A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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

No. 158 14th October, 1943

(Covering period from 5th to 12th October, 1943)


General state of confidence and reaction to news

In spite of “fresh Russian victories every day”, and satisfaction with the renewal of the Allied air offensive, spirits are slightly lower this week. This is attributed to:

(a) “The tough going in Italy.”

(b) Continued uneasiness about Allied co-operation with the Badoglio Government.

(c) The German recapture of Cos.

Comment continues about strikes and the situation in the coal mining industry; also about postwar conditions - The “brave new world” is thought unlikely to materialise.

Several reports refer to fatigue, and people are said to be “far more edgy and snappy”.

Footwear is again the main domestic complaint.

( 17. 18 passim.)


Military: No one now expects the fighting to be easy “As long as we're going upwards there, it's all to the good”.

There is sympathy for what our men are undergoing, and - among relatives - anxiety for them.

Political : Widespread dissatisfaction and uneasiness are again over “our collaboration” with Badoglio's Government There are frequent references to the present situation as a “repetition of the Darlan affair”. That Roatta, Keitel's friend and persecutor of the Balkan peoples, should be in this Government is particularly mentioned.

Most people appear to dislike the idea of the Italians as Allies: “Have we to forget about their atrocities from now on?” It is felt we are being too kind to them, and feared that “other war guilty culprits” in Hungary, Rumania and even Germany “will slip out of punishment, scot- free”.

Feeling is as hostile as ever to Badoglio and King Victor Emmanuel.

A minority accept military necessity as on adequate reason for political collaboration with Badoglio (One Region).

German destruction in Italy continues to be deplored, though it is felt to be just what is expected of the Germans.

Anxiety for the fate of Rome and the Vatican is again reported among more thoughtful people. But there is also feeling that their damage by the Germans might do good by arousing stronger anti-German opinion among Roman Catholics everywhere; further, damage by us might subsequently be necessary, as military considerations must come first and “these cities mustn't escape if the Germans stay”.

( 17. 18 passim.)

3. Yugoslav patriots

Admiration for them continues as also does an uneasy feeling that we have let them down: “Why can't we help them now?”


4. The fall of Cos

“why take it, if we couldn't hold it?” is the dominant sentiment.


5. Russia

People were “simply amazed” at the news of fresh Russian assaults, as they had begun to accept the slowing of the Russian advance as a sign the autumn lull had come.

While some think that the Germans are withdrawing according to plan, the majority are sure these are real victories for the Russians and are full of admiration.

Speculation continues as to what will happen when the Russians reach their frontiers; workers “scoff at the idea” of them making a separate peace: “Nothing will stop them until they get into Germany and can give the Germans some of the treatment they have suffered at German hands.” It is very much hoped that Russians will get to Berlin first “as they would be less lenient than us in dealing with the enemy”.

Conflicting feelings on familiar lines are again reported about:

(a) British-U.S. aid to Russia . Some feel Russia has borne the brunt of the war so far and we should be doing more to help her. Others resent Russia's apparent lack of appreciation of what we have done and are doing.

(b) Russia's say about peace terms . Some hope Russia will play a part in postwar Europe; a few of these suspect that the British and U.S. are waiting for Russia to exhaust herself against Germany, so that when peace terms are dictated her hitting power will be reduced. Others fear that Germany may collapse before our part in her defeat is as big as Russia's and that Russia will therefore be intractable about the peace terms.

The Three Power conference : People hope for good results: better relations and closer co-operation with Russia.

The Stalingrad Sword : Bristol people are indignant that it is not coming to them - especially as they claim the highest contribution to Aid for Russia.

( 17. 18 passim.)

6. Allied Air Offensive

Great and widespread satisfaction is expressed with the renewal of our heavy raids on Germany (Ten Regions).

Criticism is chiefly on the lines that bombing must be even heavier, so that the Germans may pay fully for their misdeeds. It is felt that the promised “city by city bombing” has not yet been accomplished and that Berlin should be bombed more often and more heavily. Sleepless nights in Britain in 1940 are recalled, and it is suggested that raids. of longer duration might lower German morale more effectively than “cascade” raids.

There is some anxiety over our casualties (Four Regions) as it is felt we are losing “the cream of our men”.

The increase in the weight and number of U.S. raids is welcomed (Four Regions), though American claims of German aircraft destroyed on these raids are greeted with some cynicism (Four Regions).

( 18 passim.)

7. The raid on London, October 7th

Little comment has been reported outside London. Small reprisal or propaganda raids are expected, but nothing more.

There are some complaints of the way the news was handled. Early exaggerations led to “wild rumours”.

In London a common feeling the following morning was that the raid was a magnificent sight, the danger of watching “adding zip and verve to the experience”. Many people treated it as though it were a football match, “advice being shouted to both searchlight and gun crews”. There is some criticism of this attitude and suggestions that people should not be allowed to wander about the streets during raids, on account of the danger from falling A.A. shells.

