Northampton

Northamptonshire man, 73, meets long-lost US siblings

Arthur Sontag (l) and Martin Church (r)
Image caption Martin Church's biological father Arthur Sontag (left) was stationed in Northamptonshire during World War Two

A 73-year-old British man has been united with US siblings he never knew existed.

Martin Church's mother had a relationship with an American serviceman during World War Two, but went on to marry someone else.

He did not know who his father was until a DNA test revealed links to the other side of the Atlantic.

Mr Church, from Northamptonshire, has since met his half brother and sister after they flew over from California.

Realising "something was not quite right", Mr Church discovered at the age of 18 that the man who brought him up was not his biological father.

"I said to my mum, 'Who's my father?'. In typical Northamptonshire she said, 'I don't know, my duck'. And I left it at that as I didn't want to embarrass her."

His son Darren, 50, started looking into the family tree about 10 years ago and carried out a DNA test, which he uploaded to a website to be kept on file.

Image copyright Martin Church
Image caption Martin Church (right) and his half brother John Sontag (left) found each other through a DNA matching website

Six months ago, the website alerted him to a match. It turned out to be Mr Church's second cousin, who lived in Australia, and he was able to email a photo of Mr Church's father, Arthur Sontag, who had spent part of the war in Northamptonshire.

"I was in bed on a Monday evening and my wife Sonia came up the stairs and said, 'We've found your father, look at this photo - it's your father, an American chap'.

"The likeness is remarkable," he said.

He was "disappointed" to learn his father had died, but he found out he had a half brother - John Sontag, 69 - and two half sisters - June Bertsch, 68, and Diane McArthur, 64. They all reside in California.

Mr Sontag and Ms Bertsch recently made the 10,000-mile journey to Gayton, Northamptonshire, which Mr Church said was a "crazy" experience.

Darren Church said: "From the first time of meeting you can tell they are family. My new auntie and uncle can see the resemblances and mannerisms of their father in us. It's all surreal, but lovely."

Mr Church plans to head to the US in October to see his other half sister, Ms McArthur, and meet some of his 22 newly-discovered cousins.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Estimates suggest about 9,000 war babies were born as a result of relationships between US GIs and British women

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