Joan Drake (née Day)

General Information

First Name(s): Joan Marjorie

Unmarried Surname: Day

Married Surname: Drake

Date of Birth: 14.2.1927, Camberwell London

Death of Death: 23.7.2000

Date Joined WLA: December 1941

Date Left WLA: June 1945

Previous occupation: At college at start of the war on a wholesale dressmaking course. Worked at a West End couture house before joining WLA.

Reasons for joining: Wished to do war service with older sister Ivy who had decided to join WLA.

Family’s reaction to joining: Supportive but some doubts about how she would cope

Reasons for leaving: Marriage


Employed by: I think there were four postings, all in Devon the first possibly with the War Ag as among other things it involved land reclamation on the cliffs at Hartland; the second with Mr. Ralph Hoare at Mount Barton Farm, Staverton near Totnes; the third with Mr. V Henson at Ford Farm Kenton; and the fourth at Messrs. Langdon’s St Bridget Nursery just east of Exeter.

Dates with employer:

  1. December 1941 – (mid?) 1942, Holsworthy
  2. (Mid?) 1942 – November 1942, Mount Barton Farm, Staverton.
  3. November 1942 – after 8 March 1943, Ford Farm, Kenton. Billeted at stables block at Powderham Castle (home of the Earls of Devon) with sister Ivy
  4. (Spring?) 1943 – June 1944, St Bridget Nursery, Clyst St Mary. Billeted in house near Old Winslade Farm, Clyst St George with sister Ivy.

Sister Ivy Day.  Iris Andrews named in Ministry of Information photo taken at Hollow Moor, Mount Barton Farm. `Di’, `Swabey’, `Jo’ and `Peggy’ named in captions to her own photos taken at Hollow Moor.

An article in the Express & Echo (Exeter evening paper) on 8 March 1943 quoted her as saying that she loved working with horses and “There is only one thing I don’t like down on the farm, and that is the Devonshire rain”.

Joan wearing her dungarees in the 1960s.

Life after the war

Did they return back to their pre-war occupation?: No

What was their occupation after the war?: Farmer’s wife (she married the son of the farmer who owned Old Winslade Farm near her last billet and she and her husband ran that farm after his father died in 1946).

Did they stay on the land? Yes

How did work in the WLA effect their life? Moved from London to Devon and married a Devon farmer’s son.

Any outstanding events or achievements in WLA or in later life: Having her photo appear in recruitment leaflets etc.

Joan, front left, and her sister Ivy middle back

Contributor Information

Name: Eric Drake, son.

A letter sent to Mr Day, Joan’s father, noting that the ‘recruiting photograph is a particularly charming one and we regard it as one of the most successful we have ever been able to use for propaganda purpose’.
Newspaper articles on Joan Day

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