There was a good deal of outspoken criticism of the A.A. firing and the night fighters, for failing to deal with enemy raiders, even when they were caught in searchlight beams. Press statements that shells apparently wide of the mark were in fact aimed at invisible planes are described as “stupid publicity”. The bag: of enemy raiders is regarded as poor.


8. War at sea

There is sympathy for Sir Dudley Pound, and satisfaction at Sir Andrew Cunningham's appointment. Sir Dudley Pound appears to have been looked on as an exponent of sound caution; Sir Andrew Cunningham is expected to be rather more aggressive, in view of his Mediterranean exploits.

(l. 18 twenty-one P.D.Rs.

9. Bengal famine

The most general view is that we are to blame. Many confess ignorance and ask for enlightenment. In Anglo-Indian centres, for example Cheltenham, however, it is looked on as “a poor introduction to any scheme of Government of India by the Indians”.

( 17 Special P.C. 18 twenty P.D.Rs.)

10. The next move

Discussion is again on a much reduced scale. Many feel it is too late in the year now for a major attack on Western Europe - it must wait till next spring. Some, however, expect a landing elsewhere, and the Balkans are favoured. Some think General Smuts’ arrival in this country portends “a big new move”.


11. The five American Senators

Their remarks have aroused some anti-American feeling, but comment is not widespread.


12. The National Conference of Women

Comment is on the same lines as last week, but tends to be more favourable. Some approve the principle of such contact between Government and people at intervals, and welcome a sign that the Government is recognising the status of women in the war and the importance of the home front. It is thought to have been “a good thing to let the women get their grievances off their chest”. Others tend to regard the Conference as “a rather obvious means of bolstering up female morale”.

Criticism continues on the lines of:

(a) “Why the secrecy?” (Six Regions)

(b) “How were the delegates chosen?” (Five Regions) “who invited them?” “What bodies were, or were not, represented?”

(c) Did it justify the expense and the travel? (Two Regions each).


13. Broadcasting and presentation of news

News bulletins are described as dull at present, (Two Regions) and it is asked whether a more personal touch could not be introduced without endangering security, e.g. by naming of county regiments.

The Brains Trust (Eight Regions): Its return is again welcomed, but the programme is criticised. Questions - and some answers - are considered frivolous, McCulloch is missed, and the introduction of visitors “with no particular qualifications”, such as actresses, is thought to be a mistake. In one Region it is thought the programme has improved.

B.B.C. : The following are praised this week: L.W.Broekington's Postscript, October 3 (Four Regions); Alistair Cooke's American Commentary, October 9; Major Lewis Hastings’ War Commentary, October 7; the Radio Doctor, and “Marching On” (Two Regions each).

Praise of symphony and light music comes from two Regions and dislike of variety and dance bands from three others.

The voices of Maurice Shillington and John Wessel are again criticised.

Industrial broadcasts: According to the report from Northern Ireland, the B.B.C. has been “loudly praised” for extending to that Region broadcasts from war factories. This “helps to keep Ulster industry on the map”.




14. Postwar

During the past four weeks there has been a considerable increase of comment on postwar matters (All Regions). People's greatest anxiety appears to be what is going to happen to them after the war; “Get the war finished first” is now hardly heard.

Considerable suspicion, in some cases cynicism, exists as to the Government's intentions (Eleven Regions); frequent references are made to “last time”, and a recurrence of “our failure then” is feared. The “continued neglect” of the various reports – especially the Beveridge Report - cause particular bitterness and mistrust. It is felt both that the Government has failed to declare its policy, unlikely to be fulfilled.

The “unemployment bogey” is being increasingly discussed (Nine Regions). Older men, particularly, are fearful as to what their position will be when young men are released from the Forces and from the factories. The position of women is also discussed. In the shipyards and coalfields, and in the steel and cotton industries, [Text Missing] that which followed the last war.

The following postwar problems are also major subjects of discussion:

Housing : Much anxiety is felt about the housing position after the war (Seven Regions, most more than once). The position even now is felt to be acute, and an even worse shortage than after the last war is feared. Not only planning but rebuilding, it is felt, should have been begun by now, and comparisons are made with press statements that the Russians have begun re-building. Excessive prices are also feared.

Education : The White Paper continues to be discussed (Nine Regions, several more than once), though chiefly among more thoughtful people. Most people want to see a “rapid improvement in education”, but there are some doubts as to whether we shall be able to afford it, and some fear that religious differences will be allowed to stand in the way.

Agriculture : Farmers are anxious to hear of a. definite postwar policy for agriculture (Six Regions), and complain that the Government has so far given no indication of its policy. They fear that once foreign and colonial markets are opened again and shipping made available, a drift back to pre-war conditions will take place.

Postwar international relations (Seven Regions): There is said to be increasing awareness of the possibility of postwar difficulties in the international sphere, and a growing fear that “the end of war will not mean the end of strife”. Fears chiefly concern Russia and the U.S.A. On the one hand, it is felt that we “may not be as eager to be friendly with Russia as we might”; on the other, that we shall be dominated by the U.S.A.

