Wartime Farm (2012) s01e05 Episode Script

Episode 5

The great British countryside.
Setting for one of the most pivotal battles of the Second World War.
Churchill called it "the front line of freedom".
It was fought by the farmers of Britain.
When war broke out, the Nazis attacked British shipping, attempting to cut off food imports.
The government turned to farmers to double home-grown food production.
The plough had become the farmers' principal weapon of war.
If they failed, the nation could be starved into surrender.
Now archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman are turning back the clock, working Manor Farm in Hampshire as it would have been in the Second World War.
Yes! By 1942, Britain had endured three years of blockades.
Farmers were struggling to deliver food targets, and raw materials were becoming scarce.
So the team must learn how to cope with shortages of fuel .
wood, and animal feed.
They must also address the hardship that came with the bombing of our cities by setting up an emergency feeding centre.
- Gravy, sir? - Yes, please.
This is the untold story of the countryside at war.
AIR-RAID SIREN WAILS By the third year of war, Britain's food imports had hit a new low.
In 1941, America had entered the war, which meant they had fewer ships to export food to Britain, increasing the strain on farmers.
To save the country from starvation, the Minister of Food demanded that an extra 840,000 tons of wheat be produced.
Even more grassland was ploughed up to meet the demand, but it still wasn't enough.
With all these fields given over to producing cereals, farmers struggled to find the space for other crops.
The Minister of Agriculture insisted that every spare scrap of land be put to good use.
Even Leicester Square and Regents Park were dug over to grow vegetables.
We're going to get rid of all this scrap metal, which can be used in the munitions factories to build tanks and planes, but we're also going to free up a patch of land.
It doesn't look like much, but once we get this cleared - Do you want a hand there, Peter? - Probably! Once we get it cleared, we will be able to put a crop in for harvest later in the year, but we've got to work quickly.
Alex and Peter are going to grow a bean crop to supplement the feed for their dairy herd, but there's a problem.
Small pieces of land like this had never been cultivated, so were in need of ploughing - Wow, this is in good nick! - .
but their size and awkward shape meant an ordinary tractor couldn't do the job.
So we're looking for something that can plough that land and harrow that land.
The government had a solution - a scheme where farmers could lease specialist equipment to help maximise output.
The Ministry of Agriculture are encouraging us to do these things, they're actually offering these things on hire, so let's take our pick, let's have a look and see what we've got.
Something like that is too big.
What's that, "The Trusty Tractor.
It does the work of two horses.
"It ploughs over an acre per day using only two gallons of petrol, "and a land girl can start it, and it steers itself.
" - Wow! - We're on to a winner.
If a land girl can start it, maybe even we can start it, Peter! By 1942, there wasn't just a food shortage.
Timber was in short supply too.
Wood imports declined as shipping lanes were cut off.
At the outbreak of war, Britain was importing almost all her timber.
Indeed, I think it was only four per cent of that timber that we needed and used in Britain that could be sourced from Britain.
In fact, once we looked around us, we realised that the problem was not so much, "Where was the wood going to come from?", but, "Who the heck was going to get it?" With many male forestry workers being drafted to fight, the Ministry of Labour called on the nation's women to step in.
They formed the Women's Timber Corps and female tree fellers soon became known as Lumber Jills.
Timber! Nowadays you might think to yourself, "What's the big deal? "Wood, what's it used for? Paper, furniture," but in wartime, it had a really important function.
For a start, many of our best fighter aircraft were made of wood.
Wartime industry also depended on wood.
The largest consumers of timber were coal mines, which required wooden pit props to keep them stable.
- It looks pretty hard work, I should imagine you get pretty fit.
- Yeah! Jo Mason and Tracy Anderson work for the Forestry Commission and have enlisted the help of Ruth and her daughter Eve.
Basically, if you just pull and don't push - Pull, don't push.
- Right, this is it.
"To you, to me," isn't it? To you first.
Girls as young as 14 were recruited to work in the forests.
The toughest job was felling the trees, something the government was initially reluctant to allow women to do.
It's hard work, but it's not the full body thing I was expecting it to be.
When you look at who joined the timber corps, you find it was girls who worked in shops, secretaries I think it must have given a lot of young women a feeling of self-confidence, of self-respect, that they could be out there, be doing something truly helpful for the war effort, something for your country in a really practical way.
This is exactly the sorts of things that were proving that girls were just as good as boys.
The Second World War saw a surge in the mechanisation of British farms as the Ministry of Agriculture encouraged farmers to use machines to increase efficiency.
With animal feed in short supply, Alex and Peter are using their cleared patch of land to grow beans for the cattle, with the help of a trio of tractor enthusiasts - Richard Lowden, Geoff Ravenhall and Shane Parry.
Hello, Peter, what have we got here? Little beast, isn't it? That's the sort of tractor I could probably work with.
