Constance Lillian Ada Mead (née Hale)
First Name(s): Constance Lillian Ada
Unmarried Surname: Hale
Married Surname: Mead
Date of Birth: 15/9/1924
Place of Birth: Nunhead, Peckham, South London
Date joined WLA: 30/5/1942
Date left: 5/1/1946
WLA Number: 74691
Previous occupation: Connie left school at 14 and worked as a dispatch clerk in the City of London until the premises were bombed in the blitz. She was then required to do war work in a factory making parachutes for flares.
Reasons for joining: Connie wanted to get away from the factory. She was only 17 and her older girl friends had already joined the WRAF. Being underage, her father would not let her join the WRAF, so she joined the Women’s Land Army.
Family’s reaction to joining: Her father didn’t want her to leave home. She didn’t need his signature to join the WLA, so she ran away from home. He told her to never come back home if she left. But everyone went home from the hostel at the weekend, so rang to ask if she could go home for the weekend and was welcomed home.
Reasons for leaving: Connie was engaged to be married and had no savings to buy her wedding outfit. So she went to work at a local factory making toothbrushes and combs to earn a little money.
Worked for Essex County War Agricultural Committee from 30 May 1942 to June 1943. Lived in Nazeing Hostel, North Street, Nazeing. Working in a gang hedging, ditching, hoeing and picking tomatoes.
Worked for Sir Fowell Buxton on Woodredon Farm, near The Wake Arms, in Epping from late 1943 to January 1946. Farm manager Mr Trew. Connie lived at home with her parents in Woodford Green, cycling 7 miles from Hale End Rd to the farm. She worked with Shire Horses on the land and also hedging, ditching and getting the harvest in.
In between posts, she worked for a short time in Thaxted.
Any other Lands Girls worked with:
At Nazeing Hostel Connie remembered the following girls:
- Joan C Broughton from Dagenham who continued to work on farms in Nazeing after the war, married Dessie Crow in 1966 then moved back to Dagenham.
- Phyllis Charman from Romford, who married the gang master Frank Fitch and they most of their lives in the village.
- Also Amy May Knibbs, Eileen Jaycock, Pamela Pollard and Edith Williams all worked with Connie at the hostel in Nazeing.
At Woodredon Farm Connie worked with:
- Sheila Brook who married Vic Trew the farm manager’s son. She became a farmer’s wife at Little Barrington Hall Farm, near Hatfield Forest, Essex.
- Diana Thake, neé Pethurst, who returned to being a hairdresser in nearby Loughton. Section
Type of work undertaken: Mainly hedging and ditching to help get the common land changed from grassland ready to plant crops. Hoeing and picking tomatoes in the greenhouses.
Worked liked most and least: She didn’t like being in hot greenhouses in the summer. Especially after working outside in the freezing weather all winter.
How did work in the WLA impact their life? Connie met her future husband at a hostel social and stayed in Nazeing for the rest of her life. He was in the village Home Guard.
Best memories: Connie stayed friends for life with some of the girls she worked with at both locations. She really enjoyed working with the heavy horses.
Opportunities to meet other Land Girls: Other than those in the Nazeing Hostel, Connie didn’t meet other land girls who lived in lodgings or farms in the village.They had little free time so didn’t get to know them unless they worked with them.
Treatment by farmers or market gardeners: Friendly, looked after well. Local farmers were frustrated with the lack of training given to the girls but were generally supporting of their efforts.
Any other comments on time in the WLA: Connie grew up in the London Docklands and the WLA introduced her to the countryside, which she stayed in love with for the rest of her life. She grew fruit and vegetables for her family and was integrated into village life.
Life after the war
Connie worked in a factory to earn some money for her wedding in August 1946. She was then a full-time wife and mother.
Name: Jacky Cooper, daughter.