Women's Land Army

Discussion in 'The Women of WW2' started by Peter Clare, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    And rightly so!
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Absolutely. they performed Sterling work. Does this mean the Queen will apply?
     
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I thought her Maj was in the ATS.
     
  5. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    I think it's not exactly right to say "Land Girls to be rewarded" as a badge isn't exactly a 'reward' for all the years of hard work. Then again, should somebody be 'rewarded' for doing their duty?

    I think "Land Girls Service to be Recognized" would be more appropriate. If I served anywhere and they turned up 50 years later saying 'here's a badge as a reward' I would be most dis-chuffed. For the same reason I can well understand the slap in the face felt by veterans of the Arctic Convoys when they were offered a 'badge' rather than the expected medal similar to that issued to veterans of the Atlantic Convoys.

    Recognition for service by the Woman's Land Army and the Women's Timber Corps is well deserved..... but to call a lapel badge a 'reward'.... I don't think so.
     
  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    As one who lived through WW2 I can only say "about bloody time too !"

    Thought you might like to see my lovely sister Polly Kail, 90 years old this year, who was one of those wonderful young ladies who kept the food chain going in wartime Britain
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Adam you are right about this. I got confused!!! Thanks for pointing this out!
     
  8. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Nice shot Ron. If you don't mind me asking, what did your sister think about her time in the Land Army? There's a display dedicated to them in the Leicestershire Regimental museum and it appears from there that experiences were somewhat 'mixed'.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

    (I'm now wondering what, if any, medals the Queen earned during her ATS service, and whether Princesses / the Sovereign qualify for medals at all outside of the usual mound of honorifics??... Must do, I'm sure I've seen Prince Andrew with a Falklands Medal.)
     
  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Nice shot Ron. If you don't mind me asking, what did your sister think about her time in the Land Army?

    Adam

    I will have to ask her :)

    Ron
     
  10. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    (I'm now wondering what, if any, medals the Queen earned during her ATS service, and whether Princesses / the Sovereign qualify for medals at all outside of the usual mound of honorifics??... Must do, I'm sure I've seen Prince Andrew with a Falklands Medal.)

    King George V Great War Campaign Medals:

    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details


    (Ron, please let us know what she says)
     
    von Poop likes this.
  11. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    (I'm now wondering what, if any, medals the Queen earned during her ATS service, and whether Princesses / the Sovereign qualify for medals at all outside of the usual mound of honorifics??... Must do, I'm sure I've seen Prince Andrew with a Falklands Medal.)

    Prince Andrew wears a Falklands Medal awarded to him for his service as a Navy helicopter pilot during the Falklands campaign.

    Harry on the other hand wears the Queens Jubilee Medal despite not having served long enough to have been awarded it. I suppose it was his granny's Jubilee after all.:D
     
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details
    Amazing...
    I Imagine these days such things would be buried behind some sort of VIP data protection system.

    On Andrew, I always felt he did himself & the family no harm at all by his Falklands service, shame it's more complex for the next generation... Sorry, I seem to be dragging this thread down a 'Royals at war' direction; so here's another Land Army poster:
    [​IMG]

    I see there was a US version too:
    The Center for the Teaching of American History - Women & Labor During WWWII - Angelo Macchiano
    [​IMG]
     
  13. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    Strange how the americans can have a 'Woman's Land Army..... of the US Crop Corps'. It would make more sense to have a 'Woman's Land Corps' as part of the 'US Crop Army'..... but hey, what do I know?
     
  14. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Adam & Geoff

    In response to your interest in what my sister thought of the Women's Land Army I spoke to her this evening and got her permission to quote from her portion of the family book "And Then There Were Eleven". An abbreviated version is printed below

    Recollections of the Women's Land Army:

    When war was first declared I was working as a hairdresser in London, which was a very dangerous place to be in. My brothers were gradually all going into the forces and then it was the women's turn. I had always loved the countryside and hated any form of discipline, so decided I would volunteer for the Women's Land Army. To my disgust I was turned down on the grounds that I was too small. When the bombing started I moved from London to Dunstable with my mother - by then many men were leaving the land to join the forces and it was becoming more urgent to find women to replace them. I applied once more for the Land Army and this time I was accepted.