Concern as to our postwar attitude to the freed countries and to our ex-enemies has also been reported. (See sections on Italy, Russia and the Balkans in recent Home Intelligence Weekly Reports.)

Demobilisation :

(a) Mr. Bevin's speech at the Trades Union Congress . During the past three weeks there has continued to be a good deal of comment on Mr. Bevin's speech (Nine Regions). The majority appear to favour the idea of “First in, First out” as being “very fair”, but there have been some criticisms. Even among those in favour, there is some feeling that it is “fair but not practical”...”It has a fine ring about it, but Mr. Bevin will find it difficult to put his slogan into practice without enough exceptions to make it meaningless”. The chief exceptions, it is thought, must be:

(i) “Key” men - so as to make work for the others (Four Regions).

(ii) Older men (Two Regions). “As it stands, men with the greatest responsibilities would be retained, since they were the last to be called up”.

(b) The “points” scheme for demobilisation has aroused some favourable comment this week (Six Regions). It is described as a “fair and conciliatory” arrangement.

Mr. Morrison on the need for postwar controls : Comment has been mixed (Nine Regions). The general attitude appears to be that while the necessity for continued controls after the war is recognised, “they must go at the earliest possible moment”, For most people. controls appear to be equivalent to the restrictions which affect them personally.

Some curiosity is reported as to whether Mr.Morrison's views represent those of the Government (Three Regions).

( 17 passim 18 five P.D.Rs.)

15. Industry

Strikes continue to cause much discussion, but it appears to be slightly less in extent and intensity than last week, though on almost exactly the same lines (see Home Intelligence Report, No.157, Section 14).

The Barrow strike : There is relief that this has been settled “after dragging on too long”. Some are surprised at the award; they feel that “the Barrow men got what they wanted” and wonder if the employers were in the wrong all the time. There is a feeling that the men must have had some real cause for dissatisfaction, or they would not have taken up such a firm stand. “The dark days when Barrow was one of our worst depressed areas have not been entirely forgotten.”

As with all strikes, however, the majority feeling is that strike action in wartime is unjustified.

The cause of industrial unrest and strikes : People continue to seek for causes underlying the surface motives. Fatigue and war-weariness, combined with the belief that we are “out of the wood” and victory now certain, are thought by many to account for the situation. Uneasiness about the Government's attitude to postwar conditions is quoted to a less extent. Some continue to suspect agitators and subversive activities.

During the past four weeks most industrial comment has been on strikes and the supposed reasons for them, but there has been some talk about:

Enforced idleness in factories (See Constant Topics, No.8). Comment is on familiar lines, e.g. of “a woman who earns £4 a week doing nothing but knitting”. Particular mention is made of Metropolitan Vickers (North western Region) and Standard Telephone and Cables, New Southgate (London Region).

Transfer of workers (Six Regions). The main complaint has been of transfer to less well-paid jobs, but there have again been allegations of unnecessary transfer, and of inadequate accommodation for transferred workers.

( 17 five provincial P.Cs. 18 passim.)

16. Miners and mining

The mining situation is still causing much concern. People feel that “none of the measures so far taken or contemplated will suffice”, and that the whole problem should be the subject of special inquiry. While some think firm action should be taken with the miners, others, remembering their past history, are sympathetic. In the Northern Region some miners think that the position of the industry to-day is “worse than it has ever been in living memory”, owing to the lack of new-comers; they say that much of the trouble is due to the older average age of the present-day miner who “cannot keep the pace up”. They also say “there is no security, and the co-operation between owners and workmen is practically nil”.

There is little comment on the proposals of the Miners’ Federation. Some say “increased wages, which seems to be their main proposal, will not lead to greater production, probably the reverse”, while others feel that wages are too low and the “request for £6 a week should be granted”. Some miners feel there should be a substantial difference between wages of surface and underground-workers, and again, between those of men at the coal face and underground haulage workers. Also that piece rates which are “still on the 1931 basis” should be increased. I

Manpower in mines : There is again (a) Belief that skilled men should be withdrawn from the Forces (Five Regions); (b) Scepticism about the success of the appeal for volunteers (Two Regions); (c) Objection to the direction of youths into pits, and fears of discrimination... “The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton; the battle for coal should be won on the same ground.”

Absenteeism : Scottish miners’ leaders believe there has been unfair discrimination in the Courts and they are bringing this to the notice of Lord Traprain.

One Regional report states that it is thought there would be less absenteeism if miners were allowed Saturday off for recreation. The recent suggestion for increasing output by working an extra shift on Saturday and one Sunday a month is not approved, as “it could only result in still further reduction owing to the exhausting nature of the work”.

( 17. 18 five P.D.Rs.)

