Why prayer book found in boiler room has a Fusilier's tale to tell

St Helens Star: Left, Chris, right, and John Swain with their grandfather’s medals and prayer book Left, Chris, right, and John Swain with their grandfather’s medals and prayer book

A CHANCE discovery of a 99-year-old book which was highlighted in the Star has revealed interesting facts about a St Helens soldier who served in both world wars.

The prayer book found tucked behind a boiler at a Kiln Lane property belonged to Albert Edward Swain, who served in France with the British Expeditionary Force during The First World War.

Its discovery has unveiled the tale of the Fusilier who became a man of the cloth.

His eldest grandson Chris Swain, aged 52, told the Star: “I have his First World War medals and am just about to have them mounted to wear for the centenary commemoration ceremony. The prayer book will now be kept safely with them.

“He also served in The Second World War as a military padre and received shrapnel wounds at Dunkirk. As a boy I used to hobble around the garden copying the way he walked.

“He became a church minister at the parish of Mold Green in Lincolnshire and died in the late 1960s.”

Chris, who was in the RAF for 28 years, served in intelligence and training, including seeing service in Iraq.

His youngest brother, John Lyndon Swain, 49, lives in Kiln Lane, but not at the address where the prayer book was found.

“Our mother Janice Belle Swain had lived at several properties in Kiln Lane, so maybe that’s how it came to be there,” said John, revealing how their father, Robin, died on February 4, 1975, after his private plane crashed into the Irish Sea.

Robin ran a precision engineering business in Washway Lane.

Our story also brought a response from Eccleston resident Norman Swain, who described himself as Albert Edward’s “cousin, once removed”.

Norman supplied us with a photograph of Padre Albert Edward Swain pictured with bridegroom William Rosser and best man Ron Currie at William’s marriage to Margaret Howden on August 30, 1945, at St Helens Parish Church.

Albert Edwards officiated at the ceremony.

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