On the 9th February 2018 I had the pleasure of meeting Joan Broscomb née Galloway. A family member had pointed out to Joan that a photo she had taken was in the Wickhamford section of the Badsey Society website. It showed five Land Army girls outside Wickhamford Manor where they were billeted during their time in the Women’s Land Army. The photo had been given to the society by Jean Sutton (nee Knight) who had also served in the Women’s Land Army, was billeted at Wickhamford Manor and having married a local man still lived in the village.
Joan got in touch with the Badsey Society to say she had taken the photo and she had an album of her time in the Women’s Land Army from June 1943 to October 1945 when she was also billeted at Wickhamford Manor. The following are Joan’s reminiscences of her time in the Women’s Land Army.
Called up for war service
In 1943 Joan Galloway, a Birmingham girl, was called up for war service and was allocated to the Women’s Land Army. In June of that year Joan, with her bike in tow, caught the train from Birmingham destined for Evesham, together with other girls who had joined the Women’s Land Army and were going to work in the Vale of Evesham.
On arrival at Evesham station the land girls were loaded on to a waiting lorry and transported to their various billets. Joan’s billet was Wickhamford Manor, a beautiful Elizabethan house that had been taken over to accommodate the Land Army girls who were badly needed to help on the local farms and horticultural holdings.
Working near Bidford
One of Joan’s first jobs was hoeing an outdoor tomato crop for Mr Van der Becken who lived in a large house just off Merstow Green, Evesham. However, for most of her time in the Vale she worked at Bickmarsh Hall farm, near Bidford on Avon.
The farm was run by Mr Lancaster, a kind gentleman farmer that Joan held in high esteem and all the Land Army girls called him ‘Sir’. At Christmas Mr Lancaster gave all the staff including the Land Army girls the choice of a goose, turkey or capon. Occasionally Joan was allocated to work on the adjoining farm to Bickmarsh Hall that was run by Mr Weaver, who was not her favourite employer.