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Man reunites with his brothers after 77 years apart

“When we met it was a surreal moment. It still gives me goosebumps."

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Craig Dunderdale with his long-lost brothers Dan, 81, and Frank Allnut, 83, and Craig's wife Jill. (Craig Dunderdale via SWNS)

By Adam Dutton and Andrea Scholes via SWNS

A man in England who was adopted after his mom had an affair with an American GI during World War Two has been reunited with his long-lost brothers in America, after 77 years.

(Artist: Craig Dunderdale/ SWNSCraig Dunderdale, 77, discovered he had two American siblings living 4,500 miles away in Colorado after tirelessly researching his family tree for 46 years.

The former RAF technician managed to find older brothers Dan Allnut, 81, and Frank, 83, and the trio was able to finally meet for the first time since they were babies on July 21 this year.

Grandfather-of-two Craig flew to the States with his wife Jill, 72, following the culmination of a painstaking search that began in 1976.

Craig first discovered he was adopted in 1946 as a nine-month-old baby when he was aged 11 - just a week before the woman he believed to be his mother suddenly died.

But it wasn't until a change in UK law in 1976, which let adopted children find their true family, that Craig was able to begin tracing his roots.

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He located his birth certificate in 1978 which revealed his name was Anthony Slater and his mom was Eliza Slater of Dagenham. The certificate stated "father unknown."

Eliza was married with two kids during the Second World War but had an affair with an American soldier after thinking her husband wasn’t returning from fighting in Germany.

When her husband did return alive and well from war to find his wife pregnant with another man’s child, he insisted the baby be put up for adoption.

In his 30s, Craig tried to contact his birth mother, but her husband refused to accept a letter from him and she has since died.

The search then shifted to trying to trace his father and Craig joined the website Ancestry.co.uk in 2009 and a DNA test provided him with a breakthrough in 2017.

He traced a first cousin on his birth mother’s side and found he had been referred to during his mother’s pregnancy as “the American boy."

The site then emailed in 2019 to say his DNA had a strong match to an individual in America who turned out to be his half-brother, Frank.

Craig tentatively made contact with Frank not wanting to raise his hopes, but after swapping a few details by email, they soon realized they were blood relatives.

Dad-of-two Craig, who lives in Oakham, England, said: "It’s unbelievable.

"My journey started with me trying to find who my father was but I never expected to find two brothers. I had no leads at all for so many years but I never gave up.

“It was like an out-of-body experience when I finally met them. I felt a bond with them like I’d never felt before.

"They welcomed us with open arms and other relatives drove for miles to meet us. I feel as if I belong with them. I’ve never felt that warmth."

“It has been the happiest time in my life. There’s nothing else I wish for now. I wanted to find out who my father was but I got more than I bargained for.

"I faced an impossible task because no one knew anything about me but the DNA never lies. I’m so fortunate to have a happy ending."

Craig was told he was adopted by his foster mom Adeline shortly before she died of a brain hemorrhage in 1956.

He later discovered he had been taken away by nuns at birth and placed in a nursery in London, England, before being adopted in 1946.

Craig added: “When my mum gave birth to me she was already married with two children. Her husband was in Europe fighting the Germans.

"With no communication, you can get put down as missing and she meandered off and had an affair with an American.

"I’ve always thought of myself as very fortunate. Lots of illegitimate children were conceived when the Americans were here, many of those were not kept.

"My mum obviously had respect for this American guy as she didn’t get rid of me but her husband returned and gave her the ultimatum.

“But I was brought up in a happy way...but as the years went on I just knew I had to find my real family.

"When I finally found my birth certificate, it was weird - I remember it feeling like having a split personality.

“It wasn’t until 2009 that I registered with Ancestry. The technology had moved on somewhat so I went on to begin a family tree.

“I did make contact with a first cousin removed in London. Her grandmother knew of the pregnancy but didn’t know anything about the father.

“All she did know was that I was known as 'the American boy.'

“It was in December 2019 that the lucky break happened. We'd just come back from a cruise and there was an email saying there was a DNA match.

“I make contact with this person Frank and we got talking, I found out his father Anthony Allnut was stationed near Norwich during the war.

“It solidified this match. The rest is history. It was Dan and Frank.”

Brothers Dan and Frank live on a ranch in Colorado and share a house with their extended family living next door.

Craig now intends to go and visit them as often as possible to make up for lost time.

He added: “When we met it was a surreal moment. It still gives me goosebumps.

"I’m not a tactile man, I never have been, when they met me, there were man hugs and plenty of boxes of tissues.

"I've never bonded with anyone like this in my life. It was not offered to me. Now I've got real brothers and I plan to make up for lost time.

"All I would say to anyone in a similar position is just do it and never give up hope."

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