Struth! | Restored troop carrier fetches £138,000, and gives a nod to spy 'Krystyna'

A 1943 American-built half-track Army personnel carrier has sold at auction in England for an amazing £138,000, or around AU$241,000.

The International Harvester M5 Half-Track was used by Polish forces during the Allied liberation of Europe, later by the French Army in French Guiana until the 1980s, and then sold to a Belgian historic vehicles enthusiast.

He in turn sold it later to a Dutch tinkerer who spent 2,500 hours on a total restoration over the next 27 years, and at the recent auction conducted by historic vehicles specialists H&H Auctioneers, the 100 percent roadworthy vehicle went to an English collector for that £138,000.

Needing a crew of three to carry just ten troops and equipment, it bears the markings of the Polish 10th Regiment Dragonders, and is painted with the name ‘Krystyna’ on its doors – a tribute to famous Polish WWII spy for Britain’s Special Operations Executive, Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbeck.

CELEBRATED: Christine Granville, who was once a Polish countess and World War II spy called Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbeck.

CELEBRATED: Christine Granville, who was once a Polish countess and World War II spy called Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbeck.

One of the longest-serving of Britain’s wartime women agents, Krystyna, who was actually a Polish countess, was hailed by Winston Churchill for her heroic exploits in intelligence-gathering and other missions in Germany and Nazi-occupied Poland and France. These included organising Polish couriers to smuggle intelligence reports from Warsaw to Budapest, sabotaging Nazi communications along the River Danube, and gathering detailed information on the movement of oil supplies from Romania’s oilfields to Germany.

At some stage she changed her name to Christine Granville, and at war’s end moved to England, receiving both the George Medal and an OBE (she had also been honoured by France with a Croix de Guerre,) and got a job as a stewardess on a cruise liner. Sadly while staying in London between sailings in 1952, she was confronted by an obsessed ship’s porter, Dennis Muldowney at a club she frequented, and when she rejected his advances he stabbed her to death.

She was just 44, and Muldowney when hanged that same year, at age 41.