At the Yorkshire Museum of Farming, we have a fascinating, extensive archive of artefacts and documents relating to the Women’s Land Army, in World War Two.
I’m hoping to share some hidden gems with you from our collection here, from time to time. We have a WLA gallery at the museum – our Land Army exhibition is well worth a visit.
Amongst the many fascinating items in the collection, are original issues of ‘The Land Girl’ magazine, which ran from April, 1940 – the early 1950s. I started trawling through all the issues, to find knitting patterns for Land Girl clothing (Predictable, I know!) but was immediately drawn in to the whole world of the Land Girl; letters and articles describing what life was really like in the Women’s Land Army. I’ll share my knitting finds over on https://theknittinggenie.com/ but the social history, belongs here.
Here’s a glimpse into the life of a Land Girl in winter, from December, 1940, in a letter to ‘The Land Girl’ from M. Bicknell:
RATIONS, RAIN AND RECREATION.
I am writing now in the foreman’s hut. We have done our morning’s measuring and are now consuming the contents of our dinner bags. The assistant foreman is heating some milk in a kettle, and soon we shall be drinking Bournvita out of a rum bottle.
When it is raining hard we cannot work, but we must not go home. The first wet day was really awful; there was nothing to do, and we only had hard logs upon which to sit, and we were reduced to playing ‘squiggles’. The next wet day we made a dash for the hut, and found our farm folk had supplied us with a lovely car seat; we sank into it and read and knitted and wrote letters!
Our farm folk are delightful Yorkshire farmers, and they have made us very happy, and we have grown fond of them. In the evenings, we help them on the farm, sometimes till dark. I have been able to give a hand driving the tractor, harvesting and milking, etc.
We have also had time to make friends with people in the district, and we have had many lovely bike rides, swims, and picnics in the surrounding beautiful country.
So you see, life is busy, and I’m jolly glad I joined your ranks. I am happy, and I think I am doing a good job, so good-bye for the present.
M. BICKNELL, WLA No 32064 (E. Suffolk).