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Rob Chester

Defence of the Realm Act

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Rob Chester

I am interested in finding out more about the impact of DORA on day to day life. In particular on farms and farming. Did the Agricultural Committees work under the auspices of DORA or were they set up by seperate legislation? Also di DORA give the government authority to take over farms if they were considered unproductive and if so does anybody know examples of where this happened?

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geraint

Terry - I've just spent half an hour browsing! Excellent read!

Rob I can remember during the 1970s when subsidies started for farmers to replough ffriddoedd (high roughpasture), which led to mountainsides being reploughged f or the first time since 1917. I can recall a conversation between two farmers in which they were trying to explain to us youngsters how the 1917 steam plough sets operated. The plough itself was up top, and a hawser belt ran to a anchored pully on the lower slope. The plough was pulled up and down, Gradually the engine above and the pulley below ran horizontally across the ffridd enabling the whole face to be ploughed. The ffriddoedd tended to be reseeded with grass as extended sheep feed, though they pointed out one shallower ffridd sown with oats. By the 1970s it had all reverted back to bracken and rough grazing. The farmers specifically refered to Dora in their discussions - as if she were a woman. Dora made them plant sugarbeet, and didn't pay them for their endevours - they were expected to plough and reseed at their own costs, though the plough sets were provided to them "By Dora".

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SiegeGunner

Rob

This might be of interest:

http://tinyurl.com/98v3e3h

TR

Thanks Terry, very interesting. The author seems to confuse WW1 and WW2 on occasions, however — on page 105, describing the labour situation in 1917, we have "... farm families, who would rather take in even a Land Army girl than a German or Italian prisoner" ...

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centurion

I am interested in finding out more about the impact of DORA on day to day life. In particular on farms and farming. Did the Agricultural Committees work under the auspices of DORA or were they set up by seperate legislation? Also di DORA give the government authority to take over farms if they were considered unproductive and if so does anybody know examples of where this happened?

I have seen examples of inefficient farmers being ousted and their farms allocated to more efficient ones. I think these were tenancies and the inefficient farm would be merged with an adjacent or nearby more efficient one. In some cases it wasn't the farmer himself who was inefficient but his farm was too small or badly structured to benefit from mechanisation. Fields for example need to be a certain size to make steam ploughing worthwhile (or even practical). BTW steam ploughing was often carried out with two engines on opposite head lands. This was faster and more efficient than using one as the cable pully did not keep having to be moved and re anchored

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geraint

Yes; I've come across a few farm tenancies which changed due to Dora pressure for changing agricultural practices. The lack of manpower was a terrible burden for small farms - not only in the farm itself but in associate trades and services such as threshing, milling, seed supply, fodder and the farrier service. Harvesters (people not machines) were impossible to be got at peak times for the hay, grains, potato and beet harvests - schools were closed and the pupils sent to the fields for weeks. Here in 1918, the two elementary schools were closed three weeks prior to the summer holidays so that they could work the above harvests. The new-fangled tractors were not an immediate help - the young men primarily interested in new machines were simply not there to work them. A local newspaper published an article on the local estate's inability to use three new tractors because none of their tenant farmers could or wanted to drive them, and they were imploring readers with the mechanical know-how to contact the estate manager.

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centurion

Farming units were formed, from men not fit for combat but not disabled, to assist. Some of these were able to drive the internal combustion engined tractors.

British farmers were better off than German ones - at least tractors were available to them as was not generally the case in Germany.

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Rob Chester

This is all really fascinating. Thanks for the replies and the link to the book. At what point did they start bringing women workers onto the Land and were the farming units civillian or military? Did DORA empower the authorities to take over country houses/stately homes as hospitals, offices, accomodation etc if they thought they would need them?

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centurion

The farming units were military - I think part of the labour battalions and organised into companies

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Moonraker

In the UK some soldiers were given special leave to return home for the harvest and others were tasked to help on farms close to their camps. There were "exceptionally numerous" volunteers from New Zealand soldiers wanting to help with the 1918 harvest in Wiltshire, a major attraction being the land girls.

Moonraker

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centurion

The Department of Food Production established an agricultural training school for men of a low fitness classification. Many of these were men who had been wounded and had not recovered to their original level. There is a photo of these men, in uniform, at the school being trained in using an internal combustion engined tractor with a reversible ploughshear

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jennifer41

This thread is six months old - but if this is still something you are looking at over the last week I have been looking at agricultural documents for Lancashire ...

The Lancashire War Agricultural Executive Committee go to considerable lenghts to try to improve unproductive farms, including asking other farmers to support the unproductive farmers, asking the war office to return a soldier to a farm he previoulsy worked at as the farmer had died and there were only women left at the farm, 'interviewing' farmers in commitee, and fianlly removing farmers and giving their tenancy to others. In the sub-district of Lancashire I am looking at so far I have found three tenants were supported in this manner.

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johnreed

A very good book to read is "Farming and Forestry on the Western Front" by Murray Mclean published by Old Pond Publishing, ISBN 1-903366-64-X

John

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jennifer41

With regard to the female agricultural contribution I have just finished an excellent read -

'Women on the Land Their Story during two world wars' by Carol Twinch ISBN 0-7188-2814-3

Jennifer

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