    I went to a training school at Luton Hoo, at what had been a stately home and was now taken over as a training centre. I stayed for a month and was taught to milk cows and general farming.

    My first job, would you believe it, was on a Lord's estate in a tiny village. I was taken on to help the gardener, together with another girl - in other words, we were simply helping one private family to produce food for themselves. What strange "war work"! But I didn't mind, it was a whole exciting new world to me - up early and out in the fresh air, living amid beautiful surroundings, far from London and the bombs. One would never have known the war existed.

    While working on the estate, we used to go to the local pub for entertainment - there was nothing much else to do. I learnt to play "shove ha'penny" and befriended a little old crippled man. One evening I was amazed when he tried to put his arms round me. It occurred to me that men were all the same, whether young or old, country bumpkins or sophisticated townies, and that the best thing to do was keep them at arm's length.

    But for me, it seemed, nothing so idyllic as life on the beautiful estate was meant to last - it came about like this. I was billetted with the chauffeur's wife, who lived in a bungalow on the estate, and who, although she had three small children, was compelled to house two Land Army girls. I went back home for my three days Christmas holiday and was furious when she told me on my return that Lady M. had deducted a whole week's payment for my board from her wages. I complained to the Land Army authorities, letters went back and forth from the Lord's house, via his secretary, the chauffeur's wife got her money and I was discreetly dispensed with. End of paradise.

    When I got to my new place, which was a hostel, more like a barracks and full of Land Army girls, they had heard about me! This building was a large Nissen hut, extremely cold and uncomfortable, with large pipes for heating at each end. One had to stand on top of them to keep warm. We also had bunks to sleep in, one on top of each other. The work we were doing was very arduous: we were hired out to farmers in the area for whatever job had to be done - general farming, muck-racking, cleaning bull sheds, milking, tractor-driving, hoeing, hedging, potato picking, threshing, and so on.

    We were taken to our jobs in the back of a lorry and often had to wait around in cold wet weather for the return back to base. Since most girls were "townies" and unused to such arduous work there was a fair amount of sickness. I hurt my back while pitching hay - one had to toss heavy sheaves of corn on top of a hayrick, and was sent home for a short while to recover. There was also an outbreak of scabies at this hostel and numerous girls developed very bad coughs. My close friend developed tuberculosis at this hostel and was invalided for life.

    We worked on occasion with conscientious objectors, nice enough chaps, who were very much looked down upon by most people in those days. I tried to get a trade union started in this hostel and even succeeded in getting an official to come down and give a talk to the girls, but it never got started due to apathy on their part.

    We were allowed to put in for a change of job in the Land Army and I had been doing a lot of threshing, affected my sinus and caused me severe catarrh, which drove me to desperation, so I applied for a different job and was taught tractor-driving, which I loved. But cranking the engine on a bitter cold morning was no picnic!

    Some of the farmers were very kind to us Land Girls, but some were very vulgar and lewd. In Bedfordshire I came across a farming family who were socialists - they gave us all hot meals and bonuses at the end of our working week, a rare treat. Gradually the farmers got to like and trust the Land Girls of whom at first they had been suspicious and spoken of in derogatory terms, and many of the girls married farmers and formed a whole new way of life.

    We had our moments of fun and excitement. I remember the American soldiers who had arrived in England and who were based in the Bedford area. One night they broke into the hostel, the worse for drink, and frightened the matron to death. It was reported that Venereal Disease was rife among them, and from then on a police watch was kept for some weeks.

    We were invited to parties given by the American officers, strictly supervised, with loads of good food and lovely coffee, a special treat.
    A large proportion of the Americans, I found, seemed to be illiterate and tended to "run amok" under the strange conditions and new surroundings in which they found themselves. They certainly knew how to "jive", the latest craze in dancing - when I tried it, I was really exhausted. They had lots more money and better clothing than the British boys, which caused considerable jealousy among them, it was a relief to all and sundry when the American soldiers made their departure from the area.

