“At the beginning of the war, 70 per cent of our food was imported. By 1943, that figure was reversed, in no small measure due to the Land Army,” says Terry Chairman, senior historian at the Imperial War Museum, whose current Ministry of Food exhibition highlights land girls’ efforts. “There was resentment from farmers about taking their jobs away, but as the war grew darker and France fell, people recognized how vital they were.”
“I was very young and had never been away from home. I was frightened of cows, but had no fear of hard work. The people I met during those four and half years were full of kindness and generosity and I’m still in touch with some of the girls now.
The farmer was a great conservationist and taught us a lot about the land. I got to plant his first ever Pick Your Own field. We were all volunteers and keen to serve our country, but the contribution has been forgotten over the years.”
Peg Francis, 78, Grimsby, Lincolnshire
The following poem by Mr Don Filliston was emailed to us afer he read an article about the work of the Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps – and our campaign – in the November 2012 issue of Saga Magazine.
Women’s Land Army 1915 – 1950.
Established back in World War One,
Then ‘took off’ in World War Two,
When men went off to fight the ‘Hun’,
Our ‘Land Girl’ volunteers grew.
In jodhpurs, jerseys, dungarees,
Became most fit and able.
Stretching high, or down on their knees,
They kept food on Nation’s table.
For six and a half days a week,
They toiled for a shilling an hour;
Cutting kale, cabbage – pulling leek,
Generating farmyard power.
Young girls with old machines endure;
Cows milked, ‘muck out’ the horses.
Harness to carts filled with manure;
Drain ditches, check water courses.
Sheer hard work, sore hands from hoeing.
Hen house cleaned, collect the eggs.
What’s the weather like? – no knowing,
Cold wet coats won’t dry the legs.
Great comradeship amongst them all;
Most fulfilling days of their lives.
They rallied to their Country’s call.
Thank you, those maidens and wives.