17. Domestic fuel

During the past four weeks complaints of the difficulty of getting fuel for storage, or even for immediate use, have been reported from eight Regions... “One bag every three weeks” is reported from Wigtownshire. In the circumstances, people are said to find the “store fuel now” advertisements “rather irritating”, and there is uneasiness about a possible shortage during the coming winter (Six Regions). In Scotland, it is said that difficulty of transport prevents people from storing wood blocks, of which there is “an abundance at forestry camps”.

Less is heard of the need to save fuel (Four Regions)... “People are less disposed to do without fires this year, on the grounds that so many succumbed to illness last year which they blamed on lack of heating.”

There is some criticism of the quality of coal supplied for household use (Two Regions), and it is suggested that inferior coal should be controlled at graded prices.

The ban on central heating is causing complaint now that the weather is colder (Six Regions). In many offices in Scotland it is being defied: but, where strictly enforced, “conditions are extremely unpleasant and a crop of influenza colds and sore throats is already apparent”.

( 18 five P.D.Rs.)

18. Manpower

The registration of older women : Comment continues on familiar lines (see Constant Topics, No.2a) but feeling appears to be less intense. In working-class areas, where “it is quite normal for women to be working up to the age of 70”, the outcry is said to be regarded with bitter amusement and as “one of the most expressions of class differences”. The prospect of being called up is said to have produced a new crop of landladies in billeting areas where two war workers as lodgers procure exemption.

During the past four weeks the main manpower topic has been the registration of older women, which in turn has stimulated allegations of over-staffing and the need for a comb-out of younger women in the Women's and Civil Services, etc. (see Constant Topics, No.2b). Particular establishments which are thought to be overstaffed are “the Barrow Iron and Steel Works, which the Ministry of Supply is alleged to have overstaffed with girl clerks”; the Admiralty near Haslemere; the Royal Naval Armament Depot near Fishguard; the Ministry of Aircraft Production at Oakwood Court, Kensington.

Throughout this period there have been repeated references, mostly unspecified, to a feeling that manpower is not being used to the best advantage (Seven Regions).

Some references have also been made to:

The difficulties of small businesses as the result of the call-up (Three Regions). Small traders and those employing a small amount of labour feel aggrieved about individual cases of call-up where it is suggested that hardship exists and is ignored, or where special training or aptitude is thought to be ruthlessly wasted. Some small manufacturers feel “they are being pushed out by the National Service officer to the advantage of bigger concerns”.

( 17 four provincial P.Cs. 18 four P.D.Rs.)

19. Housing and billeting

During the past four weeks complaints of the shortage of housing accommodation have been widespread (Ten Regions). Newly-weds unable to make homes of their own, and mothers with small children “who are not welcome in other people's houses” suffer especially. Conditions are said to be particularly bad in London and it is asked “whether it is absolutely impossible to build some houses in the London area”.

Property being in bad repair is also complained of: “there is an endless tale of leaking roofs, damp walls and unglazed windows”. The “apparent apathy of the responsible authorities” is deplored.

There are also complaints of excessive rents both for furnished and unfurnished accommodation.

Local Authorities’ powers to requisition empty houses (Three Regions): It is complained that the Government have only “given powers to” and not “obliged” Local Authorities to requisition property, and that too many loop-holes have been left. Dissatisfaction, it is thought, will be widespread, if the new powers prove a “dead letter”. In the East End of London there has been a “stream of enquiries” and much annoyance when it is found that “little or nothing can be done”.

Agricultural housing: Sarcastic comment continues regarding the new cottages (Five Regions). They are said to have tiny windows, stone floors, and “hot pipes running through the larder”…”At £950 they are just laughed at”. A “speedy improvement in housing conditions for farm workers” is thought to be needed, but the cottages are considered a poor omen for the future.

Billeting: There are complaints of difficulties experienced by transferred workers in finding suitable accommodation and of their “exploitation” by landladies (Three Regions).

Compulsory billeting “when so many large houses and halls stand empty” is also complained of (Three Regions). The allowance for billetees is considered inadequate. American troops are referred to – eightpence a night “doesn't cover the cost of laundry, heating and lighting these days”.

( 17)

20. Clothing

During the past four weeks clothing difficulties have remained a major topic of discussion. Complaints are chiefly:

Footwear difficulties (All Regions). It is feared that much sickness, particularly among children, will result this winter from faulty footwear. The difficulty of keeping children equipped with shoes is said to be housewives’ foremost difficulty. Complaints are chiefly of:

(a) The poor quality of shoes (Twelve Regions).Children's shoes particularly, are said to last only a fortnight or three weeks, and mothers have “neither the money nor the coupons to make the necessary replacements”. Some shoes are said to be so shoddy that they cannot be repaired.

The promise that better shoes will be provided for children has been welcomed, but “about time too”.

(B) The difficulty of getting shoes repaired (Ten Regions). The length of time they are kept, the poor leather used, in some cases the difficulty of getting repairs undertaken, make the footwear problem “almost insuperable”. The difficulty of obtaining leather for home repairs adds to the problem.

