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The Land Army, D-Day and Double Summer Timeicon for Recommended story

by Eddie Gardner

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Contributed by 
Eddie Gardner
People in story: 
Marion Knocks nee Gardner
Location of story: 
Ewell in Surrey
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 January 2004

[By Marion Knocks née Gardner.]

In May 1940, I joined the Women’s Land Army. A few years later, in January 1944, I was sent to work on an 18-acre smallholding at Ewell. It was early summer and hot, so we decided to start work early. We began at 5.30am, so that we could cut the cabbages from the fields, weigh them and bag them ready for market before the sun got too hot to spoil them.

Counting the planes in and out

From the fields, we used to count the RAF planes going over to Europe in formation. When they returned we’d count them again to see how many were missing.

On a glorious June morning of blue skies and sunshine, wave after wave of planes flew over. We counted them all as usual and guessed that something important was happening.

Hours later we heard them returning. Some were clearly limping home with damaged engines. Others were missing. We thought of the lost brave men. Were they killed, injured or taken prisoner? We stood in silence with our thoughts.

The date was 6 June 1944, known subsequently as D-Day, the day on which British and American forces invaded northern France.

Doodle-bugs and tin hats

Soon after the flying bombs started they were nicknamed doodle-bugs (after an American flying beetle). They were terrifying. We would hear the roar of the engine and see flames emerging from the back of the plane as it flew over, followed by an ominous silence when the engine stopped. Then down it came and exploded.

We were issued with tin hats and instructions to wear them lying down. Having no sort of shelter in open fields, this was all we could do. The flying bombs came over from June till September, night and day. Then the V2 rockets started. With them, there was no warning sign, only a dreadful explosion as the rocket-propelled bomb hit the ground.

Straight rows of stooks

That year we had double summer time, so it was light enough to work till 11pm while getting in the harvest. We were harvesting a neighbour’s wheat with a machine that cut and tied the bundles of corn. My friend and I set up the sheaves in stooks. The wheat stood four sheaves together, awaiting threshing, the process whereby the corn is removed from the stalks.

We had lovely straight rows of stooks running in a line down the field. Then a doodle-bug came over. As instructed, we put on our tin hats and fell down flat. When we got up again, we felt a bit shaky, to say the least. The lines of stooks we erected after that were much less steady and their direction rather less straight.

In 1946, some 18 months later, I left the Women’s Land Army because of ill health.

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Message 1 - doogle bugs

Posted on: 28 October 2004 by chrissieworld

As a member of the land army we worked very hard but we didn't have the danger you had and after all theese years I think you were so brave to continue to harvest the food for the country under thoose conditions.

So many folk did so many brave thing , it is good that they are being recalled

Norkolk land girl (chrissieworld)


Message 2 - doogle bugs

Posted on: 20 March 2005 by Eddie Gardner

Hello Chrissie
My sister Marion Knocks wrote the story and I have only just found your message.I will pass your message on to my sister who lives in Caversham Berkshire and is nearly blind and I am sure that she will be delighted that she has had such a nice message.
Thank you too Chrissie for helping to feed the nation in such desparate times
very best wishes,
Eddie Gardner

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