In 1942, women were recruited to meet the shortfall of rural labour due to World War II .
A national body was formed under the director general of manpower; administered by the states. Many applied but those who were farmers, employees or relations of landholders were not accepted. Therefore, most were city women with no farm experience.
The women were aged between 18 and 50 and classified as full-time or auxiliary members. Numbers peaked at 3421 in December 1943.
They were known as the Land Army. The government supplied uniforms and work clothes. Farmers and canneries paid £2.10.0 per week, board was deducted from wages, £1 per week for women living on a farm or £1.5.0 if they were living in a hostel.
When 16 Land Army girls arrived in March 1942, they were accommodated at Mirrool House. It became a hostel for the girls until December 1945.
Camps were at Ballingal, Yenda and Hanwood. Their huts were primitive — tin walls lined with tar paper and a tin bath. Some lived in old or rented cottages.
In spite of the hard work and sore muscles, most enjoyed country life and hospitality. They worked on fruit farms, large area farms and in canneries and packing houses. They drove tractors, teams of horses and sheep, carted hay, picked fruit.
In January 1943, cabinet endorsed AWLA's status but as the regulations were not constituted until 1945 AWLA members did not receive the same benefits as other services. They finally received a service medal in 2012.
The importance of food production cannot be overstated. Griffith people will long remember the work done by the Land Army.