General Collection Information
This collection contains records of employment for those who served in the Women’s Land Army (WLA) from 1939 to 1948. The Women’s Land Army was established to help the country boost its wartime food production. Records in this collection consist of index cards to Second World War service records and are usually handwritten and are organised alphabetically by last name.
Using this Collection
This collection includes the following details:
- Any known aliases, including maiden names
- Employment county
- Employment place
- Age at enrollment
- Date of enrollment
- Date of employment
- Date of release
- WLA membership number
The majority of women employed by the WLA were young and likely unmarried at the time of their enrollment. If you aren’t sure of your ancestor’s marital status during her service, it’s useful to search by both her maiden and married names.
Documents in this collection will often span multiple pages; click the arrow to the right of the image to access the rest of the record. Additional records usually indicate your ancestor was transferred to different areas. As land work varied by the season, records of transfer are common.
Along with the date of release from service, the records may give you insight into why your ancestor left the WLA. Though many terms used are concise and lack detail (such as simply writing “resigned”), other terms may give hints about the conditions of release. The term “immobile” indicates that your ancestor was likely married and unable to be transferred and “demobbed” is short for “demobilised”.
Collection in Context
The original Women’s Land Army was created in 1917 to boost food production before being disbanded in 1919. Though short-lived, it built a framework that allowed for its quick re-establishment in 1939. At the start of the Second World War, much of Britain’s food was imported. Combined with a shortage of male workforce, the mobilisation of the “Land Girls” was crucial to the war effort.
Land Girls worked in a variety of positions, from growing crops to dairy work and catching rats. In 1940, Germany occupied Norway, which led to a timber shortage in Great Britain. In 1942, the WLA rose to the occasion by creating a special branch, the Women’s Timber Corps, affectionately called the “Lumber Jills.” The WLA came to an end in 1950 after employing over 200,000 women.
The original collection was created by the Ministry of Food and is currently held at the Imperial War Museum. The images in this collection were created from microfilm held at The National Archives.
Antrobus, Stuart. “Interpreting WLA Record Cards.” Womenslandarmy.co.uk. Last Modified July 2013. https://www.womenslandarmy.co.uk/contact/interpreting-wla-record-cards/.
Imperial War Museum. “What Was The Women’s Land Army?” Last Modified 2021. https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-was-the-womens-land-army.
The National Archives. “Women’s Land Army” Last Modified 2020. https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C15627.
Watton, Cherish. “Women’s Timber Corps (Lumber Jills).” Womenslandarmy.co.uk. Last Modified 2021. https://www.womenslandarmy.co.uk/world-war-two/the-timber-corps-lumber-jills/.
Please note: Images and indexes are excluded for individuals born less than 100 years ago.