This is your Trusty Tractor for the next week.
Trusty Tractor? Yep, the best-selling small tractor of its type at the moment.
The Trusty Tractor, once confined to market gardens, was ideal for answering the wartime need to cultivate awkward patches of land.
You've got it for a week, with a range of attachments as well.
I've got a book here with all the attachments in, You've got a plough with it and disk harrows and all sorts, so I should think that will do you.
Excellent, a bit of privy reading for you, Peter! Originally designed in 1933, the Trusty was modified during the war to reduce the amount of steel it required as supplies ran short.
But for the patch of land we've cleared, this would be ideal, yeah? Small patches like this were exactly what was needed to be put into production.
Well let's hope so.
And we've got something here that's sort of half way between me and a spade and a tractor and plough.
The first job is to prepare the tractor for ploughing.
Rather than being towed, the ploughing attachment forms one unit with the tractor.
It should be a one-man operation, this should.
The only time you need five people is when you put it in that hedge! LAUGHTER - Do you want to start this? - Yes.
- You'd better show me.
- OK, fuel's on.
ALEX: So this is like starting the old lawn mower Here we go.
ENGINE SPLUTTERS TO LIFE Oh! That's a dream! Your field awaits.
Over half a billion cubic feet of wood was needed during the war for everything from aircraft to ships and rifles.
Ruth and Eve have hit a common stumbling block.
The weight of the tree is causing the saw to jam.
- I think we definitely need - She's pinching, isn't she? - I think we need a wedge.
- Might be the safest option at this point.
- Shall we just have a little look? - We're starting to pinch, we are.
Well it's got quite a big crown, so it's going to catch the wind.
You can see it rocking it'll come back and jam the saw and you won't be able to do anything at all.
The best thing we can do is if we put a wedge in the back, - that will keep the cut open, means the saw will move freely through.
- Right.
Bang the wedge in at the back here, just taking care not to bang it into the saw.
That is so much freer with that wedge in.
Wow, that's moving.
I think we're nearly there.
She's beginning to really wobble.
You can see the gap opening and closing, and the wedge is bobbing up and down.
When she goes, we need to get out of the way.
Can you also shout "timber"? They would have been in groups, so you want to let everyone else know the tree's about to go.
Yes! She's going! She's going, going Timber! RUTH AND EVE LAUGH The Trusty Tractor is ready to go.
It's now time to start ploughing.
The depth of the plough could be easily controlled by a cranked handle.
Experienced farmers could even set the tractor running on its own, only needing to turn it around at each end of the plot.
At first appearance, this is a pretty heavy-looking piece of kit, but actually with it set right .
you can let the engine do all the work.
And I'm actually now just guiding it, you know? But it's still quite cumbersome, and I'm terrified of hitting a stone.
The Trusty Tractor was entirely British-made until 1943 when wartime shortages resulted in the use of American engines.
With the land ploughed, the final job is to smooth out the soil ready for sowing.
The plough could be easily replaced with a harrow attachment, one of over 20 accessories that came with the Trusty Tractor.
So that's the field done.
Time to get the beans in while the sun's still shining.
Right, here we go.
The next stage for Ruth and Eve is to remove all the smaller branches from the tree, a process known as snedding.
When you joined the timber corps, you went off on four weeks' training.
The first couple of weeks you did everything - a little bit of absolutely everything, and you were allowed to choose which things you were best at and for the second two weeks, that's what you concentrated on, whether it be the measuring, the surveying, the felling itself, the snedding, or indeed, bark peeling.
This is the wrong species for that, but if you were interested in making explosives, a really, really useful thing was the bark of an alder buckthorn tree, so anything like that was carefully peeled and de-barked, for the bark to be made into charcoal that was then part of the explosives industry.
Girls could be sent anywhere in the country, to be billeted with locals or to stay in hostels or camps.
One person who knows first-hand the trials of being in the Women's Timber Corps is Irene Howell, who became a Lumber Jill in 1943.
What were you doing beforehand though, Irene? - Upstairs, downstairs.
- Really? So a complete change from what you'd been doing before.
- That must have been quite nice, actually, to have been - Out and - Out and about, doing something different.
- .
rather than upstairs and downstairs, yes.
Not a very nice job, I'm afraid.
So, the women's timber corps was, in a sense, - sort of a step up? - Yes, lovely.
But conditions were tough.
Rheumatism was a common ailment amongst Lumber Jills, resulting from long periods working in the forest in damp conditions.
- You've got some photos.
Oh, is this you? - Yes.
What did you like best about being a member of the timber corps? Well, being with the other girls, really.
I wasn't used to being with a lot of girls.
we used to have a good time, we used to enjoy it.
Did you feel you were part of the war effort, out in the woods? Well, yes, you were certainly part of the war effort.
We had to do something.
