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Elizabeth "Betty" Deakin

Woman's Land Army

from:Washington, Co Durham

Elizabeth (Betty) Deakin joined the Womens Land Army in 1946, aged 17. Prior to joining, Betty had worked in the ICI chemical factory, where she worked in the production of the Milk of Magnesia brand of medicine, in her hometown of Washington, Tyne and Wear. She decided to join up along with several friends who worked in the same factory. Her mother, Mary Deakin, told her she could get that idea out of her head, however her father intervened and he made the plea "Oh Mary, if she wants to go, let her".

Betty signed up in 1946 and was sent immediately to Wallingford, Oxfordshire and billeted in a Land Army Hostel in the same town. She enjoyed her work from the outset, making friends with Joyce Smith, a more experienced forewoman, Patricia Street and Mary Healey. The four became close, and called themselves, the four musketeers.

Betty took a driving course in Reading shortly after joining, where she was temporarily billeted. She passed the test at the first attempt, which allowed her to drive tractors, trucks and a variety of other heavy agricultural machinery. She went on to become a charge hand, which involved her transporting Land Army personnel from farm to farm, often following around the large threshing machine which was used by the farmers in that area. She also had to work in the fields herself, planting and harvesting crops, etcetera.

She remained lifelong friends with Joyce, Mary, Kath and Marge and has continued living in the Wallingford area since leaving the Land Army, meeting and marrying Jim Luscombe in the early 1950s and having two sons, David and Paul.

A moment of leisure

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