The Women's Land Army in Hertfordshire

What role did the WLA play in Hertforshire?

With war looming and food reserves rapidly diminishing, Britain desperately needed to revitalise its agricultural industry in order to produce as much as possible as we could no longer rely on imported goods and there was pressure to maximise the amount of land under cultivation.

Why the WLA?

The Government realised the need to establish an alternative workforce. Although farming was a reserved occupation, this only applied to the farmer, not to labourers, and initially there was an acute shortage of labour for the land. The Women’s Land Army (WLA) was founded in January 1939 by Lady Gertrude Denham and was a vital part of the war effort. At first they relied on volunteers but later they relied upon women conscripted into the WLA. They were not an Army in any military sense, but the women joined up to do battle with the land and livestock, in place of men who had left to join the Armed Forces.

From 65 to 2,100 members…

Hertfordshire initially had 65 women working on the land in 1939. By 1943 this figure had risen to over 2,100. Many of these women were ‘town’ girls and they had little idea of what this work would involve. The recruitment posters showed romantic images of pretty girls holding a lamb or gracefully lifting forkfuls of hay. The reality was very different- they endured long hours or incredibly hard, physically demanding work.

You might like to read some of these articles:

Margaret Hurst’s personal account of being a member of the WLA in Hertfordshire

The training and everyday life of Hertfordshire’s WLA

The Land Girl Magazine

Life after the war for the WLA

This page was added on 15/08/2011.

Comments about this page

  • My Nan was in the Land Army based in Benington, Hertfordshire. She passed away aged 90. I was just having a read about the Land Army for her eulogy x

    By Helen (18/02/2014)
  • I have a list of names of who is in that large photo . My Mother is the one standing almost in the centre with her hands on the girl in fronts shoulders. She is 90 this year!

    By Marilyn Taylor (11/02/2014)

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