A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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File Copy No. 289

The aim of this Report is to present an impartial assessment of public feeling about the war and the war effort. It is not a record of fact , except in so far as public opinion is itself a fact. The public is sometimes ill- informed, prejudiced, or inconsistent. The recording of such feelings without comment implies no endorsement of them.

The public is more used to criticise than to praise. Good work or efficiency Is usually taken for granted. An accurate record of expressed feeling will, therefore, tend to be critical rather than laudatory. Though this Report must inevitably represent mainly articulate opinion, it has been found in practice that the views of the less articulate do not substantially differ, though their range is smaller.

The method of compiling the Report is such that the amount of space devoted to each subject, and the order in which subjects are placed, are roughly indicative of the amount of public interest each is arousing. The omission of a subject from the Report means that It is not a matter of widespread comment.

In assessing the state of public feeling there are no absolutes. Findings can only to comparative. Each issue of this Report must therefore be read as part of a continuous series. Unless the series is seen as a whole, the significance of fluctuations in feeling cannot be appreciated.

The figures in brackets at the and of each section refer to sources of information, a list of which is given on the next page. The weekly reports from Regional Information Officers (R.l.Os.) are compiled by their Regional Intelligence Officers from a large number of sources. Details of the methods of compilation and cross-checking are contained in a paper on “How the Home Intelligence Weekly Report is made”. This will be supplied on request to the Home Intelligence Division of the Ministry of Information.


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Wt 19398 10M 7/43 H J R & L

No. 155. 23rd September, 1943

(Covering period from 14th to 21st September, 1943)


(No reports have been received since the Prime Minister's speech)

1. General state of confidence and reaction to news

Elation over Italy's capitulation gave way to anxiety at the news of “the precarious struggle” for the Salerno bridgehead, which in turn was followed by relief when the position was saved. Spirits have not, however, returned to their previous high level, because of:

(a) Disappointment that Italy will have to be fought for instead of being “the piece of cake at first imagined”.

(b) A feeling that “our dilly-dallying with Badoglio” has been responsible for:

(i) The stiff opposition put up by the Germans at Salerno.

(ii) The Germans’ strong foothold throughout Italy.

(iii) Mussolini's escape.

The Russian victories have been a consolation throughout.

There is not quite the same tendency this week to forecast an early end to the war.

Although attention has mostly been focused on war news this week, there has been grave and widespread concern about the Nottinghamshire coal strike.

Footwear difficulties are still “a real domestic worry”.

( 17 passim)

2. Italy

Salerno : People “held their breath” during “the terrific battles” for this bridgehead, and excitedly watched “the lessening space” between the Eighth and the Fifth Armies. There was profound relief when the position improved and the two armies joined.

The difficulties encountered at Salerno have given rise to the following reactions:

(a) Criticism of “our slowness off the mark” (Eleven Regions); This is thought to have given the Germans time:

(i) After Mussolini's fall - to entrench themselves throughout Italy.

(ii) Between Italy's capitulation and the landing of the Fifth Army - to dig into the strongest positions at Salerno.

“If we'd gone in and risked it” , some think, “we'd have made much better progress.”

(b) Surprise at German strength and a feeling “there is bitter fighting ahead” (Eight Regions).

(b) Doubts about the fighting qualities of American troops (Eight Regions) ; there has been some comment about “our having to help them out again”.

(c) Some slight criticism of the American Command (Five Regions). “Alexander and Montgomery, proved British generals”, it is once again suggested, should be in control (Two Regions).

(d) A feeling that the invasion of Italy is “the biggest thing we've done”; and deep satisfaction that we've proved that, in spite of the dangers and difficulties of large scale amphibious operations, we can land as and where we like (Three Regions).

Mussolini : The “apparent careless loss” of Mussolini has amused some people but annoyed the majority: “The Germans have been too smart for us again.” “His immediate handing over should have been one of the terms of the armistice,”

His “resurrection” is not expected to do much harm, as “he is now a spent force”. He is, however, thought to be good propaganda value for the Germans.

There is some fear that war criminals will never be brought to trial; “they will be allowed to live comfortably after the war, in spite of what has been said”.

The surrender of the Italian fleet is frequently mentioned with great delight. It has removed “a nuisance in the Mediterranean”; and if “in spite of what we said in the past the ships are some good, their acquisition will help us”.

Feeling about the Italians : There is some pleasure at the “Ities standing up to the Germans” in Sardinia and Corsica, but in one Region Italian war guilt is again referred to. “Let's hope we shall not forget barbarities like Abyssinia and the bombing of London.”

Amgot : Criticism and suspicion continue (Four Regions); one reason for this is the belief that “the figures behind Amgot are all persons in big business and finance”. At the same time there is said to be general ignorance of what Amgot is, and of what it is really meant to do.

( 17)



1. Northern Region (Newcastle) Weekly Reports from R.I.Os.
2. North Eastern Region (Leeds)
3. North Midland Region (Nottingham)
4. Eastern Region (Cambridge)
5. London Region (London)
5.SE. South Eastern District Office, London Region (Tunbridge Wells)
6. Southern Region (Reading)
7. South Western Region (Bristol)
8. Wales (Cardiff)
9. Midland (Birmingham)
10. North Western Region (Manchester)
11. Scotland (Edinburgh)
12. See 5SE.
13. Northern Ireland (Belfast)
14. Special Reports from R.I.Os.
15. Regions Adviser's Reports
16. M.O.I. Speakers’ Reports
17. Postal Censorship
18. Police Duty Room Reports
19. Wartime Social Survey Reports
20. B.B.C. Listener Research Papers
21. B.B.C. Special Papers
22. Scottish Unionist Whips’ Reports
23. Liberal Party's Reports
24. Primary Sources

D 37138-1 10,000 6/43 R P W

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