A woman’s World War II diary found on a supermarket floor in Sydney, Australia, has been given to her daughter who had no idea of its existence.
The handwritten diary, recording life in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force through poems and photographs, was handed in to the Kuring-Gai Police Area Command, in Sydney’s north on Wednesday, 20 May.
The diary had been found on the floor of a supermarket in Gordon, also in Sydney’s north, before it was presented to police. The diary, written in 1943, was later identified as belonging to Margo Cooper, who died in March 2011.
“Following extensive inquiries that spanned across Australia, Senior Constable Carisa Parker and Senior Constable Colin Mitchell managed to track down Mrs Cooper’s daughter, Rosie Gibson, who lives in Dubbo,” NSW Police said in a media statement.
The diary was presented to Mrs Gibson by Orana Mid-Western Police District’s Inspector Natalie Antaw on Thursday, 2 July.
“To be able to bring the diary home to her daughters so they could cherish it and see the lovely words their mother had written, that’s a very special moment for me as a police officer,” Inspector Antaw said.
Documenting her time in the Women's Auxillary Air Force in World War II, the long-lost diary of Margo Cooper has been safely returned to her daughter. #KindJuly #StayKind
Posted by NSW Police Force on Thursday, 2 July 2020
Senior Constable Parker shared in the moment by phone, describing the process as one she will treasure.
“I was so pleased when we found Rosie – when we called, she was just ecstatic because it was her mum,” the policewoman said.
“The day I called Rosie to tell her, it was actually her mum’s birthday and that she would have turned 98.
“She said it was the best birthday present she could have had.”
Mrs Gibson told the senior constable of the joy she had brought her.
“I want to thank her so much for her wonderful efforts in finding me and bringing this diary back to our family,” she said.
“I can’t get over how beautifully my mother used to write, and the diary is in such good condition. It was just wonderful to get the news on what would have been Mum’s 98th birthday.
“I don’t think we knew this existed.”
The Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force was based at Temora, which is a town 418 kilometres (260 miles) south-west of Sydney. It was formed in March 1941 after considerable lobbying by women keen to serve and by the Chief of the Air Staff who wanted to release male personnel serving in Australia for service in the war overseas. The Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force was the largest of the Second World War women’s services.
On 22 March, 1943, Margo Cooper described in the journal how her new life in a tiny Riverina town was changing.
“Since I have been at Temora, how different everything seems, my life, my friends, my whole outlook, my work, myself and my dreams,” she wrote.
“The days seem ages enduring, and then when the night is here, a beautiful moon is seen rising, and the sky is wonderfully clear.
“The stars above are all flickering, the breeze is so beautifully cool.”
As part of the British Empire, Australia was among the first nations to declare war on Nazi Germany and between 1939 and 1945 nearly one million Australian men and women served in what was going to be World War II.
The Australian mainland came under direct enemy attack for the first time in history in World War II, with Japanese bombing attacks on Northern Australia and an attack on Sydney Harbour by Japanese midget submarines.
At the time of the allies defeat of Germany and the surrender of Japan, 39,000 Australians had died and another 30,000 had been taken prisoner.