Margaret Cowdery nee Pearson was born in Timaru on 9th February 1921.
Her growing up years were in Mt Albert Auckland and her schooling was at Auckland Girls Grammar.
Margaret’s working life started with newspaper, The Auckland Star, pictorial department. A very busy time but with its rewards – within her duties she met Jean Batten and Jack Lovelock, an experience she has described as “a real thrill”. She continued in her role with the Auckland Star until she joined the Army in 1942.
Margaret signed up, without hesitation, with the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC). The limited uniform size options meant Margaret’s had to be tailored to fit due to her small stature. Her role included driving heavy vehicles and clerical/record keeping. For her driving role, she had to sit on a cushion to get a proper view through the windscreen.
She was posted to the 9th Heavy Regiment Headquarters at North Head, living on site in the barracks.
In 1944, Margaret volunteered for overseas duty and in April 1945, she left NZ on the Empress of Scotland via Melbourne and Colombo (Sri Lanka). She arrived in Maadi, Cairo, Egypt. Margaret was responsible for all records for 21st Battalion. With end of the war in Europe and ongoing hostilities in the Pacific, she was kept very busy will all paperwork. For this she was paid 7 shillings per day. The conditions were less than desirable, having to empty out her quarters (shared with another) to air while the room was debugged. Latrines were of the long drop design with waste cans requiring regular replacement.
In December 1945 Margaret was posted a NZ Base between Taranto and Bari in Italy as a Clerk/Typist. This time recording movement of personnel as the NZ Army was sending servicemen to Japan to wind things down there. During her time in Egypt and Italy, Margaret, through her duties and leave, visited Israel, Florence and Rome allowing for some sightseeing plus attending the Rome Opera House for the ‘Marriage of Figaro’.
On her birthday in 1946, she left on the Tamaroa for her return to home, arriving in Wellington in March 1946. Once settled, she joined the RSA.
In January 1947, Margaret married her childhood sweetheart Jack Cowdery. They built their first home in Glen Eden with a rehab loan and over the years, their family grew with 3 daughters and now Margaret is Grandmother to 5 and Great-Grandmother to 9. Margaret and Jack celebrated 54 years of marriage. When family had grown, they settled back in Mt Albert and it was during this time that she joined the Auckland RSA, Returned Servicewomen’s Branch and later joined the committee.
In 1989, Margaret and Jack moved to Turangi to retire and fish for trout. She joined the Turangi RSA and soon became President of the Women’s Section together with Jack on the RSA Committee.
In 2005, Margaret moved to Fairview Retirement Village in Albany after her husband Jack passed away. Being back in Auckland, she joined East Coast Bays RSA.
Margaret talked with a team from ECB RSA and although she describes herself, an ordinary everyday NZ girl, we found her to be a very bright, vibrant and interesting lady who is still very active at Fairview and loves to entertain other residents with her antics and dressing up in costumes at events. She has travelled the world extensively, played many sports, extremely competent at needlework and is still knitting and has served on many committees and volunteered for Red Cross etc. She has experienced a lot in the 20th century, WW11 and many changes in lifestyles and technology.
Margaret’s secret to longevity, she says, is having the good luck of strong Scottish genes.
Wow, you are absolutely amazing and beautiful, inside and out.