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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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by csvdevon

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Archive List > Land Army

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Miss Joyce Smith (now Mrs J.O'Donnell & Mr & Mrs Arther & Dulcie Willis
Location of story: 
Castle Bromwich, Warwickshire
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
02 August 2005

I hated culling chicks as they hatched out, weaklings were tossed out. There were hundreds of them on trays in the incubator. I was taught to kill poultry by laying their heads on the ground with a bar across their necks and you tugged upwards. The first chicken I was so afraid I did not kill it first time, the head came clean off.

After a few months I had an accident and broke my ankle coming off my cycle in the ford at Kenilworth. I had to cycle 20 miles home to have a bath, as the landlady had no bath, stay home overnight and back early next morning for work at 6.30. I left until my ankle was healed.

My new job I went to a market garden. Three land girls worked there, Big Betty and Little Betty and myself. I hated all the hoeing, a 30 acre field of cabbages etc. So I asked to be transferred to General Farming, tractor driving, working with two horses, harrowing a discing fields. Nothing more satisfying than walking behind two horses all day long. Feeding stock, cows for fattening and milking by hand. Hedging, muckspreading, cutting kale and pulling swedes for cattle. On icy mornings my hands were so sore with the wet and cold.

Potato picking was done by prisoners of war, Germans and Italians. We had to load bags on a trailer. This all happened on the farm. Mr Willis, Attleboro Farm, Water Orton, 6 miles from Birmingham. The farmer had three brothers so I had to help at the other farms at busy times. Hay making, corn harvest etc. Very hard work, but I did enjoy it. Winter time would be time for thrashing, separating corn from storks. Farmers' wives worked hard also and I said I would never marry a farmer.

Seed corn for next year's planting weighed 2.25 cwt and we had to unload and store in an old cottage. Of course there is a knack to all this and I had built up muscle although only 8 stone.

But, happy, happy times, how the war changed our lives. I think I have given you a fair idea of my life in the Land Army. It changed a town girl into a life in the country areas.

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