    I was sent for a while to work at a market gardener's and pub, in sole charge of greenhouses, growing tomatoes. I really enjoyed this job, as I was able to walk about with very little on and eat as much fruit as I liked. I remember the sensual pleasure of picking and eating the large, luscious tomatoes, after tending them and watching them grow.

    Another unpleasant experience was being billeted with a family where the woman was extremely mean and the food so meagre that I had to spend my small wages and buy myself food. This woman had a crippled husband who was on munitions work, earning a lot of money, but she hardly gave him anything to eat - she would put out a couple of tomatoes and some bread and cheese for his evening meal, this after a hard day's work! One evening I was in bed and heard screams coming from downstairs - he was trying to choke her, and who was to blame the poor man? I soon left that place!

    I found some good comradeship while in the Land Army and met girls from all grades of life. I was a good mixer and enjoyed the challenge of a completely new way of life: I lost the headaches I had suffered with while working as a hairdresser, and loved the close communion with nature, eating the midday meal underneath a tree, learning about country people and the dignity of their labours. And it felt good to be doing a worthwhile job.
    Other experiences in the Land Army which I recall include how I was once butted by a boar which dashed straight at me and knocked me flying; muck-raking, throwing manure from on top of a cart - what a stench; and cleaning out a bullshed with the bull tied up in the corner, all in about three inches of muck, a job for bad weather when work outdoors was impossible. My first job ever was going out at 5am to bring the cows in with a lantern. When threshing, we would often bring back mice who got up our dungarees, and I remember how special teams came to get rid of the rats after threshing was over.

    I also remember a horrible official. We had been for a weekly trip in the lorry to the cinema in town. Before returning we stopped at the chip shop, where I had to queue. I was five minutes late, and horrified to find the lorry had left, and to receive a slap round the face and a reprimand in the dark from the man who had ordered the lorry to return without me. I only had a few shillings on me, so I went to the YWCA hostel, who put me up for the night and gave me the return fare.

    I left the Land Army in due course and retained a deep love of the land and all its many beauties. I have been pleased to hear of the many technical advances in milking, cattle rearing and the whole sphere of farming and market gardening, and of the improved conditions and wages. Land workers are such an important part of the community and my sympathies remain constant with them.

    Trust this was of interest !

    Ron
     
    von Poop and Owen like this.
  15. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Trust this was of interest !
    Certainly was, and very readable too.
    Many thanks to your sister (and you) for sharing that with us!

    Seems your family specialises in churning out interesting personal recollections ;), a great idea to get these things written down.

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    As highlighted to me,
    A large proportion of the Americans, I found, seemed to be illiterate and tended to "run amok" under the strange conditions and new surroundings in which they found themselves.

    Rather funny.

    It occurred to me that men were all the same, whether young or old, country bumpkins or sophisticated townies, and that the best thing to do was keep them at arm's length.
    Did she keep them all at arms length?
     
  17. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Trust this was of interest !


    It was. Thank you.
     
  18. ChrisM

    ChrisM Member

    Anyone who knows of an ex-member of the Women's Land Army or Women's Timber Corps may be interested to hear that there is currently an online petition to the Prime Minister on this subject.

    The appeal is that the recently announced service medal should not be restricted to surviving members of these organisations but should be extended to the many who have passed away.

    If you are interested in seeing it and perhaps adding your name, please go to the 10 Downing Street website. The expiry date is 11th May 2008.

    Chris
     
  19. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

  20. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    While working on the estate, we used to go to the local pub for entertainment - there was nothing much else to do. I learnt to play "shove ha'penny" and befriended a little old crippled man. One evening I was amazed when he tried to put his arms round me. It occurred to me that men were all the same, whether young or old, country bumpkins or sophisticated townies, and that the best thing to do was keep them at arm's length.
    Trust this was of interest !

    Ron

    Excellent stuff Ron, thanks for that. I have my family's old shove ha'penny board, and a ready supply of polished ha'pennys if anyone fancys a game..

    Bod
     

Share This Page