A Land Army Life: memories of service in the Women’s Land Army during WW2
talk by Robin Hill
Thursday 28 November 2019
The November 2019 meeting of the Society welcomed back Robin Hill, the former Worcestershire County Museums Officer, in a very engaging presentation entitled “A Land Army Life: memories of service in the Women’s Land Army during WW2”. He chose three members of the Society to read the experiences of some of the members of the Women’s Land Army, to which he then added a commentary. Robin admirably managed to convey the thoughts and experiences of the ladies, many aged seventeen or younger, who had volunteered to help the war effort by leaving their homes and travelling to a different part of the Country to live and work on a farm.
The origin of the Women’s Land Army could be traced back to WW l when women had first replaced the men called up from the farms and even before WW2 started – in June 1939 – 4,500 women had been recruited, a figure which had risen by 1943 to 87,000, such was the usefulness of the scheme. Application to the ranks required an interview and a medical before training could begin, with those with experience of farming being favoured.
For 22s 6d a week, minus a living-in charge of 12s 6d (Christmas Day and Easter Sunday paid holidays) the Land Army girls were expected to maintain and drive a tractor if available or look after a horse if not, milk cows and carry out all of the jobs required of them on the farm. They wore a uniform of dungarees (some of the first women to wear trousers), a jumper, a hat with a badge, a great-coat and “gumboots” (wellingtons). They lived either on the farms or in hostels.
The scheme was not wound-up until 1950, and the majority of the stories from former Women’s Land Army members suggested that the experience was probably the highlight of their lives, looked back on with fond memories.