This film is part of Free

Salute to Farmers

With feeding the nation a wartime priority, agricultural workers are heralded as soldiers of the plough.

Documentary 1941 14 mins


"We shall fight in the fields," said Churchill. As this stirring 1941 doc shows, the task of feeding Britain fell to its farmers, who mitigated the wartime labour shortage with mechanisation, the Women's Land Army, schoolchildren and townsfolk working weekends and holidays. Derelict lands were made arable, glasshouses turned to tomatoes, dairy herds fed homegrown silage and every market gardener sustained the war effort. It was a home front offensive to deliver dinner.

Many of the men working the fields differ little in appearance from their forebears a century before, but the needs of war precipitated new technology and change. The caterpillar tracks of the giant gyrotiller show the influence of the combat tank, while the multiplication of tractors and the mechanical scythe, automatic baler and combine harvester all presage the agricultural turn from farmhands to machines. w