January WLA Snapshot in 5: Buckinghamshire
To mark the start of every month in 2020, Stuart Antrobus and I will be sharing 5 carefully selected sources to tell the story of the Women’s Land Army in a county. We want to use this county-focus to encourage you to share your own, or your family member’s, memories of working in the WLA or WTC.
January’s post focuses on the WLA in Buckinghamshire, which employed nearly 2,000 Land Girls. Alongside the 5 sources below, we’ll also be publishing various posts on what it was like to work on the land in Buckinghamshire during the Second World War. If you were a Land Girl who worked in Buckinghamshire, or know one who was, then drop me an e-mail.
1. An advertisement for a WLA rally & demonstration, 28th May 1943
From hedge-cutting to sheep-sharing, this advertisement for a rally in 1943 allowed women to showcase the range of work they carried out on the land. As you can see, this event was designed to bring the community together, with dancing, music, and pony rides. The event was given the official seal of approval as the Minister of Food, Rt Hon Lord Woolton, attended along with his wife, who presented certificates to Land Girls. Note the final paragraph which shows how farmers were given special dispensation to travel to this event by car, even though petrol was in short supply.
2. Land Girl line drawings by a Land Girl, c.1940.
These line drawings show 5 Land Girls happily walking to or from work, as they hold a bucket, a pitchfork, and other farm tools. This drawing was originally a frontispiece of a commemorative handwritten album dedicated to Miss F.M. Ramage, who was Buckinghamshire County Secretary from March 1940 to November 1950.
Source: Buckinghamshire Archives, BRO D/X976.
3. A Buckinghamshire Land Girl’s 11th half diamond, 1948
A letter sent on 29th June 1948 from Miss Ramage enclosing Madeline Thornewill’s 11th half diamond, which you can see in the top-left hand corner. A shop assistant, Madeline joined the WLA in 1942. She was 20 years old and lived in Newhall, near Burton-on-Trent. You can find out more about Madeline’s time in the WLA here.
4. Stooking sheaves of corn at harvest time, 1944
Land Girls look joyful as they stook sheaves of corn at harvest time in Buckinghamshire in the summer of 1944. Stooking involved leaving the corn out to dry before storing in hay ricks.
Source: Daily Mail Archives. See another photo from the same collection here.
5. Christmas Card, 1946
An amusing Christmas card designed in December 1946 by Marion Rivers-Moore, showing a Land Girl about to kiss a cow under the mistletoe. In the process, she accidentally pours her bucket of milk, which is pounced on by the cat.
Source: Buckinghamshire Archives D/X 976.
Further information on the WLA in Buckinghamshire
Land Girls employed in Buckinghamshire from April 1940 to 1947, calculated from the returns published in The Land Girl magazine. In April 1940, Buckinghamshire employed just 67 Land Girls. By October 1943, 1960 Land Girls worked in the county.
Chairman: Lady Hermione Cobbold, Studdridge Farm, Stokenchurch, High Wycombe
Secretary: Miss M J Parry, 6 St Mary’s Street, High Wycombe & later Miss F.M.Ramage
Doreen Strange, A Land Girl’s Diary: Burnham 1948 (Maidenhead: Burnham Historians, 1999).
Find out more
Interested in seeing more material relating to the WLA in Buckinghamshire? Click here.
Did you or a member of family work in Buckinghamshire as a Land Girl? If so, then get in touch.