Thursday, 5 April 2018

Tynedale in the Great War- farming

Farming has always been a vital part of our community, and as we mark the centenary of the armistice to end the fighting in World War One, it is fitting that we remember those who kept our farming industry thriving during the Great War.

In his wonderful book Tynedale in the Great War, Brian Tilley tells the story of the people who worked on our local farms. Farmhands and agricultural workers were needed on the frontline, so the Government set up a scheme to allocate prisoners of war to work on farms, replacing the men who had gone to fight. These prisoners of war were usually Austrian or Hungarian and were paid the same rate as English farmhands, with a deduction for board and lodgings. They were not allowed to travel more than five miles from the farmhouse, however they were generally friendly to the Allies and undoubtedly played an important role in keeping the farming industry going during the war. Women also filled the farming roles left vacant by men leaving to fight. The way in which members of the local community took on these roles makes clear how the war effort went beyond the frontline, changing the lives of those back home as well. It is so important that we remember them all.

I recommend buying a copy of Tynedale in the Great War by Brian Tilley. The book is available from Forum Books in Corbridge and elsewhere- it is a truly fascinating read.