Information wanted about Dunhill lighter
I'm working as an archaeologist with the Federal Service of Archaeology in the Rhineland, Bonn, Germany. Some months ago a collector showed me the remains of a lighter by Alfred Dunhill Ltd., London, which he had found with the help of a metal detector on a field near the village of ELSDORF, 25 km west of Cologne. It is a very peculiar type of lighter which does not need fuel; instead it is fitted with a sort of wick which, once ignited, does not produce a flame but glows. The lighter is stamped "Dunhill Windproof, Made in USA, Sterling Silver."
What caught my interest was the fact that the collector told me the lighter was found among WWII remains, especially American ammunition. So I deduced that this lighter should have belonged to an American soldier.
My search with the U.S. Army History Department in Washington brought up two results: the 99th Infantry Division and the 3rd Armored Division. Both divisions passed ELSDORF between February and March 1945 on their way to the river Rhine.
I already got into contact with the 3rd Armored Veterans' organization and they promised to help me with my search.
As I've already mentioned, this lighter model is quite exceptional. So I think maybe some surviving member of the 99th could remember a comrade who owned such a device.
It could be possible that the former owner was killed during action around ELSDORF or that he simply lost the lighter.
However the outcome, I shall write an article in one of our publication series called "Archaologie im Rheinland 2002" which will be published October 2003.
Do you think you could help me or do you think I'm totally nuts?
It would be nice to hear from you.