image: Interior of a billet with bunk beds and Women's Land Army girls preparing for bed.

Painting by Evelyn May Dunbar
from the Imperial War Museum here.
© IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 3351) and
 used under the IWM non-commercial licence

The Women's Land Army was a civilian organisation, formed in Britain in 1939 to make up the (anticipated) shortage of labour on farms as men were conscripted into the armed forces or moved into other vital jobs away from the land. There was initial scepticism about the need for the W.L.A. and opposition from farmers who didn't believe that women could fill the gap, but Britain's ability to feed itself throughout the war — in spite of the difficulties of importing food — was due in large part to the "Land Girls" who answered the call 'For a healthy, happy job join the Women's Land Army.'

My mother Peggy was one of those who joined (in Autumn 1942), and she always referred to her time as a Land Girl with affection — even though her memories included blacking her own eye by walking into a lamp-post in the black-out, and biting the hand of an American soldier in a lorry on the way down Fish Hill at Broadway when his ideas for passing the time didn't appeal to her! She also told a story about making a date with two different soldiers on the same night, and only deciding at the last moment which cinema to go to, and so which soldier to meet.

In 1982, Mum wrote down her own Memories of the Land Army, transcribed as she wrote them.

The original service records of the Women's Land Army have not survived. However, the index cards to them are available at The National Archives on microfiche in Ministry of Food: Women's Land Army: Index to Service Records of the Second World War (series MAF 421). The information they give about an individual is limited; they cover the period 1939-1948.

See also: