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Land Girls

October 29, 2009

Volunteer land workers, washing their utensils.

Land girls on an Essex turkey farm round up the turkeys for the last time. These turkeys are bound for a London market and then Christmas Dinner.

The Women’s Land Army, often referred to as “The Forgotten Army”, was actually formed in 1917 by Roland Prothero, the then Minister for Agriculture. With 6 million men away to fight in the First World War, Britain was struggling for labour. The government wanted women to get more involved in the production of food and do their part to support the war effort. This was the beginning of the Women’s Land Army.

By March 1940, agriculture in England and Wales had lost over thirty thousand men to the British Army. Another 15,000 had left the land to join other occupations. The severe shortage of labour persuaded the government to reform the WLA in June 1939, and by 1944 there were 80,000 women volunteers working on the land. About a third of the volunteers moved to the countryside from Britain’s industrial cities. The WLA lasted until its official disbandment on October 21, 1950 (59 years ago).

Women in the Land Army wore green jerseys, brown breeches and brown felt slouch hats. They did a variety of jobs and a quarter were involved in milking and general farmwork. The landgirls were also supplied with cheap, second hand battledress once their uniforms wore out. Rubber boots were important items for working on a farm, but with the war shortages, rubber became hard to get. Boots then had to be returned for reconditioning and sold back to the workers at a cheaper price.

Tea with the Queen: The event – held in the Buckingham Palace ballroom on October 21 2009- marked the anniversary of the Women’s Land Army’s (WLA) disbandment 59 years ago.

-N.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2009 8:50 pm

    These photos are amazing – what a great story.

    I kind of wish there was a land army I could join now …

  2. cde permalink
    October 29, 2009 10:11 pm

    I love images of women in these times. They are so lovely and made up, yet tough as well. To see them laboring but also linked arm in arm affectionately is inspiring…I would like to be a strong enough woman to have that relationship with my friends and coworkers.

  3. October 31, 2009 8:50 pm

    Great photographs!
    My mother was in the Land Army during WWII.
    This is her on the right

    Her group relaxing of an evening

    Photo’s are from the following entries on my blog:

    http://llywarch.blogspot.com/2008/12/lluniau-1.html

    http://llywarch.blogspot.com/2008/12/lluniau-2.html

    http://llywarch.blogspot.com/2008/12/lluniau-3.html

    All photo’s are of my family (both sides) dating back to 1900’s.

  4. November 2, 2009 8:37 pm

    Hi Llywarch,
    What beautiful photographs you have! You must have a lot of amazing stories from her as well. Thank you so much for sharing them with us and they’re truly precious.

    • November 4, 2009 10:45 pm

      Hey Lark,
      I’m glad you liked them and thank you so much for the kind words.

  5. November 20, 2009 5:37 am

    My Mum was in the WLA and I try to talk to her about what she remembers, she’s going to be 90 in three weeks. She told me today she had wanted to do something different than sitting behind a desk. She can’t remember what she did but when I was a girl she used to tell us she could milk a cown and drive a tractor!

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