Hilda Gibson wrote this before 6 December 2007 when the Labour Government announced that the wartime efforts of the Women’s Land Army and the Women’s Timber Corps would be recognised with the presentation of a special badge commemorating their service that can be worn on Remembrance Sundays and at other ceremonies. After the announcement, Hilda said, “To receive an award honouring the wartime work of the Women’s Land Army is a powerful and touching recognition….To serve one’s country in its greatest hour of need, in whatever capacity, for me, remains memorable.”
Oh to be a Land Girl back in you know when;
The cows inside the cowshed and the pigs within the pen;
Bad tempered roosters crowing, hens laying germ-free eggs;
Pecks and scratches here and there, and flea bites on our legs.
Timber corps is busy; sawing – felling trees.
Seems more like a labour facing Hercules.
Farewell to the rodents demolishing our crops,
Goodbye to things that creep or run and everything that hops.
Oh mother, send me calamine: my face is pink and peeling.
Hot sun pierces through my Aertex shirt; strange patterns now revealing.
Rising early morning animals to feed.
Long hard days of threshing; harvesting the seed.
Oh mother, send me mittens for the frost is on the beet.
My hands are numb and raw with cold: I’ve chilblains on my feet.
No drilling, no saluting, never the rank and file.
Not so much clothed in glory as dressed in country style.
We bring no glowing accolades. For us no cheers will start.
Ours is a gift worth more than gold: a proud and steadfast heart.
Hilda Kaye Gibson
Source: BBC Radio 4 website
Courtesy of Stuart Antrobus