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Hilda Gibson

Eddie Mair | 15:56 UK time, Thursday, 6 December 2007

"The Land Girls - the Women's Land Army who worked on farms to feed the nation during world war 2, are to be recognised by the Government.

A badge commemorating the service of the Land Army and the Women's Timber Corps will be presented to surviving members.

PM has been hearing from one of the Land Girls, Hilda Gibson." (who's not one of the women pictured here, by the way.)


And here is Hilda's poem:

THE LAND GIRL LOOKS BACK

60 Bright summers and 60 Green springs
60 chill autumns have melted away
Some wrinkled autumns have vanished
In flames
Hair that was golden is turning to grey
Nightime in Norfolk was silent and still
Sunsets were glorious filling the skies
Endless horizons and demon east winds
Whirling the fast freezing snow in our eyes
Someone was fighting by proxy for me
I took his place in the village he knew
Gown shop to hen huts from feathers to furs
Hardships were plenty, luxuries few
Calm and content in a world full of strife
Etched on my memory, a time of my life

Hilda Kaye Gibson

Comments

  1. At 04:01 PM on 06 Dec 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Excellent - look forward to it - In fact I'll alert mum - she loves the film.

    Watched the Fairer sex yesterday afternoon on Film 4 - that was interesting if not a little tainted with war propoganda.

  2. At 05:41 PM on 06 Dec 2007, JimmyGiro wrote:

    Splendid piece.

    :)

  3. At 05:44 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Scott Tweddle wrote:

    Nice interview Eddie, it was refreshing to hear the interviewee given time to talk and not rushed off the airwaves - after service for our country,its the least we can do.

  4. At 05:46 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Nora Young wrote:

    Hoorah for Hilda!
    What a fantastic example of how to be in the later stages of life. Full of humour, reflective about the past and present and no rose-coloured specs for her! And the role of those land-girls so honestly described. A life lived with honour.
    Many thanks Eddie (for allowing her time)and Hilda for being there all those years ago.
    Nora

  5. At 05:47 PM on 06 Dec 2007, katie oliver wrote:

    I really enjoyed hearing from Hilda Gibson, what a fantastic lady and not a bad poet either. Hearing her experiences was a breath of fresh air Recently my neice did a school project on WW2 and asked my mum and dad to write down their wartime memories (they were under 13 at the time). Infact all of us asked them for copies as it was wonderful to read of their experiences and outlook at that time and it is not the sort of thing we felt we could ask for. My generation (born in the 60s) and my children's generation do find these personal stories very evocative. I think a badge for the land girls is an excellent idea.

  6. At 05:47 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Howard Sayer wrote:

    Let's have more from Hilda Gibson...she could use up a whole show with her astute memory. Great interview.

  7. At 05:50 PM on 06 Dec 2007, lee wrote:

    Well done for setting aside so much time for a fascinating interview and for your thanks at the end.

    Also, what an excellent idea to bring back trial by lion for hypocrits, I'm all for it, but think New Labour could result in digestive problems.

  8. At 05:51 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Bedd Gelert wrote:

    That was absolutely fantastic !!!

    If anyone is interested there is a book out about the Land Army Girls. I haven't read it yet, as I've lent it to mum who is still working through it. But good to see their profile is being raised, and that they are finally getting some well deserved recognition.

    The book is called 'They Fought in the Fields' by Nicola Tyrer.

  9. At 05:52 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Matthew Vaughan wrote:

    Thank you for that piece featuring Hilda Gibson - one of the most poignant items I have heard this year on PM; and kudos to Eddie Mair for his (usual? or unusual) sensitivity in handling of the subject.


  10. At 05:53 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Matt S wrote:

    Hilda Gibson for Primeminister.

  11. At 05:55 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Tom Potter wrote:

    I have just listened to Hilda Gibson: what a wonderful woman. She is so humbling, and her poem was so beautiful. It would be great to hear more of her stories and poems.

  12. At 05:56 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Kath Howard wrote:

    Wonderful Hilda Gibson and all the heroines of the Land Army! 30 years ago my husband bought some ex-Land Army breeches for hillwalking. They had a date inside - 1944. As his waistline grew too big for them, I inherited them and they have done stout service for me, in Scotland, Switzerland and the Himalayas till I got too stout for them. I have never put them on without thinking of the Land-girls.

  13. At 05:56 PM on 06 Dec 2007, dominic dunning wrote:

    I would like to thank you for this item that i listened to whilst driving home. It made me think of my great aunt who had the same out look mand attitude to life during the war as your guest had. Thank you once again

  14. At 05:58 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Fifi wrote:

    The interview with Hilda should be nominated for next year's Nick Clarke award.

    Peerless.

    Fifi

  15. At 05:58 PM on 06 Dec 2007, John Illingworth wrote:

    Eddie
    Hilda is a real heroine with genuine understatement and modesty. She, and all the other Land Army girls deserve that recognition so much. Thank you for letting us hear her interview.
    John I

  16. At 05:59 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Jill Ward wrote:

    What a wonderful interview with Hilda Gibson, I could listen to her for hours. Her friend's family may not be at all interested in the land girls but I certainly am. Congratulations to them all for being awarded their badge, it is much overdue.
    I can only echo what the interviewer said - Thank you.

  17. At 06:00 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Tony Deighton wrote:

    Hurrah for Hilda!

    She was just wonderful - so very interesting and her poem was most moving.

  18. At 06:00 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Sarah Ramsey wrote:

    What a wonderful interview! Ms Gibson is obviously a lovely lady - such modesty, wit and warmth. I loved her poetry and particularly her story about the ex-rector and the lion.

  19. At 06:01 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Philip Dean wrote:

    Hilda Gibson ... NATIONAL TREASURE.

    made me laugh and cry in about 8 minutes.

    From me also, Thank You

  20. At 06:02 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Norma Erskine wrote:

    I really enjoyed your interview with Hilda Gibson. You were so kind to let her tell her story and allow her the time to expand into such fascinating details.

