The Women’s Land Army (WLA) was established to avoid a food shortage in the United Kingdom in 1939. Daphne Mary Banks (néé Webb) joined the WLA as a Land Girl and worked on several farms in the county of Hampshire.
In the summer of 1939, the United Kingdom was on the verge of war with Nazi Germany. Because male farm workers were send to the front, the British government decided to establish the Women’s Land Army (WLA). These women became known as Land Girls and replaced the men on the land in order to avoid a food shortage. Between June 1939 and November 1950 over 200,000 women signed up for the WLA. Coming from all walks of life, they played a critical role in increasing the Britain’s food production.
Daphne Mary Banks, born on 11 May 1922 in Slough, was a Land Girl. In the summer of 1939 she decided to quit her office job in order to join the newly-formed WLA. Driven by patriotism and supported by her parents she went down to the recruiting office in Portland Terrace, Southampton. At that time Daphne’s knowledge of farming mostly came from magazines she had read.
As a Land Girl Daphne worked at several farms in the county of Hampshire. On these farms she performed several tasks, from fertilising the fields to trimming hedges. Daphne’s main task was looking after the cows. She fed them, milked them and moved them around the farm. During her stay at the different farms, Daphne always had a private billet in the farmhouse of the family she worked for.
After the war, Daphne met her husband and left the WLA. They married in 1947. She had great memories of her WLA days and always recalled them as being some of the best of her life. She died on 14 March 2019.