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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Keeping the Flag Flying in WW2

by celiabloor

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Nora Wright
Location of story: 
Cheshire Women's Land Army Hostels
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
01 April 2005

Nora Wright, Women's Land Army

Keeping the flag flying in WW2 by Nora Wright

When I left Sound school (nr Nantwich Cheshire) on Dec. 24th 1941, one day after my 14th birthday, all I wished to do was to be in the Women’s Land Army. However you had to be at least 17 to enlist so I went to work in the Hostels and then was accepted fully at 17.
On Feb 13th 1942 I went to Tabley W.L.A. Hostel near Knutsford, Cheshire, as deputy orderly. I earned 12s.6d a week rising to £1.14s.6d by June. The matron was Miss Blackley and we both went on to Oakmere Hall nr. Northwich. I did not like it there because it was very dark in the forest and of course no outside lights could be used. Then I went to Smallwood Hostel nr. Sandbach. Like Tabley it was a new built brick barrack with cold concrete floors. Coke stoves and a coke boiler provided heating but there was none in the dormitories. It was my job to supply the large barrowloads of coke. On the cook’s day off I prepared the vegetables and helped with the cooking.
Then I was transferred to Cholmondeley Hostel which was in the old Vicarage on the estate. There was a big walled kitchen garden which provided all sorts of fruit and vegetables. There was a petrol generator providing electricity which I had to keep running. Supplying food for 30 land girls and the staff, providing fuel and cleaning was certainly a full day. The Land girls took a packed lunch and had a cooked evening meal. Land girls had extra cheese, bacon and cake rations.
When I became 17 I enrolled in Chester and received my number and uniform but was disappointed to return to the same work! I was happy there though and stayed there until after VJ day. We had entertainment about once a month, mostly old films or an ENSA concert. There were many lectures on a Friday night. Sometimes on farming, at others, health, including venereal disease and head lice. The girls were tested for proficiency in farming and they were inspected for head lice each month. On one occasion 22 out of the 30 girls were found to be infested.
Turbans were worn over long hair when working near machinery for safety. There were deliveries of bulk face cream which was shared out for sale to the girls. Cooking was done on a large black cast iron coal fired range. Twice a week it had to be let out and cleaned. Ladies from the estate came in to do this and clean the hostel each day. Bed linen and towels were sent to the laundry at Whitchurch but you had to do your own personal washing and ironing. There was a great sense of comradeship, everyone was away from their home but working with a common purpose.
Although the war was over, the work of the Land girls continued for some time. My last move was to Audlem Hostel — ‘The Elms’ in Cheshire St. This was my last 3 months as a Land Girl. When we needed a plumber I met my future husband, Peter Bate and settled in Audlem.
Nora is mentioned in Kate Adie's book on the role of women in war and she has deposited a fuller account with the Imperial War museum.

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