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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Serving their country


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Serving their country

This newsreel, one of the earliest Topical Budget films in the East Anglian Film archive, shows women working in the fields and "serving their country" at Willingale, Essex during the First World War. One is seen sharpening a bagging hook whilst others clear weeds and undergrowth from the edge of a field. Some are also hoeing between rows of potatoes. The horse mentioned in the intertitles, wounded at the Battle of Loos, drinks from a farmyard trough.

With most able-bodied men away fighting on the Front, women took on their roles, many adapting well to agricultural work. This was an essential strategy, to keep the population of Britain well fed and to combat food shortages. Not all farmers welcomed women landworkers, but many women proved to be more than competent at the task. The new circumstances changed the traditional view of women's role in society. It was seen that they could take their place in the workforce and complete hard labour efficiently. It was a scheme that would be mirrored during the Second World War .

During World War I, the Topical Film Company became the official newsreel production unit, providing news and morale-boosting propaganda to the population of Britain. After the war, the company was bought by Edward Hulton in February 1919 and in May of that year it became known as Topical Budget. By the 1920s, Topical Budget was reaching an estimated audience of 3,500,000 people a week.


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