BETTY Massey recalls how she dived under a hedge when she heard the doodlebug, which destroyed Lane End's telephone exchange in 1944.

The Land Army worker was picking lettuces in a field in Castlefield, High Wycombe, at the time when she heard the ominous sound echoing through the air at about 10am on July 4.

She recalled: "It was a lovely day and the sun was shining and I heard low sound overhead. I dived under the hedge. Silly to think of it now. I don't know what good it would have done."

Mrs Massey, 75, of Bowerdean Road, High Wycombe, was one of an army of young women recruited to replace farm workers who were sent off to war.

Women from all over the country formed teams of workers who were taught skills such as hoeing and sowing, milking, shearing and animal care.

Rose Wing, 73, of Ellery Rise, Freith, came down from Lancaster to join 60 other women at a house in nearby Fingest.

She recalled: "I came from a mining family who lived in a town up north. I arrived here and thought I had come to the end of the earth."

Mrs Wing learned how to sow and hoe and operate the threshing machine.

Mrs Wing added: "Many a cold morning we would look out on the field and say we were mad and we were always glad of a hot bath. In the evenings we would go out for a sing-song and dance in the pubs."

For Mrs Wing the passage to Buckinghamshire was a one way trip. In 1948, she married Roy George Wing, now 76, who was on leave from the Royal Navy when she met him.

Three daughters, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren later, Mrs Wing has no plans to move now.

She added: "I have many happy memories of living here."

March 22, 2002 12:00