Evelyn Waight (née Warren)
First Name(s): Mona Evelyn (She was known as Evelyn)
Unmarried Surname: Warren
Married Surname: Waight (married in 1952)
Date of Birth: 17 December 1923
Place of Birth: Aldershot Hampshire
Date joined WLA: Soon after the WLA started recruiting.
Previous occupation: School student
Reasons for joining:
Twin sister (lris) was enthusiastic about “doing her bit” so I think this persuaded Mum to join as well. Mum’s birth mother had died when she was 7 and her father, apparently, was a domineering personality and, I think, both Mum and her sister (lris) wanted to get away from that environment (they were 16 at the time).
Family’s reaction to joining: Mum’s father was, apparently, against her and her sister (lris) leaving home and had told her that, if they joined the WLA, they need not bother ever coming back. I gather there was a reconciliation sometime later.
Reactions of local people: lnitial hostility due to them being young town girls knowing nothing about the habits and norms of, very conservative, country people. Deep disapproval when the WLA girls socialised with soldiers and later, the Americans. Accusations of “being no better than they ought”and being “trollops”. Slowly gaining acceptance and a grudging respect of the valuable work they were doing.
Treatment by farmers: As per the local people’s reactions, initial hostility and suspicion, especially as the Land Girls were mostly young from a city and the remaining male farm workers were mostly older and set in their ways. Later on there came an acceptance of the value of the work they were doing, and the WLA girls were given more responsible jobs, like driving the tractor. There was, apparently one male farm worker who was “creepy” and when mum and her friends discovered him hiding in a tree and spying on them, they set fire to the underbrush and when he fled from the tree they grabbed him and “debagged” him.
Reasons for leaving: Acute appendicitis and emergency operation / convalescence meant that she was judged to be no longer fit for hard manual work and she was invalided out.
Farm Name, village and county: Essex
Type of work undertaken: All types of farm manual labour. Mum spoke about digging, hoeing, planting and harvesting crops, loading the wheat thresher, feeding chickens and collecting eggs. She also mentioned dealing with cattle of different breeds, milking the cows and driving the tractor.
Work liked most and least: Driving the tractor was (l think) her favourite, once she could get the temperamental machine to start. She hated anything that involved bending, possibly due to back problems. She also disliked handling the Red Poll cattle as they “pushed her about”
Any accidents: Mum always blamed her lifelong back problems on her time in the Land Army. She also developed acute appendicitis whilst she was in the WLA, although this was probably not directly due to the work, and she was invalided out after her emergency operation.
Best and worst memories of time: Best memories were a feeling of having done something worthwhile towards the war effort, and good times / laughs with her twin sister (lris) and the other Land Girls they worked with. Worst memories (I think ) were her father’s hostility when she left home, and having to leave the WLA and her twin sister (lris) behind when she was invalided out.
Life after the war
Did they return back to their pre-war occupation? No (Mum was 15 at the outbreak of the Second World War so would have been at school )
What was their occupation after the war? Civil Servant (Board Of Trade)
Did they stay on the land? No
How did work in the WLA / WTC effect their life? Mum contracted Appendicitis during her work and was invalided out of the WLA after her emergency operation. She also blamed her later chronic back troubles on the hard physical work in the WLA.
Keith Waight, son.