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Land Army Girls Presentation

This article was published in October 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Two women from Eaton Bray received a lovely surprise on Wednesday when they were given a certificate by their friends at the Mothers Union for serving in the Land Army during World War II.

Celia French, Malcolm Grant, Doroth Bradbury

Unsuspecting Celia French and Dorothy Bradbury had gone along to the usual MU meeting at St Mary's Church, in Eaton Bray, to find they were the topic of discussion. Members presented them with a certificate and a cake in recognition for their hard work to keep the nation fed in those dark and desperate days.

Dorothy has received her Land Army service medal from the government this week, while Celia has yet to send for hers.

During the war Celia, now 83, was first sent to a farm in Silsoe, but then she transferred to a chicken farm in Eaton Bray where she stayed for four years.

She met her husband, who was a farmer and played in the local dance band, and they were married in 1947. She has lived on the farm ever since. Sadly, her husband died six years ago.

Celia French, Doroth Bradbury

Celia said: I was too young to join the army, so I joined the land army instead because I wanted to do something. I've put it to the back of my mind now — I was only 18 then."

Eighty-six-year old Dorothy had an "absolutely wonderful afternoon" on Wednesday. She said she came out of the church feeling like a different person.

Dorothy, who has lived at Wallace Mews in Eaton Bray for 18 years, served on a farm in Cavendish, Suffolk, during the war.

She also joined the local concert party, church choir and drama society.

"I have lots of memories" she said. "Singing and dancing, and learning to work on a farm. I remember running around the farmyard once screaming because a bat had landed in my hair!

"I was also knocked flying by some pigs and kicked in the stomach by a horse. Still, I loved working with the horses, they were my favourite. I also learned to milk a cow.

"Being a land girl was very hard work. When we began there were 41 sharing a house. By the end there were only 24."

The government decided to issue land girls with medals last year, 62 years after the end of the war.

Source: St Mary's Eaton Bray