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Barbara Dilys Palmer

Women's Land Army

from:Pensford, Somerset

I was interviewed in Bath in January 1942 at the age of 19 and received a letter with the option of immediate training at an "approved" farm or in the following September at Cannington Farm Institute. I decided to go to an approved farm and was sent to Upper Farm, Brean for a month starting in February. My father took me by car to see the farm on a bleak day in January and said "You can't go there!" but I had a letter from the farmer, Mr Tucker, with a date to commence and decided to go ahead.

On the appointed day I caught a train to Brent Knoll but had to wait at the tiny station for what seemed a very long time as Mrs Tucker, who was supposed to meet me, was delayed because she was playing bridge!

I was excused milking the first morning, but after that it was up at half past six every morning! Fortunately, having been living in the country I already knew how to milk a cow. One day I remember was when I was given a bucket and told to go to a large field and pick up stones, as the field was due to be mown the next day and the stones could damage the mowing machine. I'm still not sure if this was some sort of test. At the end of the month Mr Tucker asked me if I would like to stay on and said "Yes please!" I lived in the farmhouse with the delightful family. I was very disappointed at the first Christmas when I was told I couldn't go home - the cows still had to be milked!

Fortunately living on a farm, food always seemed to be in good supply, including an extra ration of cheese if you were in the land army. I didn't like cheese at the time but Mr Tucker was happy to have my ration! One day in 1943 a German plane dropped an incendiary bomb, which contained many incendiary "bomblets"; these large bombs were dropped on a parachute and were supposed to open and spread the bomblets over the area, but this one failed to open properly. Seeing the large bomb on a parachute Mr Tucker thought it was a man parachuting down and told us to stay indoors while he and other members of the Home Guard went to investigate. After the bomb was made safe the large silk parachute was put to good use by the local ladies and we all had nice new underwear!

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