Saturday, June 1st, 1918, was Maiden's Day in Luton, and the girls in smocks, breeches and leggings made a brave show in the town in the appeal for recruits for the splendid Women's Land Army.
A public meeting was held outside the Town Hall, and there was a stirring call to those of the large audience of women and girls who could do so, to join the land workers. The response was very satisfactory, for many recruits were afterwards obtained.
Some time ago a committee was formed in Luton to organise the demonstration, and it was most appropriate that the Mayor as a farmer should be chairman. Other members are the Mayoress, Miss Brown of Highfield (hon sec), Mrs Crawley, Mr B. Hartop, Mr Pike, Mr James Baker, Mrs Carruthers, Mrs Ebbs, Mrs Shane and Mrs Coupees.
There was a strong desire that Luton should go one better than Bedford, where a demonstration was held a week previously, especially in view of the fact that the Army is taking so many male farm workers.
On Saturday a big platform was erected in front of the Town Hall, and the front of the building bore several banners bearing words of appeal such as: 'Men in the Field; Women in the Fields'.
Before the meeting a contingent of land girls paraded the town, which was crowded, and brought quite a number of recruits. They afterwards took up positions behind the speakers on the platform.
The Mayor (Councillor Charles Dillingham) presided, supported by Lady Trustram Eve, Miss Hyde Harrison, Miss Dymock (organising secretary for Beds) and Miss Bedford, a land worker.
Miss Bedford was one of the National Service Corps (mostly teachers) who came from London. She has been working for a long time on Mr Samms' Manor Farm at Caddington. She and her colleagues worked in snow and hail, and slept in a leaky barn until accommodation could be found for them. They struggled on day after day, and on the first day stoned a big field. Their employer could not speak too highly of them.
At the outset the Mayor said at least 80,000 women were wanted at once. There was a great shortage of men on the farms, and he appealed to the women of Luton to do their best. The prospects for the next harvest were never better, but the labour was needed, and he knew Luton would not fall behind.
Lady Eve said it largely depended on the women to win the war. The trenches were to be filled here as well as in France, and every man who went should leave a woman here to do his work as far as possible.
Women must now go into work which was of first importance in the war. England now produced more food than ever, and they knew what work the growing of food entailed. Therefore the appeal to women came with more urgency than ever.
Great numbers of women were doing splendid work on munitions, and where they were expert at this work the Land Army would not take them. But there were women in work, which however good in peace time, was not of the first importance in war. Food growing was of the first importance now. And there were thousands more acres under cultivation this year. The girl must keep the line at home.
We understand that about 60 recruits were obtained, which is regarded as satisfactory in a centre like Luton.
[The Luton News: Thursday, June 6th, 1918]