Members of the British Women's Land Army harvesting beets, 1942 or 1943
The Women's Land Army (WLA) was a British civilian organisation created during the First and Second World Wars to work in agriculture replacing men called up to the military. Women who worked for the WLA were commonly known as Land Girls. The name Women's Land Army was also used in the United States for an organisation formerly called the Woman's Land Army of America.
In effect the Land Army operated to place women with farms that needed workers, the farmers being their employers.
First World War 
World War One recruitment poster for the Women's Land Army
The Board of Agriculture organised the Land Army during the Great War,starting activities in 1915. Towards the end of 1917 there were over 250,000 - 260,000 women working as farm labourers, with 20,000 in the land army itself.
With 3 million men away to fight in the First World War Britain was struggling for labour. The government wanted women to get more involved in the production of food and do their part to support the war effort. This was the beginning of the Women’s Land Army. Many traditional farmers were against this so the board of trade sent agricultural organisers to speak with farmers to encourage them to accept women’s work on the farms.
Second World War 
As the prospect of war became increasingly likely, the government wanted to increase the amount of food grown within Britain. In order to grow more food, more help was needed on the farms and so the government started the Women's Land Army in June 1939.
The majority of the Land Girls already lived in the countryside but more than a third came from London and the industrial cities of the north of England.
In the Second World War, though under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, it was given an honorary head - Lady Denman. At first it asked for volunteers. This was supplemented by conscription, so that by 1944 it had over 80,000 members. The WLA lasted until its official disbandment on 21 October 1950.
In popular culture 
The Women's Land Army was the subject of the Angela Huth book Land Girls and a film loosely based on the book, The Land Girls, and also of the 1970s ITV sitcom Backs to the Land.
It also figured largely in a 2004 episode of the ITV detective series Foyle's War, entitled "They Fought in the Fields".
In the detective novel A Presumption of Death, taking place in the early days of World War II, the plot centers on Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey trying to solve the murder of a land girl who had come to work at a village in Hertfordshire.
During World War II the Women's Land Army of America was formed in the United States as part of the Emergency Farm Labor Service, lasting from 1943 to 1947, and the Australian Women's Land Army was formed in Australia, lasting from 27 July 1942 until 1945.
Related organisations 
- The Women's Timber Corps worked in the forestry industry. Its members were colloquially known as "Lumber Jills".
In December 2009, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced that the efforts of the surviving members of the Women's Land Army and the Women's Timber Corps would be formally recognised with the presentation of a specially designed commemorative badge.
The badge of honour was awarded in July 2008 to over 45,000 former Land Girls.
See also 
Further reading 
- Bates, Martha. Snagging Turnips and Scaling Muck : The Women's Land Army in Westmorland Kendal Helm Press 2001 ISBN 0-9531836-9-6
- Kramer, Ann. Land Girls and their Impact, Remember When (2008), ISBN 978-1-84468-029-0.
- Rattray, Veronica. My Land Girl Years, Athena Press (2009), ISBN 978-1-84748-526-7.
- Twinch, Carol. Women on the Land: Their story during two world wars, Lutterworth Press (1990), ISBN 978-0-7188-2814-1.
- Tyrer, Nicola They Fought in the Fields: The Women's Land Army: The Story of a Forgotten Victory, Mandarin (1997), ISBN 0-7493-2056-7.
External links 
Jean Davis - My Time in the Land Army
Jean Davis joined the Women's Land Army in Wiltshire during WW2, and later wrote of her experiences. Here, her words are read by Mary Davis.
AWLA - Australian Womens Land Army WW2
"Land Army" from 1941. "Australian Womens Land Army" from 1942. These women did it tough ! the earlier photos in this video are factual, having been taken in...
2012 NHD Video (Women's Land Army)
This is an NHD for the 2012 theme of 'Revolution, Reaction and Reform.' I did my documentary on the Women's Land Army during WWII.
Women's Land Army World War Two Song
Members of the Yorkshire Garland Group sing a Women's Land Army song from our archive with help from members of the public...
Women Farm Workers (1916)
This Topical Budget film shows women taking over men's roles during WWI for the Women's National Land Service Corps - the equivalent of the Land Army in WWII...
Women's Army makes last Anzac Day march
The Australian Women's Land Army helped the war effort through farming but, in the group's 70th anniversary year, member say they may not be able to make fut...
Women's Land Army burlesque, Edinburgh www.burlesqueandcabaret.com
Ladies -- Britain Needs You! After a long and victorious campaign as the Women's Land Army of Britain, our boys are coming home! The ladies of the Academy of...
Ruth Boreham - Scottish Women's Land Army Organisation
Volunteer Centre Edinburgh.
The Duke of Rothesay Unveils Memorial to the Women's Land Army - Fochabers - October 2012
The Duke of Rothesay unveiled a Memorial to the Women's Land Army at Clochan, Fochabers, and met the Land Girls as well as the artist who created the Memoria...
Australian Women's Land Army
Russell highlights the contribution made by the Australian Women's Land Army to the nation as well as the Macarthur electorate and acknowledges the commitmen...
West Sussex Gazette
West Sussex County Times
Tue, 30 Apr 2013 03:08:35 -0700
Former members of the Women's Land Army and Timber Corps gathered for a reunion in Horsham last week. The 'Land Girls' played a vital role in keeping Britain's rural economy - particularly food production - functioning during both world wars. With so ...
Wed, 01 May 2013 05:34:54 -0700
Staffordshire's Women's Food and Farming Union (WFU) branch is leading the way in the Women's Land Army Tribute project, and three upbeat fund-raisers are coming up in the next month to help pull in pounds. Since the campaign was launched two years ...
Thu, 23 May 2013 02:00:47 -0700
Both events raised money for the Women's Land Army Tribute project, which will create a memorial statue at the National Memorial Arboretum honouring the work of the Women's Land Army and Women's Timber Corps during the First and Second World Wars ...
Market Rasen Mail
Thu, 02 May 2013 00:42:50 -0700
Land Army letters tell true story of unsung heroines. Published on 02/05/2013 08:33. The Women's Land Army is the focus for Lindsey Rural Players' latest play at the Broadbent Theatre, Wickenby this month. Lilies on the Land charts the personal ...
Somerset County Gazette
Somerset County Gazette
Wed, 22 May 2013 12:38:38 -0700
May, who signed up to the Women's Land Army during the Second World War, used to volunteer for the charity and suffers from sight problems. Becky Fry, development officer for the charity, said: "We were absolutely bowled over by the amount of money May ...
This is Grimsby
This is Grimsby
Thu, 16 May 2013 15:52:40 -0700
The war had not started and the pair would spend hours chatting and plotting their escape from the stall. Their friendship blossomed and together, when the war broke out, they signed up for the Women's Land Army and were sent to Brigg. But Pearl, who ...
Wed, 15 May 2013 09:22:07 -0700
The Staffordshire branch of the Women's Food and Farming Union (WFU) is spearheading the campaign to install a Land Girl statue at the National Memorial Arboretum, honouring the work of the Women's Land Army and Women's Timber Corps during the ...
Thu, 09 May 2013 19:06:44 -0700
More than 60 years have passed since the Women's Land Army was disbanded, having been formed in 1939 to cope with the likelihood of a food shortage with the Second World War looming. By 1944 it had 80,000 members tending to farms and growing ...
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