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The women who survived their training adapted well and cheerfully

to their life in the woods, despite the hard labour and scant regard for

health and safety.One such,Vyvyan Garstang, remembers an eventful


‘It was a very densely thick wood, and we had a hard job to get

the trees down. You take off so many branches, and then you roll

the tree so that the branches holding it would release it. Well,

this tree wouldn’t come down. I had to swarm up the tree, and lop

off the remaining branches. Still it wouldn’t come down. So I had

to lop off the last remaining branch, and then the tree started

to come down. I thought I could slide down the tree, but I’d got

stuck. So I had to come down with it. Of course, I had my legs

wrapped round the tree and the bailiff shouted out to me to put

my legs out or else they’d have been broken. It came down with a

bump! We all had a jolly good laugh over that, it was real fun’.

By the end of the war, more than 2,000 women had worked for the

WFS, helped by at least another 1,000 women working outwith the

organisation in local forests and sawmills.

Members of the Women’s Forestry Service holding

axes after completing a day’s work

materials of war 9