Application to join the WLA
1 March 1941
Excerpts from Mary's 1941 diaries:
Sunday 1 March 1941
I filled in a form preparatory to attending an interview for joining the Land Army. It seems my future life was beginning to take shape!
Friday 7 March 1941
My WLA interview at St James Park.
Monday 10 March 1941
A visit to Dr Chambré (whose father had brought me into the world 20 years earlier) for a medical certificate preparatory to joining up and two days later I received written permission from County Hall to leave. (The young Dr Chambré was an alpine flower enthusiast and mountain climber. We had things in common and it was Ma’s hope that we might ‘hit if off’. Fortunately we didn’t, and he died at an early age from Parkinson’s disease.)
Saturday 14 March 1941
I received my call up for the WLA. I was to start on 31 March on a general farm at Dauntsey, Axford near Marlborough …
The first job offered me by the WLA at Dauntsey in Wiltshire proved not at all to my liking. The ‘boss’ proved unsavoury, hinting at bedroom activities on our first meeting and ‘useful help in the kitchen’. This last was not what the land girls were all about – nor the other – and he was soon thereafter struck off their list of suitable placings!
Sunday 22 March 1941
I finally left County Hall.
The WLA gave me another farm address also in the western counties. It was Mr Groom’s farm at Liddington, Wick and we went (as a unit, by car) to see him on the Sunday. … Mr A E Groom … showed us round the farm, gave us refreshments and proved very pleasant but assured us that he didn’t need any extra help on the farm! Maybe he wasn’t very impressed by a ‘green’ land girl with parents in tow!
After those two false starts in Wiltshire something more suitable was in the offing, nearer to both Ealing and Henley. This was through the good offices of the Sales [family friends] at Sindlesham, who suggested me as a suitable candidate for one of the farms run by Mr Pyle at Swallowfield and Arborfield Cross …
He was willing to try me out. I notified the WLA and they checked his credentials and gave me the ‘go ahead’. There ensued a busy week of tying up loose ends, making pyjamas, altering cotton frock, visiting the WLA HQ at Uxbridge and the uniform office at Ickenham.
My WLA kit consisted of corduroy breeches, cream shirt and dark green pullover for ‘waling out’ uniform and khaki dungarees and overall for working hours. Khaki duffle coat, brimmed felt hat and stout brown shoes completed my ensemble, in which I was duly photographed in the garden for the family records …
Sunday 30 March1941
We drove to Arborfield and on to Rowes Farm at Swallowfield to meet Mr Pyle. As amiable as they come and put in contact by mutual friends, we slotted neatly into our new relationship.