Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Lumber Jill's

Today is the 67th anniversary of VE Day and I thought I would spend time remembering a group of young women who are often left off the radar.

We have all heard of Land Girls. The headscarves, the dungarees, the cow milking, the fields.

But, there was another group of women who are often forgotten and who's work was just as vital to the war effort.

The Women's Timber Corps.

At first, the Women's Timber Corps (WTC) was just an addition to the Women's Land Army which was set up in 1917. But a little over 2 two years into World War II and it was clear that a separate unit was required. 

The WTC was officially launched in 1942.

They were affectionately known as Lumber Jill's.

Although Land Girl's would have undergone some forestry training  to prepare them for the duties of a working farm, the Timber Corps were trained to a far higher, specialised standard.



1930’s, image from Hulton Deutsch Collection.

They worked in all weathers, from snow to sunshine. They underwent training in everything from felling, snedding (stripping side shoots from felled branches), loading, working with the horses, driving tractors and also how to operate sawmills.

The work was often back-breaking and the hours were long. 

Accommodation varied from regular billets in local houses to purpose built huts within the forest.

The Women's Timber Corps had roughly 6,000 member by the time is was disbanded during 1946. 

They worked alongside various male Timber Corps from Canada as well as Italian and Germans POW's.

Many Lumber Jill's were dispatched to vast areas of forest in Scotland where they met, danced alongside and fell in love with servicemen stationed nearby. 

Many moved to Canada and Newfoundland after the war.

Uniforms were identical to the Land Army, with the exception of a green beret as opposed to a felt hat. They also had a purpose made Bakelite badge which contained a fir tree instead of a bundle of wheat.

Despite their invaluable contributions, it took some 60 years for a purpose built memorial to be commissioned. 

Carved by sculptor Malcolm Robertson, she is life size, made from bronze and gazes out over the surrounding forest in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park near AberfoyleStirling, Scotland.

And there you have it. A group of women who wheilded an axe, dealt with splinters of magnitude and yelled TIMB-ER! on more than one occasion.

All images linked to. Majority courtesy IWM Online Archive.


  1. what a brilliant bit of info! My manager's Aunt used to be a Lumber Jill, he even brought in her old badge and a picture of her to show me last year. A very overlooked piece of history, well done for reminding us all what these amazing women were capable of!


    PS - been a while since I last popped in, but loving the new look! Did it take you long to put together?


  2. Hi Emma!! Long time no speak! Thanks for commenting :)

    Re the new look - no - not too long - an afternoon a couple of weeks back :)

  3. Can I just say I love learning on your blog? :)

    I'd never heard of Lumber Jills up until now. What a fascinating story. And of course I have to comment on how awesome they all look even doing back-breaking manual labor...

  4. What a fab post, really enjoyed reading about these amazing women! Thank you. X

  5. I have learnt something new today after reading this post.
    BTW I baked the eggless sponge yesterday and it was very well received by all in the JandJ household, we did have it with custard!
    Lisa x

  6. Such an interesting post! I had no idea, but so neat. I love how marvelous they all look.


  7. You're absolutely right, they were dreadfully overlooked. I'm reading "Millions Like Us" at the moment...it's sooo good!....and it reminds me once again about how these women worked their guts out and got no recognition and the general low rates of pay compared to men, lack of compensation etc if anything happened, mistreatment by men in some work places, shocking. I am ashamed to say I had forgotten the date, I usually try to remember these things. The descriptions and memories of D day of the nurses in the aforementioned book are heartbreaking.
    It is an excellent sculpture.

  8. That is an amazing sculpture and very well deserved.

  9. Really interesting. It's so sad that many elements of women's history are ignored because, I guess, they aren't easily marketed as 'cute' or 'feminine' by the mainstream press. I mean, up in the forest in the pouring rain, there's no glamour in it, hence no movies or bodice-ripper novels. But it's often those who had the toughest time that women of today can learn the most from!

  10. Go Jill!!! Thank goodness for marvellous women :) Great post x

  11. What a brilliant post!
    It is a shame that the Lumber Jills have been so over looked, (much like the Women's Land army of WW1), but its great they finally have a statue to commemorate all their hard work and to ensure they are not forgotten!

  12. This is such an excellent piece. Thank you for bringing these immeasurably hardworking women into the spotlight. We had lumber Jills in Canada during WW2, too, though I tend to think they were more female employees of lumber companies, as opposed to being part of a formal military/government group (but please don't quote me there).

    Wishing you a beautiful Wednesday,
    ♥ Jessica

  13. Love the pictures in this post. I too am reading 'Millions like us' by Virginia Nicholson, i can't recommend it enough. Apart from this book the only time i have heard of the WTC is in an episode of Foyle's War i think!

  14. This is a book that has been mentioned a couple of times to me now. I shall have to purchase.... in basket... DONE! :)


I'd love to hear what you think so feel free to comment away!


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