Land girl Vera wears her badge with pride

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion - By Gerry War­ren gwar­[email protected]­m­group.co.uk @Ger­ry_war­ren

They were only ever armed with lit­tle more than a pitch­fork, but the thou­sands of women who formed the Land Army were still a vi­tal force dur­ing the war.

While the men were away fight­ing, they took their place on farms to keep the na­tion fed.

And among them was Vera James, who spent more than four years work­ing on the land in the 1940s.

Now, more than 70 years later, her ef­forts have been recog­nised with the pre­sen­ta­tion of a Land Army and Tim­ber Corps badge.

The wi­dow, who cel­e­brated her 95th birth­day on Sun­day, re­ceived it from the pres­i­dent of the Can­ter­bury branch of the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion, Gerry Fer­rett, at a fam­ily gath­er­ing at the Meadow Vale Care Home at Hers­den where she lives. She was also pre­sented with flow­ers by Anne Hill who is chair­man of the Kent women’s sec­tion of the le­gion.

Mr Fer­rett said: “It was a great plea­sure to present Vera with the medal. The Land Army – or land girls as they were called – ful­filled a very im­por­tant role dur­ing the war in mak­ing sure there was food on the ta­ble.”

Mum-of-two Vera was one of eight sib­lings who lived most of her life in Peck­ham where she met hus­band Jimmy, who also served in the war.

She said she vol­un­teered for the ser­vice be­cause she en­joyed the out­door life.

“I was sent to a farm in Suf­folk and they were some of the hap­pi­est days of my life,” she said.

“The farm­ers were ini­tially un­happy about women com­ing to work on the farm be­cause they didn’t think they would be strong enough. But we proved them wrong. We did ev­ery­thing, even felling trees and the days were long and hard, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the har­vest.

“But I also made some great friends and be­came very fit and got a great sun­tan. To get a medal is a real sur­prise and I shall wear it with pride.”

Vera’s daugh­ter Lin, who lives in Seasalter, ap­plied for the badge for her mum af­ter find­ing an old cer­tifi­cate dat­ing back to 1946 while clear­ing her house.

It was is­sued in thanks to Land Army mem­bers and signed by the Queen.

“I did a bit of re­search and found out that mum was el­i­gi­ble for a badge through a Gov­ern­ment scheme that was started in 2008. So I ap­plied, us­ing the cer­tifi­cate she al­ready had, and it ar­rived three weeks later.

“It was such a thrill to get it and see it pre­sented to Mum.”

Top, Vera James, 95, with Can­ter­bury Royal Bri­tish Le­gion chair­man Gerry Fer­rett and above, in her early 20s, work­ing on a farm in the 1940s and the medal

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