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Diary of Second World War soldier from Felsted is returned to his family after being found on a St Clare Hospice charity shop book shelf





A Second World War diary mistakenly donated to a St Clare Hospice charity shop has been returned to the family of the soldier who wrote it.

The diary was found on shelves at the charity's Vintage and Retro store in Harlow. The hospice, which provides end-of-life care across East Herts and West Essex, launched a social media campaign to track down the family.

Manager Tracey Chippett said: "One of our volunteers, Gill, found the book whilst tidying the shelves. It looked just like a normal vintage book, but when she opened it she could see it was so much more than that."

Store manager Tracey Chippett with the diary discovered among the book shelves (62885187)
Store manager Tracey Chippett with the diary discovered among the book shelves (62885187)

The handwritten diary by Sgt George A West was dated 1939 to 1948 and contained fascinating details of day-to-day life as well as the following key clues: the name of his family home in Felsted, a connection to family in The Hague, Holland, his neighbours' name, his RAF badge number and the fact that he was in the Rifle Brigade from 1903 to 1929.

Tracy said: "Alongside this information we put a few pictures on our Facebook page and within a few hours we had over 200 shares of the post and it had been seen by over 26,000 people.”

She said that it "captured people's imagination" and Felsted School archivists got in touch with vital information about Sgt West's family which led to the diary being returned to his granddaughter, Sue Cole.

The Second World War diary kept by Sgt George West (62885181)
The Second World War diary kept by Sgt George West (62885181)

"Although the diary had been mistakenly donated, the story has a happy ending, with the diary safe and sound, back with Sgt West’s family in Coggeshall,” said Tracy.

She added: "We value every donation that is made to our shop as sales pay for nursing care and support for St Clare patients and their families across West Essex.

"Please consider donating any vintage or retro item you may have as we have customers travelling far and wide to support St Clare and rehome the special items we stock.”

Becky Day, right, from St Clare Hospice returns Sgt West's diary to his granddaughter, Sue Cole, from Coggeshall.
Becky Day, right, from St Clare Hospice returns Sgt West's diary to his granddaughter, Sue Cole, from Coggeshall.

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