The Devon Historian Volume 86, 2017


Introduction Henry French

Gooseberries for the fleet: the Home Front kitchen in Devon in World War I: Paul Cleave

This paper draws on contemporary resources, ruridecanal records, cookery books, newspapers and magazines, to show how local communities in Devon responded to the War effort in terms of food. Whilst much food was collected and sent to nourish the troops, those at home responded to wartime shortages, and privations with imagination, ingenuity, and, compassion for those in need in the parish. Numerous exhibitions, lectures, and contributions of food contributed to Devon’s War effort. Lessons were learnt which were to prove invaluable in the Second World War barely a quarter of a century later. Current research indicates an interest in the impacts of war beyond the battlefields, and the home front demonstrates how everyone was affected by the World War.

Changes in crop areas and livestock numbers in some Devon parishes in response to World War I: Roger Wilkins, Edward Hitchings, Penny Lawrence, and Judith Moss

Information on crop areas and livestock numbers was extracted for ten parishes in east and mid Devon from Agricultural Returns for 1912 to 1920. The general pattern of change was similar to that for Devon as a whole and for England and Wales. For crops, little change occurred until 1918, when areas of cereals and potatoes increased following the 1917 Corn Production Act. The responses were, however, greater than for the country as a whole in eight of the ten parishes for wheat and nine of ten for potatoes, whilst the areas of mangolds, swedes and turnips fell by more than the national average in eight of the parishes. These generally larger changes were attributed to the large areas of grass and fodder roots and the availability of land of reasonable quality for arable cropping. After the end of the War, crop areas reverted towards the pre-war figures. Livestock numbers also generally followed the national pattern, with little change in agricultural horses, cattle and sheep, but a reduction in the number of pigs during the War in all parishes, Reasons for deviations from the general responses for individual parishes are discussed.

Methodology of investigating changes on farms in some Devon parishes in World War 1: Penny Lawrence

The key aim of the researchers concerned with farming in World War 1 was to determine the response of farmers to pressure and incentives to increase food production. This was made possible by use of the annual returns made by farmers, and research into other records providing supporting information. Devon parish records from 1912 to 1920 were photographed at The National Archives, providing a baseline before the War and changes during and immediately after the War. The results of the research are contained in ‘Changes in crop areas and livestock numbers in some Devon parishes in response to World War 1’.

This paper details how a researcher analysed the data, some limitations on its use and other sources which provide contextual information.

Challenges to Devon estate gardens during World War One: Clare Greener, Anne Kaile and Julia Neville

This article looks at some of the challenges facing estates to increase food production during the First World War both generally and with three case studies. As skilled gardeners and labourers were conscripted to fight or sent to work on farms, head gardeners and estate agents faced a real dilemma in determining which was more important, the production of food or sending men to war. It will be shown that these challenges changed as the war progressed.

Two girls on the land: a 1918 diary: Judith Moss

The photograph acompanying this diary, lodged in a parish archive, was initially interpreted to be that of two World War One Land Army girls. The diary, written by a rector’s daughter, records the farm work and social activity of both her and her sister. Their activities have been analysed to present a picture of the type of farming practised in an upland Dartmoor parish, and to compare the girls’ lifestyle and experience with that of other Land Army women. Research among other sources has enabled their true position as World War One land workers to be established.

Devon County Council and First World War food production policy: a challenge to landlordism and squirearchy? Julia Neville

This article discusses Devon County Council’s approach to the implementation of the national policy on increasing domestic food production during the First World War. It assesses the council’s evolution since its formation in 1889, describes the approach taken to increase production particularly during the period 1917-1918, and discusses the challenges raised by tenant farmers to landlord dominance in the process. The article concludes that the friction identified was part of a longer struggle between landlord and tenant interests and of less lasting significance than the experience the council gained in implementing national policy in a large rural county.