April Snapshot in 5: Hertfordshire
April’s post features the work of the WLA in Hertfordshire, a county which employed over 2,000 Land Girls from 1939 to 1950. If you were a Land Girl who worked in the county, or know one who was, then drop me an e-mail.
1. Land Girls digging ditches in Hertfordshire, 1942.
This photograph was distributed by the New York Bureau on 3rd April 1942. The caption reads: ‘Land Girls in England are doing work which the Ministry of Agriculture at one time thought was beyond the power of a woman. They plough, dig ditches and operate big motor excavators to carry out the drive for increased food production throughout Britain. Here “Land Girls” in Hertfordshire are shown as they dig ditches for land drainage source prior to ploughing the fields.’ Photographs of Land Girls at work reached international audiences, inspiring wartime patriotism.
Source: Catherine Procter Collection
2. Hertfordshire Land Girl holding a calf, 1944.
This is Vivian Kipling (29763) holding a calf in her arms. This full-page photograph was published in The Land Girl in September 1944. Vivian was afforded this honour as she was the sole person in charge of the School for Dairy Workers at lower Woodside, Hertfordshire. Taken over by the Hertfordshire War Agricultural Committee, Lower Woodside became a training school for diary workers. The school could take 33 recruits; 11 for diary farming and 22 for general form work. According to The Land Girl, Vivian was responsible for ‘training milking, dairying, service, calving and calf-rearing’.
Source: The Land Girl, September 1944, p.6
3. A report on a gathering on Second World War Land Girls with their First World War counterparts, 1941.
This write-up in The Land Girl magazine features Second World War Land Girls meeting their counterparts from the First World War. Swapping photographs and memories, women came together to learn about the different challenges they faced as they worked the land during the two world wars. The comments on the differences in deportment are revealing; illustrating the new relative freedoms which Second World War Land Girls were afforded in being allowed to wear their uniform outside of working hours.
Source: The Land Girl, October 1941.
4. Women eating their lunch in Hexton Woods, 1941.
This photograph shows women enjoying their lunch in the woods in Hexton. This mobile canteen brought women food while they were out in the woods. In 1941, Land Girls carried out forestry work as the government had to yet to set up the Women’s Timber Corps. Gladys, the lady tucking into her sandwich in the foreground, joined the WLA when she was just 18, moving from Liverpool to rural Hertfordshire. Gladys kept in touch with Eileen (the woman to her right) for much of her life, showing how lifelong friendships formed in the forests. Notice how the canteen brought women tea, served in a teapot, and balanced on a trunk. You can see more photos from Gladys’collection here.
Source: Colin West, Gladys’ son
5. Kit Lynch’s yellow armband
Londoner Kit Lynch moved to Hertfordshire to work for Pollards Nursery in Cheshunt. This yellow armband indicates that she was in the WLA for seven and a half years. She put her horticultural skills to good use after the war, as she went on to work in the nurseries for Lambeth Parks Department. In total, Kit served eleven and a half years in the WLA. You can see her impressive ten years good service certificate here.
Source: Collection Number, 2003.023.4, The Garden Museum
Further information on the WLA in Hertfordshire
Land Girls employed in Hertfordshire from April 1940 to 1947, calculated from the returns published in The Land Girl magazine. In April 1940, Hertfordshire employed just 65 Land Girls. By September 1943, 2390 Land Girls worked in the county.
Chairman: Mrs E. Martin Smith, Lane House, Kings Walden, Hitchin
Secretary: Miss C Beck, Women’s Land Army, County Hall, Hertford
Find out more
Visit Herts Memories to find out more about the WLA in the county. Includes photographs, extracts from The Land Girl, and memoirs.
Interested in seeing more material relating to the WLA in Hertfordshire? Click here.
Did you or a member of family work in Hertfordshire as a Land Girl? If so, then get in touch.