Friendship between British and Kiwi Lancaster Bomber war heroes was discovered 75 years after their death
An extraordinary friendship between two war heroes from different sides of the world came about 75 years after they were killed together in the same Lancaster bomber thanks to the discovery of an ancient Bible.
The religious book was by Flight Sergeant Morgan Swap – a wireless operator in the New Zealand Air Force during World War II.
It was discovered by Alison Round, 54, of Staplehurst, Kent, whose uncle, Sergeant Edward Finch, known as Teddy, was a friend of Swap’s in the 153 Squadron of the RAF during the war.
A Bible from New Zealand Sergeant Morgan Swap was discovered by Alison Round, 54, of Staplehurst, Kent, whose uncle, Sergeant Edward Finch, known as Teddy, was a friend of Swap in the 153 Squadron of the RAF during the war.
Morgan Swap’s Bible helped Mrs. Round learn more about how her uncle died
The two men died together a few weeks before the end of the war in 1945 in a bombing of Nuremberg.
Mrs. Round found the Bible as she passed through her aunt Jean Finch’s possessions after her death two years ago.
Alison said, “I found this little blue Bible that I had never seen before. I saw on the inside that it was given to someone named Morgan Swap when he was training in Calgary, Canada.
“I had never heard of him, but since I found that Bible, I learned more about the flight crew and what happened to my uncle than I ever thought I knew.”
Ten Lancaster bombers from 153 Squadron flew on March 16, 1945 to bomb Nuremberg during a night raid, but only nine returned and all seven men on board the plane were killed.
Morgan Swap and Sgt Finch, a Lancaster shooter, were only 22 and 20 years old, respectively.
Edward Finch (left) and Morgan Swap (right) are buried in the Durnbach War Cemetery in Germany along with the rest of their crew
Edward Finch and Morgan exchange with other members of the 153 Squadron who were killed in a night attack on Nuremberg, Germany.
Ms Round said, “It was as tragic as their first surgery together and they were all so young, only young boys under instruction.
“They gave everything and they were so brave. My son is now 22 and I don’t think he could have done anything like that, it really puts it into perspective. ‘
After some investigation, Sgt Finch’s niece discovered that Morgan was the youngest of four brothers from a town called Matamata in New Zealand.
She and husband Paul, 55, decided to visit the Swap family on a trip to New Zealand for their wedding anniversary because they felt compelled to return the Bible to them.
“The Swap’s relative I heard of was called Morgan, named after his great-uncle,” she said.
“I was quite surprised when I received an answer and was so happy when they said yes.”
The couple met the family for lunch and exchanged photos from their visits to Durnbach War Cemetery in Germany, where the crew was buried.
Ms. Round said, “It was then that we realized that we had all been there at different times over the years.
The Finch and the Swap family met in New Zealand. Morgan’s cousins Lewis and David swap with Alison Round (with bible) and Grandnephews Morgan and Stephen
“It was a very special moment, especially when we all realized it was 75 years until that month when the plane was shot down. It was quite incredible, but also very emotional.
“It seemed to be a lot, it all came together at the right time. Meeting the Swap family was one of the highlights of my entire trip.
“It was very emotional to return the Bible. It was only a small Bible, but they didn’t have much of him at all.
“We met as strangers, but said goodbye as friends, just like Teddy and Morgan.”
The Swap family said that if they ever visited England, they would stay with their couple in their Kent home.
But a mystery of the remarkable story that remains is why Alison’s aunt had the Bible in the first place.
“None of us could fix that,” she said.
Teddy and Morgan’s colleagues in 153 Squadron continued to serve until the end of the war and when hostilities ended, they were called upon to bring food parcels to the Dutch.
But on their way to the Netherlands they received a special dispensation to fly over St Paul’s Cathedral in London on VE Day, so that they could see the joyful celebrations in the streets below.