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Women’s Land Army

This scheme acknowledges the tremendous efforts of the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps by presenting surviving veterans with a specially designed badge commemorating their service and acknowledging the debt that the country owes to them.

The Badge

The badge has been specially designed by the Garter King at Arms and bears the Royal Crown. It shows a gold wheat sheaf on a white background surrounded by a circlet of pine branches and pine cones to indicate the work of both the Land Army and the Timber Corps.

Who is eligible?

Veterans of the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps who served during the First or Second World Wars or at any time up until they were disbanded in 1950 can apply for a badge.

Badges have been awarded to veteran members since 6 December 2007. We regret that badges will not be awarded to spouses or families of deceased veterans, except where death occurred after 6 December 2007.

How do I apply?

Veterans who wish to apply for a badge need to complete a short application form. Applications generally take about four weeks to process.

Applicants need to supply their date of birth, approximate dates of service in the Women’s Land Army or Women’s Timber Corps, and the location at which they were stationed.

You can also obtain an application form by writing to :

Defra
Women’s Land Army Badges
Area 8E, Millbank, c/o Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR
Email: womenslandarmy@defra.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 020 7238 1202

Launch of the commemorative badge

A National Ceremony was held at Downing Street on 23 July 2008 at which around fifty veterans of the WLA each received their badge and also met the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State. Following the National Ceremony a number of regional events were held to celebrate the award of the badge and involving, at the request of Buckingham Palace, the Lords Lieutenant of the counties.

Background

The Women’s Land Army (WLA), colloquially known as the Land Girls, was formed at the outbreak of World War II to work on the land, freeing the male workers to go to war. By 1943 there were some 80,000 young women working in every aspect of agriculture to feed the nation. With their uniform of green ties and jumpers and brown felt slouch hats, they worked from dawn to dusk each day, milking cows, digging ditches, sowing seeds and harvesting crops.

The Women’s Timber Corps (WTC), also known as the ‘Lumber Jills’ worked tirelessly in the forests to provide timber for the war effort, felling trees, sawing timber and sharpening saws.

With the outbreak of peace the WLA remained in existence doing vital jobs on the land until demobilisation was complete. The WLA was formally disbanded in 1950.

Quotes from former Land Girls

“To serve one’s country in its greatest hour of need, in whatever capacity, for me remains memorable. To receive an award honouring the wartime work of the Women’s Land Army is a powerful and touching recognition.” Hilda Kaye Gibson, 83, Huddersfield, Yorkshire

“Before joining up I’d done lots of jobs, but the Land Army was really quite an adventure and the first time I’d ever left home. I often think about life back then and can still remember my service number after all these years. I think these awards are just recognition of the Land Army’s contribution during the war. Everybody had a part to play and it’s good to remember all the girls who did their bit.” Eileen Taylor, 81, Doncaster, Yorkshire

“I was very young and had never been away from home. I was frightened of cows, but had no fear of hard work. The people I met during those four and half years were full of kindness and generosity and I’m still in touch with some of the girls now.

The farmer was a great conservationist and taught us a lot about the land. I got to plant his first ever Pick Your Own field. We were all volunteers and keen to serve our country, but the contribution has been forgotten over the years.”Peg Francis, 78, Grimsby, Lincolnshire

“I joined the Land Army when I was 18 – as soon as I was old enough to get away from home! … We were out working for long hours and it was real physical work, but I enjoyed every minute of my time as a Land Girl. They were some of the best years of my life and there was a real camaraderie amongst the girls I worked with. The best thing about it was meeting my future husband. The lady who looked after us organised a dance for us girls, inviting the local RAF boys. He came along and the rest is history.

I think it is fantastic that the work us girls did in the Land Army is getting recognised. We worked hard during those years and it was important work, keeping the food production going. I’ll be applying for mine now – it can go next to my original Land Army badge.” Pat Shield, 82, Portishead, Somerset

“I’ve always been a lover of the great outdoors so joining up was easy for me. I became part of a mobile gang travelling in a truck between the farms of Peterborough. Some days it was wet and cold, we slept in a stable at Elton Hall and were constantly hungry and our limbs ached, but I absolutely loved it. It was exciting, a chance to get away from home and make new friends. They said Jimmy Stewart and Clarke Gable were posted nearby! …

I will definitely be applying for a commemorative badge as I feel the girls should be recognised for our hard work and willingness to do our duty in a time of need. I doubt many youngsters these days would be so keen to volunteer for such hard work!” Eileen Caddoo, 82, Branston near Lincoln

“I was based on Lord Derby’s Estate in Lincolnshire. There were 24 of us Land Girls as well as another group of Lumber Jills from the Woman’s Timber Corps. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life and in all weathers too! It will be marvellous to get this recognition after all these years. There’s only three of us from our group left now but I know we will wear this badge with pride and in memory of all those girls we worked alongside.” Ann Johnson, 84, Tydd St Giles near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

“I will be applying for a commemorative badge because I think it’s about time the Land Army women were recognised for all the hard work we did to help feed the nation during the war. We always considered ourselves to be the Cinderellas of the homes forces as we had none of the recognition or rewards given to others.

I joined up as a 19 year old from Leicester. … Forty girls from Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire slept in a hostel together and set out to the fields every day. There were never any fallings out because we knew we had a vital job to do, in fact we made lots of friends and I’ve kept in contact over the years. Many of us chose to stay and live in the countryside after the war, but sadly I think there are only three of us left now.” Sheila Tillotson, 84, Anstey near Leicester

“It was hard work but also a lot of fun and we were happy doing our bit to help. I never really thought about receiving recognition for what we did, but it’s nice that the government has decided to award these badges to the Land Army girls.”Peggy Bennett, 83, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham

“It’s fantastic to finally get recognised with a badge like this. I worked in the gardens for six years and really enjoyed it. We tried to keep up with the men and ended up getting bad backs and shoulders. It was really hard work but I’d do it all again. I would have continued to work for longer but had to leave when I was six months pregnant. I have already had a badge to recognise the work I did on the front line but I had to pay 8 for it!”Edna Tree, Maidstone, Kent

“I am pleased that the Land Army Girls are getting badges – it is about time! I was working in the middle of front-line Britain (which went from the Isle of Sheppey, to Sittingbourne, to Hollingbourn, to Biddenden and on to the outskirts of Rye). I used to cycle to work while there were dogfights going on overhead and there were doodlebugs flying in. The Land Army Girls were working in the same place as these military people and we were taking the same risks, but until now our contributions have not been recognised.”Mildred Bowden, 86, Tenterden, Kent

Page last modified: 11 July 2012