IT WAS a shot that echoed round the world. When Archduke Franz Ferdinand - heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire - was assassinated in the Balkan city of Sarajevo more than 90 years ago it heralded the beginning of the most brutal conflict the world has ever seen.

Yet during this week of remembrance commemorations which culminates in Remembrance Sunday on November 14, a Hampshire man has made an incredible discovery.

Historian, Brian Presland, from Chandler's Ford visited the Vienna Military Museum where the car which the archduke took his last fatal drive is preserved to this day.

When he got there, he was amazed to find that the car's number plate "A 11 11 18" makes an eerie prediction.

It clearly states the date of the Armistice when the First World War was finally declared over - November 11, 1918. It even has an "A" standing for Armistice at the front of the plate.

Brian even took a picture of the car to prove his extraordinary find - and looked up and black and white photo of the vehicle taken in 1914 - just hours before the archduke and his wife Sophie were assassinated - to prove his discovery was true.

Mr Presland, 68, said: "While researching at the Vienna Military Museum, I was accompanied by one of the directors.

"I mentioned the significance of the registration number. At first he could not believe it.

"We both immediately went to another part of the museum to where the car was on display and confirmed the registration number.

"He informed me that he had worked in the museum for 20 years and was unaware of the connection."

Within months of the archduke's murder by a group of Serbian nationalists - Europe was plunged into the carnage of World War One which by its end had cost millions of lives.

Nobody, least of all the archuke himself, would have been aware of his car predicting the exact date and year the war to end all wars finally finished.

Brian, of Parklands Close, currently collects hospital stamps sent by soldiers fighting for the long dead Austro-Hungarian Empire - one of the countries that disappeared at the end of the First World War.

He is still amazed by his find - and the unbelievable significance of the number plate on the archduke's car.

He added: "I thought that it was generally known. It is incredible isn't it?"


TWO bullets fired on a Sarajevo street on a sunny June morning in 1914 set in motion a series of events that shaped the world in which we live today.

The First and Second World Wars, the Cold War and its conclusion - all can trace their origins to the gunshots that "echoed round the world" that summer.

The victims of the assassination, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, pictured, - heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie were in the city inspecting the Empire's troops.

But although the Austro-Hungarians claimed Bosnia as their own, there were claims from Serbian neighbours that the principality was Serbian territory.

The Archduke and his wife were killed by Serbian nationalist Princip but Serbia was widely blamed for inciting the murders.

Austria-Hungary decided to declare war on Serbia which called on its ally, Russia for aid. In the meantime, Germany decided to side with the Austro-Hungarians.

France entered into the fray as an ally of Russia and declared war on Germany. Britain too was forced to join the war as an ally of France.

The careful system of alliances between the so-called "Great Powers" of the 19th century came into play and the terrible carnage of the First World War began.