A Ledbury woman’s fascination with the Women’s Land Army inspired her to write a booklet on the memories of six former land girls.
The Women’s Land Army was a British civilian organisation created during the First and Second World Wars to work in agriculture, replacing men called up to the military. In effect, the Land Army operated to place women with farms that needed workers.
Helen Gates compiled ‘Memories of the Women’s Land Army’ following a chance encounter.
She explained: “I’m a very keen gardener and was interested to hear about the Dig for Victory campaign (where people were encouraged to transform gardens, parks and sports pitches into allotments to grow vegetables for the wartime effort).
“I mentioned it to a friend who said she knew someone who was in the Land’s Army. It just grew from there.”
Helen interviewed six former WLA members from the Ledbury area, Joan Wilce, Dorothy Meadows, Mary Teasdale, Helen Goring, Phyllis Wise and Joan White. They talked about their time in the Land Army with great fondness for the camaraderie, but it was tough work all the same, replacing the enlisted farm labourers before the food supply ran out.
“Land girls were some of the unsung heroes of the war effort and it’s only relatively recently that they’ve started to get the recognition they deserve,” added Helen.
“One of the ladies I interviewed has since died, but their memories of life 70 years ago were most vivid.”
One hundred copies of the booklet were printed and Helen has only two left, which she keeps for talks. Every penny of the sales – close to £600 – was donated to R.A.B.I.
The author said: “R.A.B.I is a very pertinent charity as it assists Land Army people and Ledbury, in Herefordshire, is very much a farming community.
“Not all of the ladies worked the land in Ledbury, but that is where they ended up.”
Pictured is a cartoon image belonging to Ledbury land girl Mary Teasdale, which was drawn for her in the 1940s by an American GI.