A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


Copy No. 286

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.



52 54 3 56 5 57 6 58 7 59 8 60 9 61 10 62 11

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

No. 148 5th August, 1943

(Covering period from 27th July to 3rd August 1943)


1. General state of confidence and reaction to news

Public spirits remain at the same high level as last week.... “Everything is going well everywhere.” Particularly responsible for this feeling are:

  1. Expectation that “Italy will crack up soon” which persists in spite of

    1. Disappointment that she did not surrender right away - as, at the beginning of the week, she was expected to do.

    2. Anxiety that the respite given her would help the Germans.

  2. The resumption of the bombing of Italy after the warning given by Allied Forces Headquarters in Northern Africa (July 30).

  3. News that “Monty has begun to advance”.

  4. The “smashing” air attacks on Germany, especially Hamburg.

  5. Russian successes.

  6. Holiday feeling.

Discussion continues about the end of the war. Majority opinion has swung back to “sometime in 1944”; though some continue to feel “there's a prospect of a winter without the black-out”.

There are some references this week to an ill-defined feeling of doubt, uncertainty, and bewilderment on the part of a few ... “are we entering another of those flat periods of waiting?” Others mention a certain touchiness among the public; “an ill-chosen remark by a Government spokesman would cause a flare-up”. It is said that sacrifices which would have been willingly accepted a year or even six months ago are now “put up with grudgingly”.

Just as Italy overshadows the war news, holidays and “the very real need for them” have overshadowed the Home Front. There is an undercurrent of complaints about the possible call-up of middle-aged women, and of boys for the pits, clothing difficulties (particularly footwear), and the scarcity of fresh fruit and tomatoes.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 17. No report from Region 7 this week.)

2. Italy

People continue to be pleased and excited by the “unexpected” fall of Mussolini. They welcome it as “a sign the Axis is beginning to break”, as an end of Fascism, and as giving hope that “No. 2 gangster may follow before long”. But the excitement is not “wild”, and there is nothing in the way of “jubilation”.

Expectation that Italy will collapse soon is still widespread; but her delay in surrendering has disappointed many. Before the Allies' warning to the Italians (July 31), and the renewed bombing of Naples, there was some:

  1. Criticism of “our asking the Wops to pack up, and giving them time to make up their minds”.... “The only good argument is more bombing of Rome and their other cities.”

  2. Anxiety that the lull was giving the Germans time to withdraw their troops, strengthen the defences in Northern Italy, or “to get the same hold on Italy as on France”.

Rumours that Italy had capitulated were widespread on July 27 (Four Regions).

The new government is widely distrusted. Both the King of Italy and Badoglio are disliked, and “their Abyssinian atrocities” remembered. Neither is thought “to have the slightest liberal instinct”. There is much speculation as to their intentions and prospects:

  1. Will they accept Allied terms? If so - “with the taste of North African politics in our mouths” - many people are anxious about “how we will handle the political side”. They hope “we will come to no compromise with Badoglio if he tries to do a Darlan”.

  2. Do they intend to continue the fight? “But how can they, if reports are true of riots, and of soldiers refusing to fire on the rioters, and of Germans disarming Italians in Greece and Crete?”

  3. Will civil war break out?

  4. Will Badoglio resign, and the King abdicate in favour of Prince Umberto?

Mussolini : Speculation continues as to his whereabouts, chiefly because “everybody is determined he must not be allowed to escape from justice”. “The treatment meted out to Mussolini and his gang will be considered a pointer to what will happen to the Nazi leaders when their power is broken.”

The sending of the British-U.S. Note to Neutral States, warning them against giving asylum to Axis war criminals was welcomed.

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

3. Sicily

Before the week-end there was some anxiety about the lull at Catania. Opinion was divided as to whether the delay was deliberate policy “to trap the Germans into staying put until nearly surrounded” or due to unexpectedly stiff opposition.

Now that “things have started again” people have “complete faith we will clear up the island very quickly”.

