I was born close to Liverpool in November 1944. Mum was a local single girl and I was her first child. Dad was a black, American GI based in the UK with the Allied forces in preparation for the D-day landings.
He drove a truck between Liverpool Docks and the many US bases around the North West of England. Often he delivered supplies to Burtonwood Base the former RAF camp which was the largest American service base in Europe at the time. Dad was based at Huyton, Liverpool in a ‘colored’ unit. Mum lived a couple of miles from Burtonwood and they met at a local dance in 1943. I still live in the same town though all trace of Burtonwood has gone as Dads former camp. Liverpool docks is still the same though which is where most of the US troops came into the UK
I was raised within a poor but loving family. They tried to shield and protect me from the questions and remarks people made about the colour of my skin and clearly different racial features.
I was confused and unhappy about my differences because no one thought to take me aside and explain things to me. Everyone brushed off my questions. Mum would tell me I was different because I was ‘special’.
In time though as I got older I pieced together the secrets and circumstances surrounding my birth. It also became clear why people reacted as they did to my brown skin and different appearance.
Over the next 20 years I married and had a family and tried to put all thoughts of my unknown Dad out of my mind. Occasionally I would read reports about one of those British children born to GI’s in WW2 having reunions with their long lost Dads and I started to dream again about finding my own Dad. It seemed impossible though after so long and with only a name which I wasn’t certain was a real name. Besides this was before computers were available and letters to the US could take months.
In 2002 I was 58 years old and using a computer for the first time. My son was giving me a lesson and he suggested we put my Dads name into the search engine so he could demonstrate how it worked. There was one result. In shock I realised that my Dads name and details were on the screen in front of me.
Within a few seconds I saw that what I was looking at was the SSDI (Social Security Death Index). I’d found Dad at last but he’d died eight years earlier in 1994.
Armed with the information on the SSDI I wrote to NPRC National Personel Record Center in Missouri asking for information about former GI, Paris Mack. Within a couple of weeks I received a reply giving me further details on how to trace family of the deceased. I was sent an obituary notice from a local library in Indiana where Dad had lived when he died. The notice contained names, addresses and telephone numbers of family present at his interment.
At this point I joined Gitrace the self-help group set up to trace GI fathers and families and received further advice about how to obtain birth/death certificates from various members.
Finally armed with all my evidence I made a phone call to the US and spoke to one of my Dads sisters. It didn’t go well. The phone was slammed down. I persisted and called another relative and started leaving messages on their phones. Eventually I got a call back one day from a biological cousin who agreed that I could write to her and tell her my story.
I corresponded with my cousin for the first few years on a regular basis and she sent me wonderful photographs of my ‘other’ family. I have a fantastic photograph of my Dad and for the first time in my life I saw family I resembled. It was a remarkable moment and one for which I will always be grateful.
I had been born because of a war time conflict between people from different countries which happen during wars, but I had two colours and cultures to try to make sense of. It was difficult at times dealing with the race issues and feelings of rejection. But finally finding my Dad albeit late in life has finally brought me the peace I needed.
|Social Security & Service Numbers|
|USAAF Station Numbers|
|NPRC in Pictures|
|Search Information Sheet|
|NARA Online Records|