    My mother had been in the Land Army and it would have been wonderful to see her get some recognition. She died a few years ago and so we can only hope that the Government might extend the badge of recognition to be given post-humously. I know her grand children would be thrilled to see their Grandma recognised in this way as they loved to hear her stories from her time in the Land Army.

    How could we get hold of Hilda's poems. The one she read was beautiful.

  21. At 06:02 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Simon Midgley wrote:

    Thank you PM for running this story and interviewing Hilda Gibson. Thank you so much as well Hilda for reading your poem; I found it very moving.

    I would like to read more of Hilda's poems, and share them with my partner (who is herself a poet), so if anyone could let me know the title of her book of poetry, and if it is available to buy anywhere, I would be very grateful indeed.

    Thanks again,
    Simon

  22. At 06:03 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Syd Rumpo wrote:

    Eddie Mair, you are a star! That was one of the most wonderful interviews that I have heard.

    And a brilliant performance by Hilda.

    Well done everyone.

  23. At 06:03 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Lin Chapman wrote:

    Eddie,
    Your interview with Hilda was quality, thank you. Made me stop banging dishes around and listen.

  24. At 06:04 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Francis Yerbury wrote:

    Hilda and all the girls will I hope be pleased to know that Land Girls are on the French Baccalaureat programme in English .Once again Europeans are better informed than some of us.

  25. At 06:05 PM on 06 Dec 2007, David Western wrote:

    What a wonderful lady, I would like to add my thanks too.

  26. At 06:05 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Jon Schurmann wrote:

    Good piece.

    I just hope that they get around to everyone who is left -after all it is sixty years ago now. I know in the village that I used to live (Litchborough) there were at least two -one of whom is deceased (Kathleen Barker) and Joyce Jordan (I don't know her maiden name) who now lives with her husband in Bugbrook Northants

  27. At 06:06 PM on 06 Dec 2007, jim moore wrote:

    sometimes you get the perfect conjunction of interviewer and interviewee. tonight we had one such. thankyou (in the very broadest etc).
    jim moore

  28. At 06:07 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Will Davis wrote:


    What a character, she had my ear pressed to the radio. Eddy let her shine in the limited time, I dont expect to hear emotional pieces like that on PM! a gem of an interview and what a life she had. I think there we three of us feeling a bit choked at the end of that.

  29. At 06:10 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Alan Preston wrote:

    The item featuring Hilda Gibson, for me, was one of the most moving
    Pieces I have heard on PM. Eddie Mair handled the interview with both
    Compassion and empathy.

  30. At 06:17 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Judith Sansom wrote:

    Tonight's Hilda Gibson interview was an example of what makes PM excellent - well done to the researcher/editor who found such an interesting interviewee, and thank you to Eddie Mair for allowing the admirable Ms Gibson to talk without interruption.

  31. At 06:17 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Sean Finn wrote:

    Greetings!

    As much as I am happy for the few surviving ladies who will now be the recipients of a special badge, I think it is far too little and much too late. 62 years after the end of the war (!!!), when most people in the former service have passed away, such awards are not more than a sad statement of neglect. And why only a "special badge"? Why not a proper medal? Would that cost too much? (We seem to have more than enough money to waste in Iraq and on the modernisation of the Trident nuclear missile system...)

    This shows once more how much (or better said how little) British politicians care for those who serve in wartime for the good of the nation. It was the same for the sailors of the Arctic convoys (who got their medal only a couple of years ago, while not being allowed to wear one awarded to them by Russia) and many other "lesser known" elements of the great war effort. And I believe that there is even now no medal or recognition for the Bevin Boys.

    No British government since 1945 has shown the slightest respect for all the people who did in so many different ways their duty and had their individual share in winning World War II. In my humble opinion it is more an insult than an honour to be given "a badge" after 62 years of total neglect. I could think of no other country involved in World War II where such would be possible or even thinkable. But then again, there is nothing new in it. British governments since the 16th century have regularly forgotten, neglected and even maltreated the soldiers and sailors on whose service they depended in times of war.

    If the government would send me "a badge" for services rendered after forgetting about me for more than sixty years, I would send it back with "Thanks, but no thanks!"

  32. At 06:20 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Kate redpath wrote:

    thankyou for hilda gibson, that was the best bit of radio i have heard in ages. can she present the today programme

  33. At 06:21 PM on 06 Dec 2007, David Steele wrote:

    What a gem of a piece, and what a treasure Hilda is - it brought a tear to my eye.
    Hilda is a wonderful advocate both for Landgirls and for her generation, and this is one of Eddie's finest.
    More please

  34. At 06:22 PM on 06 Dec 2007, John Motture wrote:

    Dear Eddie,

    Your interview with Hilda Gibbons the Land Girl was the most delightful few minutes of radio I can remember in a long time and I can't begin to tell you exactly why. Your programme continued but I just stopped listening to the remainder. I dare not listen to a repeat of it because it might break the spell that this lovely lady cast.

    Thank you both very much.

  35. At 06:23 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Philip Bradbury wrote:

    This is one of the best interviews I have ever heard - radio at its best. Eddy needed to say very little, but what he did say was exactly what I, the listener, would have liked to say had I had the privilege of talking to Hilda directly.

  36. At 06:27 PM on 06 Dec 2007, J R Wrigley wrote:

    I am not surprised that your presenter has not heard of the Rector of Stiffkey (pronounced Stewkey incidentally). Back in 1979 Ray Galton told the story in a 60-minute documentary on Radio 4. If the broadcast is in the BBC Archives it would make a wonderful Archive Hour. I have my own recording but only on a compact cassette.

    Ronald Blythe devotes a chapter to it in his book "The Age of Illusion".

  37. At 06:51 PM on 06 Dec 2007, John O'Donnell wrote:

    I listened in tears whilst Hilda was reading her poem. Thanks, Eddie for her allowing her time to tell her story.

  38. At 06:56 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Jim Whittle wrote:

    Dear Hilda,

    You are wonderful.

