Cicely Spencer, Women’s For­age Corps

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From 1918, women join­ing the Women’s Land Army could choose to work in ei­ther agri­cul­ture, tim­ber or for­age. This lat­ter sec­tion had em­ployed women to pro­vide fod­der for the army’s horses since 1915.

Cicely Spencer was 28 years old at the start of the war and had been a teacher, but af­ter a bout of pneu­mo­nia, a doc­tor ad­vised her to try work in the open air. She bought a tweed suit and went to an in­ter­view “with a Lieu­tenant who thought I was a farmer’s daugh­ter.”

In Novem­ber 1915, she was ap­pointed to be a For­ward­ing Su­per­vi­sor, deal­ing with the lo­gis­tics of trans­port­ing hay. “I felt sure I have made a good choice,” she wrote, “and de­ter­mined to do any­thing I might be asked to do, and to the best of my abil­ity.” Cicely was soon trav­el­ling around Nor­folk by mo­tor­bike, over­see­ing bal­ing teams, stay­ing in bil­lets and “en­joy­ing ev­ery minute”.

By the end of the war she had risen to the rank of Ma­jor in the Women’s For­age Corps. She ob­served: “Glad as we were that the war was fin­ished, we won­dered how we were go­ing to adapt our lives with the civil­ian back­ground.” Cicely later joined the Women’s Vol­un­tary Ser­vice dur­ing the Se­cond World War.

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