Sadie Hall ( neé Greaves) was born in Leeds and was 15 at the outbreak of war. When her school was closed and evacuated to Lincoln, her parents were unhappy about the thought of her leaving home at such a young age and for a while she stayed at home and helped in the family business.
March 1941 – aged 17 – Diary Extract (at home in Leeds)
12th – Siren about 10.30 pm. The ‘All Clear’ did not sound until 3.30 am. We heard gunfire and bombs – aeroplanes too. Came out of the cellar just before the ‘All Clear’ and when it sounded took a hot water bottle to bed!
13th – The alert went at 10.15 pm stayed downstairs until the ‘All Clear’ went at 1.15 am. We heard guns, bombs and planes in between. I went outside to watch the searchlights. Nothing caught in their beams.
14th – The Alert went at 9.10 pm. The ‘All Clear’ did not sound until turned 3.30 am. I have never heard so many planes in my life. For over 3 hrs we heard nothing else but the drone of planes. A bomb whizzed past and landed not so very many yards away in the Park (Crossflatts). More fell further up the park – and time bombs. High explosives fell near to Spencers shop. Awful damage done in Holbeck, Hunslet and buildings were also wrecked in town. We saw incendiaries burning on the slope up to the clearings.
15th – The bomb damage has proved to be worse than at first thought. A girl’s head was blown into the next street, near the Spencers. She was a warden leaving the post with a man who was also killed. People stayed up late expecting another raid, however all was quiet.
In 1942 Sadie enlisted in the Women’s Land Army after discussions with her friend Nora, who also joined. They shared many experiences during their time in the Land Army, including various standards of billets and farms to which they were posted. Initially, Sadie contended with a bout of septicaemia, some harsh working conditions and no hot water or bath facilities in one of her billets.
Fortunately, after being transferred to Honiton, Sadie and Nora found a good home with Dr and Mrs Carter.
Both girls specialised in pest control, travelling to farms by bicycle and later by van. Once a contract had been arranged between a farm and The Devonshire War Agricultural Committee, Sadie and Nora would eliminate the rats or mice by trapping or gassing. They were extremely competent at their job and their success was reported in a local newspaper. The local area was temporary home to many American servicemen, and Sadie attended local dances as well as the cinema, walking and writing her dairy. She also has vivid memories of the troops and armour passing through the town during the build-up to D-Day.
In December 1945 Sadie left the Land Army and returned home as her mother was ill. She now lives in Scarborough.
Sadie Hall’s material was one of the first sets of documentation relating to the Women’s Land Army to come into the Centre.
On seeing an article about the Centre in the Yorkshire Post which featured Sadie’s material, Nora got in touch with the Centre and offered some additional photographs for the archive. We are delighted to preserve material documenting Land Army experience and in particular this friendship between Sadie and Nora which lasted throughout the war and is still strong today. As Sadie herself said in a recent letter to the Centre: “One good thing to come out of the war was all the wonderful friendships which are as strong now as they were during those 4 years. Of course a lot of people’s circumstances were quite different – harsh – cruel, and more years, and often overseas. We were the very lucky ones”.
Despite Sadie and Nora’s modesty about their wartime contribution, there is no doubt that their work, often engaged in hard manual labour and sometimes in difficult conditions, was invaluable to the war effort.
Inventory of the Donation
• Identity card
• W.L.A. membership card
• Copy of diary, from 1940-1945
• Original letters to Sadie from various sources including a repatriated German P.O.W.
• Letters from the W.L.A relating to her call-up, release and uniform concessions
• W.L.A. release certificate, 16 December 1946
• Greeting cards including W.L.A. Christmas card
• Newspapers and magazines
• Theatre programmes
• Miscellaneous cuttings (including pictures and sketches)
• Leaflet, ‘Join the Women’s Land Army’
• Small elements of uniform including hat-band, arm bands and rat-catcher badge
• W.L.A proficiency badge and certificate in pest destruction
• Certificate from the Queen for exceptional service in the W.L.A from the period 30 March 1942 – 14 December 1946
• War-related booklets
• French francs
• Dance invitation, American Red Cross