Winifred Priestley (née Hancock)
First Name(s): Winifred Ruth
Unmarried Surname: Hancock
Married Surname: Priestley
Date of Birth: 15.3.23
Place of Birth: Sheffield
Date Joined WLA: 1941
Date Left WLA: 1944
Previous occupation: Aircraft Parts – soldering at J.G.Graves at Crookesmoor, Sheffield.
Reasons for joining: Towards the war effort. We all did something that was useful.
Family’s reaction to joining: Normal acceptance
Best and worst memories of time: I didn’t dislike anything. I liked the fresh air and outdoor work.I loved it – winter and summer. Only happy memories.
Reasons for leaving: I got married.
Any outstanding events or achievements in WLA / WTC or in later life: I got a badge. I joined a reunion group of Sheffield girls. A reunion at Albert Hall, 1969.
6 weeks at Goldsborough (?) Near Harrogate and traveled everyday from Wetherby to work on a hillside learning how to chop trees down and measuring up. Learning how to use as axe.
Went onto work for Forestry Commission in Stapleford-Wood, Nottinghamshire, from 1941-1944. Soldering and then chopping trees down and general forestry work.
Formed friendships that I’m still in touch with even now. I can still use an axe and chop sticks.
Started work at daylight in winter. Caught the lorry at 7:30 am in the summer. We did pit props, measuring up an took them down to the railway station to load onto wagons. We also worked in the stack yard.
We stopped for lunch anytime, no set times, depended how busy we were. Finished about 5:00 pm. The Italians worked with us, they used to sing. One wrote me a poem. I can remember it to this day. They made me a basket for a wedding present. Some Consciences Objectors also worked with us.
Opportunities to meet other Land Girls / Lumber Jills working elsewhere, locally, during wartime. If so where? We didn’t see anybody else. Just girls from the village and Italian Prisoners of War.
Reactions of local people towards WLA / WTC: They were very nice and friendly.
1. Farndon House – Farndon Road, Newark.
2. Mrs Wheatley – House
3. ? – House
4. House opposite Railway Station (Station Rd) – Mary (?) Mary’s husband was in the Desert Rats.
Mary Hillman -shared accommodation at 1, 2, 3, and 4 and worked together at Stapleford woods. Mary Hillman was from Chesterfield and then went to live at Carlisle.
Life after the war
Got married after the war.
Mary’s family: ‘Mary had good experiences of her time spent in the Land Army, and we enjoy hearing about them and also her sister’s experiences as a Lumber Jill. It is only in recent years we have got to know so much more about their work during the war. Both Mary and her sister have supported the recent work of the Land Army and so pleased the lovely memorial has now been established at the N.M.A.’
Name: Winifred Ruth Priestley
Editor’s note: As the photographs show, Winifred wore a WLA badge and therefore was a member of the Women’s Land Army. The WLA employed Winifred to carry out forestry work in 1941, one year before the offical formation of the Women’s Timber Corps. It’s for this resason that I have labelled Winifred as a Land Girl.