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My Father's "Brown Babies"

by Rachel James

Contributed by 
Rachel James
People in story: 
Rempson Miller, Fred Baker
Location of story: 
Burton On Trent
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A3797706
Contributed on: 
16 March 2005

Author: Rachel James - Ohio - U.S.A.

Looking for My father's "Brown Babies"

My father's name was Rempson Miller. Against his will he had to leave his "babies" in England after World War II. He was a black American GI.
I first heard the term "Brown Babies" when I started the search for the children that my father left in England after World War II.

I grew up in Rutherford County, North Carolina which is in southern U.S.A.
This was my Father's hometown. I remember my him speaking of "the babies" that he left overseas and how he would hold them and sing the song "Hush little baby, don't say a word daddy's going to buy you a mocking bird......"

I would later discover that his army unit was stationed in England. His regiment was the 244 Quartermaster Batallion. They docked at Liverpool on 12 July, 1942. Part of the regiment traveled to Bristol by train and was put in charge of a warehouse there.
The other part went to Burton On Trent and became Company C which was renamed 3264th
Quartermaster Service Company. Some of the GIs in Bristol would travel by train
when they could, to Burton to visit GI friends camped there. I was told that one
black GI from Bristol named Esau Carole also had a girlfriend who worked at the fish shop in Burton On Trent. Her name was said to be Linda. Her parents possibly owned or was managing the chip shop.

The mother of his children, I was told, may have worked at a fish and chip shop in Burton On Trent. Her name may have been Joyce. I was also told that she may have lived near the water, possibly Heath Road. He lived at their home for a while and would go back to the army base to carry out his duties. His unit moved to Wem in Shropshire at the end of 1943.

Rempson Miller was a quite man of average height with nice curly hair and when he walked he had a sort of bounce. He had a shy beautiful grin and would fold his arms when he stood. Many people said he was very handsome when he was young. He had a little scar over his eye. When he would drink a little too much he would talk much more. He liked to play the harmonica. (at least he did when I knew him)

He and his best friend Fred Baker were dating sisters.
Fred Baker was very fair skinned for a black man and was sort of short.
One of his eyes did not focus correctly.
You would think he was looking passed you instead of at you. He had another friend named Payton Edmond who left a son in England.

I also learned that girls from other areas came to Burton to meet the GIs.
There were two girls from London who were seemingly staying in Burton during the war. These girls were sisters. One was white and the other was mixed race because her father was a black GI from WWI. I was told that these sisters were dating two friends at Wetmore Road. I often wondered
If one of these sisters is the mother of my siblings.

The following is a story that I wrote concerning my search....

"They came over here in the early 40s, young and fresh faced, first time away from home for most of them. They came to help us out. They were polite and well mannered. They gave us rations, and most important, they gave us hope. People of my age group will never forget."

These words were penned in a letter that I received last year from a man who lives in Derbyshire. He was referring to his memories of the American soldiers who were camped in the nearby town of Burton-on-Trent, England, during the Second World War. My father was one of them. He was an African American.

I don't know what really prompted me to begin my search, but suddenly I came to understand and with the understanding came a deep sadness for my father and the children he left behind. So I began a transatlantic search to make a bridge for time and memory to cross.

I did not know that my search for them would touch lives all across the United Kingdom, Australia and some other countries.

My father spoke of his "babies that he left overseas". They were always on his mind and in his heart.

He was wounded in France in 1945. Along with those wounds he had to deal with the memories of the horrors of war. He spoke of seeing comrades die (one in his arms). He had to help pick up body parts of the slain, crying as he did so. Some of them were just teenage boys who had wanted so badly to go home.

I was told that he helped save the lives of some civilians. He saw many hungry children, especially in France. I believe that he sometimes gave his rations to these children and did without food himself. He spoke of being hungry. He spoke of unimaginable horrors of war.

When he came home, his spirit was broken. He was hospitalised for seven months. He knew that he would never see his children again because there were barriers that could not be crossed. His "babies" that he had held in his arms and sang a lullaby to faded in the distance as he was transferred home.

The memories never faded, they grew ever stronger until his death. I never got their names, although I thought the name Iris was mentioned. As he spoke of the past, his words were not directed to me, but he spoke as if he had to audibly release the memories. I did not listen carefully, in fact sometimes I did not listen at all because his words seemed unreal and about things I could not or did not want to comprehend at the time.

After my father died, I began to understand and the search began. I had to piece his army records together and found that he had been stationed in Staffordshire, England. I wrote to organisations who dealt with "war babes" and children's societies and adoption organisations.

I had to spread my story in hopes that his children knew his name because I did not know theirs. My information was sent to various agencies and I began to receive letters from many places asking for my help to locate American GI fathers from the Second World War. I connected quite a few, with the consent of the American families.