- After 18 you all had to do something, so you just got on with it.
- Yeah.
Just as important as felling a tree was measuring it.
- So this is to work out how everybody gets paid? - Yes.
We get paid Well, the women's timber corps got paid by results.
Let's measure a ten-foot length and see how much we've got.
Calculating the amount of wood in a tree was the most intellectually demanding job.
It was vital to ensure that nothing was wasted.
There we go, ten foot.
It normally went to well-educated girls who excelled at maths.
- OK? - Perfect.
We'll just take the circumference of the tree now Not all the timber in the tree is usable - the curved sides must be removed, leaving just the central portion.
To calculate the amount of useable timber, a Hoppus conversion table was used.
So that's nine, something nine I can't see Four foot nine! Four foot nine.
So ten foot length, we're looking at a girth of What did we say? Four foot nine.
- Ten foot log and then you just read across there - 14.
1 square feet in that piece of timber.
Now the tree is ready to be sent to the saw mill for final processing.
Before the war, only four per cent of the timber used in Britain was home-grown.
By the end, it was 60 per cent - over 18 million tons.
Throughout the war, milk was seen by the government as essential for the nation's health, a much-needed source of nutrition, especially for children.
To produce enough for the population, calves were removed from their mothers very soon after birth and fed with artificial milk, leaving the fresh milk for human consumption.
Manor Farm's calves have been taught to feed from bottles, but bottle feeding is time-consuming so Alex and Peter must train them to drink from a bucket.
Oh, this one's got teeth, Peter.
Nearly Not stupid, that one.
OK, I'll tell you what we do, we'll remove these from the equation entirely, yeah? - Yep.
- Come on, there we go, you're so close.
Nearly, nearly.
They're still sucking from my fingers.
Yeah, it needs to learn to lap.
Here we are, here we are.
It's like a milk bonanza.
This is where it is, this is where the good stuff is.
And there we go.
There we go It's one of those moments on the farm, on any farm.
When you get that moment of independence in an animal, you know it's got just a much better chance in life.
Improved methods of dairy farming paid off.
In 1942, sales of milk hit over a billion gallons, 40 per cent above pre-war levels.
But with imported feed scarce and less milk for the calves, they needed an additional source of protein in their diet.
One solution was beans.
Alex and Peter have ordered a new seed drill to sow the beans more quickly, but their efforts have been thwarted by the weather.
Well, here we are.
Not as dry as it could be.
It's not, and the problem is, the rain isn't letting up.
We've got clouds in the sky and we're expecting more rain on top of what we've already had.
There's water sitting on the ground, but we've got an afternoon of dry and we've got to get these beans in the ground.
Are you ready, Peter? I am.
And the main thing is, in the context of the war, this was bonus ground - this was turning every inch of your farm into something that could produce a crop.
- That's enough in there? - That's enough.
OK, that's the hopper full.
It's a fantastic bit of kit really, this.
This is really versatile, you can sow virtually any type of seed.
We've got it set up so that it's for beans, and there's a regulator at the back which determines how often it drops the beans out.
We've got it set up for six inches.
The only problem is, Peter, as you're pushing this through this claggy filthy clay, you're going to struggle to get traction with this wheel, that's my only concern.
So you're going to walk in front, throwing some sawdust down.
No, I'm going to stand here on the dry and watch you! As the wheel rotates, it turns two chambers.
One removes the bean from the hopper and sends it into a second chamber which drops the bean into the ground, producing a clicking sound.
That is going, it's good.
We're sowing quite thin to start with, so we know we've got enough beans to do the whole patch and then we can sow again, but this should - Oh! - Oh, no! Oops.
That hopper's not fixed shut.
Look! What are you doing?! Shall I just put them on the road? Yes, put them on the road.
Put them on the road, Peter.
We're in for a long afternoon, I think.
The waterlogged soil is making the job difficult, but the boys need to persevere.
- All done? - All done.
- Bit of a struggle, but we got there.
- Yes.
- How's it looking? Well, it's looking like they're evenly drilled here.
Let's just hope that they're evenly drilled across the whole patch.
The main problem here is that we don't have very good drainage.
This clay soil is holding the water.
It's a tough call.
The wartime reduction in imported animal feed was especially tough on pigs.
Without enough food to sustain them, the government ordered a massive cull, and pig meat became scarce.
One solution from the Ministry of Food was to establish pig clubs, where communities collected their kitchen leftovers to feed a shared animal, turning waste into meat.
Six months ago, Ruth started a club with a piglet called Shorty.
Now, Ruth and stockwoman Debbie Underwood have come to check whether Shorty has grown large enough for slaughter.
- Hello, girl! - She's growing, isn't she? She is.
Hello, Shorty.
How you doing, girl? Yeah.
- Right, so she's about six months old now? - Yeah.
She's been eating our pig club scraps, enjoying herself.