    I adored hearing this interview. I was delighted by your spirit, your wit, your crystal-clear recall, and your frankly needless self-deprecation.

    Thank you too for the sacrifices you made that contributed to the peaceful life that, all these years later, we still enjoy in this country. I am delighted you and your fellow Land Girls are finally being properly acknowledged.

    My generation will never truly comprehend what yours went through during those years, but with that beautifully written, crafted, and recited poem, you helped me to understand a little of what it was like. And, I admit, made me cry. I would love to read more of them, if they're available anywhere.

    BBC, this charming lady needs her own programme, or even her own series: she has such a marvellous personality, and a fascinating, witty and articulate way of conveying her experiences. (And thanks Eddie for yet another a superb interview, allowing your subject to shine.)

    Once again, thank you.

    Jim

  39. At 06:56 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Ken Bradley wrote:

    Just had the privilege of listening to Hilda Gibson while driving home from work. What a fantastic lady! Thank you Hilda for sharing with us - particularly your poem.

  40. At 06:59 PM on 06 Dec 2007, scarlet wrote:

    Wonderful, brilliant!
    A great interview, you could have given Hilda the whole hour, what a shame she hasn't been on the airwaves before!
    Not a dry eye in sight by the time it was over!

  41. At 07:06 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Rex Dunham wrote:

    Thank you for the very refreshing interview with Hilda Gibson. Eddie Mair's interview was splendid and it was really good that Hilda was not rushed and the interview was not cut short prematurely. This interview could be a template for a full length programme with Eddie interviewing ordinary but very interesting people.
    Please keep up the outstanding work Eddie.

  42. At 07:10 PM on 06 Dec 2007, annabelle zinovieff wrote:

    I just loved the interview with Hilda Gibson. Thank you so much for giving her the time and space to shine in a space that is so often filled with disasterous stories.
    God bless her. And thank you to her and all the landgirls

  43. At 07:15 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Peter Reid wrote:

    Hilda Gibson: a national treasure.

    The best bit of radio I've heard in a long time. Thank you Eddie.

  44. At 07:17 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Bea Prentiss wrote:

    What a charming narrator Hilda is! Her voice rivals yours, Eddie, for hypnotic quality. I will listen again and again to her clarity, measured delivery, and majestic presence. More from her please, on any subject.

  45. At 07:30 PM on 06 Dec 2007, dave james wrote:

    Great interview with Hilda's fabulous candid recollections. The space she was given was tremendous. Well done to Hilda for both her wartime efforts and today's insights and also to Eddie for giving her deserved space. More of this please!

  46. At 07:32 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Charlie wrote:


    Eddie

    What a wonderful Lady!

    So un-assuming (say nothing Eddie, nothing..!)

    More of this any time you like

    Actually, this piece was VERY important because it's living history and once these "Girls" have gone (and so many of them have already) few of us, or our decendants, will know what the "Land Girls" contribution to British life and welfare during WWII was

    It also, in my mind, begs the question, what about "Girls" in WWI? I've certainly no idea...

    I 'phoned my MP a few minutes ago to ask him what he thought of the "Land Girl's" WWII wartime contribution

    He didn't even know what I was talking about...

    And, so it is of much that happened during WWII

    What, I wonder, are today's school children taught of WWI and WWII history..?

    I have an idea, probably, the √ of Sweet Bugger-all

    Mind you, I was taught precious little

    Three or four years or so ago, I was in Trinidad and met a Trinidadian who was an RAF Spitfire pilot...

    I'd no idea. But, true. And, there were Indian Spitfire and Hurricane pilots etc How many today know of them?

    Also, I read recently that "Girls", during WWII shuttled RAF fighter planes between UK Air-Bases; new-builds and repairs, modifications etc, thereby free-ing-up "fighting" air-crew

    What story of them..?

    Another part of "our" un-told history

    Eddie, Hilda read one of her poems (very good indeed) and, the Blog has a transcript. If I recall correctly, she said her work was published

    I've only done an Amazon search and couldn't find anything

    Do you have any further details?

  47. At 07:32 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Derry Fraser wrote:

    Deeply moving and hugely entertaining interview. Very many congratulations to Eddie for handling it with such sensitivity and dexterity, and my warmest regards and respect to Ms Gibson; an exceptional interviewee. I am very very grateful to have heard her story, which will not be forgotten.

  48. At 07:33 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Don Bourne wrote:

    Eddie thank you, and your producer, for such a marvelous piece of radio. Hilda Gibbons is a star as are all those who put country first and worked in all manner of jobs to keep the wolves at bay through those dark times. My Mother was a Land Girl and has always been very proud of it, recalling the friendships and achievements during those war years with pleasure and great pride.

    However, we as a country have I would suggest been a little remiss, if not down right negligent, in not properly recognising, in a timely fashion, the part all the voluntary institutions and organisations, along with the Land Army played in the salvation of our country. This recognition has to be applauded, although those who have neglected the contribution made by Hilda and my Mothers generation for all these years, whatever their political affiliation or moral stance, should feel rightly ashamed of themselves, and thank their lucky stars that Hilda's generation were selfless in their sacrifice and driven by a moral code that is sadly lacking in our society today, and would no doubt forgive them their tardiness, others may not.

  49. At 07:35 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Mrs Lynda Treliving wrote:

    My mother, aged 82, was in the Women's Land Army. How will she be found to present her with the badge as discussed on your PM prog this evening? Should I contact someone?

  50. At 07:39 PM on 06 Dec 2007, David Fielding wrote:

    Great Interview. I heard the very end in the car and it was so good that I found out how to get on the blog, so that I could hear it all!

    She reminded me again what great people my parents' generation are: they deserve the nation's respect and, as they get older, practical support

  51. At 07:41 PM on 06 Dec 2007, katie oliver wrote:

    Further to Mathew Vaughan at 3 : I couldn't agree more both for the piece on the delightful Hilda and the way it was added to in terms of intimacy and quality by Eddie Mair's light hand and the space given within the interview to Hilda.
    Thank you.

