A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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No. 136 13th May, 1943

(Covering period 4th to 11th May, 1943)


1. General state of confidence and reaction to news

Public spirits, which had been rising steadily as the week progressed, have reached a very high level with the fall of Tunis and Bizerta. All reports speak of people being “elated” or “cock-a-hoop”, but the feeling of the majority seems to be one of “quiet jubilation founded upon real facts”, rather than of dangerous optimism - though there are some references to this, particularly on the part of young people. If spirits are not even higher, this is thought to be because the public were already “on their toes about the African campaign” and were “sure it was nearing its end”: according to most reports it is the surprising speed of the final blows and the suddenness of the enemy's collapse that has pleased everyone so much.

Everywhere, “delight is mingled with eagerness regarding the next step”, and already, while details of the Tunisian victory are still coming in, “‘Where next?’ is on every one's lips”.

“A noticeable increase in optimism about an early finish to the war” - probably this year - is reported; but on the whole the feeling seems to be that “we're on the last lap now, though it will be a fairly long lap”, and by no means easy.

Considerable anxiety continues to be reported over the state of Russo-Polish relations.

Although “Home Front grumbles have been almost forgotten in the present excitement”, difficulties connected with shopping, clothing and fish supplies still arouse widespread comment. References to weariness and “nerves”, due to food difficulties and “other war restrictions”, continue to be reported, though on a smaller scale than last week.

(No reactions have yet been reported to the Prime Minister's visit to Washington.)

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

2. Tunisia

“The outcome in North Africa had never seriously been doubted”, but “the sudden crumbling of the Axis defences was so unexpected that the public, which had become reconciled to a long and bitter struggle, found itself reading its papers again and again to convince itself that the news was actually true”. “Surprise that it has happened so quickly” is the outstanding feature in all reports.

The public are overjoyed at “this famous victory”, and there is “a general feeling that Dunkirk has been avenged, although it's taken three years to do it”.

Some sympathy is expressed, chiefly by women, for “the trapped Germans who cannot ‘Dunkirk’” (an operation which “the British alone are capable of carrying out”); and there is said to be “little sign of any gloating over the fate of the Axis troops”.

People are delighted that “Allied Armies can out-general and out-fight the Axis”, and there is an “increase in confidence in our achievement as warriors” - “this just shows what can be done when we have the equipment”. Particular pleasure is expressed at “the superb co-operation between units of different nations and between land, air and naval forces”.

“Adulation for the Generals and men” concerned has reached “a new high level”, and particular comment has been reported about the following:

  1. General Alexander : His generalship is considered “an absolute triumph”. “Up to now he has been rather overshadowed by General Montgomery in public estimation, but Tunisia is felt to have been ‘Alexander's show’.”

  2. The First Army is thought to have “shown itself as fine a force as the Eighth”, and its “prestige has rocketted as a result of its latest activities”. “There had been a tendency in recent weeks for people to assume that the Eighth Army would have to finish the job, but the work of the new armies has dispelled this Eighth Army complex.”

  3. The Americans : “People are gratified that the Americans, who have hitherto been somewhat of an unknown quantity, have ‘at long last justified their existence’.” “It is recognised that the American Second Corps has developed into a first-class fighting unit.”

  4. The French are “warmly praised for their part in the battle”.

  5. The Allied Air Forces : people “cannot praise too highly the performance of the air forces engaged, which are thought to have kept casualties down to a minimum”.

  6. General Montgomery and the Eighth Army continue to be “heroes No. 1”. Some people feared that heavy casualties had prevented their taking a more active part in the final operations. Others think that a considerable part of the Eighth Army has been sent back to Egypt to prepare for an attack on Crete or Rhodes. “Relatives of men in the Eighth Army are asking whether the men will get any leave before they start fighting again.”