I don't think she's quite ready for slaughter yet.
- S he's still a bit on the small side.
- Yeah.
If you feel her back, that's how we do things nowadays.
Of course in years gone by, they did things differently and one way they used to feel how much weight they had on them, they put a thumb up the pig's bottom and you could pinch to see how much meat was there.
- We don't do that nowadays.
- That doesn't sound terribly lovely.
No, I'm not offering to do that now, but that is one way of doing it.
If you push down, you can feel where the bones are and it gives you a good idea of how much of a covering of fat there is on there.
But they also love a good back scratch as well! She's really firm-fleshed, which is good.
What that means is that muscle is building there, but at the moment, there's not a great deal of fat.
Nowadays, of course, people don't want too much fat on their pigs, but during the war we were desperate for animal fats, so a nice fat pig gives you lots of lard, so it wouldn't be such a bad thing if she put on a bit.
Interesting that now we're getting closer to slaughter, we're sizing her up.
We've got to share her.
Half of her has to go back to the government.
We get the other half, so that's half of a pig between four of us.
It might not seem very much, but when you're so extremely short of absolutely everything, then every little bit helps.
As well as bacon, petrol and diesel had also been rationed since the start of the war, but in 1942 the shortages grew even more extreme.
Fuel for the armed forces was prioritised, so those who didn't need their cars for vital work could no longer buy petrol.
Farmers were allowed small rations of petrol - primarily for their tractors - but they needed to look for alternative options for other farm vehicles.
The boys have found inspiration from an unlikely contraption.
- Are you breaking something?! - Have a look at this! "Massey Harris" Massey Harris tractor, but what else? It's obviously been modified to run off some other form of fuel.
Yes, exactly.
Solid fuel, so wood and coal.
Fighting in North Africa severely disrupted petrol imports.
But there was an alternative fuel that was abundant in Britain - coal.
So you've got all of your solid fuel burning in here, but that isn't what's providing the power source, it's merely providing the gas that you're then going to burn for the power source.
I suppose coal and wood contains a calorific value which turns into gas and that's what we're trying to capture.
- This is a filter chamber.
- It must be.
So we've got a rough idea of how this works.
- You can find us a vehicle and you can convert it.
- I can try! LAUGHTER I tell you what, you try and get your head around this, see if you can knock something up, - and I'll see if I can get my hands on some wartime fuel to power it.
- Perfect.
With petrol in short supply, gas-powered engines grew more popular in the 1940s.
In cities, town gas was available via a mains supply and was carried in a balloon on the chassis to power the vehicle.
But many areas of the countryside weren't linked up to the mains so the boys will have to make their own coal gas.
Peter has enlisted the help of conservation officer Colin Richards, who has a 1930s ambulance.
He's hoping to convert its engine so the vehicle can be used for important jobs on the farm.
Well, this is it, this is our vehicle.
Colin's just bringing it in now.
It's currently running off petrol and we're going to convert this to run off coal gas.
This is the machine.
Once the task is done, the ambulance should be able to travel for 30 miles on one load of coal.
- Have you ever done this before? - No.
- OK! I know the theory.
It's not easy, but I think between us, we can sort of have a go at making it work.
The first job is to make a furnace.
Colin is using an old metal container with walls thick enough to survive the heat.
There we go.
Right, we have an engine that's running off petrol and we need to convert it to run off the gas that's coming from coal so on the front I want to put, essentially, a hopper - into which we will put our coal, and this coal will be on fire, and this fire will be giving off gas off the coal.
And we're going to collect this gas .
and feed it round into another container.
This is just going to take out all those impurities that's in the smoke so what eventually gets fed into our engine .
is good, clean gas.
When burning coal, only 40 per cent of the energy in the coal goes into heating.
The other 60 per cent escapes as coal gas and it is this that will power the engine.
Next, Colin begins work on the hopper, made from an old boiler, hammered into shape.
It will sit near the top of the furnace and carry the coal.
The reason that we need this dome shape is so that as the vehicle is moving along and it's sort of shaking around, it sort of shakes the coal down into the fire because of this shape.
- It's pretty hot.
- It is.
- I'm going to go for - Another quench? - I'm going to go for another quench.
During the war, 200 million tons of coal was needed each year to keep the country running and power the factories involved in the war effort.
Alex has come to a mine in the Forest of Dean owned by Robin Morgan.
So how far down are we going then, Robin? I would say the cover you got here is somewhere around 200 foot.
- 200 foot.
- Yeah.
Vertical, that is.
- Right.
Coal was plentiful in Britain.
The problem was how to get it out of the ground.
Before the war, British mining was hugely dependent on manual labour.
Less than 10 per cent of coal was cut by machine.
So, Robin, was this mine open during the Second World War? This mine was open, actually, 200 years ago, parts of this mine was.