  52. At 07:44 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Glyn Radcliffe-Brine wrote:

    The most wonderful thing I have ever heard on the radio.

    Hilda is a delight!

  53. At 07:46 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Jason Griffiths wrote:

    Brilliant. Radio verite. Well done PM. I know "the news" is important and we all need to keep informed. But there's far more to the world than flawed politicians and artists in bear costumes. I'm tempted to say Hilda's ordinaryness was refreshing - but of course, as her poem showed, she's far from ordinary.

  54. At 07:48 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Humph wrote:

    PM at its best!! Thank you to Eddie, Hilda and the production team that found her, set up the interview, did the editing etc. etc. etc. For me the only question that went un-answered, indeed un-asked (naughty Eddie) was why did the lion wait so long?

    H.

  55. At 07:48 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Karl Handy wrote:

    Wonderful interview. Thank you Eddie for giving her the amount of time you did and thank you Hilda for sharing your memories with us.

    It reminded me a little of Home Truths at its best.

    Hilda is a star, especially as she had a go at "basically" too!

    Congratulations to all concerned.

  56. At 07:53 PM on 06 Dec 2007, liz reynolds wrote:

    Wonderful interview, radio 4 at it's best. Could it be recommended for pick of the year let alone pick of the week.

    Thank you both, Eddie and Hilda.

  57. At 07:55 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Jill wrote:

    Radio at its best! Sensitive interviewing brought out the best in this articulate woman, with a fascinating story to tell. I endorse all complimentary comments: more of Hilda please.

    The comment about Hilda for PM may have been a bit tongue in cheek but the interview embarrassingly highlighted how much double talk and prevarication we normally hear from so many interviewees. It took a minute or so for the ears to adjust to the strange sound of someone speaking openly and honestly!

  58. At 08:00 PM on 06 Dec 2007, VP wrote:

    Hurray for Hilda - modest, witty, stories to tell about a forgotten part of WW2 and poetry to boot. Give this woman a whole programme to herself!

  59. At 08:02 PM on 06 Dec 2007, J Evans wrote:

    What a wonderful women, thank you for giving her the time to speak without the usual interruptions!!!, she was magnificent, so natural, wonderful down to earth story, about something people would not believe was necessary in wartime.

    I sincerely hope that we can hear more lovely stories from her!!!

    Who needs those regular politcal stories, here was an 'honest' person who really did something for this country. So rare on this programme, !!Could we have more, an absolute delight to hear.

  60. At 08:10 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Francisco wrote:

    I listen to PM almost every night, but this is the first time I've ever been moved to come on the blog and leave a note. This interview was the best five minutes of Radio I've heard in many months.

    It really moved me deeply.

    Thank you.

  61. At 08:13 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Kel wrote:

    What a beautiful poem.
    My Grandma was a Land Girl, and the poem conveys the same emotions and memories that she has. The Land Girls worked so hard during the war, I'm glad that they're getting some official recognition. Sure, it's late, but it'll spread awareness nonetheless.

  62. At 08:16 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Gillian wrote:

    What a superb interview. Eddie giving Hilda time to talk. Hilda such an unassuming and natural interviewee. Eddie should be given an award for his delicate touch and Hilda should have her memories recorded, if she is in agreement. She speaks so fluently and distinctly. This is history at its best.

  63. At 08:36 PM on 06 Dec 2007, leon mexter wrote:

    A remarkable moment of radio. Hilda's interview will stay with me for a long time. Her soft yet confident voice conveyed the feel and touch of a world now lost and, through her words, she was able to transcend the generations. She could have taken the whole programme and it would not have been enough. Thank you, Hilda and thank you, Eddie Mair for allowing her the time to enthrall and engage her audience.

  64. At 08:38 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Mark Whitaker wrote:

    I agree with so many of the comments above. I'm just listening to it again now. A lovely interview, and three cheers to Eddie for his playful ("gingham"!) but respectful tone throughout. Just wonderful. It made a motorway journey home in the pouring rain an absolute delight.

    Keep it up!

    Mark

  65. At 08:46 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Martin Browne wrote:

    Hi Eddie

    I was driving home - in south Lincolnshire - when I heard your interview with Hilda.

    It was the most absorbing piece of radio I have experienced in a long time. An absolute classic and a beautifully struck balance between interviewer and interviewee.

    Time stood still and all the harsher aspects of today's news just faded into insignificance.

    The lady is a real gem.

    The world is now a better place.

    Many thanks

  66. At 08:57 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    Wonderful interview with Hilda. Well done Eddie, especially the last line.

    Agree with some above as why a badge, not a medal, and why not to all who worked, not just those who are still alive now.

    Her story of the ex-Rector and the Lion (the first part, i.e. the Rector being defrocked and going round the seaside as a show turn) is, I believe, included in Robert Graves' wartime book about Britain in the 1920's and 30's The Long Week-end, but I cannot find it in a brief skim through (a book I highly recommend, it is a contemporaneous review of the country as viewed by the newspapers, journals etc), so was interesting to hear the end - which I think must have been after Graves' had sent the book to press.

  67. At 09:09 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Millie O'Neare-Nott wrote:

    I echo the suggestion the interview nominated for Nick Clarke award. Wonderful radio.

    Eddie's closing "Thank You" said so much...

  68. At 09:30 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Fiona Jolly wrote:

    Brightened my journey home immeasurably - dried up all the rain.

    It is great to see sensitive broadcasting, showing the genuine and heroic nature of what I believe to be built into most of our population. Can we spend more time showing how wonderful people are, rather than constantly focusing on our nations' faults and problems.

    More please.

  69. At 09:39 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    Charlie (46),

    While I'm not here to glorify war films, I believe one film which was highlighting the Mosquito and a raid on a ball bearing factory *did* include characters such as a Sikh pilot. I thought it rather radical at the time, not realising that it was a pale reflection of a greater truth.

