New Year’s Eve Message 2023
As another year draws to a close, it seems an appropriate moment to reflect on the commemoration of the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps in 2023.
In November, National Records of Scotland digitised a series of index cards recording the service of Land Girls and Lumber Jills who worked in Scotland during the Second World War. The digitisation of these cards makes it possible for family historians, and other researchers, to learn more about the role played by family members in the fields and forests of Scotland during the Second World War.
As many of you will remember, at the end of 2022, Ancestry digitised the index record cards for women who worked in England during the Second World War. I was delighted to write an article for the family historian magazine ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ about what we can learn from these cards. The publication of this article was a personal highlight, as was contributing to a podcast hosted by the National Archives, drawing on some fascinating sources in their collections.
On the publications front, 2023 has been another splendid year for new books on the Women’s Land Army. The Land Army’s Lost Women by Emily Ashworth was published by Pen and Sword. The book brings together an array of women’s accounts about their work during the Second World War, including some of the Land Girls whose work is featured on this website.
Kay Snow also published her new fiction on the WLA called The Land Army Girls, exploring the adventures of Land Girl April Thornton. A huge congratulations to all authors for continuing to a shine a light on the diversity of women’s experiences in the WLA during the Second World War.
This year has also seen a continuation of various WLA related heritage projects. Nicky Reynolds and Vicky Abbott have continued their fantastic work researching and documenting the experiences of Land Girls who worked in Suffolk. They also launched the Suffolk Women’s Land Army Memorial Trust to raise money for a permanent memorial to those Land Girls and Lumber Jills who worked in Suffolk during the Second World War, alongside a digital roll call of honour.
In South Yorkshire, Richard Godley has worked with WEA – Adult Learning Within Reach, to document women’s wartime and agricultural work. Besides interviewing former Land Girls and Lumber Jills, Richard has curated an exhibition at Ecclesall Woods Discovery Centre, accompanied by an informative booklet highlighting women’s stories.
Finally, I’d like to end this post by congratulating Stuart Antrobus, a historian who will be familiar to many in the WLA world. This year, Stuart (the author of ‘We Wouldn’t Have Missed It For the World: the Women’s Land Army in Bedfordshire) was awarded a certificate for ‘An Outstanding Individual Contribution to Local History for 2023’, by the British Association for Local History. Stuart has been unfaltering in his support of my own website, sharing his own research, whilst also mentoring a young historian through the opportunities and challenges of developing an archive.
I’d like to end by thanking Stuart Antrobus, Catherine Procter (WLA collector), and my family, especially my sister Skye, and mother Helen, who have offered invaluable support for developing the website.
As always, thank you to supporters of the website who continue to honour and remember the work of the WLA and WTC.
Wishing all readers a happy and healthy 2024.
Source: Jane Liechty photography