VJ Day 75th Anniversary
VJ Day, 15th August 1945, marked the end of all fighting in the Second World War when Japan surrendered, following two atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
After this, there came a very slow move back to normality in Britain. Food shortages and rationing continued, with bread rationing introduced for the first time in 1946. Meat rationing also continued until 1954.
Land Girls were still needed to work on the land long after VJ Day. The WLA was finally disbanded at the end of November 1950.
Marking the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day, this page shares Land Girls’ memories of VJ Day, captured in photos and words.
Joan Maunder, Doris, and Edna celebrating VJ Day in Blackpool.
Mary Keverne, who worked in Helston, remembers VJ Day
“On VJ-Day I was going home on leave during the evening and all through the night; it was dark by the time we got to Plymouth and all the ships had lights and fireworks. Every city we went through, Exeter, Taunton, Bridgewater, everywhere, all lit up and fireworks.
I left the Land Army when we got married in December 1947. My husband was a black smith locally from Helston so I never went back. It is a regret I have, in some ways. I never planned not to go back. My plan was to return to Wales and I had things in the pipe line.”
Melissa Hardie, Diana Ayres, and Angie Butler, eds., Digging for Memories: The Women’s Land Army in Cornwall (Penzance, Cornwall: Hypatia Publications, 2006), p.50.
“There is no holding them,” said the farmer as his land girls departed to make whoopee in Bedford at the announcement of VJ Day (15 August 1945). The photograph shows VJ Day celebrations in Bedford.
Cornish Land Girl, Micky Mitchell remembers.
“Some three months later VJDay (Victory over Japan) did not appear to warrant the same atmosphere. It was truly wonderful that the cruel, brutal Japanese had been vanquished but the horrors of the treatment of the prisoners they held and particularly those who had suffered and perished during the enforced building of the Burma Railway were instilled in our minds. Other factors too which affected our senses were that this was seemed far removed from us on the opposite side of the globe. Not least of all was the devastation and death brought about by the explosions of the Atomic Bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Giving this latter horror, after deep thought I believe that, devastating as it was, in the long term this decision to drop the bombs did save countless lives. It brought the war with its attending atrocities to an abrupt end and who knows how many more lives could have been lost had it dragged on and on interminably. This I realise is a debatable subject.”
Micky Mitchell, A Country War Memoirs of a Land Girl (Halsgrove, 2007), pp.94-95
A photograph of VJ celebrations in Scarborough. Land Girl Annie Poppelwell (née Basquill) marched in the parade. She recalls how she felt ‘very proud’.
Were you or your family members in the Women’s Land Army or Women’s Timber Corps?
If you have photos you’d like to share, or questions you’d like to ask, please e-mail Cherish Watton, WLA Historian on firstname.lastname@example.org.