As Britain prepares to mark 80 years since the start of the Second World War, I hope that the public will remember another significant anniversary – the formation of the Women’s Land Army (WLA).
The WLA was reformed in June 1939, a few months before the outbreak of war, and filled the gap in the farm workforce left by the hundreds of thousands of men called up to fight. At its peak in 1944, more than 80,000 female workers known as ‘Land Girls’ had joined.
The contribution made by the Land Girls and the working horses they worked alongside during the Second World War was monumental.
Britain imported over two-thirds of its food in 1939 and, during the war, Germany was sinking vast amounts of shipping, in an attempt to starve the country into submission. The Land Girls and the animals that stood side by side with them ensured this never became a reality.
At a critical time in our history, the Land Girls and over half a million horses played a vital role in helping to feed the nation. By 1944, they were producing 70% of our food.
Today, in developing countries worldwide, women continue to work very closely with working animals, which are fundamental to food production – pulling ploughs and transporting produce. These hardworking animals support the livelihoods of millions of families and SPANA is there for them, providing the veterinary treatment they urgently need.Geoffrey Dennis
Chief Executive, SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad)