Dorset wartime gift of French doll set for auction as 'memento of hope'

The French doll given to Mary Cox on her fourth birthday in 1939. Credit: Hansons

A woman from Dorset is putting a doll up for auction, which was a wartime gift from her father while he was away with the British Army in France.

Mary Cox, from Poole, has treasured it for 84 years, but says it is time to say goodbye.

The Brittany doll will be offered at the Hansons Toy Auction on 25 January and is estimated to fetch between £60 to £80.

1930s Brittany doll Credit: Hansons

Ms Cox received the gift on her 4th birthday, during World War 2, but at the age of 88, she has decided to let her cherished toy go.

She said: "It seems sad to part with the doll now but my younger family members are not especially interested in keeping her, so I hope she can find a new home where she will be treasured and her wartime history and travels around the country remembered.

“The doll wouldn’t have spent a lifetime with me if there hadn’t been a war.

"It’s difficult reflecting on those wartime experiences as they were so traumatic.

"It’s probably hard for those who haven’t lived through a war to appreciate the emotional effect, but as a family we would readily be in tears at mention of the war.

"Even now, days like Remembrance Sunday are hard to get through.

The Cox family, parents Cyril and Frances with children Mary and Dennis reunited after WW2 Credit: Hansons

Describing the day the war broke out, Ms Cox said: “In 1939 we were living happily in Poole - my mother Frances, father Cyril, brother Dennis, then six, and me, aged three.

"My father was immediately conscripted to serve in the army in the RAOC Regiment.  

"By 12 September, he was in France. Correspondence was brief and locations unknown.  

"On 1 December it was my 4th birthday when the parcel arrived with the doll.

"It became a treasured possession. As the war progressed toys, as with most things, were extremely limited."Hansons said: "This special doll has an important tale to tell that will resonate with people all over the world.

"Millions of families have suffered, and are still suffering today, due to conflict. Mary’s story is one of many but it’s important that it should be told.

"The toy is a memento of hope amid conflict.

"It’s a reminder that family love will always find a way to rise above war and separation."

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