Joining up – The Women’s Land Army
Preparation for War
So as I faced the prospect of being sixteen and leaving school, the deficiencies of my home became more apparent and the imperative to get away from it become more pressing. The question was what to do about it. The answer came in the months before the outbreak of war in 1939.
Facing war, the government had taken steps to prepare Britain for what might lie ahead. Amongst many things, gas masks were given out to all – horrible things to wear, air raid shelters built, ration books and identity cards issued. Serving our country, our need to do so was also made clear by the government. Male volunteers were sought by the government to serve in the army, navy or air force. Women were requested to serve in their auxiliary services, and on the land.
Why the Women’s Land Army
Quite what attracted me to the Women’s Land Army that I decided I would join I cannot now recall, but clearly the chance of an active and good life in the outdoors would have been attractive to me then as it still is now. It also seemed worth doing. I’m sure too I was taken by the recruiting posters that portrayed a healthy young girl in her uniform, the style and cut of which I knew would suit me well. And of course, best of all, it meant I would be able to live someplace else besides home and Liverpool.
When war was declared on September 3 1939, my elder sister Eileen immediately volunteered for service and left home, and I encouraged my friend for years, Veronica to volunteer with me for the Women’s Land Army. I assume she must have had to persuade her father, but I didn’t attempt to raise the question with my parents. My mother was indifferent and father acquiesced. It was probably a relief to them.
Part of the decision was of course a patriotic feeling, but in selecting the WLA, I was obviously influenced more by the thought of being well away from the city with all its dirt and smell that I so heartily disliked, and the attractions of a different life that I yearned for. It also was a chance for adventure, and independence. Again, I saw this as the opportunity to get away from my home and everything I disliked about it.