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Wednesday, October 28, 1998 Published at 12:45 GMT

World: Europe

New clue to death of Little Prince author

Saint Exupéry and the Little Prince commemorated on a French banknote

A silver bracelet recovered by a French fisherman may provide a clue to the disappearance of the French author Antoine de Saint Exupéry more than 50 years ago.

Henri Germain-Delauze: "A gift from his publisher"
The pilot and French Resistance member, best known for the cult children's novella The Little Prince, disappeared in 1944 while on a reconnaissance flight over Nazi-occupied south-eastern France. The remains of his plane have never been found.

Recently a Marseille fisherman, Jean-Claude Bianco, discovered in his nets a bracelet bearing the name of the author and of his Argentine wife Consuela, and the address of the New York firm which published the English edition of The Little Prince.

He referred the matter to a friend, Henri-Germain Delauze, the managing director of a maritime salvage company, who believes the bracelet was given to the author by the publishers when he lived in New York during World War II.

The discovery of the bracelet has suggested a new location for the wreckage of the author's plane, which was initially believed to be near Nice, and later near Toulon. Mr Delauze is now mounting sea bed search over an area of 100 square kilometres.

Itinerant life

Born to an aristocratic family in Lyon in 1900, Saint Exupéry began flying at the age of 21, and spent much of his adult life as a reconnaissance pilot, both in peacetime and in war.

His flying experiences and the itinerant life he adopted were the subject for much of his semi-autobiographical writing, as well as for The Little Prince, in which the central character journeys among a series of tiny planets, finally landing on earth.

He moved to New York after the Nazi occupation of France, later joining the United States forces in North Africa in 1942. It was while stationed there that the writer and his twin-engined Lightning P38 disappeared, presumed to have been shot down by the Nazis.

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