Land Girls enjoy tea with the Queen

THEY milked cows, fed pigs and worked the land, and now the wartime efforts of three Norfolk women have been recognised at a special tea at Buckingham Palace.

THEY milked cows, fed pigs and worked the land, and now the wartime efforts of three Norfolk women have been recognised at a special tea at Buckingham Palace.

Peggie Cannam, Margaret King and Frieda Feetham were among about 90 former Land Girls and “Lumber Jills” who enjoyed tea with the Queen and other royals, including the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Cornwall.

In the lavish setting of Buckingham Palace's ballroom, where state banquets are held and leading figures knighted, they sat down to immaculately presented sandwiches, cakes and biscuits.

The Women's Land Army (WLA) was set up in June 1939 to help on farms, increase the amount of food grown in Britain and replace male agricultural workers, who were away fighting the war.

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At its peak in 1943, there were 80,000 Land Girls who carried out all kinds of work from hoeing, ploughing and hedging to lifting potatoes, lambing and looking after poultry.

The event on Wednesday marked the anniversary of the WLA's disbandment 59 years ago on October 21, 1959.

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Ms Cannam, 84, of Norwich, said: “It was marvellous. It was out of this world; a perfect day. It was a great honour to be asked to go.

“Being in the ballroom with the musicians playing and all these beautiful things to look at was quite an experience. It's a long way from digging up potatoes! It's nice to be appreciated.”

Mrs King, also 84, of Thetford, worked at the town's Euston Estate during the second world war. She was accompanied to Buckingham Palace by her husband Joe.

“It was absolutely magnificent - a wonderful, beautiful day,” she said.

“First we went to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and had a very nice lunch. Then a taxi took my husband and I to Buckingham Palace.

“We were met by the palace staff and taken care of. Then they took us into a beautiful room where a military band was playing. Midway through tea, the Queen arrived and we all stood up. She walked right by my table and smiled.

“By my side there was a reserved seat and Princess Michael of Kent came and sat there. She was very friendly and chatty and asked if I had any pictures, so I showed her one of me on a horse and one in my uniform.

“It was a wonderful day and something we never ever dreamt of.”

Mrs Feetham, 82, of Tasburgh, near Norwich, was based around the nearby village of Tibenham during the war. She said: “It was a grand day.”

But she said it was marred slightly by the recent theft from her home of several books. The items were six hardback copies of The Women's Land Army by Vita Sackville West; a dark green hardback book entitled The Timber Corps; binders containing copies of WLA and The Landswoman magazines; and a copy of Lady Denman's autobiography.

Mrs Feetham is offering a �100 reward for information leading to the safe return of the stolen items. She can be contacted on 01508 470996.

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