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Winifred "Penny" Sheppard

Womens Land Army

from:Orpington, Kent

My Mum, Penny Sheppard, joined the Land Army and her Hostel was at Kingham, Nr Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. She once worked at Blenhiem Palace. She worked at many different farms. She's often spoken fondly of the enjoyable times as well as the bad, like girls crying from the cold when brussel sprout picking out in the fields. She didn't think much of any of the farmers she worked for. She said they were all very mean. They apparently paid ten shillings (50p) a day for a Land Girl. In fact she said the POW's did better for food than she did. Even in Summer with double summer time they'd be doing the harvesting and all the farmers gave them (because they were supposed so supply a tea when they worked late) was a cup of cold tea and one thin slice of bread and jam. Even if there was only 10 minutes to go before she'd finished work for the day the farmers would always find something for them to do, even if it was just clearing out a barn or sorting out string. Even if you were ill you had to do something, so normally if you were off sick and not sick in bed you were able to help prepare the food for the evening meal in the kitchen.

She had some lovely times though, and meet some great friends in the Land Army. She also had some laughs with the Americans stationed nearby. She used to go to lot's of dances, and can even still remember some of the American's names. You got two rail passes every few months to go home on your weekend off, but if you wanted to go home any more frequently you had to pay for the fare yourself out of your meagre earnings.

My Mum hated barley and said it used to get everywhere and no-one ever wore a jumper otherwise you'd never get rid of it, and most girls at some time or another would get barley rash. At threshing you would see all the rats and mice gradually come into the circle into the middle of the field which hadn't been cut and everyone would kill them with shovels or whatever they could lay their hands on.

She remembers one farmer, whose son actually married one of my Mum's friend's in the Land Army, who used to go out for the day when it came to the pig's being slaughtered, because he used to get too upset. They used to put them onto straw and then they'd be shot in the head and then set alight to shave all the hairs off them. Mum said not a tiny bit of a pig was ever wasted.

She once got stung in the mouth by a wasp and it was a German POW that helped her. The Italians were always chatting the girls up, but were very lazy, but the German's would always be hard working, very polite but kept themselves to themselves when helping out on the farms. She said the PoWs got Ham and chicken whilst the Land Girls had to make do with bread and jam. She remembered one of the Sergeants with the POWs getting very angry about this. The Country hasn't changed much in all those years has it? Still, helping out others more than its own people! She said you were supplied with corduroy breeches, but many girls, including herself, saved up and paid for gaberdine ones instead.

There was a photograph of my Mum in a photographers window in Chipping Norton for years apparently in her full Land Army Uniform, together with an American in a separate photo who was head of the Motor Pool, called Joe Morano. I haven't got any pics of Mum in the Land Army, but would love to find one. Even now when we go past a field she can tell me what kind of crop it is growing. She said it was very hard work, but she wouldn't have changed her time doing her bit in the Land Army for anything.

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