WASHINGTON -- A U.S. District Court settlement announced yesterday will allow British children of U.S. servicemen from World War II to get information about their fathers from the Defense Department and the National Archives.
The agreement reversed a long-standing federal policy of withholding such information to protect servicemen's privacy.
Up to 100,000 British sons and daughters of U.S. GIs who had been stationed in England during World War II could be affected by the settlement. The action also opens the way for unknown numbers of children fathered by U.S. servicemen in Vietnam and other countries to trace their fathers and possibly be reunited or have their fathers' names included on their birth certificates.
"The settlement begins to redress the wrongs that started during the war [World War II], when the Army encouraged men to have a good time and then . . . whisked them away so they could not be found," said Joan Meier, a lawyer for War Babes, a British-based group of estranged children of U.S. GIs.