Yorkshire Women at War (Kindle)
Story of the Women's Land Army Hostels
As seen in The York Press: 'New book reveals hard lives of North Yorkshire's land girls'.
In Yorkshire, 2015 marks the centenary of the founding of the first Land Girl Hostel, near Boroughbridge, by Lady Margery Lawson Tancred. Yorkshire Women at War deals with the Women's Land Army Hostel policy during the First World War and it is the first exhaustive account to examine hostel life in the austerity of war and post-war Yorkshire between 1939-50.
Marion Jefferies's account of over fifty Women's Land Army hostels is filled with quirky stories about the hectic lives of tired, noisy and hungry girls. There are tales of how the girls slept, ate and socialized in shared dormitories. It records how one old farmhouse had only a single oil lamp, which lit the dormitory; how candles were stuck to the bunk beds and the girls were forced to complain about wax spilling on to their clothes and bedding; and how, at Stockton, bats flew freely in the the girls' dormitories.
Some wardens were domineering, neglectful, spiteful and inefficient. One warden was bitter towards her charges and even boxed a girl's ears. However, several other wardens were homely, kind and a real friend to the young girls, and they were remembered with great affection.
Included in the book are Miss Jacob Smith's inspection reports of hostel life, which illustrate the real trials, worries and happiness of the girls, some only 16 or 17 years old and away from home for the first time.
This is a serious, well-researched history of the Women's Land Army Hostels in Yorkshire and thanks to the excellent memories and joviality of many veterans contacted by the author, it has been illumined by numerous light-hearted moments of what was to them 'the great adventure of their lives'.
The theme of the Women's Land Army in WWII has become a very popular subject with re-enactors and Home Front events would not be complete nowadays without at least one such display. The women who served in this organisation have gone largely unsung in the annals of history of WWII; indeed, it was not until 2015 that a memorial was erected to the WLA at the National Memorial Arboretum. But now, everyone has heard about them.Gun Mart - John Norris
There have been books on the history of the WLA, but this work is different because it focuses on the work done by the women of Yorkshire who served in the ranks. It charts the hardships, the daily routine but, more importantly, the camaraderie shared by the ladies who came from all backgrounds and mixed ages. A charming book, full of insight and anecdotes, which will amuse and educate. This is social history on the Home Front.
I find accounts of what happened at home as interesting and engaging as accounts of the fronts on which the various battles were being fought. Marion Jefferies looks at the founding of the Land Girls in Yorkshire, with splendid accounts of how they were housed and treated by the various women who ran the hostels set up to provide them with shelter and meals. This is fascinating stuff, with plenty of material here to delight and anger in turn the readers who come to find it. Real life for these women was sometimes joyful, sometimes harsh - always interesting. A superb read.Books Monthly - Paul Norman
As featured inThe York Press