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What's the french for 'Dung Flinging'?

by threecountiesaction

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Archive List > Working Through War

Contributed by 
threecountiesaction
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: 
A4753370
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.

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