Annie May Ballantine, centre, with RSA women’s section president Diane Wilson and Warkworth RSA president Bob Harrison.
It took a long time in coming, but Warkworth resident Annie May Ballantine, known to everyone as “Joan”, was finally recognised for her service to her country during World War II at the Warkworth RSA last week.
Joan, 95, was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation and Veteran’s Pin for her service with the New Zealand Women’s Land Army.
The certificate was signed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Defence Ron Mark.
Joan was among more than 2700 women, aged 17 and over, who joined the army to serve in orchards and farms while the country’s young men fought in battlefields overseas.
In presenting the certificate, Warkworth RSA president Bob Harrison said during the war the land girls literally “kept the country’s wheels turning”.
“But when the war ended, they were written off and largely forgotten,” he said.
“Their war service was not officially recognised. They were not allowed to join the RSA, not given a service number and Government histories barely made mention of them.”
This was despite the fact that agricultural production increased during the war period, even though the Government commandeered many farm trucks and horses to support other aspects of the war effort.
Mr Harrison said things began to change in 2015 when the Women’s Land Army was officially recognised.
Joan said she was delighted to receive the certificate.
“I’m going to remember this day for a long, long time,” she said.