Topic 9: Women’s Land Army
Farming saw a slight reduction in its workforce with many young men volunteering for military service. However, as the majority of the workforce was composed of men who were too old for military service or women, this did not have too great an effect on the rural economy; especially after the workforce was augmented by military volunteers found unfit for service. The conscription of horses for military service was to have a much greater short term effect, although this was reduced by the introduction of paraffin tractors.
However, as the security of food imports became threatened, increased demands were made of agriculture and more labour was needed. In 1915 the Women’s Land Army was formed and by the end of 1917 they represented approximately 10% of the quarter of a million women working in agriculture. Towards the end of the war, Prisoners of War were also being used to assist in agriculture.
International Harvester Mogul tractor, imported to replace conscripted horses and driven by members of the Women’s Land Army. (Photo: BBC Schools)