Cherish

Dec 012018
 

To end the year, we start not with a drawing on the front page of The Land Girl, but quite unusually – a photograph!

 

The front page photo of the December 1942 edition showed Lady Roosevelt amongst a sea of smiling Land Girls during her visit to Britain in November. The Land Girl opened it’s issue with the following reflection on the importance of co-operation between countries:

Mrs Roosevelt’s visit to this country was important not only immediately but because of its wider significance. […] The difficult lesson we have got to learn is that of our mutual dependence on one another – if we can’t sink our national pride and learn to get together we shall surely vanish from the face of the earth, fighting one another to the last gasp.

The Land Girl reported on the visit as ‘another link of friendship’ between Britain and America. Lady Roosevelt took a trip to see women threshing, thatching, silage making, and milking in Warwickshire. She was driven majestically through from Marston Hostel through to Oldberrow House Hostel in Henley-in-Arden.

Lady Roosevelt with Land Girls p.6

After a rather difficult journey for the tractor driver, Land Girl Margaret Browett, Lady Roosevelt then watched Land Girls ploughing with an American caterpillar tractor – the ‘special relationship’ in action. The Women’s Land Army then treated Lady Roosevelt to coffee and cakes, where she signed many an autograph book. She also received an album of photographs, ‘bound in deerskin, with the L.A. badge on the cover’.

This coverage of Lady Roosevelt’s visit was made complete, when The Land Girl published a telegram sent to Lady Denman:

The Exhibition which the Land Army arranged for me of its work at Oldberrow, was one of the most interesting features of my visit to Great Britain and I should be grateful if you would thank all those concerned and convey my congratulations and good wishes to all the members of the Land Army.

And did The Land Girl ever publish a Christmas design?

The front page drawing from the December 1944 edition of The Land Girl.

The front page drawing from the December 1944 edition of The Land Girl.

2 years later, The Land Girl published a jolly image drawn by Isobel Mount in Scotland. Those with a good memory might recall that Mount was also the artist behind the final design of The Land Girl, published in March 1947. She was also the author of the regular series Miss Baxter and I.


This is the last of the my posts which look at the front page of The Land Girl. To take a look back at the year of posts, click here. Keep tuned for a new way to mark every month in 2019.

Nov 112018
 

We were summoned from the city, from the cottage and the hall,
From the hillside and the valley, and we answered to the call.
For we’re fighting for our country as we till her fertile soil
And our King and Country need our help and ask for earnest toil.

Keep the home crops growing,
In the soft winds blowing
Though your work seems hard at times ’tis not in vain.
Golden cornfields waving,
Mean your country’s saving,
Golden sheaves at Harvest Time will the victory gain.

In the farmyard and the forest we are bravely doing our bit,
Some are milking cows for England, some the giant oak trees split.
We are working for our country, and we’re glad to have the chance,
By increasing England’s food supply, to help our lads in France.

Keep the home flag flying,
England’s food supplying,
Help to bring our gallant lads victorious home.
Though the Germans raid us,
English women aid us,
Keep our food stores fortified till the boys come home.

By K.M.E. Gotelee, published in The Landswoman, March 1918, p.56.
Written to the tune of ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.
This poem was selected as third prize for The Land Army songs competition run by The Landswoman.

The march of the Land Girls in the Lord Mayor's Show. A company of members of the WLA, in white smocks, with a wagon containing weather-browned and smiling women workers, formed a picturesque feature of the show. Source: Catherine Procter Collection

“The march of the Land Girls in the Lord Mayor’s Show. A company of members of the WLA, in white smocks, with a wagon containing weather-browned and smiling women workers, formed a picturesque feature of the show.”
Source: Catherine Procter Collection

Nov 072018
 

Emmerdale 1918 WW1 WLA Episode

Head over to the ITV Hub to watch the fourth episode of Emmerdale 1918. Natalie J Robb, who plays farmer Moira Dingle, traces the story of remarkable Yorkshire city girl who led the way in the First World War Women’s Land Army as the first female farrier. Emmerdale 1918 reveals the untold stories of real Yorkshire men and women during the Great War.

 

Nov 062018
 
God Speed the Plough and the Woman Who Drives It. Land Girl, full-length figure, in uniform and hat, guiding a horse-drawn plough to right. Source: Art.IWM PST 5996, 1917

God Speed the Plough and the Woman Who Drives It. Land Girl, full-length figure, in uniform and hat, guiding a horse-drawn plough to right.
Source: Art.IWM PST 5996, 1917

The ‘Norfolk in the First World War – Somme to Armistice’ exhibition runs at The Forum, Norwich, from Thursday 1 to Tuesday 13 November.  On Saturday 10th at 3.15 there is a talk about Women on the Land, entitled “The men must take the swords, and we must take the ploughs”, which will cover the many ways in which women proved their competence and commitment in working the land and feeding the nation during the war years and how they fared after Armistice when the men returned to ‘take the ploughs’ again.

For the full programme visit www.theforumnorwich.co.uk/w1. 

