Post-WW2

 
A group of Bedfordshire land girls who joined the crowds celebrating the VE Day radio announcement at 3pm in St Paul's Square, Bedford, 8 May 1945. 'Victory in Europe [VE] Day' marked the end of the Second World War in Europe. The Allies continued fighting in Japan in the Far East until VJ Day [Victory over Japan] on 15 August 1945. Source: Bedfordshire Times. Courtesy of Stuart

A group of Bedfordshire land girls who joined the crowds celebrating the VE Day radio announcement at 3pm in St Paul’s Square, Bedford, 8 May 1945.
Source: Bedfordshire Times.
Courtesy of Stuart Antrobus

VE Day

VE Day was an emotional time for many Land Girls, as on 8th May 1945, Victory in Europe was declared. An end to the war didn’t necessarily mean and end to their war work. The Women’s Land Army wasn’t officially disbanded until November 1950 because there were delays in the demobilisation 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 the cinema screen at the end of a film to thank the local Land Girls for their work.

What did Land Girls at receive at the end of their service?

  • 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
  • Armbands
  • And in return for the rest of their uniform – 20 clothing coupons

The Cinderella Army

Despite wearing uniforms and being recruited rather like the armed forces, the WLA did not receive the benefits of the other women’s services. This was the reason behind Lady Denman’s resignation on 17th February 1945, as she felt Land Girls were being unfairly treated for all the work they had put in. Queen Elizabeth (consort to King George VI) became patron of the Land Army in July 1941 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.