Casualties : Considerable anxiety is expressed, particularly by relatives of the men fighting in North Africa, as (in spite of Mr. Atlee's statement in the House on 11th May) it is felt that casualties will have been very heavy. It is suggested that “casualty lists should be published, for, although men talk of the wider issues of the war, women are more concerned with their own men out there, their safety and their chances of coming home”.

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

3. The next move

Surprise and delight at the news from Tunisia quickly led to speculation as to what is going to happen next. Except for “communist clamour”, the agitation for a second front has almost ceased, as an Allied attack on the continent is now “generally taken for granted”, and is thought by the majority to be imminent. There is said to be general realisation that the next step will be “bloody and difficult” but, “despite the possibility of heavy losses, people are confident about the future as it is felt that nowadays the Allied command make more sure of their blows before embarking on new ventures”.

Widespread speculation is reported as to when and where the attack - or attacks - will take place:

When ? “The opening of a European front is expected to follow quickly”, and anticipations range from “any day now” to “the next few weeks” - but at any rate this summer. A small minority are reported to say that “it will never come off, it's too late now”. It is thought that criticism would start “if the attack is delayed for another two months or so”. Many hope that “any move we make will coincide with strong Russian pressure on the Eastern front”.

Where ? “The man-in-the-street is said to have wonderful ideas” on this subject. Some “envisage more than one simultaneous attack”. Great interest is taken in our choice of bombing targets and in shipping movements, and “German reports of concentrations of ships and barges at Gibraltar” confirm some people's suspicions that the attack will be in the Mediterranean rather than from England. Guesses include almost every country in Europe, including:

  1. Italy (Seven Regions), “the idea being to put Italy completely out of the war as soon as possible”. Sicily and Sardinia are also mentioned in two reports, Pantelleria in one.

  2. Turkey (Five Regions). It is thought that “Turkey will be in the war pretty quickly now”.

  3. Norway (Four Regions). “Then the Russians will try to drive through the Northern section of their front and help us”.

  4. The Balkans (Four Regions), with “a drive on Rumanian oil”.

  5. France (Three Regions). One report refers to “the hope that an attempt will not be made through France, as it is thought too uncertain whether the French can be trusted”.

  6. Holland (Two Regions), “because of the recent enforcement of martial law in that country”.

  7. Spain (Two Regions).

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

4. North African politics

“The continued inability of the French leaders to sink their differences” is still a subject of unfavourable comment. “It is felt that both Generals de Gaulle and Giraud are prompted by selfish motives and personal ambition.” The hope is expressed that “with the clearing of the Axis from African territory, we shall not hand over control to a French military clique unless we have very strong safeguards”.

(2. 5. 8. 9. 10)

5. The Russo-Polish dispute

This is still reported to be a subject of considerable comment, although discussion appears to have lessened since last week. The principal reaction is said to be concern (Six Regions), particularly at the implication of the dispute for the post-war settlement of Europe (Four Regions). “If a thing like this can start in the middle of a war, what on earth will happen afterwards?” The hope is expressed that every effort will be made by the United States and ourselves to “end the deadlock and restore the unity of the Allies” (Five Regions). There is a suggestion that closer co-operation on the part of the Allies would have avoided the dispute, and some comment is reported on “the desirability of having a central consultative committee of the United Nations”.

There seems to be a disinclination to take sides in the dispute, partly because people feel that they have not sufficient knowledge on which to judge the issue. Some are said to be puzzled and to feel that “there is more in it than meets the eye” (Three Regions). On balance opinion is reported to favour Russia, “Victory for the Allies can't come without her great aid”. Some sympathy is expressed for Poland, though there is also suspicion of the “fascist character” of its government (Three Regions). There is said to be some suspicion, too, of Russia's post-war intentions, but “a hearty welcome for last week's Russian declaration that Moscow wishes to see a strong and independent Poland” (Three Regions).

The view that the dispute is the result of German propaganda is reported much less this week, but some disappointment is expressed “that Axis efforts to split the allied Nations have been successful and that German propaganda still imposes upon and weakens the war effort”.

