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Joan Smith

Land Army

I served in the Women's Land Army from 1942 to 1945 and despite searching the Internet have been unable to find an active group of ex Land Girls for my area of service in Hertfordshire.

At almost 82 years old and partially sighted now I suppose we are a dwindling number. A fellow tiller of the soil whom I met during those years at our first posting, also 82 now, became my best friend, and is to this day.

We braved rats in potato clamps, climbed ladders to pick fruit, rescued birds trapped in fruit nets (much to our foreman's annoyance), picked and dug vegetables with frozen hands and feet and sowed, thinned and hoed miles of root crops. Those were just a few of our duties, but for myself it was the best job I ever had and I have been a country girl at heart ever since

. We Land Girls had no 35 hour week, summer hours were 6am till dusk and in winter we were allowed to begin an hour later at 7am. I remember being nervous cycling to work across a common in the dark. My starting basic salary was two pounds five shillings a week, and even back then that was not a great sum.

Over the years I have unfortunately lost track of my badge, armband with the red felt triangles which were issued for each six months of service and my Service Certificate. My number however needs no physical proof. That, like my late husband's army number is I think burned into my brain.

Like Mrs.K.O'Dell of Suffolk I do remember such glorious summers, and yes, the lovely tan gained as a result of shortened dungarees. Our Area lady did not approve.

Writing this has evoked so many memories, I almost feel 19 years old again

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