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The Wartime Memories Project - The Second War

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Doris Paterson

Land Army

When the war broke out I was 18, and a year later I joined the Land Army in 1940. I loved the open air, and so decided to go into the Women's Land Army rather than the forces or factory work. I was based at Buckhold, which had a huge garden and we supplied St Andrew's School with food. We grew mainly fruit and vegetables, but we were allowed to keep a couple of pigs as well, which were fed the remains of the meals from the school.

I didn't have any particular job, we did everything from sawing down trees, to picking brussel sprouts that had ice on them in the winter! One of the hardest jobs was helping the farmers when they harvested the corn. We would be out 'threshing' the corn, and we get covered in dust and the roughage. We were constantly hungary because we were always on rations, and we couldn't get a decent bath either. I worked with one other girl, called Kathleen and we became very good friends (I recently tracked her down after 53 years!) I also worked with a gardener called Mr Brooker and a couple of other lads.

Buckhold was surround by American forces in Pangbourne, Caversham, Aldermast and Greenham Common. Whenever I went to a dance there were always lots of American soliders! The American Red Cross wanted volunteers to help with the breakfasts for the troops in the early morning. Kathleen and I both volunteered as it meant that we got free passes to the dances! We must have been mad, because after being up late the night before, we would have to get up early to help clear tables at the old St. Lawrences Hall in Reading! But we were young and had no ties and we were very lucky really, as all the gentlemen were very nice.

I worked at Buckhold for about three years, and although there were times when I felt that the rationing was harsh, I couldn't even afford a dress for the dances, because I didn't have enough coupons left after buying pyjamas! It was time of great freedom and it was wonderful to be able to walk freely and accept lifts from people because there was a great deal of goodwill and trust as we were all in the same boat.

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