The Australian Women's Land Army Records 1942-1975

In July 1942 the Australian Women’s Land Army was inauguated as an adjunct to the women’s auxiliary Transport Service modelled on those established in Great Britain during the First and Second World Wars.  While policy was devised by the Commonwealth Government, the organisation of the AWLA remained State-based.

Australian Women's Land Army Camp at Atherton, November 1943. From OM90-04 Australian Women's Land Army Records 1942-1975 - State Library of Queensland

Australian Women's Land Army Camp at Atherton, November 1943. From OM90-04 Australian Women's Land Army Records 1942-1975 - State Library of Queensland

The AWLA helped fill the shortage of labour in the rural sector caused by male farm workers engaged in other essential war work or enlisted in war service.  The AWLA was a voluntary group whose members were paid by the farmer, rather than the government or military forces.  The Land Army provided training in farming skills for women and then organised their employment on rural properties. Recruits had to be between 18 and 50 years of age and be British subjects or immigrants from Allied nations.  At its peak, 3,000 women were members of the Australian Women’s Land Army, 700 of whom came from Queensland.

Duchess of Gloucester chats with members of the Womens Land Army, Manly, 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 141469

Duchess of Gloucester chats with members of the Womens Land Army, Manly, 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 141469

Beryl Pender in her uniform as State Superintendent of the Australian Women's Land Army, Queensland, 1943. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 177671

Beryl Pender in her uniform as State Superintendent of the Australian Women's Land Army, Queensland, 1943. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 177671

AWLA women were generally drawn from city areas and were often unskilled in rural work.   They were taught the daily routines of farm life milking, caring for animals, and ploughing.  Those applying to work on station had to be good riders and be able to milk a few house cows.

Member of the Australian Women's Land Army and visitor, Redland Bay, 1944. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 98345

Member of the Australian Women's Land Army and visitor, Redland Bay, 1944. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 98345

The women received very modest wages for their long and arduous working week , the average for each member was 48 hours, with pay starting at the AWLA minimum wage of 30 shillings a week. Women were paid much less than their male counterparts for the same work, which covered a variety of agricultural labours, such as vegetable and fruit growing, pig and poultry raising, and sheep and wool work.

Working on the farm, World War II ca. 1942. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 161585

Working on the farm, World War II ca. 1942. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 161585

Land Army camp in the Biloela area ca. 1940. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 123953

Land Army camp in the Biloela area ca. 1940. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 123953

The John Oxley Library's Australian Women’s Land Army records 1942 – 1975 includes service record books, poetry, photographs, bulletins, reunion invitations, a green felt pennant, broadcasts and an MA Thesis by Pamela Carlton published in 1980.

We also have a range of books, photographs, audiovisual resources as well as Land Army Gazettes as you can see from this search of our One Search Catalogue.

An edition of the Land Army Gazette. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

An edition of the Land Army Gazette. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Land Army gazettes provide an insight into social aspects of the service. They were usually published on a bimonthly basis and distributed to AWLA members. The gazettes often record the names of individual members and headquarters staff and were designed to bring together women in isolated regions and make them feel a part of the service. They include information on conditions of employment, uniform, camp news, and letters to the editor.

Karen Hind - Librarian, State Library of Queensland

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.
We also welcome direct feedback via Contact Us.
You may also want to ask our librarians.

just watched the 7.30 Report on the AWLAA and wonder if you have any record of my aunty Daisy Langston, who served as a supervisor in the leeton area. She was widowed and lived in Tamworth. I remember her being very active in the Land Army.

