Sep 092017

The Office of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Kent

Drumhead Service, Sunday 23 September, 3.00pm, Kent County Cricket Ground (Spitfire Ground), St Lawrence in Canterbury.

From 2014 to 2018, nations, communities and individuals of all ages will have come together to remember the lives of all those who lived, fought and died in the First World War.

In November 2018, we will be bringing to a close four years of commemorations both at home and abroad.

The Lord-Lieutenant has arranged for a Drumhead Service to be held at 3.00pm at the Kent Showground, Detling on Sunday 23 September 2018.

This Service will be the major event for Kent, outside any national events taking place in London, and the Lord Lieutenant envisages that it will be a truly memorable occasion for all those involved and a fitting way to mark the final year of commemorations.  We anticipate around 4000 people will be in attendance.  The Dean of Canterbury, The Very Reverend Robert Willis, will lead the Service.  The band of The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment will provide the music and the Military Wives’ Choirs from Shorncliffe and Brompton will also be present to entertain guests.

All regular Service Units – Navy, Army and RAF – in Kent will be invited, as will all Reserve Forces, Veterans and representatives of organisations in Kent who supported our Forces throughout the conflict, such as the Land Army, Women’s Institute, Church Army, The Salvation Army and others.

I am writing on behalf of the Lord-Lieutenant to invite you to participate in this Commemoration.  Can I ask you to please complete the attached proforma and return to Miss Jo Holmes, Deputy Clerk to the Lieutenancy at the Civic Office, County Hall, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1XQ.  An early response would be appreciated to assist with the planning of the event.

We very much hope that you will wish to be part of this special occasion.

Yours sincerely,

Major (Retd) D Bradley BEM DL.                                                                            30 August 2017

For more information on the service, please click here.

Jul 062017

Many thanks to Pamela Bleazard for sending her mother-in-law’s memories of her time in the Women’s Land Army.

At the age of 17 I was driving around the villages of Kent in my own tractor, enjoying the freedom and independence of being in the Women’s Land Army.  It was 1942, and I enlisted to escape Canterbury after the terrible bombing in which many people were killed, including two of the nurses from the hospital where I had previously worked.  They had gone out to a tea-room in the city and never returned for their shift that evening.

Mary Snowden (nee Styles)

Mary Snowden (nee Styles)


I enlisted as a land girl with a friend when I was 16 in 1941.  I remember I didn’t even have to get my parents’ permission!  We were sent to Plumpton near Lewes for our six-week assessment and training, during which we were tested out on various aspects of farming during the day and sat through films and lectures during the evening.  I remember helping to hold down the cows for the bull’s visit while attempting dairy farming and deciding this was not for me, but I enjoyed learning to drive a tractor and understanding some of the mechanics, such as how to change a gasket.  It seemed second nature to sit up in the driving seat, steering in a straight line or learning to pull a trailer.  There were road bands to fix around the rubber wheels so that the tractor could be driven along tarmaced roads, and we had to understand the difference in types of fuel.  When I was working in the fields my tractor ran on TVO (tractor vapourising oil), but petrol was used to start the engine and warm it up.


My main job was to help with flax pulling.  Flax was essential to the war effort as it was used in parachute harnesses and the seed was made into linseed oil, so I drove around to farms all over mid-Kent from Pluckley to Cudham, wherever I was needed.  The flax was taken to the English Flax Company factory in Pluckley.  There it was pressed through rollers and separated into strands ready to be woven into material and the seeds made into oil.  I was part of a busy process which was hard work but never seemed dull.
I was chosen to be one of 2 land-girls who were picked to work in the factory full-time after the harvest was over.  We had to collect the stooks of flax which lorries had brought to the factory to be stored in great Dutch barns, and then drive our load exactly under the elevator.  It was a tricky procedure backing in a four wheel trailer to get it in just the right place.  In the factory I used a rubber-tyred tractor which ran on petrol only as it had to stop and start quite often.  Once the flax had been processed by the machines in the factory we then had to transport it to Pluckley Station.

