Salute to women who dug for victory

TWO women who served in the Women s Land Army and Timber Corps during World War II were honoured at a special reception last week. Joyce Cosme of Church Road, Stotfold, and Gladys Levett of The Lawns, Stevenage, were among 250 former land girls at a recep

TWO women who served in the Women's Land Army and Timber Corps during World War II were honoured at a special reception last week.

Joyce Cosme of Church Road, Stotfold, and Gladys Levett of The Lawns, Stevenage, were among 250 former land girls at a reception held at County Hall, Hertford, as guests of Hertfordshire County Council.

There they met Dione the Countess of Verulam the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire and the chairman of the council Cllr Nigel Brook from St Ippolyts.

Joyce, now in her 80s, joined the Women's Land Army when she was 17 after she tried to join the armed forces but was told she needed to be 18.


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During the war she was evacuated to Bournemouth from the family home in Wanstead Park in London and was soon working at a farm on the Hampshire Downs.

But working with the animals was often far from mundane as she recalled one morning she will never forget.

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"I had gone out to the chickens to collect the eggs," said Joyce. "When I stuck my head inside the hen house I saw a German officer eating raw eggs.

"I said hello and ran. He had parachuted down safely after his aircraft had been hit. The previous night two aircraft had crashed near the farm.

"He must have been very hungry and the police came and took him away and I never saw him again."

Joyce also remember one Christmas when she was riding her bicycle and fell off on a slippery road and slid under a lorry breaking her arm.

"I was lucky not to be killed but young women worked so hard on the land to help with the war effort," added Joyce.

Mrs Levett, 83, who has lived in Stevenage for 50 years, was living in the family home in Old Kent Road, London, when she volunteered for the Land Army.

"I didn't want to work in a munitions factory so I joined the Land Army and went to work on a farm near Petworth in Sussex," said Gladys.

"We had wonderful times and I was at a farm for three years as a milk maid until the war ended.

"We didn't see any action but I remember one very clear and light night looking up and seeing something coming out of a plane. At first I thought it was a bomb but then realised it was a parachute.

"We had some wonderful young Canadians staying nearby and I made a lot of friends and then when the war was over I moved back to London and got married. All this happened over 60 years ago but it was nice to be recognised for all the hard work land army girls did.

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