Hi LindsayUnfortunately we only hold records for the Queensland branch of the AWLAA. I would recommend contacting the State Library of New South Wales - http://www.sl.nsw.gov.auMyles

Looking for Auns name Thelma May Whitton served in Land Army ww2. Is there any records. She was married to a George Braisure roma. Qld her first husband. Sometimes known as Mary. Her sister Gladys Whitton I think was also in in it before she went into Army. Connie Battley

Hi ConnieThank you for your question. Could you please fill in our online enquiry form and our reference librarians will look into this for you. Here is the link - http://askslq.altarama.com/reft100.aspx?pmi=SEKkiqXPG2RegardsMyles Sinnamon - blog editor

Iam looking for my deceased mothers records and seeing if I can claim her service medal to give my grandchildren I no she served in Qld in the Ipswitch area during ww2 her name was Beryl Wallace can you help me

Hi SharonIf you would like submit your question via our online enquiry form, one of our library staff will assist you. http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/services/ask-us

I am trying to find any details about my mother Clarice Henriette Partridge who was in the Land Army in either Bathurst or Cowra NSW. I remember her talking of picking asparagus and milking cows etc. Mum passed away in 2011 she was born in 1927. I do have some photos but there is nothing on them to say where they are. I would like to able to find some information on this. A reply would be appreciated. thank you

Hi PaulaUnfortunately the records we hold are for the Queensland branch of the Australian Women's Land Army. According to the Australian Women's Register, records for the New South Wales branch are held with the National Archives of Australia, Sydney branch. This website also states that records post 1946 are held in private hands and to contact the Australian Women's Register for more information. - Australian Women's Land Army (AWLA) (1942 - 1945) - http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0393b.htm - Australian Women's Land Army Association NSW (1946 onwards)- http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0402b.htmClarice Henriette Partridge is listed twice in the National Archives of Australia's Recordsearch database. One listing is for a history index card and the other is a medical and hospital card. Here are the links - http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/DetailsReports… and http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/DetailsReports… hope this is helpful.Myles Sinnamon - blog editor

Hi I was researching the Australian Women Land Army and was looking for any records that you might have on my grandmother Mary Geary.

Hi RuthThank you for your question. Could you please fill in our online enquiry form and our reference librarians will look into this for you. Here is the link – http://askslq.altarama.com/reft100.aspx?pmi=scwwoJOUWXRegardsMyles Sinnamon – blog editor

I am looking for Joyce Baumann who was with the Qld AWLA working at Jarvisfield (Ayr) and Glen Alpin.

Hi,I'm looking for records of my grandmother's service in the Womens Land Army. She married in 1942 before my Pa went to war so she would have gone straight to the Land Army. She lived in NSW but I know she did some work in Renmark SA. Her name is Gladys Amy Mackay (nee Farrell). Any help is appreciated as we are looking to build a better picture of her life.

Hi JoanneThank you for your question. Could you please fill in our online enquiry form and our reference librarians will look into this for you. Here is the link – http://askslq.altarama.com/reft100.aspx?pmi=scwwoJOUWXRegardsMyles Sinnamon – blog editor

Hi TaraUnfortunately the records we hold are for the Queensland branch of the Australian Women’s Land Army. According to the Australian Women’s Register, records for the New South Wales branch are held with the National Archives of Australia, Sydney branch. This website also states that records post 1946 are held in private hands and to contact the Australian Women’s Register for more information.– Australian Women’s Land Army (AWLA) (1942 – 1945) – http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0393b.htm– Australian Women’s Land Army Association NSW (1946 onwards)- http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0402b.htmRegards Myles Sinnamon - blog editor

Seems impossible to find a full list of the women involved. Why. I have no problems finding my military records or other male veterans. Why not my mothers contribution???

Hi NoelThank you for your question. Could you please fill in our online enquiry form and our reference librarians will look into this for you. Here is the link – http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/services/ask-usThanksMyles Sinnamon – blog editor

Hi RuthHow did you go with your research? Apart from obvious google searches? I too am researching for my Mum who served in NSW down at Leeton area, also Batlow and Central Coast 1942-45.Best WishesPeter Fitzgerald

Have you information of JANET ISABEL JEFFS (born 24/02/1925) she was with the Queensland Land Army. I want information to pass on to my grand-daughter.
Thanks

Hi Roz,
Thank you for your query. The State Library of Queensland Ask Us service is able to assist you with identifying and searching resources available here: https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/plan-my-visit/services/ask-us