Foresty Commission launch Search for old war lumberjills

NMAC12-1923-3''Sherwood Pines Lumber Jills. Present day staff Jill Simpson. left, and Val Coulton pictured with a hand saw.
NMAC12-1923-3''Sherwood Pines Lumber Jills. Present day staff Jill Simpson. left, and Val Coulton pictured with a hand saw.

THE Forestry Commission is appealing for women who worked in Nottinghamshire woods in the Second World War to come forward and have their stories documented.

The little known Lumberjills filled in for men away fighting and made a vital contribution supplying timber for use as pit props and even in explosives and aircraft manufacture.

Possible postings for members of the Women’s Timber Corps (WTC) could have included Sherwood Pines Forest Park, near Clipstone, Stapleford Wood, near Newark, and the Birklands in Sherwood Forest, near Edwinstowe.

Jo Atkinson, of the Forestry Commission, said: “At its peak the WTC had up to 8,000 members - young women who left home for the first time and were billeted with families or in camps.

“They felled and planted trees, measured them and drove tractors. It was tough work as every tree had to be cut down by hand – this was before the days of chainsaws and giant timber harvesters. We know that woman from Nottinghamshire served in the Corp, but we know very little about where they were posted locally.”

Possible postings could include Sherwood Pines Forest Park, near Clipstone. Originally heathland, it was used as a training ground during the First World War and planted with pines after hostilities ceased. Other local Forestry Commission woods dating to the period include Stapleford Wood, near Newark, and the Birklands in Sherwood Forest, near Edwinstowe.

The WTC was an off-shoot of the Land Army and ladies wore distinctive green uniforms and had their own beret badge featuring a conifer tree.

Pam Warhurst, Chair of Forestry Commission England, added: “The great efforts of our Lumberjills must be one of the last unrecognised stories of the Second World War. We forget how vital timber was to the war effort and yet so little is known about the women who kept the nation’s forestry working.”

If you or a member of your family served in a Forestry Commission woodland in Notts during the last war please contact Louise Fleetwood on 01623 821 457 or email louise.fleetwood@forestry.gsi.gov.uk