Praise for Allied organisation, leadership and fighting men is widespread. There is particular satisfaction with the part played by the Navy: “The failure of the Italian Navy to give battle while we invade and over-run Sicily is a magnificent tribute to ours”.

The Eighth Army continues to be extremely popular. People feel “they get all the tough jobs”; - while “the Yanks are on a walking tour”; but there is satisfaction that “they are given the important work”.

Amgot : Two Regions report a feeling that “we must beware of giving the impression of curbing liberties we profess to acknowledge”.

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

4. The next moves

Attention is still focused on Italy. “Will she capitulate or will she have to be invaded first?” Some think we may invade the toe of Italy within a few days “to cut off the Germans in Sicily”.

Speculation goes on as before. Crete and Greece the favourites; Norway, France and the Low Countries “possibles”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 8. 9)

5. Allied air offensive

Satisfaction with the Allied air offensive has increased since the renewal of heavy attacks on German towns, but “only unusual or specially heavy blitzes excite much public comment nowadays”.

The Hamburg raids have made a great impression and “comparisons are again being made between the thousands of tons dropped on Hamburg and the comparatively small amounts dropped by the Germans on England”. As a result, people are asking:

  1. How long can the Germans stick it ? (Six Regions) “People conclude that flesh and blood cannot indefinitely stand up to what the Germans are getting.” There appears to be complete satisfaction that the Germans are getting what they asked for. It is noticeable that whereas three months ago there was a certain sympathy for German civilians in the raided towns, there has been almost no mention of this in connection with the Hamburg raids. A few wonder whether the concentrated attacks on Hamburg mean that we are trying to knock Germany out by bombing, particularly as “all available woman power is to be directed to aircraft production”.

  2. “What can there be left in Hamburg to bomb?” (Three Regions) This question is asked more in wonderment than criticism.

  3. Is it a prelude to a Northern invasion ? (One Region)

The raid on Ploesti is regarded with “very great satisfaction” (according to preliminary reports), as “everyone recognises the importance of this target”.

The U.S.A.A.F. : “The deep penetration into Germany of U.S. bombers” is much admired, though “the successes of Flying Fortresses over enemy fighters” are viewed with some scepticism.

R.A.F. losses in men and machines continue to cause concern. Some people count up the losses each week and wonder whether the output of fliers from the Air Training Schemes equals losses, and “how long the present tempo can be kept up”. The rescue of 101 British and U.S. airmen forced down in the North Sea in “the round-the-clock-blitz” on Germany was thought “a very notable achievement”.

Radiolocation : An isolated report mentions speculation about how the Germans got hold of radiolocation. “Did the French give it away?” it is asked. It is also asked if we are sharing our knowledge with Russia, and if not, why not.

The bombing of Rome continues to be viewed with almost universal approval, comments differing little from those recorded last week. Most people are said to feel that we should go on bombing Rome as long as there is any military objective there, and the less we apologise and the less fuss made about old buildings the better.

A Special Monthly Postal Censorship Report on Home Opinion, summarises the first reaction of 207 writers to the bombing of Rome, as follows:-

Approval (169 writers)

“Such a fuss about their churches and city - what about ours? They are just as sacred to us, and thousands of them in ruins.”

“Why should Rome be spared when every other city has to suffer?”

Some approve the idea, but criticise the execution:

“I don't quite grasp why we need to be apologetic about it.”

“... it's a devilish thing that our fellows should have to take risks to avoid damage to cultural monuments”.

“... one of their lives is worth more than the Vatican or St. Peters”.

Uncertainty (20 writers)

These writers are “sad because the city is simply crowded with beautiful churches and old Roman antiquities”, yet reluctantly admit the necessity, as “it is a centre of military stores and factories”. They are consoled by the fact that “no wilful destruction will be done, as it was in London”.

