While public awareness of our role grew and the story of our lack of recognition was known, we did not make any progress until 2007 when Tony Blair announced that the State would recognize the efforts of “Bevin Boys,” conscripts sent to the mines to produce needed coal. Like us Land Girls, the Bevin Boys had not received any recognition after the War ended, and were first recognized 50 years later in a VE day speech given by the Queen. As the Bevin Boys, like us, were civilian employees no barrier to our recognition now remained. Formal appeals for recognition by the members of parliament of surviving Land Girls followed. In early October 2007, Hilary Benn, Secretary of State of the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) replied to MP Norman Lamb that a badge was being considered. This response was picked up newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph that came to my attention here in the USA. Excited about the possibility of recognition, I wrote to Mr. Benn at the End of October, and received a reply dated December 19th 2007 explaining the process for applying for the badge that was announced by DEFRA on December 6, 2007. Of course, I promptly applied and received by badge pictured below.
I am grateful for the State’s recognition of my service as a Land Girl in the Women’s Land Army from 1939 through 1946.
Sally Tait says
I stumbled across your story while looking for any possible history of our house which is across the road from Lower Greenbank Farm. It was a cheese dairy owned by Bees during the war as Bill Drinkall from Catshaw Hall told me he delivered milk here at that time. I don’t know which branch of the Drinkall family Bill would be but I’m sure he was related to your Drinkalls. Bill was an agricultural student at the Harris Institute in Preston at the same time as my father Tom Rostron who travelled from Ramsbottom by train to attend classes. I think the Institute was the precursor to Hutton. I was intrigued to hear you knew a Gwen Baxter while here.
Mr Harvey was the manager of the cheese dairy and had a son Victor and a daughter Gwen. She married Eric Baxter and ultimately he farmed Moorbottom farm but the age doesn’t seem to fit with your friend.
However I found your story absolutely riveting , my Mother, born in Clevelys, was a WLA in Warwickshire on her brothers farm. She proudly wore her ‘eventual’ badge so much so we buried her wearing it. Don’t know if that was the right thing to do or not.
Thank you so much for your memories, I will be doing some questioning when next I see the Drinkall family.
Meanwhile just to let you know the view from Greenbank has hardly changed and is still breathtaking.
Very best wishes
Sally Tait (nee Rostron)
It was kind of you to contact Jeanne and I am replying on her behalf because she is receiving hospice care. But should the opportunity present itself I shall tell her about it. I know she will be interested and I’m sure it would remind her of those happy hard working days.
She has very fond memories of Lower Greenbank Farm and often spoke of them; the kindness of Mr and Mrs Kidd to a young girl from Liverpool and Hutton Agricultural College, along with the patience and tutelage of Mr Kidd in the practical aspects of hill sheep farming and all else besides. It stood her in good stead in later years. As is obvious from her story she enjoyed the work, living in the Trough and being part of its local community. She last visited in 1990 prior to leaving for our new life with our sons and their families, here in the USA. It is obvious like your mother she also in the WLA, looked back on those hard working days with much pleasure.
As regards Gwen Baxter you will see the comments from Ann Rossall and whilst I have no personal knowledge it does seem she is the one and the same. I too unfortunately know little of the Drinkall’s and others except to hear Jeanne make mention of them.
The Trough has a special place in Jeanne’s heart and I’m sure she will be happy to know it is substantially unchanged and that you enjoy living there.
Again, my thanks for getting in touch.