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Women’s Land Army pin badge

object of the month

This badge belonged to Brenda Clayton (nee Whittaker), who worked for the Women’s Land Army at Normandy Farm near Rugby Radio Station during the Second World War.

Before the outbreak of war in 1939, Britain relied heavily on imported food. Concerned that war could lead to food shortages, the British government wanted to increase food production at home. With many men joining the armed forces, however, the government turned to women to form a new agricultural workforce.

The Women’s Land Army (WLA), which was originally established in 1917, reformed in 1939 in response to these concerns. Women in the WLA – known as Land Girls – did a wide range of jobs, including milking cows, ploughing fields, catching rats and gathering crops.

It is estimated that there were around 80,000 women in the WLA at its peak in 1943/44.

Brenda Clayton (nee Whittaker) worked as a Land Girl at Normandy Farm near Rugby Radio Station for almost three years.

Before receiving her call-up papers, Brenda worked as a secretary at an estate agent. On the farm, however, her work was very different. Far from the sedentary tasks she was used to, as a Land Girl Brenda had to milk cows, take sheep to market and make hay, sometimes working late into the night.

One of Brenda’s favourite jobs was taking the horses to the blacksmiths in Rugby. Once she’d left the horses at the smithy, Brenda would spend a few hours looking around the shops in town to make the most of her time away from the farm.

Brenda was paid 48 shillings a week for a 48-hour week. She was given half a day off a week, one week’s holiday a year, and one weekend off a month, though the ‘weekend’ didn’t start until midday on a Saturday.

One of Brenda’s lasting memories of her time as a Land Girl in Rugby was hearing bombers flying over the farm and watching the Coventry blitz in the distance.

This badge was part of Brenda’s uniform, and it would have been worn pinned to a green woollen jumper.

The badge was kindly donated to Rugby Art Gallery and Museum in 2019 by Brenda’s family, along with her WLA uniform.