Disapproval (18 writers)

Most of these writers appear to be Roman Catholics and object on the grounds that “it strikes at the root of Christianity”; the rest consider that “it is a political mistake and cannot help the cause we are fighting for”, or that it is “very wrong; buildings that have been there 4,000 years all to be knocked down in seconds”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 17 one Special, thirteen provincial P.Cs.)

6. The Prime Minister's speech (July 27)

Mr. Churchill's speech was very well liked, and was felt to express “the country's views about Italian events”.

There was little detailed discussion but points particularly appreciated include:

  1. “No gloating over Mussolini's downfall. Doesn't this show how big Churchill is?”

  2. His insistence on unconditional surrender, “and making quite sure that no doubt existed in our mind or the enemy's”.

  3. The phrase; “we should let the Italians stew in their own juice for a bit”. Also, “hotting up the fires”.

  4. His desire to see central and local administrations continued in Italy. This is considered “eminently sensible, if we are to occupy it in a minimum time”.

(2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 10. 11. 13)

7. President Roosevelt's broadcast, (July 28) : Little interest has been reported so far, the only comment received from more than one Region being appreciation of his “warning to neutral countries about harbouring war criminals”.

(1. 2. 4. 9. 13)

8. Holidays

Holidays have been the main topic of the week on the Home Front. It is generally reported that people feel they have a need for, and a right to holidays after four years of war, and are “determined to get away for a spell this summer”. “Nothing short of an invasion will stop them.” “Middle-aged people, workers and housewives, all complain of extreme tiredness and feel that a complete change is necessary for their health.” Workers are prepared to put up with discomfort and crowds, “since they have the money in their pockets and the trains are running anyway”. In poorer districts, this is “the first time that many can afford a holiday”.

The Government's “negative line” on the whole question of holidays is strongly criticised from opposite points of view:

(a) The majority appear to consider that the Government should have recognised the real need for holidays and should have arranged for extra transport, at least over bank holiday; for workers' travel priority; and for compulsory staggering of workers' holidays. “There is criticism of the arrangement by which a number of factories have given their workers holidays during bank holiday week”, and it is thought that “the Government should have made the first week in August a working week with staggered holiday weeks before and after”. Workers are particularly resentful on the grounds that people in offices have longer holidays and “don't have to cram them into the one worst week of the year, and can travel in comfort”.... “If the men who make the regulations had to work in factory conditions, they wouldn't make them”.

There are many references to “the amount of leave which the Forces are granted during the year”; “the health and entertainment of the Forces are specially considered, while civilians are expected to face reduced rations, double the amount of work, less entertainment and increased travel difficulties”. “Why should a W.R.N.S. or A.T.S. girl have more holidays - and with travel passes - than a munition or factory girl, who probably works much harder in an industrial area far from home on monotonous work?” It is felt, too, that “transferred workers may quite reasonably wish to go home”.

(b) Many, on the other hand, think that if the Government wants people to stay at home, they should “prevent the enormous and futile rush to get away”. It is asked why the Government “opens” all the coast towns, if people are not meant to travel, and allows the running of trains in duplicate, and sometimes triplicate, (in spite of the claim that no extra trains would run), and the consignment of luggage in advance.

Holiday travel : People are “determined to outvie each other in stories of travel experiences”, such as “seven people standing in a lavatory from Kings Cross to Durham” and “men lying on luggage racks”. On the whole, however, those obliged to travel on business are the most bitter in their complaints of overcrowding, though “those who have stayed at home” are also “strong in virtuous criticism of the travellers”. “The good temper and organisation of railway officials - and particularly women porters - in the face of such crowds, have brought great praise.” Some slackening of the rush is reported on Sunday and Monday: “some people are reported to have abandoned going away for a holiday owing to transport difficulties”.

Holidays at home are viewed with mixed feelings. Most people find them enjoyable enough, so far as they go, but do not consider them any substitute for a proper holiday, because they do not provide change of air or scene. Least of all do they provide any rest or holiday for the housewife who, it is pointed out, “would like even a change of sink, if the cooking and washing up can't be done for her”. Another drawback is said to be “the lack of transport to parks and places of recreation”.