    I recently read - or was it a Mark Tulley programme? - that the British Army in the Western Desert regularly had to rely on the Indian Army to get them out of scrapes. True the Indian army was British lead at the time, but where is the record of that?

    There was also a recent Woman's Hour item on the female pilots who flew the planes.

    Here is another "unknown" - althought there are many more:

    Czech,Polish and other E Europeans flew in the Battle of Britain, and entire squadrons of (mostly US) Americans - The Eagle Squadrons - were in action years before the US declared war.


    But you are right, it's all being forgotten, and a "sanitised" version is being prepared for the future to be taught.

  70. At 10:18 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Mark Marshall wrote:

    Superb radio. When the Second World War is discussed we hear much about the exploits of the Few - but little about the efforts of the Many.

    For me, Hilda epitomised a Great Briton.

  71. At 10:21 PM on 06 Dec 2007, BARBARA CONN wrote:

    Thank you Eddie and Hilda for a heartwarming interview. I too was driving home and cursing the torrential rain and other motorists, when this interview lifted me away from a gloomy December night and back to the world of genuine northern 'lasses' like Hilda, whom I remember from my childhood. Truly the 'salt of the earth' and an inspiration to us all!

  72. At 10:22 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Jackie Sumner wrote:

    Eddie many thanks to you and Hilda. A very moving and inspiring piece. Thank you to you and your team for crediting the subject and Hilda's contributions with the time they deserved. Thanks to Hilda and all her peers for all they did during the war - it is wonderful that they are finally being celebrated.

  73. At 10:25 PM on 06 Dec 2007, John Russon wrote:

    Quality radio turned a wet and miserable drive home into a pleasure. Brilliant!!

  74. At 10:29 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Dee wrote:

    I too was completely absorbed by this as many of seem to have been and cannot help wondering whether this was not only Hilda's obvious strength and candour yet utter humility and charm, but also the fact that the truth about news programmes past and present, is that we just do not hear enough about what may not always be sensationalistic, but mundane and yet just as fascinating as those of us who lead very ordinary lives, but which make a contribution to making a better life for others....this is even more so, when it is the stories of womens' lives which have been hidden form history amongst the iconic hero stories.
    Hilda and all the land girls deserve more than badges; they may be to unassuming to want recognition in terms of monetary reward, but I hope that someone who has the power to do so can give these women something back, which will be some kind of dream come true for them. Hearing stories such as that of Hilda's will help other women starting out in life to aspire to more independence and give them the knowledge that they too can do traditionally 'male' roles. Thank you Hilda and all of the other land girls for the hardships and sacrifices you made back then. You are truly inspirational. Peace to you all.

  75. At 10:31 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Andrew Vines wrote:

    Fascinating interview. Eddie Mair is the epitome of less is more.

  76. At 10:37 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Barry Proffitt wrote:

    I heard the Hilda interview while driving home. Moving, informative and amusing. What a terrific contrast this modest lady made to the puffed-up arrogant self-aggrandising politicians who normally populate the airwaves at this time of day. No spin, just a true story well told.

    May I also say how well the interviewer handled it. The BBC doing what it does best. Top notch. Thanks.

  77. At 10:39 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Molly wrote:

    I've just been listening to the lovely interview with Hilda.In a few short minutes she managed to put into words her memories of life as a Land Girl, full of compassion,warmth and a wicked sense of humour.
    A wonderful piece of social history.

    Thank YOU, Eddie, too.

    Mollyxx

  78. At 10:48 PM on 06 Dec 2007, The Intermittent Horse wrote:

    I missed PM tonight but thanks to the SpashCast I have just caught up with Hilda and Eddie. Just how did you get hold of such a wonderful interviewee Eddie?

    Thank you for Radio 4, thank you for PM and thank you for a presenter who knows that listening is as important as speaking. It doesn't get any better than this.

  79. At 10:52 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Ed Seiffert wrote:

    They deserve a hero badge, each and every one. Thanks Hilda and a fine interview as well. Ed, USA

  80. At 10:52 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Neill Murray wrote:

    Just to add my congratulations for allowing this lady to express her wonderful character in this way, without the pressure or impatience so often associated with 'current affairs'.

    I think most of us know someone like Hilda, and we are all better people for listening to what they have to offer in experience & philosophy.

    Thanks to the team, and keep up the good work Eddie!

  81. At 10:55 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Gwynneth Whitehouse wrote:

    Hilda's interview was a rare gem. she is a natural broadcaster. The rector of Stiffkey and the lion was a classic anecdote that reminded me why I listen to Radio 4. Thank you Eddie and Hilda.

  82. At 11:00 PM on 06 Dec 2007, MJ wrote:

    Splendid story, sensitive interviewer and congratulations to PM for allowing the time to hear this amazing item in its entirety. I am sure we will hear this again in highlights of the year - a stunning piece of radio

  83. At 11:09 PM on 06 Dec 2007, mark wrote:

    Would like to add my voice to the chorus. The most wonderful radio interview I can remember and well done PM for giving her space to talk. To be charmed , entertained, humbled and moved and all within the space of a few minutes was quite breathtaking. Quite simply stunning radio.

  84. At 11:11 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Nigel Noble wrote:

    Spot on as usual.

  85. At 12:21 AM on 07 Dec 2007, John Greenway wrote:

    As much as I enjoy listening to PM everyday on the way home from work, I have never before been moved to log onto the PM website to revisit the programme. But when I heard Hilda talking and reading her poem I was lost in her wonderful story and warm voice and just had to listen to it again. Thank you Eddie and the BBC for allowing her talk without interruption and time pressure. Very well done.

  86. At 12:22 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Ken Seager wrote:

    Late I know, but I just wanted to say that, driving home tonight, I am so glad I was listening to your interview, Eddie, with Hilda. I was spellbound-it was one of those rare occasions when you realise you've been fortunate enough to be present when something magical has happened.

  87. At 12:31 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Chris S wrote:

    I just want to say to Hilda, in a society where everything is taken for granted, and so little appreciated, thank you for the spirit you carried through those times - and thank you for the warmth of your character, it has renewed my faith in people as I lay my head down.