Nov 012018
 

This month’s front cover of The Land Girl was drawn by J.M.Thomas. The November 1946 edition of The Land Girl shows a member of the Women’s Land Army laying a hedge. Laying a hedge was not an easy job. Hedgelaying is the process of:

  • bending and partially cutting (pleaching) through the stems of a line of shrubs or small trees near ground level
  • arching the stems without breaking them, so they can grow horizontally and be intertwined and contain livestock in fields.

The Land Girl November 1946

Women needed to make the upright stems of the trees smaller. The line drawing shows a woman trying to cut away the wood on one side of the stem, so it is kept in line with the hedge overall. The illustration captures this younger recruit in the moment – the drama of lifting the axe ready to fell. The drawing showcases, quite dramatically, the hard, physical labour and skill expected of recruits when carrying out this task.

Oct 302018
 

Joy Smith (30.10.1923) became a Lumber Jill in February 1943. Joy joined the Women’s Timber Corps and began her training at Culford Camp. She then worked in Wooton-u-Edge in Gloucestershire. Joy’s son-in-law Robin Daly has scanned in Joy’s wonderful selection of photos of her time as Lumber Jill. Not only this, but Robin has recorded an interview with Joy, where she talks about her collection of items as well as experiences in the forests of Britain and at her billet. Thank you to Joy and Robin for taking the time to share Joy’s experiences for readers of this website. I will let Joy’s photographs and Joy herself do the talking…

Joy in her Women's Timber Corps uniform.

Joy Smith in her Women’s Timber Corps uniform.

Joining the Women’s Timber Corps and her familys’ reaction


Training at Culford Camp and an interesting surprise in her shredded wheat…


And a souvenir from training…

Joy's signed tree bark from her WTC training

Joy’s signed tree bark from her WTC training

Joy's signed tree bark from her WTC training


Joy discussing her first placement


Joy Smith with items of her WTC uniform.

Joy Smith with items of her WTC uniform.

Joy talking about her WTC uniform

N.B Each diamond represented half a year’s service.


A selection of items from Joy's time in the Women's Timber Corps.

A selection of items from Joy’s time in the Women’s Timber Corps.

 

Hilda Webb

Hilda Webb from Aberdeen.

 

Women working in woods at Wootton-u-Edge.

Women and men working in woods at Wootton-u-Edge.


Meeting fellow Lumber Jill Spenney

Spenney, Potter's Bar, Easter, 1944.

Spenney, Potter’s Bar, Easter, 1944.

 

Spenny and two other women.

Spenny and two other women.

 

Using the cross-cut saw. Spenny and another woman.

Using the cross-cut saw. Spenny and another woman.

 

Spenny felling a tree.

Spenny felling a tree.

 

Using the cross-cut saw. Spenny and another woman.

Using the cross-cut saw. Spenny and another woman.


Working in the forests

Delivering pit props in Forest of Dean. Hilda Webb on lorry, Tom, & Joy.

 

A Lumber Jill felling a tree.

A Lumber Jill felling a tree.

 

Women and men working in the forests.

Women and men working in the forests.


Gloucester March Past

March Past in Glouchester. 3rd from left, Hilda and Joy behind.

March Past in Gloucester. 3rd from left, Hilda and Joy behind.

 


"Yankee Tmber Corps Wedding", at Wutton Church, July 1943.

“Yankee Tmber Corps Wedding”, at Wutton Church, July 1943.


At Joyce’s Billet

Views from Coombe Road, Women working in woods at Wootton-u-Edge, 1943.

Views from Coombe Road, Women working in woods at Wootton-u-Edge, 1943.

 

View from front of bedroom window at Views from Coombe Road, Women working in woods at Wootton-on-Edge, 1943.

View from front of bedroom window at Views from Coombe Road.

 

Joy’s mother, Hilda, Marjorie, and Joy outside “The Homestead”, 1943.

 

Joy's father, Hilda, Marjorie, and Joy's mother outside "The Homestead", London, 1943.

Joy’s father, Hilda, Marjorie, and Joy’s mother outside “The Homestead”, London, 1943.

 

Mrs Ashton, Mrs Cullimore, Mr Cullimore, and June outside "The Ark" at Wootton-u-Edge, 1943.

Mrs Ashton, Mrs Cullimore, Mr Cullimore, and June outside “The Ark” at Wootton-u-Edge, 1943.

 

Hilda in the garden of "The Ark".

Hilda in the garden of “The Ark”.

 

Joy Smith in the garden of "The Ark".

Joy Smith in the garden of “The Ark”.

 

Hilda and June in the garden, at Wootton-u-Edge, 1943.

Hilda and June in the garden, at Wootton-u-Edge, 1943.

 

June, aged 3 in the garden in Wootton-u-Edge, 1943.

June, aged 3 in the garden in Wootton-u-Edge, 1943.


Haley’s Mill, Cirencester

Timber yard at Haley's Mill, Cirencester.

Timber yard at Haley’s Mill, Cirencester.

 

Timber yard and part of sawmill at Haley's Mill, Cirencester. Max in cap in front of lorry.

