Remembrance Sunday: Land Girls on the farms and vegetables in Valentines Park

When the threat of another war began to loom in the late 1930s, the British government began to plan for food shortages.

The Women’s Land Army had started in the First World War and was immediately reformed in 1939.

Women were needed to fill thousands of agricultural jobs left by men gone to fight, and to increase food production in Britain.

The “army” started with volunteers but as the war went on, more workers were conscripted until the Land Army peaked in 1944 with more than 80,000 women on board.

Redbridge was more rural then and the “land girls”, as they were known, went to work on the area’s many farms.

But farm work was not enough to feed the country and people were encouraged to turn their own gardens into allotments to “dig for victory”.

In Ilford, Valentines Park was partly dug up by the Land Army to grow food and vegetables.

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Barbara Nocaro, chairman of the Friends of Valentines Mansion, was two years old when war broke out.

She said: “It was a shame to see the park dug up but they just did it.

“Everyone was fired up about digging for victory.

“It really caught everybody’s imagination and they were digging up their gardens to make allotments and keeping chickens and ducks.”