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Tending Cows in the Land Army

by Wymondham Learning Centre

Contributed by 
Wymondham Learning Centre
People in story: 
Florence Todman (nee Howe). Major Miller Munday. Mr & Mrs Bartlett.
Location of story: 
Red Rice Farm, near Abbots Ann, Hampshire.
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A3843533
Contributed on: 
30 March 2005

Florence Todman

This story was submitted to the BBC People’s War site by Wymondham Learning Centre on behalf of the authors and has been added to the site with their permission. The authors fully understand the site's terms and conditions.

After spending some time in domestic service at the outbreak of World War Two, I decided to join the Women’s Land Army. I was living in Winchester at the time so I joined the Hampshire Section. I was sent to the estate of Major Miller Munday, which was near to the village of Abbots Ann. I do remember the house on the estate very well since it was very posh and had many servants. The farm was called Red Rice Farm. I only saw Major Munday very occasionally since for most of the war he was in London.
On joining the Land Army I was supplied with overalls to work in and a warm coat. The breeches I was given were only for best.
I was billeted with a couple called Mr and Mrs Bartlett, who worked and lived on the estate. The Bartletts had two daughters, one of whom was in the A.T.S. During my time there I attended her wedding in Abbots Ann. The cottage always had plenty of callers as Mrs. Bartlett used to buy large quantities of cigarettes and matches each week in Andover and then sell them from her house to the soldiers who were billeted on the estate before being sent overseas. As soon as one group of soldiers left the estate another regiment would come and camp.
The setting of the farm in a very rural area was not a shock to me as I had been born in Burnham Market, Norfolk. There were only two land girls on this farm; I worked in the dairy. Before arriving at the estate I had had no previous dairying experience and had to get up every morning at 4 a.m. The man milked the cows, which were all TT-tested. The milk would then be piped into the dairy and I had to put the churns under the pipe. I put the milk into bottles for the people who lived on the estate and took milk up to Major Munday’s house in a large can, as well as a large jug of cream. I also had to make butter for Major Munday’s household. The Major’s son had one Jersey cow and its milk was used for making butter.
There was a boiler in my part of the dairy and I had to wash all the churns out after use and put them in a drier to sterilize them. The dairy also had to be washed by throwing water over the floor. Occasionally I would help collect up the cows for milking.
During my time at the farm I had a bicycle and some Sundays I would go on a bike ride. At the nearest village there were dances and whist drives which I attended. There were many soldiers and local people at these events. In Andover there was a club for land girls and I would attend dances there. I was allowed a weekend off from the farm occasionally.

I very much enjoyed my time as a Land Army girl in Hampshire. My husband, whom I knew before the war, was sent home from Egypt during my time there and visited me on the farm. In 1944 we married and I then returned to Norfolk and continued in the Land Army at Ludham. It was a much larger herd of cows I worked with and I had to milk them by hand.
I have since returned to the estate I worked on in Hampshire and was surprised to see it is now a boys’ boarding school.

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Land Army Category
Hampshire Category
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