BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in February 2012We've left it here for reference.More information

25 July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site Print this page 

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!


What's the french for 'Dung Flinging'?

by threecountiesaction

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Working Through War

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Patricia Enid Wilks (nee Webb) and sister Nora Webb
Location of story: 
Near Calne in Wiltshire
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
04 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Pat’s daughter (Rachel Irven), a volunteer from Three Counties Action, on behalf of Pat, and has been added to the site with her permission. Pat fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

It was summer 1940, I was 14 and still at school, coming up for the School Certificate exams.
Fairly early one evening and my sister, serving locally with the Women’s Land Army, was doing overtime, dung flinging.
Dung flinging was quite an interesting occupation, requiring some brawn and skill — and was maybe a bit PONGY. Heaps of manure were placed at 9 foot intervals, and, armed with a fork, one literally had to fling the dung, spreading it evenly within the 9 foot area so as to maximise the fertilising quality of the dung. This had to be done accurately and ‘soontly’ (a Wiltshire word for smoothly).
Dung flinging was fun — quite hard work, but it left plenty of time for social conversation between the participants. I used to help my sister (unpaid, of course) but I could use the exercise to practice French verbs and conversation. I never did learn the French equivalent for ‘Dung flinging’ (does anyone know or have a rough guess at a translation?) I managed to pass my French exam with a credit , however, without this vital information fortunately.
War work could be amusing as well as profitable — but not often financially!
Incidentally, a field of gherkins we later sowed was not so successful — only one or two straggly plants struggled above the earths surface — not a splendid crop! I’ve always wondered ‘Why Gherkins?’. What magic vitamin did they possess to enhance our wartime diet? Or were they some sort of inefficient secret weapon? ‘Gherkin’ sounds a bit like a French word too.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Working Through War Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy