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Bedfordshire Women's Land Army


Bedfordshire Women's Land Army

I would like to thank all the many individuals, too numerous to mention, who helped me with my research. Thanks to the staff of the following archives: Bedford Central Library (Reference and Local Studies), Bedford Museum; Bedfordshire Archives (BLARS) Bedford; British Library, London; Imperial War Museum, London; National Archives, Kew; Luton Museum; Rural History Centre, Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), University of Reading ; The Women's Library, Metropolitan University, London. (For a full list of names see 'We wouldn't have missed it for the world')

I am particularly grateful to over 200 former Bedfordshire land girls who kindly completed one of my questionnaires and donated photographs and documents. Some gathered together in small reminiscence groups with me and helped me to identify the names of other former Bedfordshire land girls from photographs.  My Bedfordshire list of over 3,000 land girls was completed through a thorough search of service record cards at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. 

I am most indebted to those 18 women who agreed to be interviewed in depth by me about their experiences serving with the Bedfordshire Women's Land Army in the 1940s. Those tape-recorded interviews are now lodged with the Sound Archive of the Imperial War Museum and their ID numbers are given in brackets after the name of those individuals:

Vera Barnett (24653), Joyce Case (024651), Margaret Chessum (24539), Iris Cornell (24640), Kathleen Cox (24664), Hannah Croot (24644), Elizabeth Day (24643), Doreen "Dawn" Filby (24648), Stella Forster (24642), Rose Hakewill (24650), Ann Haynes (24645), Zeita Holes (24646), Sheila Hope (24647), Joyce Ingle (24645), Betty Nichols (24665), Mary Smith (24652), Mary Spilling (24641), & Ethel Wildey (24663).

These 18 digitised oral history interviews are also available for listening to, by prior arrangement, at Bedfordshire Archives: Z153/1/1-18

Horses at a Sandy Market garden

Land girls at Edward Gill's market garden, Sandy.

Grateful thanks to Dr. Vernon L. Williams and his student volunteers of Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA, for the digitisation of the above tape recorded oral history interviews by Stuart Antrobus with Bedfordshire land girls.

I am also grateful to the late Carmela Semeraro who made available her own interviews with former land girls in Bedfordshire, as part of her "Changing Landscapes, Changing Lives" Heritage Lottery-funded oral history project for the Forest of Marston Vale. Former land girls interviewed by her included Betty Fitton (Z1205/044), Evelyn Huckvale (Z1205/125), Cicely McKeegan (Z1205/171), Barbara Probert (Z1205/042), Betty Schwarz (Z1205/154), Zoe Sinfield (Z1205/049), Peggy Tedder (Z1205/194) and Barbara Tovey (Z1205/122). Those interviews may be consulted in written form at both the Bedfordshire Archives [BLARS], Borough Hall, Bedford (detailed summaries), and in the Local Studies section of Bedford Central Library (both transcriptions and summaries). The digital sound recordings of those interviews can be listened to, by prior arrangement at BLARS:

Thanks also to the BBC's People's War Archive.  WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at

Grateful thanks to Alison Young, for specially recording the Land Army song "Back to Land". and to Jean Ceiriog-Jones (herself a former land girl in Buckinghamshire) for generously donating copies of the "The Land Girl" magazine.

Thanks to Peter Coleman on behalf of the editors of the Pictorial history of Odell, 1940-1965 for permission to use photographs of former land girls who served in the area.  Special thanks to John Day for allowing links to how 'Ampthill Images' ( site showing numerous land girl photographs.

I would like to acknowledge the contribution of the following Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Libraries staff in the publication of this history through its web-pages: Esther Gregory for her technical expertise and assistance; Rosamund Wong for proof-reading (any remaining errors and omissions are the authors!) and Nicola Avery. Special thanks go to Nicola for not only her web-page design and editing but for her imagination, drive, commitment and patience, without which the enterprise would not have been brought to fruition.

I am grateful to the Cabinet Office for permission to extracts from "Land at War" (1944).

Thanks to Dr. Keith Agar for reading the drafts of the chapter on wartime farming and making useful comments.

Thanks also to Stephen Walton, Brenda Collins and Pamela White at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, and the team of part time volunteers - Richard and Lynne Marshall, Sylvia Woods and Irene Davison, and Mick Trundle and Dave Moore - who assisted me in researching the names of land girls who served in Bedfordshire in the 1940s. Thanks also to Richard and Lynne Marshall, Sylvia Woods, Irene Davison and Penny Stanbridge for computer inputting this information.

Volunteers Group Photo

Research Volunteer Group

All photograph copyright owners have been credited where known.  The majority of the photographs have been provided by former land girls and were snapshots taken by friends.  In those circumstances it has not been possible to credit the photographer's name.  Where the photographer's name is subsequently notified to the author, I will be happy to amend the relevant web page entry.

Newspaper photographs and extracts from articles appear courtesy of the Bedfordshire Times, Bedfordshire Archives, and Luton News.  Thanks to Abbey Kemp for additional newspaper research.

Wartime advert featuring a Land Girl

Wartime advert featuring a Land Girl entitled "Both on National Service" (Luton News, 20th November, 1941, p.7)

Every reasonable effort has been made to contact copyright holders, but if there are any errors or omissions, Stuart Antrobus will be pleased to insert the appropriate acknowledgement.

Stuart Antrobus Historian/Author

Copyright Notice


Page last updated: 24th September 2015