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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Doreen Hartley, Jenny Piper, Irene Melbourne, Joan Brunt, Peggy Chapman
Location of story: 
Middlesex
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A5499697
Contributed on: 
02 September 2005

I am a Londoner, and lived in Winchmore Hill, N21, and joined the Women’s Land Army at seventeen and half years of age. I was seconded to come under the Ministry of War, Agriculture and Fisheries whose HQ was in Pinner, Middlesex.

Our team commenced intensive training on how to exterminate rodents (rats, squirrels, rabbits and foxes) from small farm holdings, isolation hospitals, schools. Hundreds of moles were found at Heathrow during the time that the airport was being constructed. These rodents were causing much devastation.

Rats were the biggest enemy, and exterminating them was chiefly carried out on small pig farms in the North Middlesex area. Each farm involved, needed a weeks’ treatment — we covered approximately 7 farms each day. We were responsible for handling various deadly poisons which had to be laid down without any danger to existing live stock. Occasionally improvisations had to be erected according to the lay-out of the farm. The farmers/owners were always most appreciative of our efficient work, they always made us feel most welcome.

I served in the Land Army, for three and half years from January 3rd 1944 — August 13 1947. I was awarded my Proficiency Badge after eighteen months, and was appointed Forewoman for North Middlesex. We were a very happy team, and I say with much pride and joy that I enjoyed my Women’s Land Army years very much.

This story was entered on the site by Elizabeth Legate on behalf of Doreen Hartley. Doreen understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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