Polish opinion in this country is said (in two Regions) to be strongly anti-Russian, and in Scotland it is reported that the expression of this feeling by Polish troops is “influencing public opinion almost as much as the strong pro-Russian propaganda during the last two years”.

There is criticism (from two Regions) of the “publications being put out in this country by the Polish Government”. It is asked “why our Government allows some of the views expressed in them, and why the Poles are permitted such quantity and quality of newsprint?”

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 21 eleven provincial P.Cs.)

6. Russia

There is still relatively little comment on Russia. Satisfaction is expressed with the Russian successes in the Kuban, which are said to have “heartened the public” (Five Regions). People are reported to be expecting “a major flare up soon” (Five Regions); the majority seem to think that Russia will take the offensive.

The bombing of Eastern Germany by the Red Air Force is said to have aroused appreciative talk of co-operation between the Allies; another report refers to “a general feeling that there are signs of a better understanding developing between Russia and ourselves. Against this, there is reference to “an undercurrent of doubt as to the future activities and intentions of this country” with regard to Russia (Two Regions). It is reported also that “merchant seamen back from Murmansk are - except for the left-minded - sceptical regarding Russian-British friendship”; they all, however, express admiration for “the tremendously earnest war effort of the Russians”, but most believe “the Russians are cynical regarding our motives for helping them”.

Stalin's May Day speech : Reports continue to express satisfaction with this and particularly with his recognition of the Allies' efforts (Six Regions).

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 21 one provincial P.C.)

7. The Far East

Little comment is reported on the war in the Far East, though there is said to be some concern about our withdrawal in Burma (Five Regions). A report from one Region says that “explanatory communiqués and dispatches which tend to make excuses for our defeats, only add to the bitterness with which the news is received”.

Some concern is also reported over “the whole situation on the Pacific front” and in India, and there is anxiety “lest too much is being left to Australia”. “More air strength is considered by a number of people to be urgently needed to smash the pending Japanese attack there.”

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 7. 8. 9. 10. 21 one provincial P.C.)

8. The war in the air

“The Allies' vigorous air offensive” continues to meet with general approval, and the majority are anxious “to give them more - they put us through it, now we are giving it back”. A small minority, however, particularly women, “express humane regret that such destruction should be necessary”, while others “wonder if bombing gets us anywhere, because German industries are spread over thousands of miles”.

Concern about our losses in men and machines continues to be reported, but anxiety appears to have been considerably allayed by Squadron Leader John Strachey's highly praised Postscript (May 6th). “He was able to give information on a matter which had been troubling a number of people”, and his talk “helped to combat depression and give people a more balanced view of our losses”.

The organisation of our air cover in Tunisia, and “the disappearance of the Luftwaffe from the African skies has pleased many people”, and has given rise to some speculation as to the reasons for the withdrawal of German planes. While some believe it was done “to save aircraft and protect enemy territory in the event of an invasion”, others suspect that “Hitler is saving aircraft to retaliate with a London blitz”.

Air raids on this country : It is reported from the Southern Region that the recent publication (6th May) of further details about the daylight raid on Reading (11th February) has aroused strong criticism in the town. Complaints are made that such an announcement “merely encourages the Germans”, and that to describe the raid as “recent” is misleading and might cause anxiety to people with relatives in Reading, who would think that a second raid had taken place.

Poison gas : Some discussion is reported on the possibility of poison gas being used. It is thought that “when Hitler gets desperate he will use it”, and that therefore publicity is needed to make people “look for - and at - their gas masks”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 21 one Special and two provincial P.Cs.)

9. The war at sea

The official U.S. announcements (May 5th and 6th) of the low sinkings of Allied ships during April have cheered people, and though anxiety about our losses is still reported, it appears to have decreased. Conflicting reports on the shipping situation, and the lack of official British information, are still criticised, and it is asked “why American news is more informative than ours. Are they allowed to use news which is withheld from us?”

