PARIS — A fallen soldier’s letter from World War I that was discovered in France has touched authorities so much they launched a successful search for the soldier’s living relatives.

The handwritten missive was written on May 27, 1915, from the Somme by 24-year-old Frenchman Sgt. Jean Soulagnes to a friend. Soulagnes was killed in fighting 12 days later in the battle of Hebuterne.

The letter was found by Marseille police in February in a search following a burglary.

With the aid of social media, authorities found Soulagnes’ great-grandnephew, Stephane Drouhot. He attended a ceremony Friday at a Marseille police station where he was given the letter.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.