Giving the forgotten Army of WW2 Lumberjills a voice

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Author campaigns to keep the memory of The Women’s Timber Corps alive.

Joanna Foat, author of Lumberjills Britain’s Forgotten Army, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund an audio version of her book, giving the heroes of the Women’s Timber Corps of WW2 a voice.

The fundraising campaign marks five years since the publication of her history book Lumberjills Britain's Forgotten Army and reflects the demand for the audio version.

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Molly Paterson, who was part of the Women’s Timber Corps, currently lives in Polegate and at age 102 is one of the last surviving Lumberjills interviewed for the book.

Lumberjills Britain's Forgotten Army.Lumberjills Britain's Forgotten Army.
Lumberjills Britain's Forgotten Army.

Foat first heard of the Lumberjills in 2010 when she was working for the Forestry Commission, discovering the effort of thousands of women who worked tirelessly in forests tree felling by hand to support the war effort.

Like many others she had never heard of these women, and the work they did so decided to something about it. She travelled the country meeting sixty women who served in the Women’s Timber Corps in World War Two to record their stories for posterity.

“Many of the women told me how upset they were that their contribution to the war effort had been forgotten and was never properly recognised. I wanted to tell their amazing stories and give them the voice they deserved. I am now looking for backers to support the audio version of my book. With their support, I can ensure the legacy of these inspiring women will live on,” says Foat.

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These true stories and quotes from the original women are brought to life by the natural, intelligent and alluring voice actor, Lucy Tregear. Foat adds: “Lucy has done such a wonderful job. With a range of English and Scottish accents I feel like I am listening to the Lumberjills themselves all over again. It’s a delight to hear their words spoken, especially as all but one of the women I met have now passed away.”

Mary Collins, Daughter of Lumberjill Hazel Hacker, says: “My mother joined the Timber Corp at the beginning of WW2 just as she turned 17 and was shipped off to Devon to become a ‘Lady Measurer’. She always told such incredible stories, not only of the hard work done to fell trees, drive tractors and to haul the timber, but also of the comradery among the young women she worked with, and the wonderful friendships that she forged and that were to last for more than 80 years.”

Foat’s books enter the gripping world of these ordinary women who fought from the forests doing heavy labour. With courage, strength and resilience, yelling ‘timber’ they brought the prejudice against them crashing down.

Discover their incredible true stories, support or share the Kickstarter here:

The Kickstarter Reward Tiers

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There is something to suit all budgets – in audiobook or print book – with a treasure trove of stories and 60 photos in Lumberjills Britain's Forgotten Army.

The project will also be funding a special edition photobook of the Lumberjills at work in the forests of Britain, with recently discovered photos and stories.During Joanna’s travels and research over the last decade, she has collected an archive of rare and beautiful photos from WW2, generously shared with her by the Lumberjills and their families.

Foat has also written a novel, The Lumberjills Stronger Together, which was inspired by these true stories, and is included in the rewards and add-ons.

A limited number of replica brass crossed axes badges will be available for the higher tier backer. The original badges were so precious to the Lumberjills as many were lost in the forest in wartime.

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One final reward is a ticket to an online Zoom talk from the author about her journey discovering the Lumberjills.

About the Author

Joanna Foat is a public speaker, author, researcher and environmentalist. She uncovered the forgotten story of the Lumberjills, the women who worked in the forest in the Women’s Timber Corps in WW2. During her research over many years, she met 60 Lumberjills and has written two books about the women. Discover more information here

Joanna also wrote and curated an exhibition with Forestry England on The Lumberjills which opened at Grizedale Forest in the Lake District in 2023 and travelled to Dalby Forest in 2024. Joanna has also given more than 100 talks from literary festivals and timber trade industry events, to WI, U3A and history groups.

She has been interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, BBC South TV News, BBC TV’s How We Won the War, Walking Wartime Britain and Dan Snow’s History Hit Podcast among many other radio stations and newspapers.

She lives in Guildford, Surrey.

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