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 10. 13)

10. Rifleman Clayton's death

Rifleman Clayton's death in a detention camp continues to be the subject of much indignant comment. People are said to be “horrified at the revelation of detention camp abuses”, which are regarded, according to reports from seven Regions, as being “as bad as anything the Germans can do”, and are freely likened to the Gestapo.

There appeared to be a very strong feeling that an example should be made of the men responsible, that they should be tried for manslaughter, or flogged. (This was before the announcement of the verdict.) “It is feared that, should the sergeants be reduced to the rank of private, they will be seen to have an opportunity of reaching their own rank again, and it is considered that they should be removed far away from the witnesses at the inquest”, some of whom are thought to have been told to “cover up the incident”.

The case is said to have led to “much adverse discussion, of ‘glass-houses’ in general”, as well as “a fair amount of talk about ‘naval torturing’, i.e. the ‘sand-bag punishment’ which, it is stated is still imposed in spite of what the Admiralty say’”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 7. 10. 32.)

11. U.S. miners' strike threat

Interest remains slight, but the following reactions are again reported:

  1. Criticism of John L. Lewis (Three Regions), “He will have much to answer for if men in the U.S. army are crippled for want of supplies.”

  2. Dissatisfaction with the U.S. (Two Regions): “The American man-in-the-street doesn't realise what total war means.”

  3. Disgust with the U.S. miners for holding up the war effort (Two Regions). On the other hand, “some people have pointed out that we also have had strikes”.

  4. Relief that the miners have returned to the pits and “faith that trouble will not develop” (Two Regions).

(3. 4. 5. 5SE. 10. 11. 21.)

12. The Beveridge Report and the post-war world

Interest and discussion continue on familiar lines. The feeling is still reported, particularly among the working-classes, that the Government “does not really mean to deal with the question of social security and improved standards of living”.

Lord Craft's Manchester Speech (5th May) is said to have “met with a good deal of hostility” and, “as a result of his words, people are said to wonder whether they had dreamt about the Atlantic Charter and the Government pronouncements on reconstruction”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 7. 9. 10)

13. Broadcasting and presentation of news

Although people are reported to be eagerly attending to newspapers and news bulletins: news presentation does not appear to be [Text Missing]. On the whole, it is thought to be regarded as [Text Missing]. There are, however, some complaints of ‘padding the news’ and of the repetition of unimportant items. Despite this, some people wish that “Tunisia and other vital war news might be dealt with more fully and given sooner”. Broadcasts from war correspondents there are now said to be listened to with great interest, though there is some complaint of their indistinctness.

Praise is given to Lt. Commander Agar's Postscript (2nd May) which is described as “first class”, and to that of Mr. Edward Murrow (9th May). This was thought to give “a vivid picture of the conditions in which the Tunisian campaign had been conducted, and to pay generous tribute to British soldiers”. There is further praise for Lt. Commander Peter Scott's Postscript (25th April).

(1. 2. 3. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11. 21 ten provincial P.Cs.)


14. Industry

Disparity in pay and in hours worked (Seven Regions):

  1. Wages : Complaints come from “some mining quarters at the high wages and bonuses paid to Government coal outcrop workers”. There are also complaints from Stroud, where “holiday pay inequalities as between different factories in the same area cause understandable dissatisfaction”. Other complaints come from women, “who are resentful that their own men in the forces earn so little, while others in factories get so much”.

  2. Hours : Criticism is reported of the short hours worked by: (i) Local authority staffs: “Sarcastic talk comes from Cheltenham following the County Council's decision to increase hours from thirty-eight to forty-two per week”; (ii) Workers in the catering trade; (iii) Printers “who have a pre-war week of five days”.

Enforced idleness continues “to be talked about” (Six Regions). There are said “to be grumbles from shipyard workers all over Scotland”, but “much less grumbling than recently about lack of material holding up work” in the North Western Region. It is again suggested that workers should be given explanations whenever idle time occurs, to dispel anxiety and uneasiness. According to one report, however, “idle time is a perennial excuse for lateness or absenteeism”.