The inadequacy of clothing coupons is another major topic (All Regions). The present number is thought “wholly insufficient” to obtain essential clothing, especially during the winter months when warm underclothes are required. Most people either had no reserves of clothing or else have now exhausted them.

Household coupons: The demand for household coupons continues (Eleven Regions). Coupons are thought inadequate for personal clothing, without “sacrifices” having to be made by the housewife.

Coupons for industrial workers (Nine Regions). Various classes of workers - including miners and farm labourers. chemical and steel workers, Civil Defence and transport personnel - are “frantic” because they “cannot keep pace with the speed at which their clothes wear out”. Those who get no extra allowance of coupons are said to be growing increasingly bitter.

There are also complaints of the inadequacy of coupons for growing children (Seven Regions) and for expectant mothers (Two Regions).

Women's stockings. These are now a “real topic” (Seven Regions). “The poor quality” of utility stockings, their “drabness” and “clumsiness” are particularly deplored.

Interest in the new utility stockings is “balked by their non-availability” (South Western Region).

There are again allegations of the poor quality of utility clothes generally (Six Regions) and of the false economy in their cut (Two Regions).

Laundry difficulties (Three Regions). There are complaints of the “wear and tear” at laundries. “Now that the average housewife has to go out to work, clothes are wearing out doubly quickly owing to ruination at laundries.”

( 17 passim. 18. 20 P.D.Rs.)

21. Wages

During the past four weeks there have been complaints of:

(a) High wages, particularly of juveniles but also of munition workers, labourers on aerodrome sites and unskilled workers generally. Agricultural labourers’ wages are mentioned in three reports, according to one of which “their continued rise is causing considerable anxiety to small farmers: some are finding it difficult to pay these high wages, and a good many of them are worse off than their employees”. The Eastern Region report also refers to the rising and competitive prices for seasonal agricultural labour, such as potato pulling and beet cutting which may be as high, even for a child, as £5 or £6 a week; some think the price of such labour should be controlled.

(b) Disparity in pay, particularly between unskilled or semiskilled workers and:

(i) Men and women in the Forces. (Recent strikes have stimulated this).

(ii) Skilled workers, such as “a semi-skilled man earning £10 in an R.O.F. and receiving, in addition, a billeting allowance, while a thoroughly qualified engineer receives £5. 15. 0 a week”.

(iii) Agricultural labourers. Some voluntary harvest workers, - having now acquired first hand experience of the work of agricultural labourers, consider them to be much underpaid.

(c) The difficulties caused by the increased cost of living, of those still in pre-war jobs at pre-war wages, those with limited fixed incomes (e.g. clergy), and pensioners.

( Some more than once)

22. “Pay-as-you-earn” income tax

Further expressions of approval, particularly by workers: “From what I read, Kingsley Wood seems to have departed this life leaving behind a grand memorial”. Some however, are waiting to see how it works, before expressing approval. The need for a clear explanation of the scheme is again stressed: “The statement that it can be carried out quite simply by employers of labour is regarded with suspicion and more information is asked for” (One Region).

Disappointment and criticism continue at:

(a) The exclusion of those paid on a monthly basis (Eight Regions). This is described as “manifestly unfair to the blackcoats”, and it is suggested that no one should be excluded from the scheme who receives less than the highest paid weekly worker. One suggested inequality is that in hospitals, male nurses who are paid weekly will be included in the scheme, but women nurses, receiving less money but paid monthly, will not benefit.

(b) The writing off of arrears (Two Regions). Though “a tonic” to those who benefit, this is resented by some of those who do not. The blackcoat worker considers he will be “shouldering the millions which the Chancellor's munificence is relieving the manual worker of paying”. People are said to be getting tired of “this discrimination in favour of the manual worker”.

( 17. 18 twelve P.D.Rs.)

23. Transport difficulties

Transport difficulties have continued to be a widespread topic during the last four weeks. A slight increase in difficulties has latterly been reported from London and the South Western Regions.

(a) Overcrowding of buses and trains (Eight Regions, several more than once) by (i) short distance travellers crowding out long distance travellers (Four Regions); (ii) shoppers and pleasure-seekers (Two Regions); (iii) school children (Two Regions).

(b) Inadequacy of rural transport (Seven Regions, several more than once): Particular mention is made of the difficulty of women in outlying districts getting into towns to do their shopping before the shops are sold out.

(c) The restriction of evening and Sunday morning buses (Five Regions): Workers would like later evening services to enable them to visit cinemas and theatres. In the Eastern Region the suspension of Sunday morning buses is giving hardship to villagers wishing to visit relatives in hospital.

(d) Queues for buses (Three Regions): Long waits in queues for buses in the cold weather are a source of irritation.

(e) Inadequacy of bus services at peak periods (Two Regions).

(f) The failure of buses to stop and pick up passengers in the blackout (Two Regions).

( 18 seven P.D.Rs.)

