Land Girl Betty Craig tells her story
Listen to Betty Craig, former Land Girl, tell us her story. You can also read a blog about Betty here.
Click on the links below to hear Betty’s tale, which is shared here in nine parts.
Betty Craig-1 oral history: Duration 4:35 (transcription is below)
Transcription of the first part of Betty’s story is below.
[HB] This is Helen Bleck I’m doing a interview with Betty Craig, who’s a former Land Girl who has very kindly agreed to be interviewed by me. Thank you very much, Betty.
[HB] So, we wanted to talk about your time in the Land Army . . .
[HB] And how you came to join it and talk a little bit about what you did there and some of your outstanding memories of the time and what you liked, and what the work was like and a little bit about the kind of details that were probably . . . you know, about the Land Army. Like the . . . all the official work that you had to do and the uniform that you had to wear and what the daily routine was like. But also, what it was like just for you doing it, you know?
[HB] So . . . how old were you when war broke out?
I was born in 1922. I would be seventeen, round about seventeen. I was at school just ready to sit my Highers, and the war broke out and they weren’t very sure whether there would be Highers. There was to be no exam and there was to be no oral exam and the Headmaster sent for me and said “The Food Office needs a smart, intelligent girl, Betty. Would you like the job?” And I went into the Food Office and I, I enjoyed that, until I was called up. There was two of us in the Food Office called up at that time. And we both, it was a question of cooks in the army, munitions or the Land Army. So we opted for the Land Army.
[HB] Cooks in the army, munitions . . . oh what would you have had to do there, in the munitions?
You would’ve been making shells and things like that. And it would’ve been inside in a factory. I didn’t fancy that at all.
[HB] Would that have been in Glasgow?
It could have been or the torpedo factory. I think there was one across the water in Greenock, somewhere like that. But it would’ve been that kind of work, but that was what was available that time. So we went into the Land Army in 1943, and we went to a small farm in Southend for, I think, a couple of months. Because we did put down that we would like to go into the new hostel that was to be opened at Glenlussa. It had been a lodge for the Duke of Argyll, but it became Glenlussa Hostel. I worked in there until March 1944 when I managed to get sent back home to Kirn, where I was brought up, in a place called Dhalling Mhor, and it was a Methodist Guild Guest House. It was a large house with a huge garden and it was a lovely place to work. I learnt such a lot from the old gardener.
[HB] Were you working there, just at Dhalling Mhor or were you also going out to farms whilst you were there?
No, just when we were in Glenlussa we went out to different farms each day and we did all the farm work. The hardest thing to do was spreading dung. In January, February it was very cold. Somebody came along and dumped a load of dung and you had to sort of use a square and just take it with the big grape and spread it around the land. We didn’t have all the machinery that they have now. That was the hardest job. Shawin’ neaps, now that means you’re cutting the tops and the bottoms off turnips.
That was a very cold job. You hold a big turnip and you had a thing like a little . . . I don’t know what it was called now, a shauk . . . it was like a little scythe and you just chopped the top off and threw the turnip on the ground. And that was another horrible job. In the summertime it was better, especially at harvest time. And that was the time we were well fed, because going from farm to farm the Land Girls would say, “what a spread we had at that last farm that was Mrs So-and-so, what a cook she is.” And the longer the harvest went on, the better the meals we got.