Veteran Stories:
Muriel Smith

Army

  • Muriel Smith served with the Women's Land Army from 1942-1944. She was in the forestry section, chopping down trees.

    Muriel Smith
  • Muriel Smith's Women's Land Army armband.

    Muriel Smith
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"They put us to sawing these trees that had been felled by local people, and these trees were cut into different lengths for war use…"

Transcript

My name is Muriel Smith. I'm married to a Canadian, but during the war, I was in the Women's Land Army, and when I found I would be on the farms… I was really very scared of cows in those days, which sounds rather silly. But nevertheless, I was scared of cows so I didn't want farm work, so the lady with whom I was meeting suggested that they had a forestry corps, and if I so desired, I could go in the forestry section. That sounded just fine to me. I reported to Herodfordshire, but I had to report to Staunton-on-Wye, but I didn't know at that time that it was such a beautiful place. When I got there I realized how lucky I was, because it's one of the beauty spots of England. However, I knew absolutely nothing about forestry. They boarded myself and another young lady into a thatched roof cottage, which was quite near the estate where I would be working. I started in there not knowing one saw from another. They put us to sawing these trees that had been felled by local people, and these trees were cut into different lengths for war use, and they had to be cut with different saws. I did not know one saw from another, like most of the girls that were with me. We just sawed them into 9-foot, and 6-foot-6, and 3 feet in length, and then they had to be loaded onto the lorry and taken down to the railway station. The tallest girls, which did not include me, would be loading onto the railway cars. Then they would be shipped to different places where they would be needed. A lot of the 'pit props', of course, would be used by the miners. We boarded at this cottage and just worked there every day. The only thing is, with water and food, we got very tired of our sandwiches every day, which were paste of some kind – meat paste or fish paste. Working in the same area, they also had Italian prisoners of war, and they were in a nearby setting doing their work, but the only thing was that they had all the good food. So I can remember that we were very envious of their bacon smell and their coffee being brewed in the woods.
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