THE women who kept Britain going during the Second World War have recalled how their vital work did not stop for Christmas.

Earlier this year, former members of the Women’s Land Army in Bolton were finally honoured for their contributions to the war effort. Nationally, more than 30,000 former members of the land army received medals.

Bolton’s women were also presented with certificates and thanked by the Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Anthony Connell, at a civic reception at the town hall.

This week Winifred Thompson recalled Christmas memories of her time in the land army. She was was just 17 when she left her home in Kearsley for farms in Devon.

She spent two Christmases away from home and said that the hard work did not stop over the festive period.

The 82-year-old, from Farnworth, said: “The ditches still had to be cleared and the sprouts had to be dug. But we did get a nice Christmas dinner.

“There was an American camp nearby and they had all sorts of nice food. We had turkey and cranberries — I don’t think we’d ever seen cranberries before. They also had plum pudding.”

Alice Glynn, from Deane, was just 18 when she moved to Lincolnshire where she worked for three years as a rat catcher.

She lived with 15 other girls in a hostel and has happy memories of her days as a land girl.

She said: “It was a challenge but I have some good memories. One winter we were blocked in the hostel for a week because of the heavy snow.

“We went home for Christmas and there was such a good spirit. We didn’t have much because of rationing but you just made the best of it.

“Christmas was smashing but there was so much friendship in the hostel that you couldn’t wait to get back.”

It was not just the land girls whose hard graft kept the country afloat.

Ida Griffiths worked at the Kay Brass Foundry in Bolton where she helped make munitions for the army.

It was a perilous job, where the young girls had to remain vigilant at all times as they worked with dangerous machinery.

Mrs Griffiths, aged 84, of Smithills, said: “It was work as usual, although we did get Christmas day off.

“I worked shifts and it was hard when you saw other people queuing up outside the cinema on a Saturday night and we had to go back to work.

“I remember in 1940, it snowed very heavily and we had to walk to work through the snow.

“But on Christmas day everyone made a real effort. If anything, it was nicer than it is now, because everything was a surprise.”