VE Day was an emotional time for many Land Girls, as on 8th May 1945, Victory of Europe was declared. An end to the war didn't necessarily mean and end to their war work, as the Women's Land Army officially disbanded in 1950 - there were delays in the demo implication of soldiers along with the return of Prisoners of War to their respective countries. Nevertheless, Land Girls cherished this day, like so many other people, for many years to come. A sense of coming to the end was growing, as farms were being sold and girls were forced to find other areas to work. Grimwood remembers a poignant moment where a message came on at the end of a film to thank the local Land Girls for their work. At the end of their service, Land Girls got the following:-
Their last weeks’ pay
A letter from the Queen thanking them for their efforts
In some extreme circumstances, money from the Land Army Benevolent Fund
Greatcoats – only if they were dyed blue
And in return for the rest of their uniform – a humiliating 20 clothing coupons
Despite wearing uniforms and being treated like the armed forces, as Grimwood puts it, the Land Army did not receive the benefits of the other Women’s Services. This was the reason for Lady Denman’s resignation in November 1944, because she felt the girls were being unfairly treated for all the work they had put in. Due to her persistence, Queen Elizabeth became patron of the Land Army and many Land Girls were invited to her palace on various occasions in thanks of their work. (Twinch, 1990) This honour was particularly highlighted on 3 July 1943, where the Queen, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret held a surprise party for the girls.
When the Women’s Land Army was disbanded in 1950, a parade was arranged in front of the Queen on 21st October 1950, where the Times reported ‘They had obeyed the call of duty in the nation’s hour of great peril and need, and the nation owed them an everlasting debt.’
A Women’s Land Army Benevolent Fund was set up under the War Charities Act of 1942, and according to Twinch, pp. 132, its ‘original function was to help volunteers who met with illness or accident, and who were not covered by other forms of help, and to assist with grants or loans for those women intending to remain on the land after the war ended.’
Eventually in 2000, the Women’s Land Army were finally incited to march past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day – in honour of the work which they did over 50 years ago for their country.
After much campaigning, it was announced in December 2007, the surviving Land Girls would receive a special award bade. Click here to find out more. (Bold)
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