Wartime Farm is a British historical documentary TV series in eight parts in which the running of a farm during the Second World War is re-enacted, first broadcast on BBC Two on 6 September 2012.
Broadcast on 18 October 2012 at 8pm. It is 1944, and a turning point for the Allies in World War II. Manor Farm’s flax field – a crop heavily used by the military – has suffered in the unusually wet summer of 2012. Alex and Peter try to reinvigorate it using ammonium nitrate, a chemical fertiliser, but the rain does not let up. It remains so wet, in fact, that Alex has to re-waterproof his coat, using linseed oil, paraffin and beeswax from the colony he started in Episode 6.
Ruth, meanwhile, has been constructing a willow basket to hold carrier pigeon, used to send messages throughout the war, and often trained by farmers. Alex and Peter train some pigeons by releasing them from a 1930s fishing boat which saw service in World War II in the English Channel – and within half an hour, the birds have completed the 30 mile journey back to their loft. Without irony, Ruth serves wood pigeon ‘salad’ for lunch, set in gelatine and accompanied by grated carrot, grated beetroot and small boiled fingerling potatoes.
The farm later hosts to Leo Stevenson, explaining the role of an official war artist. Such artists were employed by the Ministry of Information to document the real experience of war on British soil. He interviews the local pigeon fancier on his memories of the preparation for D-Day in Southampton, and produces a detailed painting of Ruth, Alex and Peter working the land while German Messerschmitt 110 and RAF Hurricane aircraft hurtle overhead.
With their own flax crop ruined by rain and poor drainage, Alex and Peter help harvest a neighbouring farmer’s crop. Alongside them work a group of Italian and German prisoners of war (POWs). They are also guided around the remains of a local military camp, HMS Cricket. Later that week, Ruth joins them to re-enact a baseball game that was played on the same spot, in 1944, between local farmers, POWs and American military personnel. The episode ends with Alex singing and playing As The Boys Come Back From War on his ukulele, for the troops, following in the footsteps of past ENSA entertainers such as George Formby, Tommy Cooper, Laurence Olivier and Spike Milligan.
Wartime Farm Series
You can find a full index of Wartime Farm here.
Production & Filming Details
- Release Date: 18 October 2012.
- Running Time: 60 minutes.
- Country: UK.
- Language: English.