Lord Woolton's remark, that those who had gone away had “got what they deserve”, is said to have “created widespread and real anger” in Scotland. Some “recall the story that he and Lady Woolton had a special train to themselves on their recent tour of Scotland”.

Holiday food : There are again references to holiday workers buying up all the food in short supply before residents can get their own share, and it is suggested that more food should be allocated to resorts during the holiday season.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 8. 9. 10. 11. 24)

9. Russia

Russian news is still overshadowed by Mediterranean events, but admiration for “Russian strategy, resources and tenacity”, and confidence in the Red Army remain very high. An advance by Soviet troops “so early in the year” confirms the general feeling that things are now going very well for the Allied Nations everywhere, and that the enemy is finding himself in very adverse circumstances.

There is, however, some minority feeling that the Orel offensive is taking a long time, and that the territorial gains so far made are small (Three Regions).

Doubts of the accuracy of Russian figures of German losses in men and material are reported from five Regions this week as against seven last week.

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

10. North African Politics

There is some satisfaction that the misunderstandings between the Generals now seem to have been “pretty well cleared up”, and it is hoped that a real settlement has been reached - in case the French Committee for National Liberation suddenly has to cope with more than Africa.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 11. 17 one provincial P.C.)

11. Far East

There is again little comment on events in the Far East, except among those with relatives in Japanese hands or fighting there. Relief continues at the receipt of postcards from prisoners. Sympathy for China and the desire to help her are again mentioned.

(1. 3. 5. 5SE. 8. 9. 10. 13)

12. The War at Sea

General satisfaction with the improvement in the situation is reported. This is thought to be “in no small part due to the fact that Allied sea and air forces are now hunting out U-boat packs rather than just having to defend convoys”. There is some demand for more news, but the “general opinion is that the ‘Silent Service’ is keeping up its policy of silence”.

(1. 2. 3. 5. 5SE. 10)

13. Royal Visit to Scotland on 28th and 29th July

The visit to Scotland of the King and Queen pleased the public very much; workers in the establishments visited showed especial satisfaction. The manager of one works said that he has never seen such a happy spirit prevailing as during the days succeeding the Royal visit. The interest shown by the King and Queen in the young pit workers at Blairhall Colliery was commented on with much approval, and “the happy party atmosphere at the prize-giving ceremony to the Scottish schoolgirl winners of the Secretary of State for Scotland's cookery competition was held to be a real highlight”. Security precautions meant that the general public was largely unaware of the visit till afterwards - a fact regretfully remarked on, as Scottish people have very warm feelings of affection for the King, and especially the Queen.

(14, Scotland)

14. The Education White Paper

Increased interest in educational questions continues to be reported, but comment on the White Paper does not seem to be widespread, though it is mostly favourable. Many people are said to be surprised and pleased that the proposals are “so sensible” and “go so far”. “Sober citizens” ask where the money is to come from. The only two points referred to in reports from more than one Region are:

The raising of the school-leaving age : This has had “a mixed reception in some working-class districts, chiefly on economic grounds, due to the loss of the child's potential earning capacity”; it is thought, however, that “some subsidy of the child in the form of family allowances” or “a compensation for the loss of earnings” would remove the objections.

There is speculation as to where all the additional teachers are to come from, if the school-leaving age is raised.

Religion : There is said to be controversy about the teaching of religion, but some satisfaction is reported that it is to be included in the curriculum: it is thought that “no dogma should be taught”, but only “Scripture and Christian ethics”.

Roman Catholic opinion is not mentioned in Regional reports, but Postal Censorship reports indicate that “Roman Catholics show considerable nervous anticipation of the adverse effects of the White Paper proposals on Roman Catholic Schools”.

The Norwood Report is said to be still unknown as yet, except in educational circles, where “teachers are pleased that the official mind realises that all is not well with the present-day examination system”.

(1. 2. 3. 5SE. 6. 10. 17 three provincial P.Cs.)