So some of these workings here would definitely have been worked during the Second World War? Oh, definitely, yes.
But skilled miners were leaving for the battlefield and there was a real danger that coal - vital to the war effort - would run short.
Right, so where are we now then? - Nearly down to the coal face.
- I can hear people working away.
The government appealed for volunteer miners, but conditions in the mines were so notoriously bad that few signed up.
So in 1943, Ernest Bevin, the Minister for Labour, resorted to conscripting young men to work in the mines.
10 per cent of all those called up for war went underground.
They became known as the Bevin Boys.
There's not a lot of room up there.
No, there's not, but it's surprising how you can adapt yourself to work in places like that.
When I first came into the mines years ago, it used to terrify me to look up these coal faces.
I wouldn't even put my foot in there I thought, but you get so used to it after, it's not so dangerous as you think.
A lot of Bevin Boys would have felt exactly like you did at first.
- Yes, blooming terrified, yes.
- Absolutely terrified.
- Without a doubt.
Right, but you want us to go up there and have a go, then? By all means.
You can see what it's like.
You'll find it a bit awkward to start with! Mining expert Rick Stewart has come to help Alex extract some coal.
He's really loving this, I'm not so certain.
- OK - It's quite roomy here.
You're joking, aren't you? So, Rick, this is the coal face? Absolutely, you can see the black coal there and it is our job to basically take this out.
So what's the strategy here, picking it out by hand? We are going to use a pick, just to put a small hole in the face, but then we're going to use our air boring machine.
So if you want to crawl in where that dish is and just put a hole in a couple of inches deep.
The holes made in the wall would be filled with gelignite to blast away the coal face.
I've just cracked my knuckles on this pit prop here, picking this hole.
This is working in the most extreme conditions, it has to be said.
Well, I think I'm pretty much about there.
- Yeah, that's not bad.
- Not bad for a first timer, anyway.
- So, next thing we need to do is - You want to get this thing set up? - That's a pretty mean-looking drill bit there.
- It is, isn't it? So that's now in so once we've got the air on, we're more or less ready to drill.
- Robin, could you oblige with the air, please? - I will.
That is a bit of kit.
We just put in a two-foot shot hole in 10, 15 seconds.
Almost 22,000 Bevin boys were conscripted, news that many found devastating.
'It's the first day of work for these lads, 'who have been drafted in to one of the toughest, 'but most essential jobs of the War.
' After December 1943, 10 per cent of those boys would come down the mines and that was done, effectively, on a random ballot.
40 per cent of those called into the mines appealed against their fate, but their cries fell on deaf ears.
500 men were prosecuted for refusing to work and many paid a high price for their dissent.
Many, rather than coming under ground, actually went to jail instead.
What sort of choice is that? So we've now drilled the hole, next we're going to charge it.
Is this an electric charge? Absolutely, we're using electric detonators here.
So the first thing we do is put the charge into the hole.
Once we've got the charge itself in, we then need to put the stemming in.
The stemming is a piece of clay which holds the charge in the hole, directing the blast into the coal face.
The next job is to connect up the firing wires.
When we're satisfied that everything's OK, when we've tested our circuit, we then fire our charge.
Back at the forge, Peter and Colin have made the furnace for burning the coal.
This will produce coal gas to power the engine of their 1930s ambulance.
The next stage is to make the gas cooler, a long pipe which will transport the coal gas between the furnace and the filter.
- Right, Colin, so we've got to bend this pipe, yeah? - Yeah.
And to do this, we're going to fill it with sand, are we? Yeah, because it's a hollow tube, and once we heat it up, this gets very soft and if we bend it, it will just kink and what we want is for the gas to be able to flow evenly through the pipework, so we have to fill it with something which is flexible, but can take the heat in the fire, and that is kiln-dried sand.
Using sand to bend pipework is a very traditional technique dating back hundreds of years.
This is the former that we've made to bend the pipe, to give us a sweeping curve from the top of the furnace down into the filter.
Right, OK In order to be flexible enough to bend, the pipe must be heated to 800 degrees Celsius.
That's OK, keep going.
Keep going Keep going.
OK, whoa.
Look at that.
- Good bend? - Yeah.
The pipe will be shaped into a concertina, increasing the distance the gas has to travel.
As it passes through, the gas cools, becoming denser and more combustible.
Right - Job done? - Yeah.
- Yeah, well done.
- Right - OK.
Just work it a way back Ooh, politicians can only dream of a "U" like that! WATER SIZZLES AND HISSES Unlike farming, where the Women's Land Army and conscientious objectors could provide help, the mines relied solely on Bevin Boys for extra labour.
Part of the reason that mining was such an unpopular occupation was the danger involved.
Around a quarter of all wartime miners would suffer a serious injury during their time under ground.
Blasting the coal face was a particularly hazardous task.