24. Waste of petrol

Complaints of waste and misuse of petrol have again been fairly widespread during the past four weeks. Inequality in the allocation of petrol allowances is still alleged (Six Regions). There are complaints of petrol wasted by:

(a) Government officials (Six Regions). Particular mention was made at the time in four reports of the “photograph of 100 official cars at the opening of two agricultural cottages”.

(b) Taxis (Five Regions). It is thought very wrong that taxis are used to bring people home from dances, and for pub-crawling and shopping.

(c) Businessmen (Four Regions) “who come home from work to lunch in a car” and “use their cars for short distance which could be walked”.

(d) The British army (Three Regions).

(e) U.S. troops (Three Regions).

(f) Farmers (Two Regions).

(g) Home Guard (Two Regions).

Rumour: Eight Regions, as well as Police Duty Room Reports, have reported the circulation during the past four weeks of the rumour that the basic petrol allocation is to be restored.

( 18 ten P.D.Rs.)

25. Food

During the past four weeks, in addition to satisfaction at the increased jam ration and to complaints already reported about milk and the high price of vegetables (See Constant Topics Nos. 10, 14), and increased points value of biscuits, there have been references to:

Fish (Ten Regions): Although three Regional reports refer to “better supplies”, a shortage is again reported. “There was not a single herring on sale throughout the period of the alleged glut.” In country districts supplies of fish are “rare”. There is also complaint from four Regions of fish arriving in the market in bad condition and unfit for sale through delay in transit from the ports.

Dried fruits (Six Regions): The reduction in points value is greatly welcomed but a shortage is reported. “Now that points have been reduced sultanas and raisins are almost unobtainable.”

Distribution (Six Regions): Housewives complain that the unequal distribution of various foodstuffs causes local shortages. Some think that the “zoning and pooling of delivery have been carried too far and that the small amount of labour and petrol saved by some of the schemes is trivial compared with dissatisfaction given to the public”. In the Northern and North Western Region people feel that the allocation of foodstuffs compares badly with other parts of the country, particularly soft fruit: “plums and damsons have frequently been reported unobtainable”. The complaint of uneven allocation of food supplies is made also in areas with an increased wartime population.

“The extension of the issue of meat pies to villagers generally, in the Alton district (Southern Region), is said to meet a general want, and nothing but praise has been heard for the excellence of the pies and distribution arrangements. This does much to counter balance the feeling that country districts are at a disadvantage as regards shopping.”

Children's priorities (Five Regions): People are concerned that children are not getting the oranges available, and think that stricter measures should be taken to see that the “over-fives” get a share also. It is suggested that any left over should be withdrawn from the shops and distributed in schools and day nurseries. In the South-Western Region there is said to be need for “much more publicity of dates for distribution of vitamin foods”. Many mothers have to walk two or three miles to obtain supplies from the centres and wish the distribution could be done through the shops.

Cooking fats and bacon (Five Regions): People again complain of the small allowance, particularly for home baking. In some areas bacon is reported “not fit to eat”, and it is felt that with so small a ration something should be done in the matter.

Old people (Five Regions): Old people who cannot stand in queues for extras are said to find their rations inadequate. The shortage of cakes and biscuits also “hits them badly”. Some people think they should have an allowance of oranges.

Sugar (Four Regions): the ration is thought insufficient, particularly for children.

Oranges and lemons (Four Regions): In the last two weeks references have been made to pleasure at the announcement that oranges and lemons may soon be on the market. It is suggested the fruit should be rationed to ensure fair distribution.

Bread (Four Regions): Complaints of the keeping quality are again made, and the bread is said to be indigestible and sometimes sour.

The blackberry crop (Three Regions) is reported to have been largely “wasted for want of sugar”.

Breakfast cereals (Three Regions): The shortage of cereals causes difficulty, particularly where children have to be fed.

Workers in heavy industries, mines and agriculture without canteen facilities feel their meat ration is insufficient (Two Regions). It is asked if, now the shipping situation is better, manual workers could be allowed more meat.

( 17 ten provincial P.Cs. 18 passim P.D.Rs.)

26. Shopping difficulties and food queues

During the past four weeks complaints have been rather less but they follow familiar lines:

(a) Queues (Seven Regions). War workers and housewives alike complain of time wasted in queues. Many blame bad distribution to retailers for the trouble; others say “some people make an occupation of queuing”.

(b) Lunchtime and the earlier winter closing of shops (Six Regions). Workers have great difficulty in getting foodstuffs and goods on the quota system which are sold out early in the day. Some feel that where there is more than one assistant, shops should remain open during the lunch hour. The earlier winter closing is “dreaded as this makes matters worse”.

(c) Country bus restrictions (Five Regions). Villagers have difficulty in getting to neighbouring towns before the shops are sold out of “extras and pointed goods” and they feel there should be some system whereby they get a fair share. In the South Western Region the “special weekly bus for villagers to shop in Bristol is a real boon”.