15. The Birth Rate

Little further comment about the discussion in the House of Commons on the trend of the birth rate has been reported. “Since so far our war casualties have not been of very noticeably great proportions”, and “the numbers of expectant mothers and prams detract from the significance of any statistical evidence of a decline in population”, the public find it difficult to see the problem as a national one: they are inclined to take the view, “It's all very well for them to talk”.

The following factors, however, are quoted as helping to reduce the birth rate:

  1. Economic insecurity and low wages among the working class (Three Regions) and high taxation and expensive standards of education among the middle classes (Two Regions). “Given social security, family allowances and decent conditions, the problem will solve itself.”

  2. Lack of housing accommodation (Three Regions).

  3. Shortage of domestic help (Two Regions).

The difficulty of securing maternity accommodation, and the shortage of nurses and of prams are also mentioned (One Region each).

(4. 5. 5SE)

16. Broadcasting and presentation of news

On the whole, people are satisfied with the general presentation of news, particularly by the B.B.C.; its “accuracy compared with the press is praised”, but some think “there are too many trivialities in the bulletins, when everyone is keyed up for the real news”. The press is criticised for “building up sensational headlines on unconfirmed agency reports”, and for “over-optimistic statements”. The complaint is renewed that “news published as German official is republished three or four days later as our official news”.

Publicising of crowded resorts : Residents in seaside resorts (Bournemouth and Torquay are particularly mentioned) are said to be indignant over publicity given in the press and by the B.B.C. to the numbers of visitors going to these places. It is understood that the intention is to discourage people from travelling by stressing the inconveniences they will suffer, but “people are confounded at the operation of the censorship which prevents so many things and yet permits the enemy to be told so expeditiously which are good targets”.

European and Overseas Services : The news bulletins given in these services are again favourably compared with those in the Home Service (Two Regions each).

Programes :

J.B. Priestley's ‘Make it Monday’ (Eight Regions): This series by “one of the most genial voices on the radio” has on the whole been much appreciated and there is regret that it has come to an end. It is asked why these excellent broadcasts should be “limited to ten minutes and be only occasional”. On the other hand, one report states that “people have no time to listen to men ‘speaking under restraint’”.

Features praised this week are: Mr. Elmer Davies' Postscript, July 25 (Two Regions); and Into Battle, the Radio Doctor, Itma, Henry Hall programmes, and Promenade Concerts (One Region each).

The discussion between the Speaker and Members of the House of Commons and the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives (‘Answering You’, July 13) was liked, and it is suggested that “the interesting programmes introducing British and American people to each other” should be given “on Saturday night, when everybody can listen”.

(1. 2. 3. 5. 5SE. 6. 8. 9. 10. 13. 14 South Western Region)



17. Manpower

Registration of women from 46 to 50 (Eight Regions): The announcement that women of 46 to 50 will have to register for employment (House of Commons, July 29) has caused much disapproval and lively discussion. The chief comments are:

  1. “The women are unsuitable for factory work” (Five Regions): People feel that the registration will not yield results because many women of this age will not be fit or free to take up factory work. It is thought that the strain of working, even part-time, will be too much for these elderly women, many of whom are at “a difficult age”, and have already a full-time job in the home looking after “working sons and daughters” and billetees. People wonder what use they would be in factories anyway, and aircraft workers are said “to laugh at the idea”. “Why not leave them as a domestic reserve?” it is asked.

  2. Why is it necessary ? (Three Regions): People are puzzled that “a state of affairs exists where elderly women have to be brought into the war effort”, particularly as many believe that “the Ministry of Labour is unable to ‘place’ a number of women already registered”. Others refer to the tales of “enforced idleness” and “time wasted” in factories, and feel that the registration is “a ridiculous idea”.

  3. All younger men and women should be “combed out” first (Three Regions): People feel that other measures should be taken before calling up older women. There is renewed discussion on the number of young people who could be “combed out of soft jobs”, and of women with “few responsibilities” who still “get away with it”. It is suggested that conscription of young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five should be universal, or that elderly women should be sent into the shops and so release younger women for the factories.

