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The Land Army's Lost Women (Hardback)

Photographic Books WWII Women of History

By Emily Ashworth
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 250 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526785459
Published: 4th August 2023

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The Women’s Land Army are probably one of the lesser-known branches of the women’s forces that served their country during World War Two. Thousands of women faced losing their stories to history, but in The Land Army's Lost Women, countless memoirs from members have been captured, to ensure the vital work these ladies carried out on farms across Britain is never forgotten.

From friendships unbreakable by time, romances that blossomed into lifelong marriages and dances on a weekend in the local village, to tales of loneliness and isolation and backbreaking farm work, these women gave up their lives to ensure our nation could continue to be fed and took the places of men who went off to war.

These are the personal stories from a group of women who deserve to be remembered; from a generation who will soon only live in our memories but who each played a vital role in helping to fight for our freedom from the fields of Britain.

5 out of 5

This book is a reminder that wars are fought on many fronts.

Read the Full Review Here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Article: Intriguing book inspired by writer’s grandmother celebrates the land girls and their story of commitment

Scottish Farmer

Article: The Forgotten Army

Lancashire Life

Review as featured in

Highlight: '...it has a following among re-enactment groups and collectors who will welcome this new work as reference material and a very fine read.'

John Norris, Gun Mart Magazine

This book was an eye opening journey into life in the Homefront during WWII in England and the role of the women who left their jobs, friends, families, and homes to support a country during a time of monumental crisis to ensure that England would prevail. Although written as a tribute for her grandmother specifically, Emily Ashworth has a written a book that sheds valuable light on the role that women played in helping keep Britain fed and allowed so many men to freed up to fight the war that, it was hoped, would be the War to End all Wars.

In this book you will find not just stories of women rising to the challenge of life while husbands, brothers, sons, and lovers were at The Front, but you will see girls grow and find the comradery and joy that can be found at the hardest times through sharing those times with others.

Thank you NetGally, Emily Ashworth, Pen & Sword History, and all the women of The Greatest Generation who stood up and sacrificed so much of their lives to give me the world I live in.

NetGalley, RedReviews4You Susan Dara

Interesting book about WWII history. Good read for those who want to learn more about life during this time and/or educational resource.

NetGalley, Aubrey Kerr

A short book singing the praises of the Women's Land Army of WWII.

It is a compilation of stories from the women themselves, about the good, the bad and the ugly of the experience of being Land Army girls, complete with photos.

I really enjoyed this book and I think that it is pretty poor that these women were so undervalued at the time they cheerfully rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in, for the good of the country. I am sure there were very hard times for some of them, I can't imagine it would be pleasant to be working SO hard, hardly get paid and get looked down upon as well, however, it sounded like to the last woman they didn't regret a thing.

We are so used to being able to do whatever we like when it comes to our careers, I think we tend to forget that it wasn't always that way. If you were a young woman in the late 1930's, you would be learning skills so that you could be a decent wife and mother. On the odd occasion that you are in the paid workforce, you will leave your job once you are married, end of. Boggles the mind, that does, and it STAYED that way for decades after that as well. So, I can imagine that the opportunity to do something completely different, would have appealed to a lot of the young women of the day.

Great stories, loved the pics as well.

4.5 stars from me.

NetGalley, Monica Mac

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This started off as a way to honor the author’s grandmother but became a way to honor a group of women whose stories are being lost. It was very interesting to read the stories of the women who served in the Women’s Land Army helping on farms during World War II. As the years go by, there are fewer people around who know what these women did. I’m glad these experiences have been documented. There are quite a few pictures included.

NetGalley, Jeanne Schutts

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Land Army's Lost Women is absolutely outstanding! The subject is beyond fascinating and the women's personal stories from serving in WWII give such great insight into not only the war itself but tasks land girls performed, their friendships, romances, relationships with family, their typical days, accommodations and meals. My mind and heart were captivated and riveted with every single word. Many candid photographs show women haying, driving tractors, milking cows, flax mill work, working with poultry, sorting potatoes, equipment used, wedding pictures and recruitment posters. Interestingly, the land employer was responsible for paying the land women which meant some were treated and/or paid better than others. Billets often housed and fed their workers very well, but not always. The work was demanding and "Double summertime" was the most difficult according to some.

