16:14 Thursday 11 April 2013

Land Girls reunion helps celebrate unsung heroes

Written byHELEN KREFT

UNSUNG heroines of the Second World War have gathered in Swadlincote to bring a momentous period in history back to life.

Members of the Women’s Land Army (WLA) better known as Land Girls swooped into South Derbyshire District Council’s civic offices today to meet with its chairman and share memories and stories at a reunion.

They were the unsung heroes who helped to keep Britain going during the World Wars. With the men away fighting, it was up to female volunteers to work the land, feed the nation and maintain wood supplies.

Jean Pittan joined the Land Army in 1943 aged 20. The now 89-year-old worked the farm belonging to, chairman, Councillor Mick Bale’s father-in-law.

Albert Village born and bred, she said: “I wanted to join as I enjoyed working outdoors. I worked on the farm doing all of the jobs. I loved animals so I worked the horses and ploughed the fields. It was very hard work.”

87-year-old Ruth Jordon travelled down to Somerset when she joined back in 1943.

“I was three months too young to join the Wrens but I couldn’t wait to help the war effort.

“I was up at 5.30am on the farm and didn’t finish until 5.30pm and that was six days a week.

Another pensioner is Barbara Hunt, from Melbourne, joined the Land Army at the beginning of 1945, aged 19, and stayed for more than two years on a dairy farm in Devon.

She said: “I had been working in the accounts section of a company in Derby before I joined but I thought that there must be more to life than this.

“I joined a dairy farm. The cows had to be milked by hand – there were no mod cons so we didn’t get time off as they had to be milked.”

Fifteen pensioners met Councillor Bale who is helping The Staffordshire Women’s Food and Farming Union to raise funds to build a permanent memorial in honour of the Land Girls at the National Memorial Arboretum.

All the women agreed that the Land Army had not been recognised over the years for the often back-breaking work they did and hope that the memorial will raise awareness of their work.

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