WW2 Land Army Girl

Dorothy Norman of Nottingham

By John Pownall

This article is about a Land Army Girl, who was my “Mother – in – law“and known to all in the family as “Dot”. After the war, when she married her surname became Robinson.

          During the war she was enlisted in the “Women’s Land army. I did not know this part of her life until after I had married her eldest daughter Pat. Whilst I was on a visit to Nottingham Castle during 2014, I noticed a post card for sale pictured a copy of a poster issued by the government during WW2. The poster was to encourage women and girls enlist in the Land Army. Seeing this post card prompted me to try and discover details and write about her time in the Land Army. This work, as stated on the post card, was both a hard and dirty job and probably not thought of as glamorous employment when compared to the forces. But, as the war progressed it was obvious it was a vital organisation which helped the country succeed in the conflict. The country needed to maximise food production in aid of the war effort. I have put a copy of the post card with this article.

          Dorothy was born in Nottingham during 1926 to Leslie and Louie Norman; she was one of 6 children with her siblings being Ken, David, Tony and twins Margaret and June.

          Apparently, most of the records for people who served in the Land Army were not retained for future reference. So precisely at what age she joined, how long she served and also exactly where she would have been deployed we do not know. Therefore, this article is based purely upon conversations with her daughters, brother in law John (Jack) Robinson, and my own limited memories of comments she made many years ago. I have spoken to her children Patricia (my wife) and June, but it is limited what they can recall. This appears to happen in many families, that conversations with relatives about their war time experiences diminish and fade with time and we regret not paying more attention.

          They seem to think that she spoke about working on a farm near to Southwell, Notts. But, which one is not known. It is believed that her duties included working on Threshing Machines; where she said that she was injured by one of the “belts” which cut her on one of her ears. No machine guards fitted for health and safety in those times!

The photo shows her with other team members demonstrating a machine to onlookers; probably to try and encourage people to join the Land Army. Dot can be seen in her uniform on the extreme left watching another girl operator. The machine may have been to grade potatoes by size (just a guess). This photo is from the family album and not in a good condition, in fact it was in was in two pieces. I have managed to put them together and used a photo software programme to try and repair it. As can be seen it is not perfect.

          One recollection that my family can remember, is that she did return home at the weekends. Her daughter Pat remembered she asked her younger sister Margaret for a favour. This was to go through her clothes and remove all the little pieces of corn wisps which would attach to her jumpers. Margaret, her younger sister was paid a small bribe. It had to be all removed before their Dad came home from work, otherwise he would have not been pleased at all. What that implied you can only surmise!

          Her daughters remember Dot saying that on her return to work after the weekend at home, the women that she worked with would meet up at in a couple of Public Houses called the “The Brambly Apple” and “The Saracens Head” in Southwell Notts. These are both open to this day.

          Again this is down to family memories. We think in the 1970s, Dorothy said spoke a lady who she knew from those times whilst in Nottingham, but who she was we have no idea. However, we do remember that she was known to her Land Army colleagues by the nick name of “Doe-Doe”. (No idea why).

Dorothy had one passion; it was that she loved to play Bingo. She would play anywhere she could, i.e. Bingo Hall, Seaside and even Goose fair!

Dorothy met her future husband Percy Robinson at the end of WW2 and they became married in 1946. (Wedding photo attached).

 One thing that surprised me was that when she was courting Percy (known to all the family as Pym); they did some of it riding about Nottingham area on the back of a “Motorcycle”! Pym said that she was a dare devil because she would keep shouting to him to go “faster-faster”!

She died in 1989 at the comparatively young age of 63.

Source of Information;

Daughters- Patricia Pownall and June Robinson.

Brother-in-law John Robinson.

Post card from Nottingham Castle.

Photos from family album.


Photo: Illustrative image for the 'WW2 Land Army Girl' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'WW2 Land Army Girl' page
This page was added by John Pownall on 22/08/2015.

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