27. Agriculture

During the past four weeks there have been several references to harvest labour. Volunteer helpers have been praised and their help appreciated (Four Regions); school children, in particular, who are helping with the potato crop are said to be very useful. Helpers in Scotland are said on the whole to have greatly enjoyed their harvest duties. There have been a few complaints of the non-utilisation of volunteers in Kent, and it is felt there should be closer co-operation between the various enrolment centres to enable labour to be sent from those districts where it is not required by the local farmers to others where help is needed.

Agricultural labourers’ wages: (Three Regions) (See section 21 on Wages).

Italian prisoners of war: (Two Regions) Some jealousy is reported of the transport provided to take them to and from their work.

Further comments, each from one Region, are:

(a) The term “agricultural subsidies” is said to be resented by farmers who contend it is producing unfair and unfavourable opinions of farmers among the general public. They feel it is the consumer who is subsidised.

(b) The purchase of eggs from the Argentine is criticised. “Ship home corn instead, to increase home poultry keepers’ stocks.”

(c) The rationing of animal feeding stuffs is causing anxiety to the small holder “who cannot grow much himself and is bullied at the same time by the War Agricultural Committee to increase milk production”.

( 17 one Special, one provincial P.C. 18 five P.D.Rs.)

28. Pensions and allowances

Comment has continued to be slight during the past four weeks. It is thought that Servicemen's pensions are still inadequate and niggardly (Three Regions), though there is some satisfaction at the new pension concessions. A demand for an increase in the rate of widows’ allowances to correspond with the rise in the cost of living is reported from two Regions. “It is felt that neither ex-Servicemen nor the dependants of a serving man killed should need anything in the way of charity.”

Old age pensions: Criticism of the inadequacy of old age pensions continues (Three Regions) and an increase is considered long overdue.


29. Domestic help

The shortage of domestic help (See Constant Topics, No.12) is described as “a perpetual care” and is said to be particularly hard on:

(a) Expectant and nursing mothers. Cases are said to have occurred where, for lack of domestic help or “short stay nurseries”, a child has had to go to the workhouse while the mother was having another baby.

It is complained, too, that, even where war nurseries exist, the overworked housewife not actually on war-work cannot send her children to them to give herself a rest or a break.

(b) The elderly and infirm. The increasing number of these, left with no one to look after them, is said to be becoming a national problem and the cause of much distress. It is pointed out that “daughters and helps have been called up, hotels and home have no staff, and nursing homes and hospitals can only take acute cases”.

(c) The sick. The position is said to be made more difficult by the shortage of staff in hospitals and nursing homes (reported from three Regions), and the impossibility of finding friends or relations with time enough to help. This sometimes “causes girls to miss much valuable education - in one case over a period of several weeks - while their mothers are ill”.


30. Civil Defence and Firewatching

The New Fireguard Orders have continued to be criticised for their complexity during the past four weeks (Seven Regions). They are as “clear as mud”...”no-one seems to know exactly what they are or how they are going to work”. Large firms fear that they will have to engage special staffs to keep the records.

Criticism is also made that the arrangements are not sufficiently elastic to cover local conditions (Three Regions). “The Government does not discriminate sufficiently between cities and small rural towns, and therefore time and money are wasted.”

Civil Defence Duties: There is a “good deal of feeling”, particularly among women, that there could now be some easing-up of fire-watching duties, particularly in safe areas (Five Regions).

Civil Defence personnel: Many, it is felt, could now be released (Three Regions). Posts are thought over-staffed and a considerable amount of waste and expense is thought to result.

The blackout: During the past four weeks the desire for some modification of the blackout has been reported from six Regions. Some relaxation, it is suggested, “would relieve the population more than any other single factor”.

Carelessness in blackout is reported from two Regions: “many do not really believe in the necessity for this precaution now”.

The relaxing of the dimmed-torch Order had been welcomed (Two Regions and P.D.Rs.)

( 17. 18 seven P.D.Rs.)

31. Health

During the past four weeks, there have continued to be many complaints of weariness and ill-health. As before, these are variously attributed to long hours of work, the extra burdens of Civil Defence and Home Guard duties and - for women - domestic responsibilities. This week, fatigue and irritability are reported to be increasingly apparent, and it is thought that the strain and monotony of four years at war and the lack of proper holidays are now beginning to be felt.

Some anxiety is reported at the shortage of:

(i) Hospital and nursing home accommodation. Stories are told of “people who are expecting to wait twelve months before they will get hospital treatment for minor troubles”.

(ii) Chemists’ supplies, particularly those for which a doctor's certificate is required, such as glucose and quinine. Some regret is expressed that quinine can only be obtained on a doctor's certificate “after one has thoroughly contracted a cold”, since its use as a deterrent is then largely lost.

(iii) Doctors...”as it takes a whole morning to get a certificate signed”.

Blood transfusion: Some feeling is reported that giving blood is bad for the donor, that there should be a small badge for blood donors to help find more volunteers, and that greater use might be made of “the large numbers of servicemen who are in a highly trained state”. Civilians working very long hours should, it is thought, be freed from some of these calls.

