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Life in the Women’s Timber Corp

A Lumber Jill’s article caught the eye of Jeanne Preston as she sat in her home near Milton Keynes. Jeanne Preston joined the Women’s Timber Corp in 1942 in the early days of the Second World War and you can now hear her fascinating story. 

 Jeanne Preston is standing second on the left in the dark uniform. The photo was taken during one of many training sessions in the Forest Of Dean. (Photo: Keystone Press Agency Ltd)
Jeanne Preston is standing second on the left in the dark uniform. The photo was taken during one of many training sessions in the Forest Of Dean. (Photo: Keystone Press Agency Ltd)

At 96 years of age, Jeanne looks back fondly on her work in the Timber Corp and realises what an important time this was in her life. We went to visit Jeanne in May 2017, to capture her experience of being one of the very few timber measurers in the Corp, trained in an Ancient Woodland in the Forest of Dean. You will hear Andy Gordon (Woodland Heritage Researcher) and Cat Nunn (AWR Engagement Officer) in conversation with Jeanne and some tea cups chinking in the background.

Recruited for Land Army

Jeanne grew up in Halesham, East Sussex and was working as a shorthand typist in a bank when she was recruited for the Land Army in the Timber Corp. At the age of 21 Jeanne up and moved to Woodstock, Oxfordshire which from Jeanne's point of view "Was a way of getting away from home.”

Jeanne Preston
Jeanne is in second row, fourth on right.
(Photo: Keystone Press Agency Ltd)

It became an important part of her life, and also where she met her future husband, Jack, who was a horse logger in the wood she was working in.

“He went into woods with a horse and trace harness to tow the timber felled into some sort of order.”

Listening to Jeanne is like stepping into the past with her, as she regales her time and experiences. These are such precious memories and they are important to capture as well as discovering the stories from our ancient woodlands and how they were managed at different times. You can listen to Jeanne in the podcast link below.

The memories might inspire you to capture some stories about woodlands and to share them with us. You can also hear Tony Warburton with Tales from Laughton Woods here. This important work was made possible by the support from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Ancient Woodland Restoration project.

Jeanne, aged 97 years, sadly passed away in January this year. Her family would like her story to be shared with you. This is a tribute to Jeanne and to all those who were part of the Women’s Timber Corp.

Learn more about the Women's Timber Corps (Lumber Jills)

Listen to Jeanne Preston's story