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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Memories of Land Army Girl, Mary McGivern

by Macker

Contributed by 
Macker
People in story: 
Mary McGivern
Location of story: 
Bletchley
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A2308484
Contributed on: 
18 February 2004

I joined the Land Army when I was 18, with two of my friends who I worked with. However, when it actually came to going, they changed their minds, so I decided to go on my own. I had always fancied living in the country and eventually would have been called up to go into munitions, or one of the services anyway. I travelled down from Manchester to Buckinghamshire with a few other girls I met at the station. We were billeted at Bletchley in a hostel which was run by a warden. I remember feeling very excited as I'd never been that far from home before.

We soon settled in and were put to work learning various jobs on the farms. We didn't stay on any one farm at a time, we could be a few days at one place, or a few weeks at another depending on the jobs. The work was allocated to us by two conscientious objectors, a Mr Earl and a man we called Ossie, we never did know his proper name. They were very good to us and saw to it that the farmers treated us properly.

The job I liked best was harvesting the corn, this would last a couple of weeks or more depending on the size of the farm. We took it in turns doing various jobs because some of them were very dirty such as round the back of the machine, where the chaff was collected. I liked being on the top of sick where we fed the coin into the machine. It was all very hard work, especially with the sun beating down on us, but I loved every minute of it and it certainly made me very strong. The job I didn't like was potato picking, it was a back breaking job. Another job was hoeing cabbages and turnips and all manner of vegetables. When we were threshing, the farmers wife used to bring us homemade lemonade because it was very thirsty work. If you were lucky you might get invited into the farmhouse to have dinner with them which was great because all we had to eat at lunchtime was two rounds of cheese, two of paste and two of jam. Of course we had our main meal when we got back to the hostel which was very good.

If we weren't too tired we would go to the village pub and have a drink and play darts with the soldiers. Saturday night was great because we could go to the pictures or have a dance at the village hall, which was the highlight of our life. Sometimes we were so tired we would have a bath. lay on our bunks, maybe read or listen to the wireless and the next thing you would be fast asleep, and I mean sleep. I've never slept like it since.

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