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15 October 2014
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Land Girl (J.Shakespeare)

by Bournemouth Libraries

Contributed by 
Bournemouth Libraries
People in story: 
Mrs. Jean Shakespeare
Location of story: 
North Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
06 October 2004

I was evacuated from Solihull to Scrooby near Doncaster when the war started. I was eleven at the time and our whole school went.

We were situated between the Great North Road and the main railway line to Scotland. The railway was very busy. Every time a train went past the house shook. I remember the "Flying Scotsman" go by each day.

One day a Geman Heinkel crashed in a field near the school. Afterwards we searched for souvenirs. I collected some bullets which I kept for years afterwards. Later I found that they were still "live". The crew of the plane escaped, but we never heard what happened to them.

I didn't enjoy my time there at all. The people I was staying with made porridge on a Monday which was warmed up each day. It was horrible and lumpy. They had no children of their own. My cousin was staying with me too. The husband was a chapel man and we had to learn the 93rd psalm off by heart. They kept us out of the house during the day; not very nice in the winter.

One day my parents visited unexpectedly. I had been writing to them but the people I were staying with never sent my letters onto them. They were so appalled at the conditions that they took us straight home.

When I was 14 I left school and started working at the Rover factory in Solihull. It wasn't making cars then, but testing out a new design of jet engine. This was very secret and "hush hush". We weren't allowed to talk about it to anyone. I was working in the offices and used to have to take memos to where the jets were being tested. It was very noisy and it effected my hearing thereafter.

On Saturdays we all finished work at the same time. Suddenly, without warning one day, a Stuker aircraft started machine gunning us. We didn't look up but put on our tin hats and ran for cover. Some were killed, but things like that were kept quiet and not reported.

Shortly afterwards I joined the Land Army. We went for training at Redditch, which left me with lots of allegies. I was sent to Coventry, just at the time of the bombing. I worked on a dairy farm, taking the milk round to Exhall, by pony and trap. I enjoyed that. The milkmen were called Mr.Robin and Mr.Nightingale. We missed the bombs, but could see the effects on nearby
Coventry by the red sky over the city as it burned.

Then I went to Henley in Arden and later a larger farm with livestock. It was quieter there on this 2,000 acre estate. It was really hard work though, but I enjoyed it. We started milking at 4 o'clock. We had the first milking machine in the country. The winter of 1947 was one of the hardest ever, with 6ft. deep drifts. Instead of cycling, we had to walk to work.

I left the Land Army in 1948, just as it was winding down. The hours were long but we had some fun.


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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Land Girl

Posted on: 06 October 2004 by Audrey Lewis - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Mrs. Shakespeare,
It was so interesting reading the account of your various moves during the war. What experiences - and all so different. It is good that you have had them written down and put on this site. Perhaps, when you can, you'll read some of the wonderful stories on the site. They will give you a wonderful insight into the lives of WW2 people. Perhaps you may remember more of your own stories to tell?
All good wishes,
Audrey Lewis

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Land Army Category
Coventry and Warwickshire Category
Nottinghamshire Category
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