A few years ago I received a call from a lady who lives in Lichfield, Staffordshire, asking for my help to find her husband's American GI father. I found his father who lives in Washington. She and her husband came over to meet his 81-year-old dad for the first time. Newspaper reporters from London came with them to cover the story.

With grateful hearts, the family sent me a copy of the article. A picture showed him looking so much like his father and both of them looking so happy as they greeted each other for the first time at the father's door. The dad had not known that he left a child, which by the way is his only child.

Having found out that my father's unit was stationed at Wetmore Road in Burton-on-Trent, I advertised there and received quite a few letters, mostly from "war babes", wondering if they were my siblings, but it did not turn out to be.

So over the years, as the letters have poured in, my heart has poured out to the senders, some who have never touched or heard the voice of another person who was biologically related to them - the consequences of a climate created by war, the time, and of distance and circumstances separating men from what sometimes, (in normal circumstances) would have been marriage and a family.

Some looked back but could not go back or even reach back. In the 40s and 50s the way back was blocked for certain ones, but that is another story.

There are many people in England that I want to thank for helping in this search and one day when this journey ends I want them all to know that their help along the way made it possible.

I especially thank my husband and children who have supported me in what seems impossible, but impossible things are happening every day and even every hour.

A famous man once said: "I cannot discover that anyone knows enough to say definitely what is and what is not possible".

The words: "You will reap if you don't tire out", are always before me in another important aspect of my life so I apply it to this search.

I want to deliver the words to my father's children that I believe he wanted to say. The words: "I did love you and I am sorry that you had to grow up without me." I want to give them an inheritance, a "welcome home".

I hope they had a good life.

My siblings would have been born between the spring of 1943 and 1945. My father's surname was Miller.

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Forum Archive

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - FAMILY TREE

Posted on: 28 July 2005 by navyUSDAW

i am tracing my Jewish family tree and believe that my grandfather was in the airforce. I am also told he was based in kent at that particular airbase.

Is it possible to gain access to the full list of personnal for the Kent airbase.

Bearing in mind and it may sound silly to say but i do not known his name.

Please help???

Message 1 - find my grandad

Posted on: 13 September 2005 by leeread

My grandfather was never known to us
and all we know about him is that his
name was Sam Black.He was a black
serviceman serving with the USAF during
1943 and was stationed at Grafton Underwood,England during the war.He had
a relationship with my grandmother, Winifred Goode, and my mother was born
in August 1944. We know he went back to the USA after the war and would like to know if anyone knew him, his job,squadron or anything that may be of
use in trying to trace him for my mothers sake. USAF military records
couldn't help....can you? please.
leeandvlad@netscape.net

 

Message 2 - find my grandad

Posted on: 12 October 2005 by koroidovi

Hi my name is Margaret i am trying to trace my African American Daddy Stationed in England ww2 i wrote to, NIELS J ZUSSBLATT
National Personnel Records Center
Military Presonnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
ST.LOUIS,MO 63132-5100
U.S.A.
Have you tried there yet if not hope it helps,let me know how you get on.Good Luck. margaretkoroidovi@yahoo.co.uk

Message 1 - brown babies

Posted on: 21 September 2005 by bunnyb21

I was born in 1944. My father was an African American GI posted, I think somewhere near Penkridge in Staffordshire, possibly Brocton. I am not sure of his name, although I have some idea that it was James. My mother's name was Rose Cartwright. She refused ever to talk about my father and she has been dead for many years.I think my father knew of my birth, but I am not really sure.

 

Message 2 - brown babies

Posted on: 23 September 2005 by koroidovi

hi bunnyb21 my daddy was an african american gi in ww2 at burton-on-trent staffordshire iwas born 13th july 1945 at the end of the war my mother said i had no right to know him all she would tell me was his name and where he was stationed i am trying to trace him now or any siblings i may have in america as he went back after the war have you tried to find any info on him on any other site on the net margaretkoroidovi@yahoo.co.uk

 

Message 3 - brown babies

Posted on: 26 September 2005 by bunnyb21

Hi

Thank you for answering. This is the first time I have ever tried to find my father. I guess he is no longer alive, but it would be good to know if I have any brothers or sisters. I really do not know where to go from here.

 

Message 4 - brown babies

Posted on: 30 September 2005 by koroidovi

Hi bunnyb21 have you tried writing to any personnel record centers try this one it will take a couple of weeks for a reply but it might help good luck let me know if you get a result you can get me on this sight or at margaretkoroidovi@yahoo.co.uk
NIELS J. ZUSSBLATT
NATIONAL PERSONNEL RECORDS CENTER
MILITARY PERSONNEL RECORDS
9700 PAGE AVENUE
ST.LOUIS,MO 63132-5100
Give as many details as possible such as name where he was stationed military number year he was stationed here photograph etc.

