Last wartime Land Girls to bow out of annual service

Former Land Girl Marjorie Hitchcock with a Land Girl doll made by her lifelong wartime friend Mary Pimm

Marjorie, right, with fellow Land Girls Winnie and Beryl on a wartime trip to Southend

First published in News Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

FOR around 25 years surviving members of the Women’s Land Army have stood among the crowds at the Remembrance Day service in Witney.

But now the four remaining Land Girls have decided to call time on attending the hour-long service.

Land Girl and Witney grandmother-of-two Marjorie Hitchcock said: “We are stopping because we are all in our late 80s and it is the standing we cannot do.

“It is over an hour-and-a- quarter service. At our age we can’t stand that length of time. We thought we should call it a day.

“We will still have the wreath and will probably go and lay that after the service so we won’t have the standing to do.”

Mrs Hitchcock, 86, still meets three other Land Girls – Mary Pimm, Yvonne Godfrey and Sheila Brook – every month for coffee at The Angel Inn in Witney.

She has known Mrs Pimm since 1942, when they met while working the land as teenagers.

Mrs Hitchcock added: “All my family were farmers and of course I came to an age that I had to do war work.

“So I joined the Land Army. I wasn’t even 17.

“We did everything to do with the land – combine harvesting, hedge trimming.

“We were working over at Brize Norton at the time and it was an air base then. We used to see planes going in and out but we were only teenagers. To be honest we didn’t take a lot of notice.”

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Another Land Girl was Jessie Brown, who now lives in Jericho.

Mrs Brown, 89, moved from Birmingham to Bury Court Farm in Shotteswell near Banbury to join the Land Army in 1943.

She helped at the farm looking after pigs, sheep and hand milking cows until 1956.

She said: “I always watch the Remembrance programmes on TV but that is all I manage.

“I can’t walk very well now and have arthritis, but I figure if that’s all that’s wrong with us we are lucky.”

Oxfordshire Chairman of the Royal British Legion, Jim Lewendon, 85, goes to St Giles in Oxford for Remembrance Day services each year but understands the problems some have.

He said: “It is commendable they have managed to stick it out for so long. I can definitely understand.”

TIMELINE OF WOMEN LABOURERS

  • The Land Army was first set up in 1915 and there were more than 250,000 women working as farm labourers by the end of 1917.
  • With food rationing continuing after the Second World War, the Land Army continued until it was disbanded in 1950.
  • In December 2007 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced that the efforts of the surviving members of the Land Army would be formally recognised with a badge of honour that was handed to more than 45,000 former Land Girls.
  • And in 2012 the Prince of Wales unveilved the UK’s first dedicated memorial to the Land Army in Scotland.

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