Cicely Spencer, Women’s Forage Corps
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.