Flora Kearvell (nee Gelven) WW2 Australian Women’s Land Army
Flora was born at Port Pirie, South Australia, in 1916, one of a family of four sisters
and two brothers. Her father was a draughtsman engineer and her mum was to die when
Flora was only thirteen years old. Flora was always keen on an outdoor life and at
an early age was working on farms at Ardrossan.
At the outbreak of World War Two she moved into the city and took a job in a munitions
factory to assist the war effort. She worked there for about eleven months before
hearing about the formation of an Australian Women’s Land Army, which she was pleased
Her wartime story is told by herself on an Australian War Memorial audio recording
that was made in April 1985. The Australian War Memorial organisation has kindly
granted permission for the audio recording to be made available on our Family History
The recording lasts about 1 hour 15 minutes and takes the form of an interview between
Flora and Sue Hardisty, a researcher.
The recording is an interesting insight into the lives of the Land Army girls who
took over the jobs of farm workers who had joined the Armed Services. Many believed
the Women’s Land Army would not be able to replace the men - but by the end of the
War they would have to “eat their words”. Sadly, the Land Army girls’ contribution
to the war effort is only now being fully recognised and acknowledged. For many years
they have remained a “forgotten service”.
Life was very tough for the women and the work ‘back-breaking’. As Flora says, “hard
yakka”! Her recording takes us through many aspects of the job including pay, working
conditions, camaraderie, rationing, social occasions, victory celebrations and meeting
her future husband, Howard Kearvell, an Army Guard at the Loveday Internment Camp.
They were married in 1945 at the end of the War. Flora died in 2011.
She includes many anecdotes in her recording - not least the one about Howard and
the laxative chocolate.......but I’m not going to spoil her story by telling you
To listen in to the recording please “click” on the Australian War Memorial CD cover
picture below. The recording spans two tracks. “Click” on the tracks in turn. The
total play is about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Australian War Memorial ID Number S02705
To obtain a copy of this recording please contact the Australian War Memorial at
The Kearvell Family website is pleased to acknowledge the help and permission given
by the Australian War Memorial in making this recording available.
Track 1 approx 45 mins
Track 2 approx 30 mins
For each track, they will need to download to your pc in their entirety before the
recording audio commences in your Windows Media Player. Therefore the download times
will vary depending on your Internet connection. On a reasonable broadband connection
Track 1 will load in 2-3 mins and Track 2 in 1-2 mins