Rick, now what do we do? Well this is the exploder, so first job is to connect up the firing wires.
- A bit like a car battery? - Exactly, yeah.
The firing handle's in, and what you're waiting for is that light to come on there, which tells us that we've got enough charge in there to fire.
- OK.
- So, give that a wind.
There we go.
See, it's building up the charge.
OK, you've got enough charge there.
- When you're ready, you just press the fire button.
- That one? - Yeah.
- So, I can press that now? - Yeah.
EXPLOSION Once the coal was blasted from the face, the Bevin Boys had the hard task of clearing it away.
So being an experienced miner, it would be up to you, Rick, to set the charges, but the Bevin boys would be the ones charged with actually taking all the coal away from the face and out of the mine.
Yes, they'd be doing the less skilled work, pulling the coal down from the face, and also then tramming it up to surface.
- So, dangerous work, but it wasn't technically difficult.
- No, no.
And not glamorous, either.
Unlike military conscripts, there was no let up for the Bevin Boys, even after the war ended in 1945.
Britain still needed coal and the Bevin Boys were not demobilised for another three years.
So, a big "thank you", if you like, is long overdue for all of those men who were forced to come down here and mine.
Absolutely, the 20,000 Bevin Boys - many of whom are dead now, most of whom are dead - deserve a huge thank you from the nation.
Right Whoa! We've made this very heavy! Peter and Colin are at last ready to assemble their coal-powered creation.
One of the things that this sort of characterises is the fact that a lot of the blacksmiths and engineers had gone away to war and it was the farm hands who were having to turn their hand to engineering and improvisation using whatever lay around the farm.
And the problems we've encountered and the sheer effort involved in making this work is exactly what would have happened during the 1940s.
As Colin welds the pieces together, Peter has one more job to do before they can test the engine.
Right, we need to fill up our filter.
This is going to take all the particles coming through - which is essentially just smoke - it's going to filter those out so all we're left with is gas.
Now, I've just got some heather, so we're just going to start putting this in.
Essentially, the leaves and the flowers are highly absorbent and also the particles will stick to the very large surface area.
- I haven't pushed it down too much.
- No, that's fine.
- It's just sort of - Just lightly packed.
Here we go, lid on.
It's been absolutely knackering.
A three-day marathon, Alex.
You look like you've just done a three-day marathon! Here's your coal.
I can barely recognise you in there.
Filthy As usual! This looks absolutely amazing.
What on? This is Colin's vision come to life.
With the coal in the hopper, a fire is lit in the furnace to start producing gas.
Ruth has arrived to give the ambulance its first test drive.
- Right, are you going to talk me through this? - OK OK, I'm in.
There's a starter button underneath.
ENGINE TURNS BUT DOES NOT FIRE Right, put the choke on.
ENGINE TURNS ENGINE SPLUTTERS - Nearly! - LAUGHTER My grandfather drove lorries right throughout the war.
I wonder if he had this sort of bother.
It's amazing, though, how many women did do the driving through the war.
One of the easiest groups to train up were young women.
So, for a brief period in the early history of motoring, wartime motoring was surprisingly feminine.
Perhaps the most famous wartime ambulance driver was the future queen herself.
'Taking a driving course at a training centre, 'is Princess Elizabeth, Second Subaltern, ATS.
'After watching other girls at work, 'the king returned and jokingly asked the princess, '"Haven't you got it mended yet?"' With everything finally in place, now for the moment of truth.
ENGINE ROARS TO LIFE Yes! Three days and a lot of hard work have paid off - the coal-powered ambulance works.
Now all that's left is to take it for a spin.
This is looking promising! - Yup.
- She's so heavy on the steering.
- Mind that We have added a lot of weight, haven't we? Well, I have to say, Peter, this is an absolute thrill.
It's not the fastest ride in wartime Britain, - but it's certainly one of the most exciting.
- I love it! You have to hold the door shut while you're driving.
This is a vehicle we can use around the farm for pretty much anything.
Vehicles like this were a fuel-saving god-send.
Right, fella Moving livestock You'll be all right in the back with him? He's off to a nice flock of ewes, the lucky boy.
carting animal feed The ambulance can do us the good service of running them around for us.
and even cooking dinner.
Come on, Ruth, let's get some food.
No heat must be wasted.
I love it, camp cooking, a whole new way of doing it.
- Camp cooking! - One, two, three.
Whoa! Fantastic, how many cars can you cook your dinner on? Right, one tin of Spam couple of eggs and a bit of bread.
- Alex! - Yep? - Din-dins! - Wow! Oh, joy of joys.
Slice the other one into the pan, Ruth.
You know I used to hate Spam as a kid, but that is absolutely delicious, I must have been mad.
After months of being fattened on scraps, Shorty has reached the size a wartime pig would have been at slaughter.
So this is it then, Shorty, time to say goodbye.
