Hard work but only happy memories...

Irene Thompson''ex Land Army Brighouse
Irene Thompson''ex Land Army Brighouse

Irene Thompson spent three years doing vital war work - but it is only recently that her important contribution has been recognised.

91 next month, Irene was a member of the Land Army which helped to ensure that essential food supplies were maintained during the war years.

Irene Thompson''Brighouse ex Land Army

Irene Thompson''Brighouse ex Land Army

As a 20-year-old factory worker in Rastrick, she volunteered for the Land Army and was sent to the agricultural village of Thorney near Peterborough in 1942.

“I stayed in a hostel with 40 other girls and couldn’t have been with a better set of people. The comradeship was brilliant.

“It was a 650-acre farm and it was hard work, sometimes back-breaking work.”

Irene and her friends started work at 7.30am and, depending on the season, their workload would involve potato picking, harvesting the crops, hoeing and even muck-spreading.

“I remember one day we spread about 60 cartloads of muck in a day - with spade and pitchfork. We certainly got stronger as the months went by. We worked from Monday to Saturday for £1.4s a week.

“The land where we were was very flat and sometimes it would be incredibly windy and cold. But we were very well fed and looked after.”

In 2008 the contribution of the ‘Forgotten Army’ - the women who had served in the Land Army - was at last recognised with the award of medals and certificates by the Government.

“I am very proud of my time in the Land Army and it’s a shame that the medals came too late for some of the girls who served. I look back on those times with only happy memories.”

Irene served in the Land Army for three years and while she was away she met her late husband Reg who was serving in the Army. When they moved to Brighouse, Irene worked as a lollipop lady at St Andrew’s Infant School.

She is still in touch with some of her friends from the Land Army and they enjoy meeting up and sharing their memories of happy times.