Fatigue of workers (Five Regions):

  1. Women workers particularly are described as suffering from nervous debility and anaemia due to long working hours. Criticism is reported from the Eastern Region “of the fact that many industrial insurance societies only allow sick benefit for expectant mothers during the last month of pregnancy, which is thought to be injurious to the health of mother and child, especially now that women are tackling heavy jobs”.

  2. Men Mention is made of “many shipyard workers feeling the strain”, and also of “the extreme tiredness of miners: more coal could be produced, it is suggested if men worked a five and a half day week”.

Misuse of labour is alleged in four Regions and the following instances are given: (i) Miners working on Exide batteries in the North Western Region; they are said to be unwilling to return to the mines as their present work is lighter and better paid. (ii) Skilled joiners and carpenters “navvying” aerodrome sites. (iii) Cotton workers who are now making munitions are “so cotton-minded” as to be of little use in any other capacity. At the same time, young women with experience in Food Offices are said to be “put into cotton, of which they know nothing”. (iv) Experienced bus drivers being called up and “replaced by elderly drivers or mechanics who had hitherto failed to be satisfactory drivers”.

Strikes (Four Regions): Concern continues about “the number of strikes taking place.” In two reports the “almost daily” strikes and stoppages among miners are associated in the public's mind with “similar trouble for many years in Britain, Belgium, Northern France, and to-day in the United States. ‘Are miners the same all over the world?’ it is asked”.

Absenteeism and slacking of workers (Three Regions): Instances given are: (i) Shipyard workers in Scotland: “Pre-war workers are working all out, while new people in the same shipyards who can't be easily sacked are doing little”. (ii) Young miners of eighteen “who are keen to enter the Services and have no intention of working well in the pit”. (iii) Alien working on Government contract, particularly Irish labourers. (iv) Waste of time “through lack of supervision”; the Forestry Commission Home Grown Timber Production work is mentioned in this connection.

Government control (Three Regions): Some criticism is reported about “the Government working of the Forest of Dean Iron Mines”; reference is also made to “chaotic conditions at Boulton and Paul Aircraft Ltd. of Wolverhampton, since the control was changed: Departmental officials appear lacking in knowledge of their work, and diffident in taking responsibilities”. The May Day demonstrations in Belfast, at which demands were made that “the British Government should take control of firms in Northern Ireland that are not producing to full capacity”, are said to have been organised “chiefly by communists”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 21.)

15. The Call-up

The main points of discussion are:

  1. The shortage of domestic help (Four Regions), which is “very hard” on invalids, elderly people, and young mothers - particularly those of the middle-class.

  2. The direction of women into part-time work (Four Regions). It is hoped that older women will be treated sympathetically, and that younger women will not continue to escape direction in to war work “by doing jobs which take only an hour or so a week”. (Some managements and shop stewards, according to the report from the South Western Region, “still regard part-time labour as a damn nuisance”.)

  3. “The number of young men and women still in civilian occupations” (Three Regions); according to the report from the Southern Region, “there is increasingly bitter comment about the large group of Civil Servants in the middle of a working-class neighbourhood, who work in a section of the Foreign Office at Bletchley Park - a bolt-hole for men and women who wish to avoid military service, and who have influence enough to do so”.

(1. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 10.)

16. Clothing

Clothing difficulties are reported from eleven Regions this week as opposed to seven last week. Next year's clothing problems are said to be “a bogey to most people”. The chief complaints are:-

Inadequacy of coupons (Ten Regions), particularly for: (a) Household goods (Eight Regions); the demand for a special household issue continues. (b) Families with growing children (Three Regions); mothers “wonder how they will be able to cover themselves and their children”. (c) Very poor families who cannot afford to buy good and durable clothes (Three Regions). (d) Miners and factory workers in dirty trades (Two Regions). Talk of further coupon restrictions next year is causing “concern and dismay” (Seven Regions); the official announcement (8th May) that next year's allowance will be only thirty-six coupons, does not yet appear to be fully realised by the general public.

