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15 October 2014
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Life in the Land Army

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Elizabeth Smith
Location of story: 
West Sussex
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
23 November 2005

I volunteered for the Land Army in 1941 and served for 4 years. I did 4 weeks training with another land girl on a dairy farm. The cows were new to the milking machines and were nervous, and I was new to both the cows and the milking, and was very nervous indeed. I was transferred to a 200 acre farm where we fattened bullocks and made hay with primitive tools, but very little else for the war effort. The owner had the farm mainly for shooting and he was living in Torquay, so eventually the War Agricultural Committee commandeered the farm and I was transferred to a small mixed farm. Here I enjoyed it all. We had fruit, pigs, poultry, and arable. I was responsible for the pigs and we went from producing porkers for market to breeding Wessex Saddlebacks pigs, which meant keeping their feeding within the rations we were allowed, and grooming them for the show ring. They are the cleanest of animals and great bed makers. If ever the pigs escaped from their pens it was usually when we were in our best clothes on the way to church, but I loved them. We land girls had a quieter calmer way with animals, and it showed. I had wondered what one would do on a fruit farm in winter with no fruit to pick. I soon learnt that you pruned the trees all day in all weathers. Dressed in macs and souwesters we sprayed the trees 4 times a year. Three times a week we went on the tractor to the Canadian camp to collect the swill for the pigs, which had to be boiled to avoid any chance of infection. The swill was so good the pigs thrived on it. We had a little haymaking and harvesting which we enjoyed, although it was hard work and long hours. We had double summer time so it was light until 10 in the evening. When the war came to the end I chose to leave the land army, but it was a very interesting time in my life and I have always kept my interest in farming.

This story was entered on The People's War Website by Stuart Ross on behalf of Elizabeth Smith, who fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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