The author reminds us that many of the land girls were eager to help in the war effort even though their farming/agricultural knowledge was sketchy. They did it anyway! The women trained and were tested to measure their proficiency and skills. There was even a handbook called Land Girl which provided guidance and encouraged perseverance with the "Stick to It!" motto. Service was initially voluntary but later were conscripted. Badges were well earned and though they were to be returned at the end, some women kept them...and their families must be so glad they did! Some ladies later told others that they weren't recognized which I find incredibly sad and infuriating.

As a farm girl myself, I can relate to many of the duties performed. But of course the circumstances were vastly different. I love that the author included photographs of her grandparents (her grandmother was a land girl). Many stories are included in this book as well as quotes from various sources. There is nothing about this book I didn't love. But the personal anecdotes and photos are what stole my heart!

Nonfiction readers intrigued by a lesser-known aspect of WWII truly ought not to miss this. Written in a conversational tone, this book is an easy read, highly personal and informative.

My sincere thank you to Pen & Sword and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this extraordinary book, one I will never forget. These women really ought to be recognized. If only I knew one to talk with in person...I am keen to learn more! And we are running out of time, unfortunately. That is why such books are crucial.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

'We shall never know the hardships that the war generation faced...It is now our duty...to educate, share and celebrate the generation who gave their lives in many ways for our freedom.'

The Women's Land Army (WLA) was initiated to recruit women to fulfill the agricultural gaps left by men sent off to war from England. This melting pot of young women, often with not only no prior agricultural experience, but with no experience of the countryside, were asked to milk cows, make hay, plow and harvest fields, and castrate animals. Working over 12 hours a day, six days a week, whether rain, hail or sun, they ensured that England didn't starve at a time when German blockades prevented food imports. Considering that prior to WW2, about 70% of food was imported from Europe, keeping mouths fed was an enormous task. Often working alone in remote locations, billeted by the family and relying on being paid by the farmer, the work was not for the faint-hearted. In fact, their motto, 'stick to it' could not have been more apt. In total, about 200,000 women were employed during WW2 on farms but it wasn't until relatively recently that the government formally recognised.

Although 'The Land Army's Lost Women' was initiated as a tribute to Emily Ashworth's grandmother, it presents a wonderful opportunity to remember all of the women who contributed to the war - even on the home front. This book is full of anecdotal stories and photos of some of the WLA women's time. The look of pride and pleasure on their faces, in their uniforms, on the farms and haycarts is a wonder at a time when a woman was only expected to tend to their homes and children. Although the WLA hasn't been as talked about or, indeed, glamourised as some of the other women's war efforts, none of it's members would have ever changed their experience for the world.

Such a wonderful, uplifting read. Reading each woman's story, and pouring over the photographs was just like sitting down with your grandmother and listening to her talk while turning pages of the photo album, with a hot drink in hand.

NetGalley, Christy Howl

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A variety of real-life stories and profiles about the women who fought to produce food for the people of Britain during WWII against wartime shortages and the prejudices of an era that said women weren’t fit for hard labor and should stay at home.

NetGalley, Caroline Palmer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I don’t think I could sing the praises of this book enough! Seriously, it was a delight from start to finish.

It shone a light onto the amazing stories that were the women in the Land Army, during one of the most difficult times in history. Wartime, food shortages and lack of recognition plagued them, but they never gave up. These women had such heart and such strength and it honestly filled me with such gratitude. I was left in awe and they are amongst some of the most inspiring women you could ever hope to meet!

They highlight resilience, strength, friendship and a will to do their bit. My nana worked as a land girl so learning more about them had a special place in my heart.

I loved hearing about their stories and I was so sad to finish this book. I can only imagine how many stories out there that never got to be told so I’m so grateful for this book for letting me meet some of these epic women.

And the photographs? Absolutely stunning. My only sadness with the ebook was that I didn’t get to see the photos on a printed page to truly see them in all their glory! Absolutely outstanding.

NetGalley, Nicola Wilton

A short book, but packed with photos and details that shed new light on the often forgotten Women's Land Army. A must-read for anyone interested in the second world war.

NetGalley, Spencer Wright

About Emily Ashworth

Emily Ashworth is a journalist and has worked in the agricultural sector for the past eight years, working as features editor for the Farmers Guardian. Her passions include farming, food and history, and she is an active member of the Guild of Food Writers.
 
Living in the heart of Lancashire with her husband and two children, this is her first book on The Women’s Land Army, after a series of published articles on members of the WLA in various magazines.

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