Shoe difficulties (Ten Regions), particularly (a) The difficulty of obtaining shoes (Five Regions) for children and for workers who are not able to get to the shops before the day's quota is sold. (b) The difficulty of getting shoes repaired (Four Regions), for which the shortage of leather is blamed; in one Region the unwillingness of shoe repairers to mend children's shoes unless “they are really bad”, is said to be having its effect on school attendances. There are also complaints about the poor quality of leather used for repairs. (c) The high price and poor quality of shoes (Three Regions).

The shortage and poor quality of clothing (Five Regions), particularly utility stockings (Four Regions) and W.X. and outsize corsets (Two Regions). There are also complaints about the poor quality and high coupon value of children's utility clothing - “The supply of really hard wearing utility shorts would solve a lot of problems”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 9. 10. 13. 21 two provincial P.Cs.)

17. Food

Satisfaction with the food situation continues. In the Northern Region there is some speculation as to whether “food will be less plentiful because of having to feed the large number of Axis prisoners taken in Tunisia”.

The following complaints have been reported this week:

Shortage of fish (Seven Regions). There are complaints about early morning queues, preferential treatment of certain customers, and of fish “finding its way into special quarters instead of into the shops”.

The high prices of vegetables , especially lettuces, are mentioned in six Reports. It is suggested that “as supply apparently exceeds demand prices could be lowered”.

The cut in the cheese ration , complaints of which are mentioned in reports from five Regions.

The meat shortage and the “meagre allowance of meat”, complaints of which come from four Regions.

The difficulty of finding suitable fillings for packed meals is reported from three Regions.

Shortage of sweets is reported from three Regions, “although it is only the beginning of a ration period”.

Preserve ration . Housewives are said “to long for an increase in the preserve ration but not at the expense of the sugar ration”. A “sugar-for-jam ration” as well as a preserve ration are wished for.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 21 twelve provincial P.Cs. 32.)

18. Health

“Lack of tone”, “fatigue”, “nerves”, irritability, or weariness are complained of and are ascribed to ill-balanced diet, long working hours, transport difficulties and the housing shortage. An epidemic of chills in the Peak District is attributed to the ban on central heating. (At the same time, general satisfaction is reported from there at the lifting of the ban.) In the London Region opinion is said to “incline definitely to the view that the health of the public is not as good as official announcements state”, though the report from the North Eastern Region suggests that the past week has acted as a tonic to those who were showing signs of strain.

There is said to be “some concern particularly among workers and middle-class elements”, at the increase of tuberculosis.

Venereal disease campaign : Approval is again reported of the publicity being given to this ‘great menace’. Its increase is said to be causing come consternation, as it is thought “that the disease must have assumed alarming proportions for the Ministry of Health to give it such publicity”.

There is some demand for “more and stronger” publicity, and for more specific accounts of the later stages of the disease. It is also suggested that the possibilities of “innocent infection” e.g. from towels, cups, etc. needs explaining more carefully.

The films Subject for Discussion and Social Enemy No. 1 are both praised, the first being described as “good, clear and sensible”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 10. 11. 21 one provincial P.C. 32.)

19. Housing accommodation and difficulties of billeting workers

During the past fortnight there have been reports from eight Regions of the difficulties of securing housing accommodation. The “acute shortage” is said in one report to be affecting both morale and health. In the London Region it is described as a common occurrence for three or four adults to share one room.

There are also complaints of the high price of furnished houses and rooms (“this is a racket that should be thoroughly investigated”), and of the prices of houses put up for sale. To those “who have hunted for accommodation for weeks and months” the sight of empty houses is said to cause much bitterness. Men in the Forces are said to be frequently given compassionate leave to search for accommodation for their wives and children.

In five Regions workers complain of “the difficulty of finding digs”, while landladies are worried by having to “make the ration stretch”, and by the shortage of towels, bed linen, etc.

