This sepia photograph was discovered when it fell from the pages of a very battered gardening manual in a charity shop. It shows a young woman wearing a land army uniform from the First World War.
The date on the reverse is July 1918
The photo was taken by Henry Dunning who, by the time this picture was taken, had a well established photography studio on Bridge Street in Usk, Monmouthshire.
The original Women's Land Army was formed in February 1917, initially with English recruits. I'm guessing that from the date of my photo, this young woman may have been one of the first batch of Welsh recruits perhaps. Or maybe she was English sent to work on a Welsh farm?
These female workers were intended to boost the agricultural industry workforce which had been heavily depleted by military recruitment. Many farms weren't too happy with the idea of female employees - an attitude which didn't alter greatly by the time of the Second World War.
The organisation was overseen by the Board of Agriculture & Fisheries and not the War Office or Military as you might have expected (which, one believes, became the case in World War Two?). The recruitment posters shown here from the period advise interested parties to go to their nearest Post Office or Employment Exchange in order to join in the effort.
By the Second World War the uniform of the Women's Land Army had become more practical with the familiar corduroy jodphur breeches, scratchy woollen jumper and stout shoes. Practical or not, one rather likes the smart duster coat & long, lace-up boots in the photo above.
If anyone can shed any further light on this old photo, do please comment below.