninitiated, although the machine’s thick canopy framing would also have been noticeable. Even so, this type of helicopter does not have a metre-high lifting “trap door” on its front section. Pilot and passengers entered and exited via a sliding door on the Sikorsky’s port side, at the rear of the cabin. There was also the question of the “foot” that Eliane Berthaux said the craft stood on. She told the gendarmes that it was rectangular, which does not match the wheel configuration used on the H-5 – or any other helicopter, for that matter. Even from the front, the triangular, nose-wheel first layout adopted on the H-5 cannot be matched to this description. Finally, whilst the Canadians did operate  the type, they had largely retired them by 1955 and only a few would have remained in service at the time of the sighting in the Ardennes. It is unknown whether any examples actually served in France.

[1] No: 348/4, report by 2 Légion, Gendarmerie-Nationale, Mézières, 12th October 1954.

[2] Charles Garreau & Raymond Lavier, Face Aux Extra-Terrestres, 1975, pg.24.

[3] Michel Figuet & Jean-Louis Ruchon, OVNI, Premier Dossier Complet des Rencontres Rapprochées en France, 1979, pg.117.

[4] Julien Gonzalez, RR3 - Le Dossier des Rencontres du Troisième Type en France, 2014, pg.109-110.

[5] “Pas de Martiens velus en 1954”, Dominque Caudron’s personal website, 2018.

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