Jean and Peggy, Gladys and Edna
Women's Land Army Workers in Bottesford WW2
The Women’s Land Army was revived in 1939 to grow the crops needed by the nation in war time and replace the male farm workers who had gone into the armed forces. At first women volunteered but later they were conscripted and from 1944 there were around 80,000 women working the land.
In an agricultural area like Bottesford there must have been a number of Land Army workers, but so far we have been able to identify only two, Gladys Marston and Edna Taylor. We have recently been given copies of a group of photographs by Mrs. Jill Bagnall showing two more members of the Women’s Land Army named Jean and Peggy.
Mrs Bagnall recalls that they lodged at the home of Mr and Mrs Bagnall, her late huband’s parents, at ‘Blue Bank’,also know as Bunker Hill cottages, on Grantham Road. Only one of the two rows of cottages has survived. The Bagnalls lived in the end cottage of the row that was demolished.
Jean and Peggy seem to have worked on the farms of Philip Marsh and Len Palmer. Like other Land Army women their work probably included milking, harvesting, lambing and ploughing. Conditions were hard, the hours long and pay was low, but in these photographs, at least they seem proud and cheerful.
When the Women’s Land Army was disbanded in 1949 the workers’ records were destroyed, but alphabetical index cards carrying some basic information survived and are lodged on microfiche in the National Archives at Kew.
The index cards can show name, address, date of birth, Women’s Land Army number and occasionally present occupation, where transferred to and when demobilised. Almost all of them are under the maiden name of the worker.
At present we do not know Jean and Peggy’s surnames, but hope that someone will be able to recognize them from these pictures or offer more information.
In December 2007 the government announced that the efforts 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 to the surviving members. The badge of honour was awarded in July 2008 to over 45,000 former Land Girls, including Gladys and Edna. Did Jean or Peggy ever claim her badge?