The Land Army’s Lost Women, by Emily Ashworth
To mark the publication of Emily Ashworth’s new book The Land Army’s Lost Women, Emily writes below about her personal connection with the work of the WLA and why it was so important for her to write about Land Girls’ experiences during the 1940s.
“My grandma went from studying fashion in Liverpool to becoming a Land Girl in the Women’s Land Army, based in the village I still live today.
The WLA were – and still are – one of the lesser known branches of the women’s forces during the war, and this book aims to shine a different light on a force of women who turned food production on its head and ensured the country did not starve.
It’s a collection of over 20 personal memoirs – some recall meeting lesbians for the first time, some fell in love and boarded the first ship full of army wives to America.
This book is about choices, freedom and independence; it’s about unbreakable friendships and falling hard in love and about an intrinsic love and connection to the land.
It’s so personal, and I hope by writing it in this way I can encourage young women to learn about history, especially as we head into a time where we will lose all WW2 veterans.
The other aspect to note are the rarely read poems that are scattered throughout this book. They are truly stunning, and capture life as a land girl in a very raw and moving way. It’s split into sections by said poems, loosely based on freedom and independence, love and romance, friendships and camaraderie and a deep understanding of the land. The following is one of the more witty ones – imagine having never seen a cow before and having to milk it!
The Milky Way, Inez M.Jenkins, Chief administrative Officer, Women’s Land Army
“I wonder,” said the Land Girl,
“I wonder,” said the cow;
“It can’t be hard,” the Land Girl said,
“The only thing is how,
“And will she kick me if I try?”
“I wonder,” said the cow.
“Oh bother!” cried the Land Girl,
“Why bother?” cried the cow;
“Why can’t you let the matter drop?
I just can’t face it now.
You’ll dry me off. I know you will!
Oh, bother!” cried the cow.
“It’s not too bad,” the Land Girl said,
“It’s bad,” replied the cow;
“Shove over there,” the Land Girl said,
“We needn’t have a row.
There now, we’re doing nicely, see!”
“Not bad,” replied the cow.
“Nice milk,” remarked the Land Girl.
“Too kind!” remarked the cow.
The Land Girl curtsied by her stool,
The cow essayed a bow.
Sweet harmony thus reigned between
The Land Girl and the cow.”
Click here to buy The Land Army’s Lost Women, by Emily Ashworth.