(1. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 7. 9. 10. 21 one provincial P.C.)

20. Shopping difficulties

“This eternal queuing” is referred to in reports from seven Regions, and is a subject of bitter complaint, not only from those who have to stand in queues, but also from war workers, who are considered to be very hard hit, as they have no time to queue “for the unrationed extras that make the rations go round”.

The closing of shops at lunch time is said to be causing office and factory workers “great difficulties”. Shops close before they finish work and “the lunch hour is their only opportunity to do shopping”.

(1. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 10)

21. Servicemen's pensions and dependants' allowances

In the last two weeks the following complaints have been reported: (i) Men discharged from the Forces as unfit for military service, being refused a pension on the grounds that their disability was not caused or aggravated by military service. It is also said that “so many disability claims are contested”, and that “the pension appeal application forms are far too complicated”. (ii) The “inadequacy” of pensions granted to disabled men (Three Regions). (iii) “The whole question of pensions, and of dependants' allowances” (Two Regions). It is felt that “this blot on our records should be thoroughly reviewed by the Government”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 9)

22. National Savings

While enthusiasm for “local weeks”, such as “Wings for Victory weeks”, is reported from three Regions, a minority view is said to be that “there's a lot of eyewash about the target which cities and districts set themselves, as the large amounts subscribed by large firms are not genuine savings”. Other factors said to be affecting savings adversely are: (i) “Tuesday morning's (4th May) revelations about the big profits on warships. These have discouraged secretaries of savings groups, who now have to meet charges that the war is run for the benefit of a few.” (ii) A questioning of what money will be worth after the war “because the present high price of many commodities is making people suspicious of inflation”.

(2. 3. 4. 7. 10)

23. U.S. troops

“A better understanding” is said to exist “since the American successes in Tunisia”, and people are now suggesting that “the Americans are tougher than they appeared to be”. Complaints continue to be reported, however, of their alleged drunkenness, their lack of response to hospitality, their assumption that “money buys everything” and their bad behaviour - particularly with women and young girls. At the same time, “the behaviour of some young girls is thought to be a disgrace and to account for the American attitude”.

It is said that residents near camps would find it easier to be friendly with Americans were it not for “the wide discrepancy in the treatment of our own Servicemen compared with the Americans”, particularly regarding the time they have to report back to camp. “If they reported back when our men do, instead of at 6 a.m., they would make less nuisance of themselves”.

(3. 4. 5. 5SE. 10)

24. Agriculture

Little comment on agricultural matters has been reported during the last three weeks. The introduction of double summer time raised a few grumbles. Fears about scarcity of harvest labour continue to be reported; and from the North Midland and Welsh Regions come complaints about the ploughing in of vegetable crops. This week there has been satisfaction at the recent rain, “which has saved the hay crop”, but “the sales have played the devil”.

Harvest helpers : While the scheme for holiday harvest helpers appears to have been welcomed by town dwellers, some scepticism about the value of their help is reported from farmers in the Southern Region: “Unless they are strong and used to farm work, will they really be much use on a farm?” Doubts about the adequacy of billeting arrangements are reported from both farmers and prospective helpers.

The Government scheme for labourers' cottages : A good deal of criticism of this scheme has been reported during the past three weeks. The cottages are criticised in four reports for their concrete floors, steep stairs and the “size of the kitchen and third bedroom”. It is also thought that not enough cottages are being built, and that their rents should be lower. It is rumoured in the South Western Region that “obstructive vested interests” are playing a part in the siting of the cottages, and that some “uneconomic and unpleasant” sites are being chosen.

(1. 4. 5SE. 7. 9. 10)

25. Razor blades

The shortage of razor blades is mentioned in reports from six Regions, one of which refers to “complaints that the edges of blades described as ‘Utility’ are very jagged, and easily cut the skin”.

(2. 3. 4. 6. 7. 10. 32.)

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