Women's war work: family history snippets with Family Tree columnist Dear Tom


02 May 2018
Land-Girls-94483.png © Ellie Keeble for Family Tree
Find out about British Women's Land Army records from World War II in Family Tree's popular Dear Tom column...

Family history researchers generally enjoy a genealogical mystery and in Family Tree we love to share our readers' stories of family history wonders, gems and funnies. You'll find such snippets collected from all over the world by stalwart family historian Tom Wood in his regular Dear Tom column.


A recent enquiry in Dear Tom about where to find British Women’s Land Army records from World War II was kindly answered in his May issue column by professional genealogist Stuart A Raymond. Stuart revealed that the original service records have unfortunately not survived, but we learned that it’s not all bad news; The National Archives (TNA) at Kew has microfiche copies of alphabetical index cards from 1939 to 1945 that contain some basic information about the women’s service.


Found in class MAF 421, they may show name, address, date of birth, Women’s Land Army number and occasionally present occupation, where transferred to and when demobilised. Although they are not online, interested readers can learn more in this brief TNA guide to the records.


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At its peak in 1943, more than 80,000 women worked as ‘land girls’, so there’s a good chance some of your female ancestors may be among them. And it seems surviving members of the Women’s Land Army (or spouses or families of members who died after 6 December 2007) can apply for a commemorative badge from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs acknowledging the debt that the country owes them, which is wonderful.


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Stuart helpfully adds that his book, The Home Front 1939-45: A Guide for Family Historians (The Family History Partnership, 2012), may be of further interest and you can also read up more on the Women’s Land Army on the Imperial War Museums' website.


You can read the full fascinating Dear Tom column in the May 2018 issue of Family Tree.


Don't miss this other family history snippet from Dear Tom: 'The Goode Life'.


• Have you got a genealogical gem for Dear TomEmail us or comment on our Facebook or Twitter pages and we'll pass your snippets on for Tom's consideration. 


Illustration © Ellie Keeble for Family Tree.