Women’s Land Army (1944 – 47) by the late Peggy Fuller

Margaret Moore Carrick, daughter of Ralph Henry and Mabel Carrick, was known as Peggy throughout Evenwood and Ramshaw.  Ralph was a pitman and Mabel worked at the Aycliffe Munitions factory during the war.

“I served in the Women’s Land Army between 1944 and 1947.  My mam took me through to Durham to pick up my uniform – being one of the early visitors to the shop I managed to get a good pair of riding breeches and jacket.  All new recruits from the Evenwood area went to Witton Towers at Witton-le-Wear for instruction and where there was a hostel for the Land Girls.

Peggy’s WLA Gang at Witton Towers

Ruth Sawyer (from Halifax, Yorkshire) Mary Swaddle (Newcastle)

Louie Doyle (Tyneside) Peggy Fuller (Ramshaw)

My gang of Land Girls worked at various farms throughout County Durham:

  • Witton-le-Wear: Wilf Wiper’s farm, near the old bridge over the river Wear
  • Hartlepool: North Earn Farm
  • Farm at Ingleton
  • White Lea, Billy Row near Crook: Johnson’s Farm, they had “some nice lads”.  One in particular had a motor bike, useful for taking me home on weekends!
  • Farm at Consett

There would be 4 to 6 girls working on a farm and our duties covered virtually everything – tatey picking, snagging turnips, mucking out the byres and stables, milking the cows, hay timing, threshing – what ever was required, we did it.

We lived in a hostel during the week and went home at the weekends.  A wagon would pick us up from the hostel and drop us at the farm.  Ruth Sawyers often stayed at our house and when on a week’s leave we would go off to Halifax to visit Ruth’s parents or Manchester, Blackpool or Scarborough.  Ruth married Jossie Vickers from Toft Hill.

Most villages had weekend dances which was the only entertainment on offer.  The Land Army officials didn’t like the girls to go to them but that didn’t deter us – a ½ pint shandy in the Swan then to the dance.  Eva Maughan taught me to dance to “The Pride of Eran”.  As the build up to D-Day took place, soldiers were billeted in the Social Centre – the wooden hall outside the Aged Miners’ Homes (now Devonshire Place). Plenty of dancing partners then!

Farms were also allocated Prisoners of War – firstly Italians then German POWs.  It was generally agreed that the Germans were better workers.  The POWs came from Harperley Camp near Fir Tree.  I made friends with a young German POW called Willie.  He was only 15 years old when he joined the German Army.  He’d served in Italy and France and was captured at Normandy shortly after the D-Day Landings.  Willie worked at Spink’s farm, near Bolam.  I took him shopping to Darlington.  All he wanted was needle and thread to send to his mother in Berlin.  What happened to Willie after the war?  We’ll never know.

After the war, I worked on the Blue Belle buses – cleaning and conducting with Ivy, Mary and Jossie Teasdale.  In 1950, I married Alf Fuller and we took over the Travellers Rest.”