Plea for return of WW2 heirloom doll's house

A RAF trainee pilot enlisted the help of other trainees to make the doll's house in secret. He...
A RAF trainee pilot enlisted the help of other trainees to make the doll's house in secret. He wanted his baby daughter to have something to remember him by should he not return from the war. Photo: SUPPLIED
An Auckland mum is appealing to the public to help locate a doll's house which her husband mistakenly gave away.

But this isn't just any doll's house - it is a family heirloom made in secret during the war by RAF pilots.

"Please return my daughter's Doll's House - recently collected from Eversleigh Rd. Her Dad threw it out without permission," Rachel Rogan posted on her local Facebook page.

"Really sorry to those ladies who collected it... but please may we ask for it back?"

The story dates back to WWII, but the latest chapter began last Saturday, 27 November, when the Rogan family were having a clear-out of their Belmont home, on Auckland's North Shore.

Rogan's husband had put the house - which had been in storage for about a decade - on the back deck, and Rogan and her daughter were looking inside it, reminiscing about when the children were young and used to play with it. Twenty minutes later Rogan walked past the deck, noticed it was gone and called out to her husband to ask where he had put it.

"He said 'it's gone, I took it out to the gate and some people took it away'."

Rogan's husband had put it outside when two couples were walking past, liked the look of it, and took it with them.

"My daughter just burst into tears. The first thing she said was 'I wanted my grandchildren to play with that'," Rogan said.

"I still feel the ripping in my stomach. It was just one of those really gut-wrenching whoopsie moments."

Her husband made a genuine mistake, and now the family is just wanting the heirloom back. But despite Rogan's Facebook post being shared more than 100 times, they still haven't tracked it down.

"The reason we want it back is not because of how beautiful it is or anything like that, it's because of who made it and who they made it for and the fact it was this symbol of love and hope and just something that could be fun for other people to play with, but it will never have the value for other families as it does to ours," Rogan said.

The house was painstakingly made over one year, in secret. Rogan's husband's grandfather was a RAF pilot and made the house in the workshop of his training headquarters in the South Island, enlisting other pilots to help him.

He had a one-year-old daughter at the time and wanted her to have something to remember him by should he not return from the war. The pilots would steal pieces of wood and make the house, and tiny pieces of furniture for it, when their supervisors weren't looking. It has the most beautiful tiny round Rimu dining table, Rogan said.

It was given to his daughter Patricia, who eventually passed it on to Rogan's daughters - her great nieces.

"You don't sort of realise what something like that means to you until you're suddenly without it," Rogan said.

"It's terrible when it's something we should be able to share with the next people in our family."

Rogan would love for it to make its way home, for her daughters to be able to share it with their children one day, and for it to stay in their family. She's also concerned there could be lead in the paint, as she was going to get it tested before it was enjoyed by the next generation.

"It's just a mistake. An unfortunate situation that's arisen from a mistake, and I'm just appealing to [whoever took it] for forgiveness, or something, and just hope they haven't gotten quite so attached as we are."



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