Country girls and tractors

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Farming is more important than ever as our nation is beginning to run out of food, and very little can be shipped in due to blockades. Add to this chaos the pressure from the government to produce more crops.

Britain was heavily reliant on imported food and we were barely receiving any food from overseas as the German U-boats were patrolling the seas, and farmers were being forced to plough up more and more land to grow crops to feed our hungry nation. I recall one elderly gent who was a schoolboy during the war telling me how he would take their homemade butter to school with him to pass onto another child, who would hand it onto his mother. The next day, something else, like a couple of pork chops, might be handed over as payment. That is how a lot of rural people managed to make ends meet during wartime.

Another big change in the rural scene was the arrival of child refugees coming from the cities to escape the Blitz. The beautiful but rather easily damaged cast iron barred grille was only seen on the earlier David Brown VAK 1. By latea bullet hole-style grille became commonplace. Wealthier families escaped together to the country, but most people felt that they had little choice but to hand their children over to a volunteer at a train station. They would be transported to the countryside, to families who had agreed to take them Country girls and tractors.

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Many of these child refugees were as young as 5 years of age, and the people who they were to live with for the foreseeable future were complete strangers. No one was forced to send their children to the countryside, but the cities were dangerous and the schools were mostly closed.

The need for safety had to override any other emotions. It was heart-breaking for parents saying goodbye to their children at these railway stations, not knowing who was going to be taking care of them, or how long they would be gone. Some of the children were deeply unhappy and found rural life, away from everyone and everything familiar, very difficult. Once when I was living at an old farmhouse in West Wales, an elderly gentleman turned up in the yard. It turned out that he had been evacuated from Liverpool as a boy of 7 to this very farm. He was fascinated to look around the place, and it brought back many memories for him, but he had tears in his eyes when he told me how frightening Country girls and tractors was that first night in the dark old farmhouse, with unfamiliar adults who spoke only in Welsh, a language he had never heard before.

Compared to life in the cities, things were still very primitive in the countryside. There was usually no electricity or running water, food was cooked on fires, and the outdoor work was hard and unfamiliar. The transition was difficult for many, not only the child refugees, but also the Land Girls. This Country girls and tractors was built in in Dagenham, England. Early Fordson N tractors were blue, but the colour scheme later changed to orange, and finally green. Some Land Girls thrived in the fresh air, the physical work suited them, and many remember it as the happiest time in their lives.

For women it truly was a liberating time, as finally they were given a chance to prove themselves, to wear trousers, to get their hands dirty, and to do their bit for the war effort. It was the first time that many people — men and women — realised that, with the right training, women were capable of much more than just domestic duties. Some Land Girls went on to marry rural men and farmers, and never went back to city life, but generally in World War II there was rather a lack of young male company as most fit young men were away fighting in the war.

Fordson tractors were the first mass-produced, affordable tractors to be built in the U. Built in Dagenham, Essex, the Fordson N tractor was a key player in the gradual shift from horse power to mechanisation on many farms. David Brown also supplied aircraft tug tractors for use on military bases. Some of these tractors were converted for threshing and winching applications after the war.

Larger farms had begun using tractors decades earlier, but poorer farmers and those who were raising sheep and cattle, rather than growing crops, were often still using horses for farm work throughout the war years and beyond. Ford was not the market leader in the U. The David Brown company had been involved in production of tank transmissions prior to the war. Once war broke out, they were again required to focus their attention on essential war time work. From toDavid Brown produced 10, tank transmissions and some 6, hydraulic pumps for aircraft.

They were also required to produce a heavy-duty industrial tractor for towing aircraft on military bases, tractors that went on to be known as airport tugs, and this war-related work restricted the of farm tractors that they were able to produce. There was also a shortage of raw materials during the war years, so much so that any metal railings which were not being used to protect fruit, vegetables or grains were removed by the authorities and melted down to make munitions.

Still today, when you walk around old British city streets, you will see the marks along the tops of walls and on the sides of gardens where railings have been sawn off and removed during wartime. Despite the rather unfortunate timing of having introduced their tractor right at the beginning of World War II, the David Brown VAK 1 continued to be produced right up until These striking red tractors were good, reliable workhorses, but they were produced in far fewer s than the Fordson. During World War II, steam remained a viable option, especially for powering threshing machines.

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A Welsh ploughman competing in a ploughing match with his Fordson Model N and trailer plough. It took a brave sort of buyer to choose one of these unusual looking tractors over the reassuringly familiar Fordson N. The fact that the David Brown VAK 1 was never mass-produced in the way that the Fordson was means that today it is a very collectable tractor. Other British-built tractors like Marshall whose Model M tractor was produced in were available, but with our engineering industry engaged in production of military machinery for the war effort, no new machinery was being deed, and we were largely reliant on old and outdated tractors.

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Fordson N mudguards were wide, as seen here, early in the war years. Later, they were made narrower in a bid to save steel, which was in short supply. During the war, rubber tyres could Country girls and tractors be obtained by special licence. Under the Lend-Lease Act, a supply of American tractors was shipped to Britain to help boost our farming industry.

Some farm implements were also shipped over to the U. These cargo ships were easy targets for the German U-boats, and great risks were taken to deliver these vital machines to our country. Those tractors that did arrive safely were soon put to good use, though one can only assume that these unfamiliar tractors had a few British farmers scratching their he. Most of the Lend-Lease tractors were more powerful than our older British-built machines, so the extra power came as a pleasant surprise to many farmers.

Some of the Lease-Lend tractors that arrived in the U. But by far and wide the biggest sensation to arrive from America was the Caterpillar tracked tractor. When it came to threshing time, it was a common sight to see a Fordson Model N, or indeed any tractor with a belt pulley, powering the threshing machines.

But it was by no means unusual to see old steam traction engines powering threshing machines too, as steam remained a viable option for stationary farm work during the war years.

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Threshing was labour-intensive work and with the healthy male workforce away fighting in the war it was left to women, elderly men and prisoners of war to do this vital work. German and Italian prisoners of war were put to work on farms throughout Britain, and they assisted with work like threshing, haymaking, wall building and vegetable harvests.

Amazingly, some of these prisoners opted to stay in Britain after the war ended, and went on to marry local women. A small stone cattle barn on the edge of my property was built by prisoners of war; it remains in use as a shed today. A Fordson Model N taking part in a hour ploughing marathon for charity.

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During World War II, it was felt that orange was too visible from the sky. The colour was soon changed to green. We are lucky in that we, as a country, still have many of our old World War II tractors of both British and American origin. These wartime tractors that we depended on so heavily through some of our darkest times will always have a special place in our hearts. Josephine Roberts lives on an old-fashioned smallholding in Snowdonia, North Wales, and has a passion for all things vintage. her at josiewales aol. By Josephine Roberts.

Land Army women picking peas at a farm in England during the war, when we were desperately short of workers. Updated on Aug 6, Originally Published on Jul 19, Promoting a New Company: J. Case Plow Works Check out this chromolithograph advertisement for the J. Case Plow Works.

Country girls and tractors

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A beautiful blond country girl driving a tractor