The Glasbury Area at War - Involvement and Experiences
The Memories below in blue and brown are a transcript from the Full BBC Blog last updated on the 11th April 2008


The Land Army was created during the Great War in 1915 and was organised by the Ministry of Agriculture.
With 3000,000 men away at war it was necessary for the women to help towards the war effort and work the land, mainly .for the production of food. By 1917 there was over a quarter of a million women working as farm labourers and foresty workers, with some 20,000 being in the Land Army. These became known as Land Girls.
The Land Army was disbanded in 1919.

By the start of  World War Two and in 1939 the Women's Land Army was formed. It was still under the Ministry of Agriculture and Lady Denman was appointed as the honorary Head. She organised the recruitment, enrolment, training, placement and welfare of the girls. At first it was a voluntary service but eventually conscription became necessary and the numbers rose to some 80,000 by 1944, with a mixture of local and outside labour from London to the major towns of the North East.

The Women's Land Army was finally disbanded on October the 21st in 1950 and was celebrated by a march past the Queen at Buckingham Palace of 500 Land Girls.

Below are the recollections of three of the land girls who worked in the Glasbury area during World War Two

Phyllis Davies from Talgarth began by delivering milk when she joined the Land Army. Here she talks about some of the other jobs she remembers doing :-

"Well, I think the best thing I liked doing was ploughing, really. We used to go...that was just when I came down to work on the War Ags. That was the best days of my life, I think! It depends what you were doing of course, I mean if you were thrashing you'd go out with the man that's got the drum and you were cutting sheaves all day and feeding the drum and that went on for most of the get the thrashing all done.
Cutting the Gorse, that was when I was up Llwyl up at, round Trecastle. No didn't like that at all. But, mind you, nobody was used to doing that job. And it wasn't a very good job to get used to if it comes to that, was it? Cutting gorse wasn't a very pleasant thing to be doing. But after that I went on machinery. Up in Trecastle that was, with..., the foreman up there was Bill Leith. And he was a very, very good could ask him anything you know, and he's explain everything to you, he was really good Bill Leith was. I used to go home at weekends but when I came from Pantscallog...they came up to Pantscallog, Sid Jones, you know Sid Jones...Potato Jones [laughs] no not Potato Jones, the one that lived at the mill, that one. He came looking for a girl to go down to the Talgarth area and no-one wanted to volunteer no, they wasn't going. Nobody volunteered so he said to me well you're from Talgarth, won't you come down there? Well, I said if I come down there I'm not going to be lodging in Talgarth because my home is only about three mile away. He said well I don't know whether they'd allow that...I said well if they don't allow it I'm not going [laughter]. Anyway,
they agreed to let me lodge at home and from there on I think Elsie knows more about it than anybody else [laughs]."

Elsie Gwynne came to Mid Wales from Yorkshire when she was 19 to join the Land Amy. Here she describes her memories of arriving at Glasbury station :-

"Well, when I came here I was 19, and I'd never travelled far on my own, you know and my father took me to the station and he said, well you'll see some other girls in uniform...make yourself known like, which I did. And so we travelled, I was lucky because they were coming to Brecon, so I travelled down with them like, you know, and coming now towards Glasbury looking over the countryside and I said then, ooh I'm going-we didn't know where we had to go to a hostel-and I said ooh I'm gonna live in that castle up there. But we didn't even know then that it was the hostel! And I was surprised when we got up because it were, as Rennie told you before, absolutely gorgeous you know when you saw it. And there were about 40 girls when I got in. girl had told us we could sit, there were four of us sitting in this place like, you know. And we naturally sat down and had our food there and all of a sudden, well two girls it was, bounced in, well, apart from swearing at us...asking us what we were sitting in that place for, like you know, ooh it was absolutely terrifying because we were sitting in their seats you see and she told us to get out from there. Well, it so upset me did that, well all of us, you know, that I swore then that if I ever, you know new girls came I would always make sure they would have somewhere to sit because we were absolutely terrified, we were in tears really. We hadn't been used to anything like that, you know. And then the next morning we were given our jobs where to go and my first job was in the gardens, the rose garden, double digging these rose gardens. I had blisters like nobodies...because I'd never had a spade in me hand, I didn't know what it was! And then after that I went on the Commons because it were planting potato time and we were planting potatoes round the Commons like and then afterwards I had been there about two months and I was asked, well, to volunteer for tractor driving in Breconshire. So then for the next, how many years was it, about 8 years I drove tractors."

Irene Gwynne from London joined the Land Army at 17, here is part of her story.

I was in London and worked for Picture Post for Farmer's Weekly with my mother. I was 17 and she didn't want me to go. I had to go to a tribunal because they argued it was a reserved profession but my mother gave up when I threatened to join the air force as soon as I was 17 and a half! I went to work in Middlesex first, at a market garden there but I wanted to move on.
I was sent to Glasbury (which we thought was pronounced glass bury!) and I remember changing trains at Hereford and then when we got to the station at Glasbury there was a truck to meet us but it had broken down and we had to push it to the hostel! It was quite a shock and I had told myself I would give it two weeks, but we arrived at the hostel which was at Maeswllch Castle which was covered in red ivy and was lovely...and I ended up staying for the three years until the hostel closed.
My bedroom was over the ballroom which was beautiful. And there was a beautiful staircase, when you came down you felt like a film star! We got one girl who got married there to come down those stairs in her wedding dress !

I started in the market garden and then transferred to machinery, doing threshing, planting and hoeing and so on.

The War-Ag would send us out to do jobs, farms would apply to have us for a few days and then feed us. Some were really mean and you wouldn't even get a cup of tea, but others were lovely and couldn't do enough for you.
Then it was like having Christmas dinner! One family though had lovely food and all sat opposite us while we had the awful stuff. My husband-to-be used to put the meat that was like gristle in a handkerchief and the dogs would chase him!
The farms up near Phyllis' were nice, the hill farmers were the nicest. The lower ones didn't want you in their homes. I remember Ifor Thomas and his family though, he would always pick you up in his car and then you had to dine with them and they had a maid!