Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Spring Offensive (1940)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

September 1939. News about Britain's declaration of war on Germany comes in the middle of harvest. At Clopton, East Anglia, farmer Fred Martin takes in an evacuee, Ken, and introduces the boy to his family.

Martin listens to the radio, which is discussing the War Agricultural Executive Committee meeting about the urgency of getting the land ploughed up. The county will supply the equipment if local farmers can be persuaded to cooperate. Each member of the committee is responsible for an area around his own farm.

Martin asks one of his neighbouring farmers what he can contribute, and is told that about twenty acres of land can be ploughed. However, another neighbour proves uncooperative, while a third says that he will only do it with a government grant.

Tractors are prepared for ploughing, and a steam engine operates a mole drain to drain the land. The tractors then start ploughing. Due to a shortage of manpower, the Women's Land Army are taught ploughing basics.

In three months, the land is ready, and Martin reports their progress to a man at head office. In his report, he says that Grove Farm, which is virtually derelict, and needs to be taken over completely. He offers to take on the job.

Just before Christmas, Ken's parents pay him a visit, and he shows them a Meccano model tractor that tractor driver Bob has been demonstrating.

In January 1940, the ground is frozen, but the farmers keep busy by threshing seed corn and making new machinery for the spring. Ken watches as the men work in the forge.

After the thaw, they start work at Grove Farm, first fitting the drains and then turning over the soil and clearing the undergrowth. A scarecrow is put up when the wartime harvest arrives, to commemorate all the hard work that went into it. Sometimes it seems as though the land is only looked after properly in wartime, but it should not be forgotten when peace returns.