Wartime spud pickers with an eye for the main chance

Lads picking spuds under the watchful gaze of a school master, ensuring they did not find the girls...

Lads picking spuds under the watchful gaze of a school master, ensuring they did not find the girls...

A scene from the British Pathe newsreel

WATCH: Hong Kong's Royal visit in 1961

1
Have your say

Regular correspondent Eddy Amey wonders if any readers remember attending Harvest Camps.

They were run for children and young adults during, and for a while after, the Second World War.

... and here they are boys. A gang of young women picking field beans.

... and here they are boys. A gang of young women picking field beans.

Eddy, of Northwood Square, Fareham, recalls that because of the war there was a great shortage of labour at harvest time.

He says: ‘The government brought in a scheme whereby school summer holidays could be deferred until autumn to enable volunteer children to go to harvest camps to do “spud and crop picking”.

‘They were accommodated in closed schools and requisitioned buildings then transported in lorries and such to local farms for the day’s work.

‘There they might be working alongside Land Army girls and prisoners-of-war.’

Eddy says the scheme was gradually modified through the 1940s and into the 1950s until children of school age were gradually phased out and the workforce comprised just young adults.

He adds: ‘I remember as a Portsmouth Dockyard apprentice that some of my fellow trainees in 1949/50 used to use their one week’s annual leave to volunteer.

‘The attractions were a chance to earn a little extra, a week away from home, and, last but not least, the chance to meet girls at camp.’

Back to the top of the page