Paul, Meg (b.1923)
In 1944 Meg Paul came from Burnley to join the Land Army in Somerset. She was sent to Steanbow Farm, Pilton, where girls were trained for a month to milk cows. Meg worked for six months at a farm in Pilton.  The War Agriculture Committee then transferred Meg to Priddy to a tractor drivers' depot, where she was trained to drive and maintain Fordson Major tractors.  Meg was sent to different farms to plough and cultivate the land.  Meg married in 1948 when she left the Land Army.
WLA recruit ploughing with a tractor. The tractor is an Allis Chalmers Model M. WLA recruit ploughing with a tractor. The tractor is an Allis Chalmers Model M.
Sound File
Listen to Meg Paul - 1.65MB Duration 3:21 min.

AH: So what kind of work were you doing with the tractor then?


MP: Ploughing and, you know, cultivating.  It was mainly ploughing at that time because it was the spring but you know, I mean you had the cultivators.


AH: What kind of tractors were they?


MP: There were Fordson Majors and they, you weren’t allowed to take them on the road.  They had metal wheels and they had big metal studs on them, you know, like a big stud, stud they were called.  When you had to take them on the road, you had four of these bands to fix on.  They were very heavy wood with metal on the outside and you had to bolt them on with nuts and bolts, and it was very hard because you were working against metal and you knocked your knuckles all the time.  And then you were allowed to go on the road because otherwise these studs would have cut up the roads.  They only had about one rubber tyred tractor on each depot.


AH: Did you have to learn to also look after them, the mechanical side of the engine?


MP: Yes, yes, we did.  This was what the course was about.  You were taught, you know, how a tractor worked and everything, all about it.  You see, we had to, you know, there were no self-starters or anything.  You had to crank it and it was very heavy to crank and you had to watch you didn’t leave your thumb the wrong side because it would kick back sometimes and you would get a broken thumb.  So that was quite hard.  You started it on petrol and when you got it going and it was warm, you turned it over to paraffin.  We had no cabs you see or anything.  No safety belts or anything in those days.  That all came later.


AH: Was there a workshop where you learnt how the engine worked?


MP: No, no, we did it all, we did sometimes stay in the hostel for some of the lectures, you know, but no, there wasn’t a workshop as such.


At the end of the threshing the rats ran out, and the men used to pick up these rats and throw them at the girls, because they knew they were frightened.  I always got away with that because I was scared stiff but I always just stood there and they never threw them at me because they didn’t think I was frightened.


AH: Were there certain jobs when you were doing the threshing that just you girls did?


MP: In a way we did everything the same as the men really, yes.  We all had different jobs on the threshing machine.  The worst job was pulling the dust out and nobody ever used to want to have to do that, but you all had to take your turn.  Some would be feeding into the thresher and some of you were on with the sacks, in the main the men did the sacks because that was very heavy, lifting the sacks up.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in November 1994. Photograph ©SRLM. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.