    What a great piece of broadcasting too. It is good to see the BBC still stands for this kind of content as well as the continuous spool of celebrity based talent shows!


  88. At 12:47 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Maurice Crichton wrote:

    The moment came a minute or two into the interview - the throttled rabbits - when I was thinking this is fabulous radio but already with a mournful sense it was about to end. But it did not. And we were treated and I mean treated to the surreal Ex Rector digression and for a moment I was listening to an Alan Bennett monologue. And there was still more to come: was I alone in sensing a romance in Hilda's connection with the Merchant Seamen? And then right back slam on the point and the heart, Hilda's poem.

    Thank you Elouise Twisk and Eddie for recognising how much Hilda has to give us. And to you Hilda, you made my day today.

  89. At 12:58 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Muriel Parke wrote:

    Thank you Hilda, for telling people today about the time during the War, when Britain needed people like you and your fellow workers.
    Thanks to the BBC and you, Eddie Mair for a great interview.

  90. At 01:01 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Sheila Hetherington wrote:

    Andrew Neill on This Week mentioned Eddie Mair's interview with Hilda. He said it was 'a cracker' he was absolutely right.

    What a lovely lady. We could never have got through that war without women like her. It's about time they were recognized!

    Hilda said she'd had a book of her poems published please let us know more about it

  91. At 01:14 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Fireman Sam wrote:

    As a 50 year old firefighter with a Trade Union background and having served at ‘my’ sharp end for 30 years, stories of how the war was won usually leave me cold due to my cynicism about politicians and the politics of war. Sitting in a traffic jam in Glasgow on my way home this Thursday evening and listening to the interview with Hilda Gibson, I was moved to tears. Thank you so much Hilda and thanks to Eddie and the team at pm for getting it oh so right.

  92. At 01:25 AM on 07 Dec 2007, whirledpease wrote:

    nice interview. but the rector was possibly merely a maligned eccentric.not someone who helped 'fallen' women 'fall a bit further'-, He served in WW1, seemed to be tolerant of his wife having in the mean time gotten pregnant in his absence (gave her the choice of whether to be separated from him or not) and was eventually as far as this charge, framed by someone to get him out of the church, then ultimately killed by malpractice rather than the lion

    http://www.answers.com/topic/harold-davidson

  93. At 02:18 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Sue Ward wrote:

    Fabulous interview. Every family should have a Hilda Gibson.

  94. At 02:45 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Sylvia Kennedy wrote:

    What an absolute joy Hilda is. With her natural story-telling flair, amazing memory and comforting voice, she transported me from the kitchen, where I was making dinner, to the world of the Land Girls. Hilda's poem capped off a truly superb interview which had me both laughing and crying.

    Let's have more of this type of programming - real people with wonderful stories to tell. This was a delightful early Christmas gift. Thank you Eddie and Hilda for an unexpected treat.

  95. At 02:54 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Ian wrote:

    A superb piece of radio. Mr Mair is to be commended for having the sense to simply allow this wonderful woman to tell her story. A pleasure to listen without interruption to Ms Gibson's fascinating and well-told story. Like Mr Mair, I too should like to thank Ms Gibson in the fullest sense of the word.

  96. At 06:04 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Peter renfrew wrote:

    I had just started my night shift driving my hgv lorry through pouring rain on a busy motorway when I heard Hildas interview. It made my night. It has prompted me to go on the blog for the first time and listen to the interview again. I have taken notes to give to my aunt who was in the land army and then the ATS. If people are interested there are hundreds of peoples accounts on the BBC Peoples War which I think are now stored at the national archives

  97. At 07:43 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Tom Smith wrote:

    10 out of 10 for interviewer and interviewee.

  98. At 07:54 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Maurice Littlewood wrote:

    Just adding my praise for the Hilda Gibson interview. I don't think I've ever heard an 8 minute interview before, but worth every second.
    There again, as her son-in-law I might be slightly biased. For the record, Hilda is nearly blind so her poem wasn't actually read, simply memory recall.

  99. At 08:02 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Fiona wrote:

    I would just like to add my thanks and congratulations for that absolutely wonderful interview last night. Hilda was a real joy to listen to and it was wonderful that she was allowed the time and space to talk - and for us to be able to hear it unedited. Thank you Eddie and the team, you did a fantastic job there.
    Fiona x

  100. At 08:04 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    whirledpease (92)

    Thank you for the reference - I can confirm the *entire* episode of the Rector and the Lion is related in Graves' book (my 66 above).

  101. At 08:52 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Tim Pollard wrote:

    I missed the original broadcast but thanks to Andrew Neil (and who'd have thought they'd ever use that phrase?) enthusiastically recommending it last night on BBC1's 'This Week' I heard it on 'Listen Again' and just wanted to say thank you to Hilda, Eddie and all involved - it was funny, riveting, poignant and utterly captivating.

  102. At 09:45 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Arthur. wrote:

    To: Eddie and PM,

    Your the first to know...I'm in love with a Land Girl.

  103. At 09:54 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Eddie: Do you think you could phone Hilda today and tell her, from all of us who have posted on the Blog, how much we enjoyed her interview and what a wonderful person we all think she is?

    Another example of valuing the experiences and lives of an older generation, something of which we could all do more.

  104. At 10:12 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Lee Vitout wrote:

    Big Sister (103)

    I'll second that.

  105. At 10:32 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Joe Palooka wrote:

    The Rector of Stiffkey - Seventy years after his funeral, his epitaph reads, "He was loved by the villagers who recognised his humanity and forgave him his transgressions. Rest in peace".

    I think the case should be reopened.

  106. At 10:34 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Eddie Mair wrote:

    Big Sis, (103) I think we will be in touch with Hilda, to thank her of course, and pass on the sentiments of Bloggers and emailers.