( 17 passim.)

32. Venereal diseases

Comment about the campaign has been slight during the past four weeks. It is thought that more information as to how the disease is contracted should be given, especially to young people. Some people think the approach should be made from the moral aspect rather than “through fear of consequences, from the medical point of view”.

In two towns of the Eastern Region, the V.D. film (Into Battle series) gave offence and was withdrawn after the first night. Some people claimed it had been put on under false pretences, owing to its misleading title.


33. Salvage

Little interest in the Salvage Campaign has been reported during the past four weeks. Complaints of the non-collection of both metal and household salvage continue (Six Regions). Many housewives now “save paper, pig food and scrap metal from habit”.



(Covering period from 14th September to 12th October 1943)

All topics arising for the first time are included in the main weekly Reports. The following have lost their novelty, while still retaining their importance for large sections of the public. They are arranged according to the frequency with which they have been reported.

No subject has been included to which fewer than nine references have been made during the past month.

1. Transport difficulties

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

2. The registration of women of 46-50

(a) Opposition

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

(b) Belief in need for a “comb out” in Civil and Women's Services, Civil Defence, Local Authorities, shops, schools, etc.

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

3. Difficulty of getting shoes repaired

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

4. Inadequacy of clothing coupons for:

(a) Unspecified

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

(b) Renewing household goods

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

(c) Growing children

23 September Regions 1.5.10.
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions 5.9.10.

(d) Working clothes for workers

23 September Regions
30 September Regions 5SE. 10.
7 October Regions
14 October Regions 3.4.10.

5. Waste of petrol

23 September Regions
30 September Regions 1.3.5SE.6.7.9.
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

6. Shopping difficulties and food queues

23 September Regions 1.2.5.
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

7. High wages and disparity in pay

23 September Regions
30 September Regions Nil
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

8. Enforced idleness in industry

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions 8.9.10.
14 October Regions 2.5.

9. Tiredness and ill-health

23 September Regions 5.8.11.
30 September Regions 2.5.
7 October Regions
14 October Regions 4.5.5SE.10.

10. Milk difficulties due to:

(a) Reduction of ration

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions 10.
14 October Regions 2.4.5.

(b) Distribution

23 September Regions
30 September Regions 1.5.5SE.
7 October Regions
14 October Regions 10.

(c) Poor quality or not fresh

23 September Regions 1.5.10.
30 September Regions
7 October Regions 9.
14 October Regions 1.10.

11. Transfer of labour

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions 5.9.
14 October Regions 7.

12. Shortage of domestic help

23 September Regions 6.7.
30 September Regions 5SE.7.9.
7 October Regions 7.
14 October Regions 1.5SE.7.9.

13. Difficulty of laying in supplies, and poor quality of coal

23 September Regions 2.4.
30 September Regions 5.7.
7 October Regions 6.9.
14 October Regions

14. High price of green vegetables and lettuce

23 September Regions 3.5.
30 September Regions 4.5.8.
7 October Regions 3.5.6.
14 October Regions 5.

15. Complaints about salvage collection

23 September Regions 11.
30 September Regions 8.9.
7 October Regions 8.9.10.
14 October Regions 3.8.10.


16. Shortage and poor quality of footwear for:

(a) Children

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

(b) Adults

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

17. Shortage and high price of housing accommodation and difficulty_of billeting workers

23 September Regions
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions 2.4.5SE.

18. Shortage and high price of crockery, glass and kitchenware

23 September Regions 1.3.5.
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

19. Shortage and poor quality of adults’ and children's clothing, including utility clothing

23 September Regions
30 September Regions 2.4.6.
7 October Regions
14 October Regions 5SE.7.8.

20. Shortage of fish

23 September Regions 1.2.11.
30 September Regions
7 October Regions
14 October Regions

21. Shortage of biscuits

23 September Regions 2.4.
30 September Regions
7 October Regions 1.2.5SE.7.
14 October Regions 2.3.6.

22. Shortage of golden syrup and breakfast cereals

23 September Regions 1.4.5.
30 September Regions 4.5SE.
7 October Regions 4.5SE.6.
14 October Regions 2.4.6.

23. Shortage and unequal distribution of fresh fruit

23 September Regions 1.10.
30 September Regions 1.2.10.
7 October Regions 1.2.10.
14 October Regions 1.10.

24. Shortage of alarm clocks

23 September Regions 8.9.
30 September Regions 3.8.10.
7 October Regions 1.2.8.
14 October Regions 6.8.

The following subjects, included in this list last month, are now omitted, as there have been fewer than nine references to them during the past month: (i) Preferential treatment by shopkeepers and under- the-counter sales (ii) Inadequacy of Service pay and dependants’ allowances and Service pensions (iii) Slacking of workers (iv) Anti- semitism (v) Shortage of shoe polish (vi) Shortage of tomatoes (vii) Shortage of custard powder (viii) Shortage of razor blades .

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