Holding the Home Front: The Women’s Land Army in the First World War
Published by ACTEX Publications on January 20, 2014
Genres: Cultural, Social
This is a well-researched history of the British Women’s Land Army in WW1 and how it paved the way for the success of the WLA in the Second World War. Unlike the United States that set up agricultural colleges after the American Civil War, Great Britain lacked a unified approach to agriculture until World War One.
The Great War forced Britain to organize the farmers and agricultural community on a national level, and the WLA was in the forefront of this initiative despite male farmers’ reluctance to accept women workers or their advice. One leading recruiter for the WLA wrote: “Farmers had been prejudiced and stupid about women.”
A harvest crisis in 1916 was caused by lower crop yields in both Britain and America, and Russian exports were curtailed by the Ottoman blockade of the Dardanelles. This required food rationing in 1917 as prices rose by 106 percent of July 1914 levels.
In 1918, the WLA helped insure that people would not starve as its members worked the land to feed England. The WLA was disbanded in 1919 leaving the groundwork for the next agricultural crisis.
Reviewed by Anne Merritt