Timber yard and part of sawmill at Haley’s Mill, Cirencester. Max in cap in front of lorry.

 

Timber yard at Cirencester

Timber yard at Cirencester

 

Another shot of the timber yard at Haley's Mill, Cirencester.

Another shot of the timber yard at Haley’s Mill, Cirencester.


And…VE Day

Oct 232018
 

A Dot on The Landscape Book Advert Poster

Set in the Midlands during WW2 a young Birmingham girl is enlisted into the Women’s Land Army by her mother, who fears for her safety knowing that the city will be targeted by German bombers. Dorothy the heroine, would have been diagnosed as dyslexic today, but back then such souls were considered ‘dim’ or ‘vague’ and it was such prejudice that may have prevented her fulfilling her ambition of joining the armed forces. Her first assignment on a farm in Warwickshire, she joins an eclectic group of women from diverse backgrounds. Her mother had planned that being part of a disparate and well-educated team, her self-confidence would grow. It did, but not without exposure to perceived sexual abuse, fifth-columnist intrigue and the discovery of a long-lost relative.

To buy the book, click here or on the image.

Oct 092018
 

In May 1946, Iris Dixon joined the Women’s Land Army. Owing to a poisoned arm, she stayed in the WLA for just 5 months. However in this time, she experienced the joys of wearing a uniform for the first time, close friendships, and lots of hard work. Ruth Wood, recorded the memories of her late [ex] mother-in- law and has shared them with us below. Take a read and follow Iris’ whirlwind 5 months working on the land.

Be In The Winning Team Leaflet

Arriving as a new Land Girl

As the train drew into the station, a big steamer, taking me to what and who knows the adventures yet to come. In my new uniform of the Land Army with the baggie trousers and a big coat, smartly cream shirt and a nice green pullover. Having been told to look for girls dressed the same, found myself smiling at little Gladys, who was to become a true friend, we was to be constantly [at] one another’s side. The journey didn’t seem to take all that long to Suffolk but found myself in a big manor house at Sutton Hoo [famous for the find of Viking treasures]. The rooms of the house were set up with bunk beds with ten girls in our bedroom. I made friends with Joyce and Gladys and a little cockney girl called Pat. [There was also a room] for the boys. The other girls were from Newcastle and Sunderland and I was not used to the accents. How friendly I got with Gladys I’m not sure, but she had no parents and just one brother living in the East End of London.

We had two sort of Matrons that would look after us and it was one of these who sent me home with the poisoned arm.

Land Girls with potatoes

Land Girl re-enactors holding a sack of potatoes.

The fastest potato pickers…

We had some great times together, and we were the fastest working potato pickers, often going to farms on request to help the farmers. By this time, she [Gladys] had met her Wally. He was really in love with her and always asking to marry her but asked my advice as he had a weak heart but happy to say that they did marry and before we lost touch had a little girl called Glynis. I should have gone to the wedding but had come away from Woodbridge, and never ever got to go.

Some of the times on the field were really good, we would wait for the old coach to come to collect us.  The seats were taken out so we would have to sit on the floor.  All the time we were travelling we would sing all the army songs we had picked up and most of the old music hall ones.  We were dressed in brown coloured bib front overalls, wellies turned down and a blouse with a turban scarf or gypsy scarf as it was a hot summer and was to protect from the sunshine.

Fordson Tractor At Gressenhall Museum

Jobs on the farm…

We would hoe sugar beet, it taking three rows for cutting out, and about thirty of us would do the fields.  When your row was finished you would go behind the other girl.  Other jobs we did were stoking, which meant getting the hay when it came off the thresher. Four girls would stand the [stacks] up and would return another day to turn them round.

Potato picking would be working behind a tractor as they turn the potatoes up. You would work in a gang to gather them and put them in buckets then fill the sack.  The hardest job I found was pitching with a pitch fork when picking beans.

We would put all our lunch boxes together then discover that they were running alive with ants so we all had a good meal of fresh potatos and carrots.  We had a good meal when we got back to the hostel ie the Manor House where we relaxed in the big hall and played games. The RAF men would come in and play table tennis and cards.

We also worked with German and Italian prisoners of war. The Germans were haughty and would look down at you.  They [prisoners of war] had a big moon shaped patch on the back of their clothes.

All round the hall were the oak panels and the fire place was so big that you could sit inside. There was a huge marble like one with the fire in a basket [small grate]. A lot of people had carved their names on the fire place.

Our bedroom had a lovely bay window [with a window box] over-looking the grounds.

“You can come out of that lot as quick as you like”…

I didn’t really fit in with this work. I had a poisoned arm and it was so bad that I had to go home on sick leave with my arm in a sling. You can just imagine what my mum said, and dad said “you can come out of that lot as quick as you like”. I had no resistance to not agree. By this time it was nearly Autumn that I came home again.  I never lost touch with Gladys for a long time and would write very regular. She would sign herself ‘your little sister’ as we had grown fond of one another. She came to show me her baby while I was still working and not long married.  I often wondered if she had any more babies. [Glynis] would be nearly forty now.*

Ruth Wood, written in the 1980s.