Women's Land Army Poster 1917 [Wikimedia]
Saturday 11th March 1916: The work of women on farms, a frequent topic of conversation in recent times, was mentioned in a couple of cases heard at the Luton Rural Tribunal this week. A farmer in the Dunstable area appealed for his son who has been discharged from the Bedfordshire Yeomanry as a time-expired man after serving at Ypres and Loos. When he returned there was no other man on the farm except the father, who was being helped by one of his daughters. This young lady had driven a five-horse double plough all through the autumn, and was out ploughing with five horses again yesterday. The chairman of the tribunal commended her as a “plucky girl”. After hearing these circumstances the military representative changed his mind and withdrew his opposition to the appeal and the son was given a conditional exemption.
Another farmer had a rather different attitude to women on farms. He applied for exemption for two employees. When asked if he could get women to do the work he said he had help from some of the village women in the hay season, but did not think women could stand farm work in the winter. He told the tribunal “If it comes to women working on the farm I shall clear out”. Asked if he was not fond of the ladies he replied, “I am fond of them to a certain extent, but not fond enough of them o put up with them as regards labour”. One of his worker also maintained his mother and was conditionally exempted while employed on the farm; the other application was refused.