Reduction of recruits to the Women's Auxiliary Services (Two Regions): Little comment on this proposal has been reported. Some feel that the stopping of recruitment will be unfair to the girls who have volunteered, but have not yet been called up. Others believe that “recruitment could with advantage have been suspended a year ago”.

(2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 9. 10)

18. Miners and mining

The proposal to direct boys into the pits continues to arouse adverse criticism and is “universally condemned”. Miners are reported to see in the proposal unfair discrimination against their own sons (Five Regions). “Nobody believes that boys of 16 from Eton will be sent down the pits with boys from elementary schools.” Skilled miners are said “to look on such a step as useless as it will not improve output”. The proposal is also criticised on the grounds that it will upset the apprenticeship training of many boys.

It is again said that there are still a lot of men with mining experience working in other industries and in the Forces, who could be released and put in the pits. Some feeling is again reported that “the whole mining situation has been mismanaged from the beginning of the war and that miners should never have been allowed to leave”.

Coal for Italy and Sicily : There is again criticism that coal will have to be exported to Italy and Sicily. It is felt that “if Italy wants ten million tons of coal, let the Italian prisoners of war produce it”. Miners are said “to fail to understand why 50,000 tons of coal a week are wanted in Sicily when the Press records a temperature of 95 degrees and over in the shade”.

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

19. Agriculture

The harvest prospects are regarded as good. A writer in Postal Censorship sums up the situation: “There's a mighty lot of grain in the country, but a scarcity of hands to save it”. Complaints of a labour shortage are reported from the Northern and North Midland Regions. In the latter, the “harvest volunteers” campaign does not appear to be working well. Part-time volunteers are said to be unwelcome in some districts, and factory workers who have offered to spend their holidays on the land “are met with refusals”. Farmers are said to prefer the labour of Italian prisoners of war.

In other parts of the country, farmers are also solving their difficulties by using Italian prisoners of war, but in addition variously employ harvest helpers, soldiers, N.F.S. personnel and school children.

School children : Teachers in the Fen district complain that the harvesting is affecting their pupils' education: “They work till 10 p.m. on the land, come to school for a rest, and their high earnings (alleged to be as much as £2 to £3 in some cases), make them independent, and disinterested in their lessons.”

(3. 4. 5SE. 11. 17 one Special, one provincial P.C.)

20. Clothing

Complaints concerning the poor quality and shortage of children's footwear, difficulties over repairs, and the inadequacy of clothing coupons for all purposes are again reported this week and will be summarised in the report of August 19. The suggestion that coupons may be taken for Home Guard uniform is most unpopular; as the danger of invasion decreases, so also does interest in Home Guard work, and it is thought, if coupons are taken, many will seek excuses for resigning.

No reports of reactions to the announcement about the value of the new clothing coupons have yet been received. (In last week's report, the anticipated cut was erroneously described as “the proposed cut”).

Clothing offence of woman M.P. : The prosecution of a woman M.P. for contravention of Regulations has caused “some sarcastic comment”. Her defence that she did not know she was committing a breach of the Regulations is ridiculed, and there was “rather unholy glee over the magistrate's comments on her ignorance”. People say “if this is the case she had no right to be in Parliament”, and that “if she had been an ordinary person she would have been treated much more harshly”. On the other hand, a small minority say “it is not likely that a woman in her position would willingly contravene the law”. Others again say: “any woman would have done the same”.

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

21. Food

There is less comment on food this week. General satisfaction is still tempered by complaints of the shortage of fresh fruit (Eight Regions) and tomatoes (Six Regions). Resentment is again strongest in the Northern Region, where people feel they are getting a raw deal compared with Scotland and the South.

The shortage of fruit and tomatoes still brings many allegations of preferential treatment of favoured customers, of under-the-counter and conditional sales and the “penalisation of allotment holders”.

