Womens Land Army and Timber Corp.

Bures accommodated several Land Army girls, those who were not staying at the farms were billeted at Leavenheath.

They were transported over to the village each day by truck, from their Hostel to work.


Womens Land Army Posterland army girls
Bottom right:- Land Army Girls, taken on a trip with customers of The Horseshoes PH, Darts Club at Southend

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.

Womens Land Army girls came from every walk of life, such as office girls, waitresses, shop assistants and factory workers but without exception they said they preferred the countryside and the freedom of an open-air life.

On joining the W.L.A. every girl was supplied with two green jerseys, two pairs of breeches, two overall coats, two pairs dungarees, 6 pairs of stockings, three shirts, one pair of ankle boots, one pair of shoes, one pair of gum boots or boots with leggings, one hat, one overcoat with shoulder titles, one oilskin or mackintosh, two towels, an oilskin sou'wester, a green armlet, and a metal badge, After every six months of satisfactory service she received a half-diamond cloth badge which was sewn on the armlet: after two years service a special armlet, and a scarlet armlet to replace the two year one after four years service.

In fair weather or worse, the girls of the WLA worked extremely hard to grow food for the nation. For those workers under eighteen years of age they would receive 22/6d and for the over 18`s, 28/- for a forty-eight hour week.

Hostels were built at Lakenheath for 120 girls, Leavenheath 70 girls, Risby 25 girls and other places.
Alpheton Rectory also had a quota.
The main hostel for the Land Army girls south of Sudbury was located at Plough Lane,Leavenheath.

The purpose of the Hostels was to accommodate the girls who will be sent out to farms each day to work. For a start they will go to farms that are being run by the War Agricultural Committee(WRAG), whilst some will be allocated to individual farms.
Most of them would be engaged on general agricultural work, although some who show an aptitude for dairy work, tractor driving, etc would be allowed extra training.

In the case of Leavenheath they attended Chadacre, near to Bury St Edmunds to learn additional skills, such as animal husbandry, milking etc.
Whilst studying at Chadacre, they stayed at the Shimpling Hostel in the next Parish.

The Chadacre Farm Institute site closed down and was sold in 1990

However, the Women’s Land Army and the Hostel were not disbanded until 1950, due to the delay in the demobilisation of soldiers and the return of Prisoners of War to their respective countries.
At the end of their service, Land Girls got the following:-

Their last weeks’ pay
A letter from the Queen thanking them for their efforts
In some extreme circumstances, money from the Land Army Benevolent Fund
Greatcoats – only if they were dyed blue
And in return for the rest of their uniform – a humiliating 20 clothing coupons

The girls had to wait another 58 years before there services were finally recognised by the Government, with the presentation of a "small brooch" in 2008 by Gordon Brown.

Research Alan Beales 2011