July Snapshot in 5: Warwickshire
This July ‘Snapshot in 5 post’ features the work of the WLA in Warwickshire. If you were a Land Girl who worked in Warwickshire or know one who was, then drop me an e-mail.
1. Planting potatoes at Bickmarsh Hall
Joan Broscomb (née Galloway) was based at Wickhamford Manor during the Second World War. Here we see her planting potatoes with her fellow Land Girls and farmhand. She took many photographs of her time in the WLA as her father ran ‘Camera Corner’; a well-known photographic chemist’s shop in Birmingham. Using her very own Leica camera, she was able to capture a range of photographs of her time in the WLA. You can see more photographs from her collection here.
Source: Badsey Society
2. Jean Procter (née Young) operating a seed drill
Jean recounts joining up to the WLA:
“I saw this poster [when in Scotland] for the Land Army and of course I joined up. They said, ‘you will have to go home because you have to go to your own areas and this is the Scottish Land Army not the English,’ so I was sent to a farm in Warwickshire.”
Jean remembers how work on the land was
“very hard work, very satisfying, but it wasn’t a pleasure. It was more a pleasure of a job well done, that’s more like it. When the harvest was done and things like that you thought ‘thank God it’s done, I’m glad we’ve got all this beautiful corn in’. It was very satisfying.”
Following her service in the WLA, she went on to found and chair, in 1960 the Land Army National Reunion Association, which eventually became the British Women’s Land Army Association in 1960. This association was vital in enabling former Land Girls and Lumber Jills to keep in touch through regional get-togethers and annual national reunions. Jean was awarded the MBE in January 1999.
3. A flavour of Warwickshire hostel activities from the Warwickshire Land Army News
This extract from a local WLA newsletter illustrates the range of activities which took place in Warwickshire in September 1944. The Minister of Agriculture’s visit to Birmingham was a key opportunity to highlight women’s dedication to their war work, by marking their service on the land with the award of armbands. The Minister’s visit also gave an official seal of approval to their work, by drawing attention to their efforts. Parades acted as a way to celebrate the vital work that women had been carrying out in the country – for all the city to see.
The publication of this newsletter ran alongside the national publication of The Land Girl, sharing more local news in a bid to bring women together.
Source: Warwickshire Land Army News, October 1944, p.4. Catherine Procter WLA collection.
4. Eleanor Roosevelt visiting Land Girls at a farm in Oldberrow
The front page photo of the December 1942 edition showed Eleanor Roosevelt, America’s First Lady, amongst a sea of smiling Land Girls during her visit to Britain in November. She was the wife of the wartime US president Franklin D Roosevelt. The Land Girl opened its 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. Eleanor Roosevelt took a trip to see women threshing, thatching, silage making, and milking in Warwickshire. She was driven majestically from Marston Hostel to Oldberrow House Hostel in Henley-in-Arden.
Source: The Land Girl, December 1942.
5. Lilian Kitchen, Warwickshire Land Girl.
This is Lilian. Before the war, she worked as a dressmaker. In the early 1940s, she joined the WLA, where she worked on a private diary farm in Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire. Two of her sisters were also in the WLA. Her granddaughter Laura thinks that she stayed in the WLA until 1945/6. Lilian used to return home to stay with her older sister at the weekends. According to Laura, her grandmother ‘always remembered her time in the WLA fondly. She enjoyed caring for the animals and learning to drive a tractor.’
Source: Laura Perry, Lilian’s granddaughter.
Further information on the WLA in Warwickshire
Land Girls employed in Warwickshire from April 1940 to 1947, calculated from the returns published in The Land Girl magazine. In April 1940, Warwickshire employed 138 Land Girls. By September 1943, 1934 Land Girls worked in the county.
Chairman: Mrs J Fielden OBE, Kineton House, Warwickshire
Secretary: Miss M.E. Colwell, 24 Old Square, Warwick
Dorothea Abbott, Librarian in the Land Army (Stratford upon Avon: Greenhill Books, 1984).
Mary Entwistle, Land Army Girl (Leamington Spa: Drewfern Ltd, 1991).
Ellis Foy, Peaceful Wartime (Edinburgh: Pentland, 1999).
Irene Wells, My Life in the Land Army (Alcester: I.E. Williams, 1984).
Find out more
Did you or a member of family work in Warwickshire as a Land Girl? If so, then get in touch.
Interested in seeing more material relating to the WLA in Warwickshire? Click here or take a look at the archive material below.