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Dorothy Ethel Simpson
Women's Land Army
from:Basford, NottinghamIt was a Sunday when we left Nottingham and two other girls Elsie and Thelma were also new recruits for the W.L.A and they had a W.L.A representative with them who was travelling with us and would take us to our private billets. Doris and I were put in a private billet with a Mr and Mrs Pay and the other two girls were put in another billet about three-quarters of a mile away from us on a main road. The first thing Doris and I wanted to do was write to our parents and tell them the name and address where they could write to us. We asked our new landlady her name and she said Mrs Pye, well Doris wrote Mrs Pie, I argued with her and said it's spelt Pye. Two days later we found out her name was Mrs Pay, it seems she had a strong Kentish accent that made A sound like I. We were dreading getting a letter with the wrong name on. The house was old fashioned, no bathroom just two bedrooms, Mr Pay had one bedroom and Doris and I shared a double bed in the other room. Nowadays two females wouldn't ever be put in the same bed, but we were innocent of goings on today. Mrs Pay slept in a single bed in the parlour. Mr Pay made no secret of the fact that he had a woman friend. Mr & Mrs Pay never argued and treated each other with respect. He was quite a clever person I think she bored him. Monday morning about 7.30 am a lady from W.L.A came to take us to work, she hadn't told us anything before, we got in her car and we stopped to pick up the other two girls who were still in bed and their landlady was annoyed and said the girls should be allowed to settle in. We were taken to work about five miles away to a farmer Crump, he should have been called grump because he was grumpy. Our first job was to pick six or eight sheaves of corn up and lean them together. This is called stooking and helps in drying out the corn, this was before Combine Harvesting. The weather was boiling hot and my hard leather shoes were killing me, so T took my socks off to give my feet more room, but the corn 6stubble cut my ankles to ribbons. Well after three days of stooking and we had nearly finished the acres of wheat fields a terrific gale came up, and our four girls watched in horror as nearly all our stooks collapsed. The farmer appeared and swore at us and told us we were no bl--dy good. The next day we were picked up and taken to a farm about 6 miles away to help with bringing in the corn to be put in barns or built into stacks. We were given a pitch fork each and told to climb into a rickety old cart pulled by a horse. As we crossed the road to the first of the fields we had to work in, the cart went in a rut and threw Doris forward and the upturned pitch fork went into her hand making it bleed. We shown it to the farmer but he just did a tut tut and that was it. We bandaged it with handkerchiefs. We pitched wheat sheaves onto the cart but we were shown how to stack them so they were firm and didn't fall off. They were stacked very high and it was a bit scary if you had been making the stack in the cart and you were left on the top and we had to go along a track and cross the road to the barn to stack it there. All went well till the last load which was oats and the farmer said, it doesn't matter how that's stacked. Doris and I were on the cart and it was stacked as high as possible, just as we got to the rut in the road the cart gave a jerk, Doris and I were thrown off, I just slipped down landing feet first, but where was Doris? Well she was upside down in the ditch. She was unhurt, but she looked so funny we were hysterical with laughter. Then we saw our one and only bus coming so we yanked Doris out of the ditch and ran to catch our bus leaving the farmer to pick up the fallen sheaves. At the weekend we were issued with huge bicycles as our only means of transport from now on, but these bicycles were policemens, no light ladies bikes for us, they were very heavy and our billet was near a railway crossing and the gates were kept closed so we used to have to carry these heavy bikes over the wooden bridge.
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