Recruitment and enrolment

Iris Joyce leaving her office for an interview at Northamptonshire Institute of Agriculture.
Source: D8793, Northamptonshire Record Office. Courtesy of Dr David Wilson.
Iris Joyce leaving her office for an interview at Northamptonshire Institute of Agriculture.
Source: D8793, Northamptonshire Record Office. Courtesy of Dr David Wilson.

The Women’s Land Army looked for:

  • physically fit young, unmarried women,
  • who had no dependents,
  • who were mature enough to leave home and
  • be sent anywhere in the country.

The enrolment process went as follows:

Women enrolled at a local Women’s Land Army headquarters, or by registering their name on the National Service Guide at the local post office. Women had to be 17.5 years old in order to join the Women’s Land Army (although some women joined when they were younger).

They underwent a medical test (paid for by the Ministry of Agriculture). This wasn’t usually that strenuous – in some cases, the doctor just signed their certificate without carrying out any checks. However girls of a smaller size were questioned about whether they would be able to cope with the heavy manual work. ‘Well-turned’ girls were also questioned about their ability to ‘muck down’ to the country lifestyle.

Women were invited to attend an interview. This would give the panel a chance to meet the young woman in person. The young women applicants were usually asked questions on the following:

  • Previous work
  • Work preference
  • Uniform size
  • Present occupations
  • Whether they required a bike
  • Experience of country life
  • 2 desired locations for working

Women had to present their medical certificate, along with two character references. A check also had to be made to ensure that women was not already in reserved occupations (jobs that were essential to war).

Around 1 in 4 WLA applicants were successful.

Vita Sackville-West

If successful, their name was then added to the country register, where the WLA then matched them up with a local farmer. Women also received the Women’s Land Army badge. Once the war had started, women had to pledge themselves for the duration of the war.


In The Archives

Slip Confirming Enrolment In WLA.
Slip giving signed evidence of Miss Mabel E Bracey’s enrolment in WLA in West Riding of Yorkshire for showing to Employment Exchange 28th July 1941.
Completed WLA Pledge Card following her enrolment into the WLA.
Completed WLA Pledge Car signed by Ruby Jones on 24th November 1941.
A Call To Women Leaflet Front Source: Rachel Brenda Lees
A Call To Women Leaflet Front
Source: Rachel Brenda Lees
The inside of the leaflet Call to Women with an application for enrolment.
A Call To Women Leaflet Inside. Application for Enrolment.
Source: Rachel Brenda Lees
Women's Land Army badge, often wore on the hat, jumper or tie. Find out more about the WLA enrolment process here.
Source: Catherine Procter WLA collection.
Women’s Land Army badge, often worn on the hat, jumper or tie.
Source: Catherine Procter WLA collection.

References

Antrobus, Stuart. ‘We Wouldn’t Have Missed It For the World’: The Women’s Land Army in Bedfordshire, 1939-1950. Copt Hewick: Book Castle, 2008.
 
Kramer, Ann. Land Girls and Their Impact. Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2008.
 
Mant, Joan. All Muck No Medals: Landgirls by Landgirls. Leicester: Book Guild Publishing Ltd, 1994.