 

Message 5 - brown babies

Posted on: 03 October 2005 by koroidovi

HI bunny21 did you get my message sent to you last week with address were you can write for info on your daddy. please let me know margaretkoroidovi@yahoo.co.uk

Message 1 - fathers brown babies

Posted on: 23 September 2005 by koroidovi

my daddy was an african american gi stationed at fauld burton-on trent staffordshire ww2 his name was william(bill)dickenson or dickensen i was named margaret christine johnson born 13th july 1945 mothers name christina(tina)johnson daddy was here when i was born so he knows he has a daughter does anyone recognise his name or photo posted on this site margaretkoroidovi@yahoo.co.uk

 

Message 2 - fathers brown babies

Posted on: 06 October 2005 by DAVID

HI MARGARET
My father was also at fauld, i am the person who Rachel James found my father for me,was your father in the engineers batalion? i will ask my father tomorrow evening when i call,if he remebers the name

 

Message 3 - fathers brown babies

Posted on: 08 October 2005 by Rachel James

Hi Margaret,
I hope you received the email that I sent.
If your dad was in David's dad's military unit you will have a much better chance of finding him because if you know the unit, you can send for a roster and get his army serial number to send for his records.

Rachel

 

Message 4 - fathers brown babies

Posted on: 11 October 2005 by koroidovi

Hi David thanks for your message re: your Daddy who was Stationed at Fauld Burton-on-Trent Staffs ww2. I am so pleased to hear you found your Daddy, and thank you for going to ask your Daddy if he may have known mine, my heart skipped a beat when i read your message. Did you see the photograph i posted with my message.Also are you still in contact with yor Daddy i hope so.There is a possibility my Daddy has died but i would still like to know if i may have any siblings in America and to give me some kind of closier.What do you think .I am now living in North London after leaving Derby 23years ago where i was born.I hope to hear from you again soon take care and thank you again David you have given me more hope margaretkoroidovi@yahoo.co.uk

 

Message 5 - fathers brown babies

Posted on: 11 October 2005 by koroidovi

Hi Rachel just read your message re:my Daddy, William Dickenson, or Dickensen, who was Stationed at Fauld Burton-on-Trent Staffordshire WW2, were Davids Daddy was Stationed.The thing is i do not know his Military Unit, i only have his Photograph which i posted on this sight,i can only hope he may have been in the same unit as Davids Daddy.I have replied to Davids message hoping to get a favorable reply,because as i told David i may have siblings in America and i also would like some sort of closier,even if my Daddy has now died.Thank you so much for your reply Rachel,you and David have given me new hope. I have lived in North London now for 23 years after leaving Derby where i was born.I am not on the Internet at home so i go to my local Age Concern were i can go on the Internet whenever i can.Take care of yourself and god bless you. you.margaretkoroidovi@yahoo.co.uk

 

Message 6 - fathers brown babies

Posted on: 17 October 2005 by koroidovi

Hi David did you get my message re:my Daddy William Dickenson or Dickensen who was Stationed at Fauld, Burton-on-Trent were your Daddy was Stationed. You said you would ask your Daddy if he knew mine, i have not had a reply from you yet so i thought i would post you a message again,i hope you don't mind and think i am being to pushy.Also have you seen the photograph i posted on my site it might help.Hope to hear you soon take care david.
MARGARET.

 

Message 7 - fathers brown babies

Posted on: 21 October 2005 by koroidovi

Hi David have you spoken yet to your Daddy about knowing my Daddy William Dickenson or Dickensen who was stationed at Fauld Burton-on-Trent Staffordshire ww2.If you can.t copy his photograph from the one i posted i can mail you one if you would like. sorry to sound impatient David i'm just anxious to trace my Daddy. Hope to hear you soon. Take care. Margaret.

 

Message 8 - fathers brown babies

Posted on: 27 October 2005 by David Gallagher

HI MARGARET
Sent you an email yesterday, then just found out you are not on the net, i spoke to dad, but i am going to put it in writing so Bessie -- my stepmother can read it to him, he will probably recall things better,i will do all i can to help you.i know it will make your life complete,it certainly made mine complete finding dad + a bonus that he is still alive, he is now 92 years of age.
Regards David

 

Message 9 - fathers brown babies

Posted on: 25 November 2005 by koroidovi

Hi again David hope you are keeping well have you had any reply from your Step-Momma yet regarding whether your Daddy new my Daddy from ww2 Fauld Burton-on Trent Staffordshire.I do hope everything is all right with you and your Daddy. hope to hear from you soon take tare of yourself.Margaret

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