Smith, Christine (b.1925)

Christine Smith was a Land Army girl between 1942 and 1945.  She worked on a 1000-acre farm in Pilton near Glastonbury that was run by the War Agricultural Committee.  Twelve Land Army girls worked there, together with conscientious objectors, Italian prisoners-of-war, and older farm workers.


Christine was involved with the cultivating, harvesting, and carting of hay; as well as wheat, mangolds and apples.  Christine also drove tractors on the farm and helped to control pests.

Watercolour of WLA girl in uniform, 1942. Watercolour of WLA girl in uniform, 1942.
Sound File
Listen to Christine Smith - 1.44MB Duration 3:07 min.

AH: And what brought you to Somerset in ’42?


CS: Well I joined the Land Army and I was working in Middlesex, near London Airport, that was market gardening.  And the job wasn’t going so well and we phoned the Land Army up and they said, ‘Would you be prepared to go down to Somerset as a field worker?'  Now I was with a friend, we joined up together; she liked to go so that was it.


I’d never set eyes on Somerset but we, we came together and, we arrived at Shepton Mallet and, there was this grey lorry, open lorry with some straw in it and we just sort of fell down the hills from Shepton, down to Steanbow Farm.  And it was just been opened as a hostel then, smell of new paint and the yard was all [] in mud.  And that I think was our first job, shovelling up this mud to clean the yard and also the back part of the yard, we threw stones into the mud to make a, a base, you know.  And that was my first memory of arriving there.


AH: What did you wear?  Did you have a uniform?


CS: We had the uniform, yes, from, well, as I say it wasn’t just for walking out but I don’t know about the others but I remember quite a few were... The Land Army started off I think about 1939, first one in, and even, that was ’42, and there was still no greatcoats for the amount they were.  I suppose they were having so many coming in that they couldn’t keep up with all the uniform.  And it was about six months before I got a greatcoat.  And we never did get, I don’t remember whether we ever did have the Wellingtons.  They had them for the milkers because of the water, you know, sloshing about.


AH: What did you use on your feet then?


CS: We had to have boots and gaiters, stuck the gaiter on, you know.  But...


AH: In trousers, with trousers?


CS: Yes well we had these like, well sort of like riding breeches and I expect we must have worn them in the cold weather.  But in the summer we had the dungarees and what they called a little milking coat.  I don’t know whether you’ve seen the uniform?  And shoes, yes because we had shoes for walking out and of course we had them when it was hot, I suppose.


AH: What did you wear above your breeches though, in the wintertime?


CS: Well we had, there was, I don’t know what these shirts were made of, they weren’t all that warm really.  But we had a green sweater thing, you know, V-necked sweaters.  But of course mainly once you got working you, you didn’t get very cold, you know, you kept very hot when you were working away.  It was hard work, you know, but we all thought we were going to win, you know, going to win it, yeah, [out to] win it!  You didn’t get any slackers in those days.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in October 1989. Photograph ©SRO. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.