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UK News

'A really special moment': WWII Bible discovered in Kent brings two unlikely war hero families together from across the globe

by Premier Journalist

A Bible unearthed by chance in a small Kent town has brought together the families of two WWII heroes from opposite corners of the globe. 

A woman named Alison Round made the fascinating discovery while she was clearing out some possessions of her late aunt, Jean Finch, who was from Staplehurst, Kent. 

The Bible had been provided by the British Foreign Bible Society and presented in Canada, Newfoundland. Round quickly ascertained that the text belonged to Flight Sergeant Morgan Swap, a wireless operator with the New Zealand Air Force. 
She later found out that Swap had been a comrade of Alison's uncle, Sergeant Edward Finch, while they were serving in 153 Squadron of the RAF. 

Alison told Kent Online: "I found this little blue Bible which I had never seen before. I saw on the inside it had been given to somebody called Morgan Swap when he was training in Calgary in Canada.

"I had never heard of him before but since finding that Bible, I found out more about the flight crew and what happened to my uncle than I ever thought I'd know."

Soon, Alison and her husband Paul embarked on a mission to dig up as much information as they could on Morgan and his family origins. "After a lot of research I found out that Morgan was the youngest of four brothers from a town called Matamata in New Zealand," she said. 

As it turned out, the pair of airmen shared the same fateful flight back in March of 1945. 

"Morgan was on the same Lancaster Bomber as my uncle. It crashed over Germany after a night raid on Nuremberg on March 16, 1945. This was just seven weeks before the end of the war.

"It was so tragic as it was their first operation together and they were all so young. Just young boys under instructions. They gave their all and they were so brave. My son is 22 now and I think there's no way he could have done anything like this, it really puts it into perspective."

Alison and Paul were due to fly out to New Zealand to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary earlier this year, and decided it was the perfect opportunity to seek out the Swap family and return the special book to its rightful owners. 

Alison explained: "We were going back to New Zealand anyway and it was because of that I thought I should try and find the family and see if they would like to meet up with us so we could give the Bible back.

"I didn't know at the time but the Swap family are huge in New Zealand. They are civil engineers and they have a massive haulage business."

Eventually, the pair tracked down the family down and set up a meeting at their home back in March -- some 75 years after their ancestors' plane was shot down.

Alison told Kent Online: "The Swap family member I heard back from was called Morgan, named after his great uncle. I was quite surprised to get a reply and was so pleased when they said yes.

"We met up for lunch and exchanged photos of our visits to the Durnbach War Cemetery in Germany where the crew were buried and that's when we realised we'd all been there at different times throughout the years.

"It was a really special moment especially when we all realised it was 75 years to that month that the plane had been shot down. It was pretty incredible but also really emotional. It seemed to be fate, it all came together at the right time. Meeting the Swap family was one of the highlights of my whole trip.

"It was very emotional giving the Bible back. It was only a small Bible but they didn't have much of his at all."

Round added that the family were incredibly welcoming and friendly: "We met as strangers but said goodbye as friends," she said, "just like Teddy and Morgan." 

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