World War II: 1939-1945


Case studies

Grace Wallace

Grace was 16-and-a-half years old when she volunteered for the Women's Land Army. The first place where she was stationed was in a hostel four miles outside Aberystwyth in Wales.

“There were around 30 girls, we all got on quite well together. …Most people used to think that because we were in the country and working on farms we were having a really good time. This was not so, although I am not saying it was all bad. We enjoyed the village dances, and made quite a few friends.

Some of the farmers thought we were there just to do all the dirty jobs that no-one else would do. I remember going to one place with another girl. The Lady of the Manor took us to a field about one-and-a-half acres. It was covered with weeds and thistles almost as tall as ourselves. We were told to clear it. We had no gloves to wear so you can imagine what our hands were like at the end of the day. Even our faces were scratched. She used to sit in her car at the far end of the field to watch us. If it rained and we went to shelter under a tree she would come round and make us go back. …One day we decided we had had enough. The lady came to the hostel and asked us to go back, and we were supplied with a pair of gloves each, and cups of tea.

It took a long time for the farmers to realise we were quite capable of doing a man's job when we had to.

I hope this has explained why so many of us think we were not treated fairly. For many years on Remembrance Sunday, we have not been asked to be represented. The question is, why not? Do we not deserve to be recognised with pride and honour? Why were we forgotten so easily after we were no longer needed?”

Grace Wallace, ‘WW2, People's War'. 'WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at

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