Isobel Mount, member of the Scottish WLA, drew this special design for the final edition of The Land Girl magazine, published in March 1947. This was the end of an era for the publication, with the editor noting how the magazine originated from the time when ‘the Land Army had just begun to show a rather sceptical world what it could do’. During the seven years of its publication, The Land Girl included many drawings from Land Girls, showing ‘there was no reason whatever why cows and culture should not go together’. This design was one of the only drawings which did not explicitly include a reference to agriculture, instead enshrining the closing of the book, as a woman puts down her quill for the last time. It is thus a very classical representation of a form of women’s writing, even though it brought women together into a community which was far from classical in the way it challenged the conventional gender roles assigned to women. From June 1947, The Land Army News, published information on the WLA until 1950, when the government officially disbanded the civilian organisation.
Mona K McLeod was just 17 years old when she joined the Women’s Land Army. In this interview for the BBC, Mona discusses how the war diverted her from applying to study at Cambridge to undertake valuable work as a Land Girl on farms in Scotland.
For more interviews with Mona, please see the following articles:
The ladies in the picture are:
- Lena Killpatrick (my mother from Glasgow)
- Nan Thompson
- Elgin Joan Bissit (Glasgow)
- Mary Cullen (Glasgow)
- Getta M’canns (up north)
- Jean Sanderson (Edinburgh)
- Irene (Glasgow) Jackie (Aberdeen)
- Betty Cullen (Glasgow)
- Rena M’Neal Tollcross (Glasgow)
- Miss Munro the Matron Molly Lawrence (Glasgow)
- Celia Fulton (Glasgow)
The address where they stayed in the Land Army was Rosskean Hostel, Invergordon Ross-shire.
My mother was in the land army from 1946 till 1948
Bicycles, which were often used as transport from the girls’ accommodation to the farms were vital, once they got to know their way around the country lanes. Having your own (or a WLA bicycle) gave you freedom of movement in a country area. There were no road signs, so as to not aid the enemy in attack. Dimmed bicycle lamps at night also made it extremely difficult for the girls to find their way around.
“Another time I was biking home for lunch when the cows were being taken for milking. Behind them were some troops from Grange Camp. Not wanting them to see a Land Army girl frightened of cows I rode through them when a tail flicked out and hit me in the face, knocking me off the bike. There I sat, my bike on top of me, a dirty face and the troops laughing.
Mrs. K.A. Scott. [Maiden name unknown]
Source: ‘Bedford on Sunday’ newspaper, 24 April 1977, p5. Courtesy of Stuart Antrobus
From left to right, top to bottom:
- Unknown land girl at a north Bedfordhsire hostel. Note the makeshift straw-bale garage for the hostel lorry which took land girls out to farms each day. Source: Stuart Antrobus.
- Black and white copy negative of Jean Johnstone, a member of the Women’s Timber Corps, posing with her bicycle beside Loch Eddy, Peeblesshire, c. 1941 – 1946. Source: National Museums Scotland
- Unknown Land Girl by her bike. Source: Caro-jon-son (Flickr)
- Joan Birchall and her WLA colleagues arriving or leaving Hope House, Ipswich. Source: Kara Lynn
For more on the history of cycling, please click here to visit Sheila Hanlon’s excellent website.
I joined the Women’s Land Army. Our jobs were to work on the farms. The Women’s Land Army, I thought was so glamorous to join — and then I never worked so hard in my life!