British tourist creates havoc at French port after trying to board ferry with WWII shells

A British holidaymaker caused travel chaos at a French port and forced authorities to send in the bomb squad after he tried to board a UK-bound ferry with three shells left over from World War Two.

British tourist creates havoc at French port after trying to board ferry with WWII shells
Hec Tate, Flickr

The passenger's eagerness to bring home some Second World War souvenirs led to the ferry terminal at Ouistreham, in Normandy being evacuated, the bomb squad called in a Brittany Ferries boat diverted, according to BFM TV.

The chaos began when French Customs guards stopped the Brit, aged around 40 and described as a “collector”, when he tried to board a ferry with the shells hidden in his suitcase.

Police arrested the man, and the ferry terminal was immediately evacuated in order to bring in bomb disposal experts. 

The man was kept in custody of the Caen police to “determine the origin of the shells”, police press officer Sylvain Briand told BFMTV

A Brittany Ferries boat which the man had planned to take had to be diverted, but the company said it had not caused passengers any significant delay. 

It's not the first time British collectors of World War Two memorabilia have caused transport chaos trying to get their artefacts home.

The Local previously reported how Gare du Nord rail station in Paris was partly evacuated after a passenger was caught trying to sneak a shell onto the Eurostar.

Archeological associations have also raised the alarm in the past about British collectors “pillaging” France of its historical treasures, notably remnants from the two world wars.

“In Normandy and part of northern France a lot of English will come over with metal detectors and scour the battle fields from the First and Second World Wars,” Jean-David Desforges, head of the French association Stop the Pillage of Archeological and Historical Heritage (Happah), told The Local.

“It is the same along the border with Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany where these people will cross into France to search war battlefields and take what they found back to their country.”


'Pillagers' loot France of archeological treasures


France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.