Land girl Betty Craig’s story part 2
When I went to the Land Army at first out of the Food Office, I had been earning quite good money. With overtime I was earning about three pound. When I went in there I’d seven and six a week, mind you, you had your uniform . . .
[HB] Did you have to pay for your uniform?
No, that was a perk of the job, I suppose it was. You had to wear the uniform, which consisted of the, the khaki dungarees, a dairy coat of the same material, the great coat, which you only really wore . . . you didn’t wear it for work it was too heavy. The woollen socks with the corduroy breeches and a pair of shoes for walking out. Boots, I don’t remember having wellingtons although I remember wearing them. But we were supplied with boots, they were very heavy boots, but they were very comfortable once they were broken in.
[HB] And they were leather boots, were they?
They were leather boots, yes, and the shoes were leather, of course, as well. And then you had an armband that went round the great coat and for each six months there was a little triangle put onto the armband. Which started off a six monthly one, this one here I’ve got will be a year and a half and the next one would be coming up for the two years and then at the end of four years I got that lovely red one. It was hardly worn because I was coming out by that time. But that had the four . . . the four years on it.
[HB] That’s lovely. You don’t think about the symbolism of these things you know . . .
No well you . . . looking at it you would think what are they? Now that was what they were. Aertex . . . shirt, blouses we had and green jumpers.
[HB] Were these shirts white?
No, they weren’t white they were a creamy colour and they were very good. I’m pretty sure we had shirts that we would wear on occasion ourselves. The uniform we were issued with was the Aertex, I think probably a couple. When we came out, we were entitled to apply for the National Service Medal. And I got that one.
[HB] Oh, that’s lovely. I’m looking at a big, round silver medal with, Britannia it looks like, in the middle holding a trident and sitting beside a lion. And it says around the side it says ‘National Service’ and then, ‘1939-1960’. And then on the other side it’s got a laurel wreath ‘For Crown and Country’.
That’s us! Well we were the country. And then, recently we were awarded the Land Army and Timber Girl one. Now it’s just like my Land Army badge, but round the side of it, it looks to me like trees, something that’s growing.
[HB] It’s, on the original one, they’re both obviously round and they’ve both got a crown on the top. And on the original it’s got a gold border which says, ‘Women’s Land Army’ and on the central bit it’s sort of green enamel with a gold wheat sheaf on it. And on the modern one, which was for the Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps which is what it says round the outside. Its, on the outside edge of that it’s got . . . maybe its . . . wheat sheafs or wheat or, or ears of corn or something.
I thought it was leaves. Right we just applied for it and I was having a look and I thought it looked like laurel leaves, but it’s something to do with trees. And it must’ve been put in there for the timber part of the Girls’ Timber Corps.
[HB] Because in the centre of this one, instead of a green background you’ve got a pale blue background. And again the wheat sheaf, but a slightly different wheat sheaf. But they’re both very nice badges. But you had to apply for those, didn’t you?
Yes that one yes, you had to apply for that one.
[HB] And were you just issued the original badge along with your uniform?
Yes, that was part of the uniform.
[HB] And did you have a hat?
Yes, we had a hat a felt hat. You put it on when it was raining and then adjusted it to the size of your head! And some of them, when I look at the photographs, they were completely round. I think mine was a little bit bashed at the front like a trilby would be. I can’t remember having a raincoat. But we must have had, because we didn’t go to work in our great coats.