A member of the local constabulary here to make sure we do it all above board, fair play.
Because meat was so valuable during the war, a licence was required to slaughter the pigs.
Every time a pig club slaughtered a pig, you were supposed to have a police officer present - to ensure that it was all done properly and above board.
- Per the licence, yes.
As according to the licence, so that we can't be sneaking off any extras.
We'd confiscate it if you did.
I think she's done really well considering what she's been eating.
She's not in bad shape, is she? She's looking quite good, isn't she? She's really put on weight.
Come on then, let's get you gone.
Come on, girl.
Come on then, girl.
Half of every pig slaughtered from a pig club was taken by the government to be distributed as part of the war effort.
While much of this went into the rationing system, some also went to provide emergency relief for the victims of air raids.
Southampton, just six miles from the farm, was a strategic target for German bombers throughout the war.
Those who survived were often left homeless.
So the Ministry of Food set up emergency feeding centres, often using meat from sources like pig clubs, to feed the victims.
Ruth has come to lend a hand at her local centre.
The prices were cheap and were kept capped in order to ensure that food really was available to everyone.
So, for example a starter like soup would be two pence, and a main course with meat, potatoes and two veg, you're talking about eight pence, and that really was dirt cheap for food.
As with all restaurants during the war, you didn't need a ration book to eat at the centres.
Here I've got the stock of a local emergency feeding station and it's really quite grim reading.
They had 13 cases of baked beans with 24 cans in each case, they had beef hash, biscuit, cocoa, tea and sugar, condensed milk, meat roll, rice pudding and soup, and that was it.
For several weeks, the calves have been fed on a diet of artificial milk and oats, but with imported feed strictly rationed, farmers often used fodder crops such as swede to supplement their diets.
To save petrol, the boys are resorting to old technology to prepare the feed.
This is our horse gin, or our horse engine, and like many a wartime farmer, I haven't used one of these for a long time.
A gin is a geared mechanism which is turned by a horse, transferring power through a series of shafts to any machine a farmer chooses.
All the machinery would have been driven by one of these during the Victorian period, but they were phased out and they were replaced by Lister engines.
Obviously, they run on petrol, and during the war there was a fuel shortage, so kit like this was being dug out, put back together to see if it worked, and if it did, it could drive machines like this, and this is just a beet slicer, and it's going to slice up our roots and hopefully we can wean our cattle onto solid foods.
While Peter fixes the gin, Alex is tacking up the horse.
OK, Ben This is always the hardest bit of getting a horse tacked up is throwing all this stuff over his backside.
By the time you get to 1942, the numbers of tractors had more than doubled, but I'm sure many old boy farmers as well would have found themselves in this situation.
It must have been lovely for them, I think, to have brought old faithful animals back into service, to see them working once again for British agriculture.
Let's get this belly band on.
Personally, I relish the opportunity to get a heavy horse in on the farm, because they really are a fantastic form of power.
OK, with his bridle on now, he's ready to go.
Peter has finished assembling the gin.
I think we're ready to get the horse on this and slice up some roots.
How are you doing, Peter? We're looking good, Alex.
It's all there, it's all connected.
- OK, you're happy with it? - As happy as I'll ever be.
- Jolly good.
The horse is hooked up to the main drive shaft which will turn the gears.
Here we go, let's see how he gets on.
Walk on, walk on.
This is the tricky bit.
For the first time, we're going to walk over this, Ben.
Walk on, walk on, steady, good lad.
Good lad.
- OK, Alex, I'm going to start introducing some roots.
- OK.
The use of fodder crops rose by a third during the war.
It's slicing.
He's doing really well, really pleased with him.
This is the tricky bit.
And step up, and there we go, easy.
And it just goes to show that horses could still do a job on wartime farms.
Good lad.
Emergency feeding centres employed volunteers to make and serve the food, especially in rural areas.
Jill Dix has volunteered to help Ruth with the cooking, but their ingredients are limited.
So the menu today is boiled onions with white sauce and Jill's making the white sauce, aren't you? Very exciting.
Mostly corn flour! Pork roll made with pork, and the beans and the bread to pad it out, and then the pudding, plum duff and custard.
The meat itself was supplied by the government for such feeding centres off-ration, but where it originally came from is of course all that pork that had been collected from the pig clubs up and down the country.
You having fun with that white sauce? Well it would be much more fun with a nice dollop of margarine and some proper flour, but it's thickening.
The next stage is to mix the pork, beans and breadcrumbs together.
I think it's quite interesting that the cheap food of wartime was in many ways the polar opposite of modern cheap food - modern fast food.
This is food almost entirely without fat and without sugar and that pretty much is exactly what modern fast food is not.
The mixture is wrapped in floured cloth ready for boiling.
I mean, the advantage of boiling everything - and a lot of food in British restaurants was boiled - is that you can do mass catering very easily.
