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Ink-filled Pen Found on WWI Soldier’s Remains

April 19, 1996

LOOS-EN-GOHELLE, France (AP) _ A farmer plowing his field unearthed the remains of a World War I French soldier, whose American fountain pen was still full of ink 81 years after he was killed on the front.

The 29-year-old soldier was identified by his dog tags as Alexandre Villedieu. He was killed during the Battle of Artois in May 1915 in northern France and lay buried in the field until the farmer came upon him a week ago.

``While plowing, I was surprised to discover some bones, then some objects, and this pen,″ the farmer, Eric Vaneeverzuine, told French 2 television Friday.

The soldier’s pipe, pocket knife, wallet and military belt were found along with the gold-tipped fountain pen, still full of ink and engraved ``Waterman’s Fountain Pen NY, USA. Aug. 4, 1908.″

``After a few tries, I could write with it. It was beautiful, like old-fashioned writing,″ said Alfred Duparq, president of the local historical association. The farmer contacted the group soon after his discovery.

``It’s thrilling to know that this soldier could have written to his wife or his father or his mother with this very pen, and 81 years after his death, it still works like new,″ Duparq said Friday.

The Veteran’s Ministry is searching for the soldier’s relatives. His possessions remain in safekeeping at the town hall in Loos-en-Gohelle, a village 30 miles south of Lille.

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