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THE LUMBERJILLS: BRITAIN'S FORGOTTEN ARMY

 

 

by Joanna Foat

 

Available in Spring 2019

 

During the two world wars, it is well known that women all over the country entered

factories, armed services and farms, filling gaps left by the exodus of men. What is less well known is that one of the vital services women filled during these tumultuous times was in forestry, forming the Women's Timber Corps.

 

Timber was a vital resource, imported into the UK in vast quantities, but wartime meant the country had to be self-sufficient - and without the men that usually took on the work.

Without it, mining, shipbuilding and a whole host of other industries would grind to a halt.

 

In stepped the Lumberjills: the government reluctantly recruited thousands of women to

carry out this 'man's job'; they were responsible for felling and crosscutting trees by hand, operating sawmills, driving tractors and hauling timber trucks.

 

But despite their irreplaceable role in the wars, their role has been downsized to a footnote in books on the much celebrated Women's Land Army. Here researcher Joanna Foat weaves the fascinating hidden history of the Women's Timber Corps with voices of the Lumberjills themselves to air their stories for the first time and finally give them the recognition they so sorely deserve.

 

FOND MEMORIES

 

'When I look back, I think those years I spent in The Timber Corps were probably some of the happiest days of my life. We just got on with things the best we could and all pulled together to help the war effort. As a group of girls, we all got on so very well and all became good friends. I am happy to be able to say that I did my bit.' Molly Paterson

Joanna Foat

Celebrating Women in History

Early Years of War

 

From December 1939, as many as 1,200 women who joined the Women's Land Army worked in forestry. They faced discrimination from the timber trade and were often refused lodging by local people because they might lead the men in the community astray.

 

 

Later Years of War

 

The success and growth of an all female forestry corps was thwarted because the women were ridiculed and faced widespread prejudice. Finally the government agreed to set up the Women's Timber Corps in April 1942 when the women had proven their success.

 

After the War

 

 

 

 

A cohort of highly skilled and experienced senior staff from the Women's Timber Corps went out to Germany to requisition timber from German forests to rebuild Britain. One woman even swam in the Mohne Dam, after it was repaired from the bombing during the war.

 

The Lumberjills

by Joanna Foat

 

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