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|BOB CHISHOLM - WALKS|
|VE AND VJ DAY|
MEMORIES OF RAYNE
Grace was born in Poplar in 1923. She had one sister who died from appendicitis at the age of nine. When Grace was eleven the family moved to Dagenham where the houses in the next street were demolished by bombs during the second World war.
Grace was sixteen when the war began and at that time she was working in a shipping office in London, however she wanted to do something towards the war effort so she joined the Land Army as she wanted to work out of doors. Her parents were not at all pleased. She was sent by the Land Army to Braintree and billeted on a lady who did not want lodgers, so made life rather unpleasant for her; fortunately she was able to change her billet to one in Hay Lane with a much more pleasant atmosphere.
The Land Army girls had no training. Grace's first job was in Rayne; about twenty of the Land Army girls were given bags and hooks and had to do hedging near the old Rayne School. As they were all unused to this type of work they soon developed many blisters. They were given a Land Army uniform of overalls and dungarees, boots, overcoat, jumpers, green britches and a hat.
Mr McGregor then asked for them to help on his farm so they went picking Brussels sprouts for him. After that, as he asked for six of them to work on the farm permanently, he paid them instead of the Land Army, so Grace spent the rest of the war working on his farm. As she had to travel to Rayne from Braintree each day on her bike, she found that it was a long cycle ride, so with the other girls she found lodgings in Rayne.
On McGregor's Farm they helped with the sheep at lambing time, hoed the sugar beet and kale (cattle fodder); they used to do one acre at a time. In September they had to wear rubber aprons so that they could pick up the sugar beet, bang off the mud and cut the tops off. At harvest they would help with stacking the corn where Grace would always stack at the top of the sheaths. She worked on the threshing machine where she was always on the chaff and would lead the horse when hoeing. In January and February they would go back to hedging.
Grace did not have a lot of time for village life. She use to walk into Braintree twice a week to go to the cinema and then walk home again.
Three of the six girls married Americans, but Grace married a local lad and after living with his parents for a while after their marriage they had their own house in Shalford Road. (One German bomb dropped near Shalford Road.)
|© Geoffrey Stone, Braintree 22-6-2008|