  107. At 10:49 AM on 07 Dec 2007, William wrote:

    Truly spellbinding..
    My walk home in the rain became magical thanks to Hilda Gibson. I can still smile just thinking of her words, outlook and most splendid poem..

    Where is her book she mentioned!? I would buy a copy for all I know!

    Thank you, Hilda.

  108. At 10:59 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Just add me to the list of those who appreciated the piece. Good work on your part too, as usual, Eddie.
    Salaam, etc.
    ed

  109. At 11:21 AM on 07 Dec 2007, JG wrote:

    Broadcasters must have been hoping to find a successor to Fred Dibnah for years. Perhaps you've found on in Freda Gibson. Her interview was enchanting.

  110. At 12:20 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Francisco wrote:

    You know, I just listened to it again.

    And it made me cry, again.

  111. At 12:23 PM on 07 Dec 2007, DI Wyman wrote:

    I commented last eve via the Glass Box on the quality of the prog, but will say it hear again.....nice one Hilda and Big Sis (103), I hope Eddie does.

    And William (107) let us know if you find out where to get a copy.

  112. At 12:24 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Charlie wrote:

    Eddie

    Does the PM Team keep a record of which programme items received the largest number of Blog responses?

    If so, how about posting a list of say the Top 20 items and the number of posts they received?

  113. At 12:59 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Clarence wrote:

    I too absolutely adored Hilda - I was laughing with tears in my eyes. She is wonderful - and Eddie was a perfect interviewer. Sorry if I'm repeating what everyone else has said! How about a Hilda poem instead of Big Ben? And please can she write a poem about that rector and the lion.

  114. At 01:00 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Gordon wrote:

    Like many other posters, I regularly enjoy PM but have bever before felt moved to contribute to the blog.

    How wonderful it was to hear someone speaking openly and naturally to tell their extraordinary yet ordinary story, with candour, wit and humility.

    The poem was beautiful and evocative. I'd love to know where to get hold of a collection of Hilda's poetry.

    Thanks, Hilda, for letting us hear you; and thanks Eddie and Elouise for your fantastically light touch. You really created something special, and reminded a lot of us how much we owe to an amazing generation who, one by one, we are losing.

    Spellbinding radio.

  115. At 01:03 PM on 07 Dec 2007, jonnie wrote:

    It was a fabulous and moving interview.

    Gingham indeed ;-)

    Perhaps one to box up for next years sony's - as the blog aint going to win anything - that's for sure.

  116. At 01:17 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Ian B wrote:

    A wonderful interview with a lovely lady. Hilda is an inspiration to us all. thank you for giving her so much air-time, Eddie.

    It made my trudge home in the rain far more bearable.

    Next time Big Ben is out of action, let’s have more memoirs and poems from Hilda

  117. At 01:22 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Catriona MacLeod wrote:

    I've just caught up with this interview by listening to it on the blog, (thanks to Andrew Neil)and I finished up in floods of tears. What an amazing and sensitive interview by Eddie and what a joy and delight Hilda is. Her courage, honesty, sense of fun and down to earth attitude made me wish we had more of this in our lives. Do please let her know how much so many of us appreciated this.

  118. At 01:46 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Mary wrote:

    Well Eddie that was such a lovely interview to listen to. Jonnie has just played it to me. It took me straight back to the wartime when I was 11 years old, born in 1928. Cycling to school whilst the doodle bugs were overhead. Off the bike, wait a while then on again and off to school, often not bothering with the air raid shelters rather take pot luck and have a nice bed.

  119. At 01:52 PM on 07 Dec 2007, John Coppin wrote:

    I just wanted to register my thanks for a very enjoyable interview. It's so refreshing to hear such a charming, genuine and interesting character after all the white noise and psycho-babble of political interviews

  120. At 02:08 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    Sorry for being late - my goodness, what a lot of comments.

    Fabulous interview, fabulous interviewee.

    You can find all sorts of stuff about the land girls on the national archive site - I was particularly taken with the article 'Timber measuring for women' (how different is it for men?), the difficulties women have reversing tractors, and, of course, the vexed question of whether land girls ought to wear make-up (´Land Girls should be aware that make-up on the farm is much more conspicuous than in a town and that country people are less-used to make-up than town people.´)

    Great stuff.

    Sid

  121. At 03:16 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Joy Knight wrote:

    Dear Hilda
    I so enjoyed your talk with the incomparable Eddie Mair.
    I was delighted, moved to tears and laughed aloud. Thankyou both so very much.,
    Please can someone tell me where I can get a copy of your poems?
    Kind regaards
    Joy knight

  122. At 03:33 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Dick Winchester wrote:

    A very remarkable woman.

    I found her comments very humbling when I thought of what a mess the current generation is doing with the freedom that she and others gave us.

    A terrific interview Eddie.. Lets have more of these. Talking to "ordinary folks" is often far more valuable and worthwhile than talking to any ruddy politician!

  123. At 03:51 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Paula Hunsdon wrote:

    I did not hear the complete interview yesterday but listened today. Thank you for giving us the chance to hear this gem. It was both moving and heartwarming. I thought of that better country which seems to be disappearing at an alarming rate. Thank you Hilda and of course Eddie. Long may you both flourish

  124. At 04:22 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Les Bate wrote:

    Hi Eddie

    People like Hilda is one of the few reasons left for being proud to be British. God Bless her! :o)

    Les

  125. At 05:45 PM on 07 Dec 2007, pete wigens wrote:

    I can't really add to what has already been said except to say thank you eric molestrangler (or whatever nom de muir you're using tonight). Hilda for Nobel prize!

  126. At 05:47 PM on 07 Dec 2007, lily wrote:

    Yay my grandma Hilda rocks!!!!!!

    I get to hear all her stories!

    she needs have her own show!

    lily gibson

  127. At 05:56 PM on 07 Dec 2007, zombizi wrote:

    You're a lucky girl, and right too - your grandma does rock!

