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WW2's Women's Land Army remembered in Harmondsworth

Open House weekend at the historic Great Barn in Harmondsworth village including a tribute to the efforts of the Women's Land Army, heroines of the Second World War.

The Great Barn , Manor Court , Harmondsworth . Re-enactment and exhibition for Second World War Land Girls .

A day long celebration in Harmondsworth last Sunday included a tribute to the Women’s Land Army (WLA), who kept the nation fed during the Second World War.

The were honoured as part of the Open House weekend at the Great Barn, with a special horse-drawn tribute, creating a re-enactment of a typical day in 1941 for the country’s ‘Land Girls.’

Land Army veterans, all in their late eighties and nineties, from Ickenham, West Drayton and Hayes turned up to enjoy an educational commentary from Roy Barwick, who help organise the re-enactment.

He said: “The event was extremely successful. We gave a history of how the land army was formed and gave a demonstration of the land girls harnessing their horse up and going off for a days work.

“We then gave a commentary of what happened to the Land Army after the war, after 1945, where the girls were denied every post-war benefit that was awarded to every other women’s service.”

The Land Girls did a wide range of jobs, including milking cows, lambing, managing poultry, ploughing, gathering crops, digging ditches, catching rats and carrying out farm maintenance work. A round 80 per cent of the young women who joined the Land Army came from city jobs and took a considerable pay cut to take part in the agricultural work.

Mr Barwick said: “The farmers could not have increased the production without the help of the land army. Without the land girls we couldn’t have done it. They were the lowest paid people, working over 50 hours a week and earning 28 shillings a week with half going to board and lodgings. They weren’t allowed any expenses at all and had very little reward.”

Mr Barwick had first hand experience of the Women’s Land Army as he worked with the girls in 1944, before being called into the army.

He added: “It was no fun getting up at five in the morning to a field of muddy cows particularly when these girls had come from city jobs. “When the country was fighting for it’s life, the girls did a tremendous job and it’s very unfortunate that their effort was never recognised until very very recent years.”

The Land Girls were officially recognised in 2008, when they could apply for a badge to commemorate their efforts through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

As well as the Land Army tribute, visitors to the village on September 19 could enjoy music of The Band of the Middlesex Yeomanry, a talk by historian on The Battle for a Third Runway at Heathrow, Horse Drawn Wagon Rides, the National Farmers’ Union Display and The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

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