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The Wartime Memories Project - The Second War

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Dinah Sarah Fletcher

Land Army

from:Botley Rd. Oxford, England

I am writing this on behalf of my Mother, Dinah Singleton, nee Fletcher, now 88yrs of age, Born in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, who together with one of her 6 Sisters, Frances, joined the Land Army in 1940. They did their training at Shipton Court, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxon & afterwards, were employed there, working for a Mrs Darcy Hall. Later, they moved, to work for a Mr.Brooks, The White House, Nettlebed, Nr. Henley, Berks. Although Mum's memory is now failing & all her Sisters, 2 Brothers & Husband (my Father) have now sadly passed away, Mum recalls many happy times spent during this period. She & her Sisters would attend many a Dance at the local Town Hall, where they would meet & enjoy the company of both British & American Servicemen. This was one of many places where they could have some well earned relaxation, after a hard weeks work. They were very near RAF Brize Norton & like many other Land Girls, would watch the aircraft fly overhead & eagerly await their return, in the hopes that all crew could be counted safely back Home but sadly, so often, this was not the case. A great deal of her time was spent dealing with Poultry, although, all other duties were also carried out, Tractor Driving, Ploughing, using the Threshing machines etc etc. All heavy manual work which my Mother enjoyed. Sadly, my Mother developed Pleurisy & became very poorly, Doctors thought this was brought on by the wet weather conditions & outside manual work, she was discharged due to ill health in 1944. At which time she returned to her job as a Nursery Nurse. Her eldest Brother Joe, sadly was killed at Dunkirk & her younger Brother John, served in the Navy & went on to live until 73yrs of age. She met my Father, Joe, during a walk round Christchurch College, Oxford. He served as a Captain in the Artillery & was amongst other places, posted to the middle east - 8th Army, seeing fierce Battle at El Alamain. He saw many of his men killed & wounded & had many narrow escapes himself, receiving shrapnel wounds to the legs. He also developed Appendicitis but did not want to leave his men in order to receive treatment, his condition later became very serious, it developed into Peritonitis, he was rushed to a field Hospital, where he nearly died. His health was never quite the same but he went on to live to 80yrs of age. Both my Parents used to recount how, my Mum & her Sister were walking one direction round the College & Dad & his friend the other, they passed. Had it not been for the fact they were obviously both taken with one another & so decided to circuit the College again, in the hopes of meeting up a second time, they may never have met!! They kept in touch all during the War, my Father even enclosed a cactus flower from the Desert in one of his letters to her, very romantic! Both coming from Farming backgrounds, she went on to become a Farmers Wife, when after Dad's discharge, they were Married in 1946 & were together for 48yrs. If anyone recalls any of the Family or has experiences in Oxon during this time, please get in touch, we would be delighted to hear from you.

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