By Bonnie White (auth.)
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Extra resources for The Women’s Land Army in First World War Britain
63 In addition, the ‘lists’ were continually changing hands and new lists were compiled. Sometimes lists were combined and at times not all names made the transfer (the reason for this may have been human effort or the withdrawal of a name). Many women also preferred to find employment with a local farmer outside of agricultural organisations or the Labour Exchanges. 64 The variation in numbers of registered versus working women reflected problems in organising the various groups. A report from October 1916 provides some clarification of the challenges these committees faced.
In contrast, the Board of Agriculture needed numbers and the resultant productivity to rationalise and justify its investment in the scheme, because that is what it had promoted as the solution to the food problem. For her part, Talbot preferred a smaller, more effective and well-trained group of women rather than tens of thousands of bodies to be thrown at the problem. There was no easy solution to the operational challenges the Land Army faced. Certainly at times the war justified the Land Army’s existence, but at other times it revealed the enduring impact of the industry’s neglect.
While decentralisation was in many ways a benefit to the organisation, when it came to training, the lack of coordination and a core training programme led to confusion and varied standards in the counties. The Women’s Land Army could not afford to establish new training facilities for Land Girls, which meant that it had limited control over the type of training the women received. 31 Organisers had to consider whether or not it was practical or even necessary to train an entire ‘army’ of women workers.
The Women’s Land Army in First World War Britain by Bonnie White (auth.)