Mary Snowden (nee Styles)


The best part for me was harvest time in the summer: I loved the freedom of travelling through the country lanes to my next job as the Kent countryside was so beautiful, and I loved being in the open air.  I boarded in the village of Egerton, but during the harvest stayed on the farms where I was working.  Tasks and billets were assigned by the Crops Officer, who would meet me regularly and tell me where I would be stationed next.  By day I arrived at a farm, took the road bands off my tractor and then drove up and down the fields in straight lines, with a machine behind my tractor the machine which pulled the flax out of the ground and tied it in sheaves.  I had to take care at the corners to reverse and cover the whole field.  It was mainly older men and teenagers not yet enlisted who actually gathered the flax sheaves into stooks so that it could be collected by lorries which would take it to the factory.  There was some banter and a little flirting.  One young boy became so besotted with me that he sent a box of apples to my home every year for some time after I left his farm.
From week to week I never knew exactly where I would end up, and that was part of the fun of the job.  I remember my Crops Officer asking me if I had any nice frocks as I would be staying with a farmer called Mr Freeman (of Freeman, Hardy and Willis, the shoe company) and the family expected me to dress for dinner.  Wherever I was billeted, the farmer usually treated me as one of the family, so we all ate together at the end of the day, with better food than I would have had in the hospital digs.  Although the farmers had to give up their produce for the war effort, no-one could count the number of eggs a chicken laid nor the apples on a tree.  There was always fresh butter and milk, and I can still remember home-made lemonade brought out to the fields when I was so thirsty on a hot dusty day.  Sometimes the farmers would shoot the rabbits which were exposed in the fields when the flax was pulled.  Although I didn’t enjoy skinning and paunching them, they made tasty meals!


Even better than the food, on rare occasions there was a hot bath, and a chance to dress up for a dance in one of the parish halls.  At that time of the war there were large numbers of enlisted men billeted in that part of Kent, so It was a great time to be young and female!  I don’t think I would have had the same freedom and independence living at home, but the demands of the work helped me learn to look after myself.
Looking back, I can’t remember any grey rainy days.  The sun always seemed to be shining, which seems ironic now as we were going through some of the darkest days of the war.
May 012016

Women's Land Army May Collage

Women’s Land Army May Collage

From left to right, top to bottom:

  • Land Girl, Miss Winnie Kent, pictured collecting apples. Source: IWM D 10761
  • Spraying apple orchards at Cockayne Hatley. Source: Stuart Antrobus
  • Land owner Mr. Whitehead shows a land army girl what to do in his Cockayne Hatley apple orchard. Source: Stuart Antrobus
  • Members of the Women’s Land Army prune apple trees in an orchard during a pruning test in the First World War. Source: IWM Q 54599

Other activities included:

  • Clean out all livestock buildings
  • Fencing and walling repairs
  • All lambs tailed, castrated, ear-notched and ear-tagged
  • Fertiliser and muck spreading
  • Stock removed from silage fields and fertiliser is spread to allow six weeks growth before cutting
  • Shear the long tails of the sheep to prevent fly strike
  • Spray potatoes, cereals, sugar beet and peas

Source: Farm

Apr 242015
Miss M.L.McClary Women's Land Army Card

Miss M.L.McClary Women’s Land Army Card

The Rev’d Martin Flowerdew

I recently found the membership card for Miss M.L.McClary No. 38292 in a secondhand book I purchased. It would be good to reunite it with her [outside chance I admit] or her family. It was signed by Lady Denman and Cecily Cornwallis, dated 24.5.41.

Please contact me at one of the below…Vicar of Foremark, Repton and Newton Solney, 01283 619686, Repton Church Website:

Update 10th May 2015:

Information from WLA card:

  • Miss Maud Lilian McClary lived at 244, Rangefield Road, Bromley, Kent
  • Worked in West Kent
  • Occupation before joining WLA: shop assistant
  • Joined the WLA when she was 21 in 19 Feb 1941
  • Resigned 30 Nov 1942 (presumably to become Mrs Baker)
  • Re-instated (perhaps husband was serving abroad and she missed the camaraderie of the land girls?) 27 January 1945.
  • Left WLA for ‘health Reasons’ 4 March 1943.

Update 24th April 2015: Cecily Cornwallis was the County Chairmen for Kent, therefore Miss M.L.McClary would have worked in Kent during her time as a Land Girl.