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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
D-Day time capsule found in car
1926 Citroen B12 Bolangerie
The D-Day items fell out of the 1926 Citroen's roof lining
On the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day landings, a "time capsule" has been found in a vintage car hidden away during the Nazi occupation of France.

An Allied banknote issued on the eve of the landings and a packet of Navy Cut cigarettes were discovered in the yellow 1926 Citroen B12 Bolangerie.

Llangollen Motor Museum owner Gwilym Owen said he just started restoring the roof lining when the items fell out.

The vehicle is believed to have been owned by a wealthy French winemaker.

Mr Owen said: "It was a real surprise to have such an evocative piece of world history just drop on your lap like that.

"We have absolutely no idea who these things belonged to and I just hope they were left in the car due to a lapse in memory rather than being a casualty of war."

The money was a five-franc note and hand-dated 6th June 1944.

'Dark and dangerous times'

Allied troops taking part in the D-Day landing were typically issued with a number of social survival items, including the five-franc note - known as occupation money - and cigarettes.

Often, a condom would also be included in the pack, but there was no sign of one in the Citroen, which has been in the museum for nine years.

Mr Owen said: "My wife Anne instantly recognised what they were, as her father served as a medical orderly at the landings. I was stunned."

The vehicle was brought into the UK by Ken Rogers, from Llanelidan, who sold it to Mr Owen for 6,000 10 years ago.

Although Mr Owen has no idea who the money and cigarettes belonged to, there are some clues as to who owned the car.

A bronze plaque bearing the name Pierre Bouyant, from Gabanelle, Bergerac, can be found on the dashboard.

Nobility

Mr Owen said: "The French nobility liked to have the identity of ownership on the dashboard. Whoever this man is, he was the original owner.

"We know it was a vineyard vehicle originally, and must have been kept somewhere warm and dry, because of its good condition.

"We know the village on the bronze plaque - Gabanelle - is in Bergerac, which is obviously a very well-known wine region.

"People hid vehicles and valuables because they would have been commandeered by the Germans."

He added: "We have never tried to contact the original owners, but their descendants may well still live there. If so, we hope they are still running a vineyard."

It is thought the vehicle was hidden in a barn throughout the war, before being brought back into service in 1944.

The museum describes the items as "a little time capsule from those dark and dangerous times".

Nigel Davies, of Llangollen Enterprise, which promotes the town, said: "It's very exciting and shows what else might be hidden away in these old cars.

"It was brought back to this country but we don't know when, or whether it might have been used by the Allies for a time."




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"It was believed to have been hidden from the Germans"



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