A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


Copy No. 284

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 prone 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 be 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 end 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.I.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.



645 646 647 3

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

No. 165, 2nd December, 1943

(Covering period from 23rd to 30th November, 1943)


1. General

Spirits have recovered a little since last week, but have not regained their previous high level. The Berlin raids have given the greatest satisfaction, distracting attention from Italy and the Dodecanese. The release of the Mosleys, however, remains the chief topic of discussion, with the majority still indignant.

Speculation as to the Prime Minister's whereabouts had been reported from most parts of the country (Nine Regions).

Home Front : Much talk of colds and flu (Six Regions), with resulting depression for the sufferers and extra work for the healthy. War weariness and fatigue continue, accentuated by the daily round of domestic difficulties.

Anxiety about postwar prospects continues widespread, and other subjects of adverse comment are housing, footwear and strikes.

Christmas food and shopping are much talked about.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 17 passim)

2. The release of Sir Oswald and Lady Mosley

(No reports have been received since the Parliamentary Debate of December 1.)

This is again the outstanding topic of the week: “There could hardly have been more commotion if Hitler had been turned loose”.... and many who normally have nothing to say about public events have broken their silence over this.

Indignation and resentment continue widespread. The great majority are still reported to be opposed to the release, while, of the minority who approve on principle, many consider it inexpedient at the present time.

Adverse comment comes from all classes, but specially from industrial areas, and from relatives of Servicemen - particularly of those who have been killed or taken prisoner. “Talk about Mosley's life being endangered, but what about our men?”

There is some very bitter criticism of the Government. It is accused of betraying the men in the Forces - who “go out and fight fascism under ghastly conditions while they release the British arch-fascist hero at home” - of insulting the workers, and of showing pro-fascist sympathies. Many take “this soft treatment” as an indication of how we will deal with Nazi criminals later.

Trial or re-imprisonment are generally advocated.

There is again little anxiety on security grounds, and the main objection to Sir Oswald's release may be summarised as follows:

  1. One law for the rich and another for the poor (Nine Regions) The largest amount of comment still arises from suspicion that wealth or privilege have secured his release.

  2. Mosley is a fascist or “traitor of the deepest die” (Six Regions) and should not therefore be leniently treated. Many think it would not have mattered if he had died in jail.

  3. He should not have been released without giving Parliament a chance to voice its opinion (Five Regions).

  4. His illness is not serious enough to warrant release (Four Regions). People think he could have had adequate medical attention in hospital. Few appear to believe that phlebitis needs exercise - “and what's the matter with a prison yard, if it does?” Suggestions reflecting on the honour of the medical profession are reported from London.

The effect of Sir Oswald's release : There is speculation about:

  1. Industry and production . Unspecified ill effects are reported, and decreased output and strikes feared. This is considered “just the spark to set on fire the smouldering grievances in the coalfield”. “Why should pit lads be imprisoned for refusing to go underground if traitors like Mosley are set free?” There is comment on the “thousands of hours' working time wasted in all the factories” in discussing the subject and getting up petitions.

  2. Mr. Morrison's position , especially with the Labour Party. Though many agree with the T.U.C. resolution, there is some dislike of Trades Unions pronouncing judgment on Ministers and demanding what they want done. Others think semi-fascist elements in the Government are using this issue to get rid of Mr. Morrison.

  3. National Savings : There is a little talk of reduced contributions.

Minority opinion : While the majority are so stirred that they cannot argue, and appear to have been little affected by the Home Secretary's statement in the House, a growing but still small minority take a more moderate view, and feel he made out a good case. They variously maintain that:

  1. Mosley's release is right in principle, though some consider it unwise at the moment.

  2. The uproar has been artificially stimulated by the Home Secretary's political opponents, whether of the right or the extreme left. The communists are particularly suspected - “If Mosley is to be shut up in prison for his pre-war political opinions, it is just as necessary to imprison some of the communist leaders”.

  3. He might just as well be out as not, and be “treated with the contempt he deserves”.

  4. The Home Secretary is very courageous.

18B : Discussion of this has been stimulated. Some feel it should be abolished; a few think it is “too vague” and needs reviewing. No word in its favour is reported, but its provisions appear to be little understood.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 17 six provincial P.Cs.)

3. Allied air offensive

Widespread satisfaction at the heavy raids on Berlin is reported from all Regions. While the wide range of other bombing is noted - Turin, Sofia, Toulon, - the raids on German targets, particularly Berlin, arouse much the greatest interest. Many believe the effect on German morale will bring the end of the war nearer. Berlin is regarded as “a symbol of a great evil, and, therefore, to be wiped out”. Some sympathy is expressed for civilians, particularly children and conscripted foreign workers, but there is no desire to do other than continue.

There has been no comment on press accounts of raids which had, in fact, not occurred.

Losses : People expect the R.A.F. must suffer heavy losses to achieve so much. The relatively small losses, considering the forces involved, have given great pleasure.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 17)

4. Dodecanese Islands

Disappointment and criticism at our losses in the Dodecanese continue widespread (All Regions), though people are relieved that we were able to evacuate Samos. Once again, there are accusations of our having bungled the operations, and of the unnecessary sacrifice of men. It is felt the islands should never have been occupied if adequate air support was impossible (Nine Regions). It is also said we relied too much on the support of the Italians (Five Regions); and people are surprised, in view of our previous experience of their fighting qualities, that any hopes were placed in them.

Mr. Attlee's statement on November 24 is considered unconvincing (Three Regions) and to have satisfied only a few. General Wilson's statement is again criticised (Three Regions).

Speculation continues about the effects our setbacks will have on Turkey (Six Regions).

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 17 eight provincial P.Cs.)

5. Russia

The recapture of Gomel has restored confidence, momentarily shaken by the loss of Zhitomir. Any setback on the Russian front is felt to be temporary, and further victories are expected - some even anticipating the imminent collapse of the German armies in Russia.

The future of Poland continues to cause uneasy speculation among a minority.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 17)

6. Italy

Only preliminary reports have been received since the new Eighth Army attack: these record pleasure and relief.

Previously, disappointment and unfavourable comparisons with Russia had continued on familiar lines. General Montgomery's “colossal crack” message to his men had reassured people to some extent.



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)
5SE. 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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