Veteran Stories:
Lillian Wylie (née Warren)

Army

  • Lillian Wylie (2nd row, 2nd from the left) in a group portrait of the Women's Land Army stationed in Sutton Hoo near Woodbridge, Suffolk, England, 1943.

    Lillian Wylie
  • Lillian Wylie in her Women's Land Army uniform, 1943.

    Lillian Wylie
  • Lillian Wylie in uniform, of which she said, "it was a great uniform and I took good care to honour it."

    Lillian Wylie
  • Pin given to members of the Women's Land Army in 1943.

    Lillian Wylie
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"The bombers overhead. Scary. Ipswitch was bad and they got so badly bombed and you’d hear them come over. And doodle bugs,they would come by the river."

Transcript

So I went into the [British Women’s] Land Army and I wasn’t far from home so that was nice, I could get home at weekends. But it was the War Agriculture and then I went into the [War] Horticulture from Agriculture, which of course is a lighter job. Otherwise, that was very heavy work and you sat out on acres of field when it was snowing and you were hungry and it was lunch time. So you’d pick up your bucket and you’d go and sit on it and you’d get your sandwich out. When it came to 12:00, I went to my, but I’d eaten it all at 10:00. So the next day you’d put a bit more sandwiches and stuff in because you’re so hungry.

Acres of land you were working on. And another time, you’d be out on a potato farm and the farmer would lift all the potatoes and you’d have to go and pick them all up. A lot of back aching work. Also, beet lifting, the sugar beet, and if you went to a poor farmer, you’d have to get your heel and kick them [the beets] out of the ground. But if you went to a rich farmer, they would be lifted and you’d pick them up.

The 60 girls, we lived in a private house on this big, big farm. Which of course was taken over by the War Agriculture. We were fed in there, we had 10 staff to look after us, all our food was done, except for what we took out with us in the buckets, to eat mid-day.

After I’d been there a time, the girl that was still on this property, but she was helping the old gardener, the original gardener of the property and her husband was in the Forces. And he became a prisoner and she was so upset, so she had to go home. So I went to our lady in charge to see if, I loved gardening and I said, “Could I go?” And so [she] actually inquired and she came back and told me that I had got it. So I went into gardening, horticulture, instead of agriculture, which was lighter work. It was big, you know, heavy. I mean, you’ve got to do everything. But it was a much nicer life, I enjoyed it.

The bombers overhead. Scary. Ipswitch [England] was bad and they got so badly bombed and you’d hear them [the bomber planes] come over. And doodle bugs, [German missiles] they would come by the river, you’d hear them. And when there had been bombing, I can remember, I guess my parents, we went along to see where they had been and roads in Ipswitch were long, about a mile long. That’s what we always used to say. And when you went down, we went down two roads and they were flat. Absolutely flat. Except for one wicker chair that would be just standing there out in the open and one egg stand. We didn’t have freezers or fridges or anything in those days. And I remember seeing the egg stand, it would be a wooden one, and there was one egg on it. Now why? All that destruction, but those two things were left.

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