  128. At 06:03 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Sue, Lady Kilbracken wrote:

    I was so moved by the Hilda interview yesterday - partly because she sounded such a wonderful woman but also because Eddie did such a sensitive interview with her. Is this the same man who can saber down and humble politicians and crooks with a lash of his tongue? The man whose quick wit is at all times aeons ahead of the interviewee? His warmth and obvious genuine affection for Hilda shone through and made this one of the best interviews, of his or anyone else's, I've ever heard. Like anyone else who heard it, it brought a tear to my eye. Eddie - STERLING job! Hilda is a national treasure and you treated her with such respect and gentlemanliness. Medals all round.

  129. At 06:13 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Jennifer Frazer wrote:

    It was a magical and magnificent piece of radio, allowing so many people to share in Mrs Gibson's crystal clear memories. So few people of any age are so lucid and coherent. Her poem moved me and many other listeners to tears. Thank you to PM and Eddie Mair.

  130. At 06:38 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Anne Shelmerdine wrote:

    Having been told by Eddie this evening to listen on the Blog of the interview with Hilda last night I have just finished reading all the emails, all 127 of them.

    Anything I say has been said before but I will say it again. Thank you Eddie, such a sensitive interview and thank you Hilda.

    Sorry I missed the last of PM Eddie but I did what you told me to and boy was it worth it.

    Thanks also to the PM team.

    Anne

  131. At 07:21 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Tim Collins wrote:

    I would just like to echo much of the above. The eight minute Hilda Gibson interview was great radio and having heard it 'live' in the car it was good to be able to use the Listen Again and save a copy for the future. From the previous comments I can see that I am not the first to say it but an hour long Land Girls and Lumber-Jills programme could be made of the story / the poems / the recollections ... and, if the BBC is up for it, why not talk to the Imperial War Museum about publishing the resulting interview and poems as I'm sure there would be interest. Keep up the good work and more interviews like this please !

  132. At 07:36 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Dinnae let yer heid outgrow yer tourie, Eddie.

    Yours Aye,
    ed

  133. At 07:57 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Stuart Antrobus wrote:

    Congratulations on a wonderful interview.

    My favourite poem by Hilda is REMEMBER US which was recently broadcast, on my recommendation, by BBC Radio 2 on the programme of songs and poems written by non-combatants on the Home Front during the Second World War, called "A War Less Ordinary",on Sat. 10 November at 9.15pm.

    I've spent the last five years researching the Women's Land Army. If you'd like to know more about land girls' lives, enter my name into Google and click on the links to my Bedfordshire Libraries web pages.

    Stuart Antrobus

  134. At 08:04 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Graham Cooper wrote:

    Heard this last night and had to listen again on the internet again tonight. What a superb interview - eloquent Hilda very gently prompted by Eddie. It has obviously touched thousands of people of all ages.

  135. At 08:14 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Graham wrote:

    I don't normally do blogs but I questioned why this piece has created so much praise and gratitude.
    Two proverbs ,maybe ? -:
    "You never miss your water till your well runs dry" - God Bless You - Hilda !
    "A great listener will always beat a great talker" - Sheer Class Eddie !

  136. At 08:47 PM on 07 Dec 2007, PAUL HINCHLIFFE wrote:

    Hilda was wonderful now thats the sort of person the BBC should do a feature on women like this before its too late rather than the screaming people we hear so many times on our morning TV. She a Yorkshire treasure.

  137. At 10:12 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Becky Sandover wrote:

    Like some others, this is the first time I've been moved to comment, but I loved the interview with Hilda. She is truly remarkable in her ordinariness. I hope to be like her at that age- maybe finally having published my own poems. Its great to hear that women from an older generation have the self possesion to share their experiences in such insightful and personal ways. Many do not feel that their voice counts, Hilda shows they can and should.

    Thank you Eddie and the team.

  138. At 10:35 PM on 07 Dec 2007, rob tims wrote:

    perhaps if people like Hilda had ended up running this country after the war, we would find ourselves in a far better place than we are in now: she positivly oozes common sense and decency.
    I am a 56 year old man and I don't mind admitting that I cried when she read her poem.
    Eddie Mair-best interview yet: keep it up
    Well done both

  139. At 11:13 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Ann Kramer wrote:

    What a wonderful interview with Hilda Gibson - witty and moving all at the same time. I've recently finished a book on the Women's Land Army and had the enormous pleasure and privilege of interviewing a number of former land girls, all of whom seem to share Hilda Gibson's rather self-effacing but also proud memories of their time in the Land Army. Most describe themselves as members of a 'forgotten army', so I'm sure they must be pleased to finally be receiving this recognition.

  140. At 01:04 AM on 08 Dec 2007, Martin Williams wrote:

    I just want to add my voice to the rapidly increasing chorus in praise of Hilda and of Eddie's wonderfully indulgent interview - this was definitely my radio moment of the year!
    Thank you both.

  141. At 08:08 AM on 08 Dec 2007, eddie mair wrote:

    Joy (121)we asked Hilda yesterday if they'd been published in a form that listeners could get hold of - as we would happily have announced the title etc - but they haven't. Hilda was happy for us to use more of her work on this Blog. We have added a Hilda thread (look on the right of the page under "Categories") and you'll find one more there. We may put more up...but frankly we think she should make some money out of them with a publisher and we are holding off! Watch this space.

  142. At 05:48 PM on 08 Dec 2007, Lauren Gibson wrote:

    The interview was wonderful, it's not very often you get to listen to such insightful interviews and am extremely lucky that Hilda is my Grandma. I am delighted that now alot more people recognise just how special a lady she is and she is the glue that binds our family together.

  143. At 06:12 PM on 09 Dec 2007, Nikki Little wrote:

    What a lovely, honest interview, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Hilda. I sincerely hope that Hilda's poems are published, as it was wonderful listening to such inspirational poetry.

  144. At 03:42 PM on 12 Dec 2007, Robin Coulson wrote:

    What a wonderful piece, a generous and simple tribute to an individual and those who she unconciously represented, a genuinely touching piece of Radio with a capital R.

    Well done Hilda, Eddie and all on P.M.

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