Land Girls in Eathorpe

A wartime childhood, part eight

Old Post Office (former Co-op Stores) Eathorpe
Anne Langley

Continuing Julie’s account of her wartime childhood1.

Land army girls worked on the farms alongside the prisoners and farm hands. They were billeted in a large detached house, opposite the village shop [the Co-operative Stores &  Post Office] in Eathorpe. There must have been quite a lot of them, as the house had 5-6 bedrooms and they were looked after by a spinster lady who prepared all their food and washed and ironed their clothes.

A terrible accident

When I was 15 years old, I was working on top of a threshing machine with one of the girls. We were putting corn into the machine when the girl slipped and her leg became trapped in the machine. The leg was almost completely severed from the body but she made no fuss, and just said: “Please get me some help”. I ran to fetch Mr Reeve [the farmer] who returned with some men who lifted her off the thresher and placed her in Mr Reeve’s car. He drove her to the hospital in Leamington Spa where the partial amputation of the leg was completed surgically. She made a good recovery and set up a successful taxi business with the compensation money. Despite the severity of the injury, there was very little bleeding.

Basic living in the countryside

In 1945 the Reeves offered us Newgate Cottage. It took us two days to move our possessions into the new home…We moved all our stuff across the fields in a pram. We had no conveniences but we had a garden and an orchard with apple and plum trees, and gooseberry and currant bushes. Everything, but no indoor loo or bath. We bathed in a tin bath and the only water we had came from a pump. There was no electricity or gas, so our source of light at night was provided by paraffin lamps. These made the rooms feel so cosy, giving warmth and light, and casting shadows that moved gently across the walls. They had also a pleasant, yet distinctive smell. We did have a wireless in the cottage; this was powered by accumulators which had to be recharged regularly. We were very happy in this house and lived there until my father returned from the war, and built his own bungalow in Lillington.

Part nine may be found here.

1 Warwickshire County Record Office CR 3913/1.

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