Emotional family reunion for Suffolk man
UNEMPLOYED steel erector Mick Brummitt stood and stared at his father's grave thousands of miles away from his home in Suffolk.Mr Brummitt, of Wadd Lane, Snape, travelled to America for a two-week visit to find out more about the father he never knew - and unfortunately he flew back to Suffolk without a photograph of his dad.
UNEMPLOYED steel erector Mick Brummitt stood and stared at his father's grave thousands of miles away from his home in Suffolk.
Mr Brummitt, of Wadd Lane, Snape, travelled to America for a two-week visit to find out more about the father he never knew - and unfortunately he flew back to Suffolk without a photograph of his dad.
The nearest he came to knowing more about his late father, Jimmie W Oliver, was when he stood by his grave at Bethel Church, Camilla, Georgia.
It was, recalled Mr Brummitt yesterday, an emotional moment.
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"Here I was, I had never even seen a photograph of him and I just had a name on the grave," said Mr Brummitt.
The grave's headstone did not give many clues for Mr Brummitt's search for background knowledge on his father. But he returned to Snape with a burning desire to find a wartime photograph so that he could finally see what Mr Oliver looked like.
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Mr Oliver was a U.S. coloured airman based at Debach Airbase, near Woodbridge, during the Second World War. He was friendly with an Ipswich teenager and Mick was born in 1944 after which Mr Oliver was posted to France with the 829th U.S. Army Engineering Aviation Battalion.
He paid maintenance of £2 a month for six months before losing contact with his baby son's mother, Sylvia, and died aged 47. She was living in Geneva Road, Ipswich, and is now in Cecil Road.
Sylvia Mohtram said: "I was 18 or 19 at the time and in the war you didn't ask questions. Apparently my mother did have a picture of the battalion and it included him in it.
"When my mother died my brother inherited the writing bureau and the photograph was kept in there, but when I looked it was not there."
Her son Jay Mohtram, 46, of Sherrington Road, Ipswich, teamed up with Mr Brummitt on the arduous task of tracking down his long-lost father. Mr Brummitt had already spent more than 30 years on the trail and a piece of luck with research on the internet led them to Georgia.
Mr Oliver's military records were destroyed in a fire at the Archive Centre in St Louis but the American Government was later able to give details about Mr Oliver's background.
Mr Brummitt decided to go out in February on a double celebration - he combined his 60th birthday with a first-ever meeting with his half brother Willie Oliver, 65.
He flew out with his partner Hazel Lyons and Mr Mohtram and his wife Linda for a trip to visit the grave and other areas of interest, and to find out more about the family.
"When I saw my half brother for the first time I gave him a hug and said something like 'it's nice to see you," said Mr Brummitt. He is now trying to speak to his half brother in Florida and a half sister in Conneticut.
Mr Brummitt said: "When black Americans first came over here I think they were a novelty and lots of photographs were taken. I am now looking for a picture of the battalion from the period 1942-44." Anyone who can assist Mr Brummitt is asked to call him on 01728 688499.