65 years ago
65 years ago the Women’s Land Army, a civilian agricultural work force set up in June 1939 to increasingly replace male farm workers who were called to fight in the war, was disbanded. At its peak in 1944 it had around 80,000 members at any one time but by its end, as it was wound down, it had only 8,000 members. In the eleven years of its existence over 203,000 young women served as ‘land girls’ on farms and market gardens (and 6,000 lumber jills in forests) in England and Wales (and a further 8,000 in Scotland).
It was only in 2008 that those who were still alive were finally awarded with a Veterans Badge to mark the country’s gratitude for helping keep the nation fed during those difficult years of war and post-war rationing.
The final national acknowledgement of their important role in the Second World War was the unveiling of a memorial to the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on 21 October 2014.
10 Year Service Badge
The WLA’s enamelled metal 10-years Service Badge was issued to only a very small minority who had joined as volunteers in 1939/40, the first year from the outbreak of the WWII, but stayed on after the end of the war in 1945 and only finally left in 1950 when the organisation was disbanded. The reverse of the badge bears the maker’s details: J.R. Gaunt London.
Liz Day: 10 years in the Women’s Land Army
Liz Day was one of those land girls who served for ten years in the WLA, only leaving when it was disbanded. For more information on Liz’s time in the Women’s Land Army, go to her record page on the Roll Call of Bedfordshire Land Girls.
The Land Army News
To find out more on the end of the Women’s Land Army, click here.