FOR self-confessed history buff Emily Ashworth, spending hours with her grandmother, Vera, hearing about her time in the Women’s Land Army during World War Two was always fascinating. But it was only after Vera died at the grand old age of 90 that she was inspired to pen her book titled The Land Army’s Lost Women.

The book is a series of memoirs and rarely read poems by former members of the Women’s Land Army – known as land girls – inspired by Vera Ashworth. It shines a spotlight not just on their incredible work ethic and commitment to their cause but also on the importance of keeping farms going to help boost Britain’s food production while the men were fighting.

It also includes Vera’s own story. Emily’s “grandma” was originally from Liverpool where she studied fashion before moving to Low Moor Farm in Clitheroe in 1994, remaining there until her death in 2017. Emily, who had just had her first child, says: “I had a real connection with her because I spent my entire childhood with her so I found it very hard when she passed away.

“We were always talking about her time as a land girl and I felt that time was running out to highlight the incredible work they did in keeping the nation’s food production going – how hard they worked. They knew what they had to do and they just went on with it and I don’t think people today really understand how important their role was.

“Our war veterans rightly get the recognition they deserve but where is that recognition for the land girls?”

As part of her research for the book, which took six years to compile, Emily reached out to former land girls, and people who knew land girls and their friends and families through articles run in local newspapers and via social media.

“The farming community is full of history and lots of people came forward so I was able to interview and meet people who knew a land girl, or knew someone who knew a land girl, to hear their stories,” says Emily, who is a journalist.

“It was a pretty selfless task for them but they loved the land, they understood how important farming was – they didn’t think of themselves as special or anything out of the ordinary and we need to keep what they did alive.”

The Land Army’s Lost Women is split into sections and features moving and poignant poems scattered throughout that Emily says capture women’s lives during the war perfectly. “During my research, someone sent me the book of poems,” she adds. “I wasn’t aware of the book and certainly wasn’t expecting it and they really are quite unique – many of them are very raw, they’re about love and friendship, freedom, connection with the land, and a love of farming. They are beautiful.”

Emily, whose second child was born on VA Day, believes that the experiences of the land girls resonate with recent times and the COVID-19 pandemic. “Just as in World War Two farms had to keep going,” points out. “The pandemic, I think, made us appreciate farmers and as we were coming of it people were keen to support their local farm shop.”

The Land Army’s Lost Women can be purchased on Amazon and the Pen & Sword website, as well as in WHSmith and Waterstones.