Another good point is that those who are eating it haven't seen it made.
That is a good point.
It does look like something the cat Don't say it! Don't say it.
I know, it does! The meat roll will be boiled for three hours and then coated in breadcrumbs.
Dessert is plum duff, which, of course, is sort of spotted dick.
The plum duff is made from flour, breadcrumbs, suet, raisins for sweetness, and powdered eggs.
I'm just going to mix up the egg powder.
This was something that was new coming in from America.
Eggs were rationed whether they were in powder form or fresh form.
The powdered eggs are mixed with water.
The equivalent of two eggs made dessert for 12 people.
The war is the height of processed foods in many ways, Powdered milk - which we're making the sauces out of rather than fresh milk - powdered egg Partly because it was a way of concentrating nutritional value into a very tiny space for the ships.
If you can get the nutritional value of 12 eggs into a packet that size, why would you move fresh eggs around? However lacking in meat the main course may be, however tired you're feeling, there's nothing like a stodgy pudding to cheer a person up.
Alex and Peter have finished milling the swede and are ready to try it on the calves.
Smells good.
Doesn't smell too bad actually.
I'm quite confident here, because They're eating everything in sight? I haven't had my bath today.
- OK, go on then, Peter.
- Hey, what's that? He's just licking it, is he? No, he's not, listen! Yeah, he's eating it.
He's eating it.
You can hear him putting those molars to work grinding down the feed.
In wartime, farmers would have been looking to balance the diet so they don't miss out too much from not having their mother's milk.
They still put on the weight, and will become good dairy cows.
Certainly, in a wartime situation you'd have no choice because you don't have the feed and the Ministry for Food is demanding all of your milk.
You just have to wean them earlier than normal.
I hadn't really considered how much the Second World War encroached on the countryside.
I've always seen it very much in terms of city life and the blitz, but it really was being fought in these fields out here in Hampshire.
Emergency feeding centres soon became permanent fixtures and Churchill renamed them British Restaurants.
Until 1942, most working people only ate at home.
Eating in public was regarded as embarrassing.
But after the government introduced a price cap of five shillings for three courses, for the first time, ordinary people had the option to eat out.
British Restaurants would become a lasting social phenomenon, and signalled the start of high-street dining.
Are you going to be needing a lump of bread with that, sir? Ruth's feeding centre is open for business.
Beans The meat roll is being served with baked beans, which were considered to be such a staple part of the British diet that they were off-ration for the duration of the war.
- What would you like, sir? - A boiled onion, please.
Ruth's father Geoff used to eat in British Restaurants as a child.
He's come to the feeding centre to sample Ruth's efforts.
- Dad! - I'm having one of those onions please.
- Oh, my goodness! - Yes, one of those.
- So you're testing out - That's the real thing.
By the end of the war, British Restaurants were serving 600,000 meals a day.
British Restaurants really mark a turning point in British eating culture, too.
This is a time when affordable, basic catering is suddenly available to a wide number of people.
British Restaurants really opened up the catering industry in many ways.
Yes, I think that's true.
One or two - like the ones I knew in Oxford - they stayed right up until the '50s, well into the '50s.
But people got used to eating out, they got used to the idea of eating out and I think caterers, as well, got used to the idea that there was money to be made from doing cheap food.
As a kid, I didn't really know what the money side of it was.
That's not as bad as I thought it would be, either, the meat roll.
Actually, it's quite edible, really quite edible.
- But you still like boiled onions - I'm amazed! - Oh, yes.
- They're very nice, aren't they? - They're all right.
- I don't know who cooked them this time.
- That was me.
- OK.
- They're very nice.
- They're all right.
Ruth's emergency feeding centre also seems to be a hit with the boys.
SHE GROANS - Sorry, legs.
- You look knackered.
I've been stood up for I don't know how long.
You ate it, then? That was really good, I loved the meatloaf.
It was all right, wasn't it? - Delicious.
- And it is quite healthy food.
- The fittest we've ever been as a nation.
- So they say, so they say.
But also we can't relate to it in terms of it's so rare in our lives we ever see a food shortage in this country.
It really gives you an insight.
Yeah, not just one thing, it's a shortage right across the board.
- Of everything.
- Every single thing.
- Pub? - I think so, before they rope us into the washing up.
From the need for women to fill new roles in the workplace, to the necessity for communal eating, the great hardships experienced in 1942 - and the way Britain sought to overcome them - would have an impact stretching far beyond the years of war.
Next time, the team create a new kind of emergency accommodation That is extremely comfortable.
get extra help on the farm Don't just pick the top, we want the whole plant.
And raise morale with a dance.
You can't find a dancer dancing that's not smiling, it's just impossible.
To find out how Britain fed itself during the Second World War, order the Open University's free booklet: Follow the links to the Open University.

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