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

22. Income Tax

A “Pay-as-you-Earn” Income Tax Scheme is said to have strong support and is thought to be “increasingly imperative” as the and of the war comes nearer. The deduction of heavy sums weekly from war workers who may be unemployed or suffer a drop in wages is thought to be very hard.

Post War Credits : In the Midland Region, the idea is said to be very widespread among workers that “the Government's intention in instituting Post War Credits was to have money available, which it could seize if people failed to pay their Income Tax”. Some scepticism is reported from the Northern Region as to whether Post War Credits will be honoured, and if so what they will be worth.

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

23. Womens' Land Army

During the past four months there have been very few comments on the Womens' Land Army. Praise for their work has been expressed in reports from the Southern and South Western Regions, and there has been practically no criticism. There have, however, been a few complaints of their conditions of service, which Land Girls feel compare unfavourably with conditions in the other Auxiliary Services. These complaints are:

(1) The annual leave of seven days is considered hard, as many girls live far away, and never get home at week-ends (Two Regions).

(2) The static rate of pay. No promotion or proficiency pay “as in the A.T.S.” (One Region).

(3) No issue of underwear as in the other services (One Region).

(4) In Scotland, girls cannot understand why the recent increase of 2/6d. a week to English Land Girls does not apply to them.

In addition to these, there are a few scattered complaints of (i) overwork and hard work on certain farms (Three Regions); particularly where the farmer and older farm workers are prejudiced against the use of girls on the land; and (ii) of underpayment by some unscrupulous farmers (One Region).

(1. 3. 5SE. 6. 7. 11)

24. U.S.A.

U.S. Troops : During the past four weeks comment on American troops in this country has continued along familiar lines. While the part played by American troops in Sicily and American airmen in this country has increased appreciation of them and “made many more tolerant of their shortcomings”, criticism of their behaviour is still reported. There are particular complaints of their behaviour with young girls and married women, (especially where coloured troops are concerned); their high spending powers; their “drunkenness and unmilitary demeanour”; and their unresponsiveness to hospitality. In the London Region, it is reported that “many people are worried” because “our police have no power or authority over United States soldiers”; it is stated that “it is not unusual to hear of the rape of young girls of 13 and upwards in the parks in and around London”. It is recognised, however, that the conduct of the U.S. troops depends very largely on the behaviour of our girls and women.

Post-war relations with the U.S.A. : Fears that the United States “may boss Britain after the war” have been expressed in five Regional reports during the past four weeks. Business men are said to be worried about American competition with our trade interests and are asking: “Are we buying military support with our industrial markets?”

Labour troubles : Comment on U.S. labour troubles, and particularly the mining controversy, has died during the past two weeks. Up till then, however, comment followed familiar lines: criticism of the miners and their leaders for striking, and doubts about “America really pulling her weight in the war effort”.

(1. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 10. 17 one Special, four provincial P.Cs.)

25. U.S. Troops at Bury, Lancs

Thanks to a number of favourable factors, exceptionally good relations have developed between the citizens of Bury (Lancs) and the American troops billeted on them. As a result, there is little or none of the usual resentment of Americans, on the ground of bragging, high pay, drunkenness, or loose morals. The attitude of the people of Bury is described as follows:-

  1. They like the Americans, without the usual reservations. At first, things were very different; the Americans were accused of “not realising Britain was at war”, and of being noisy and thoughtless. But thanks to the measures mentioned below, mutual tolerance and better understanding were reached. Now hostesses are sorry to see the Americans leave, and want more of them next time - rather than British officers or Poles.

  2. Men write to Bury townsfolk after they have left, and many homes display photographs of their American friends. Some Bury people would now like to go to America, and are forming friendships with the parents of the billetees, who have sent over parcels.

  3. An American Link Society has been started between Bury and Grand Rapids, Ohio. Links have been made between the Free Church Council, the Trades Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the high school and the musical circle in Bury, and their opposite numbers in Grand Rapids.

The factors which brought about this happy state of affairs are:-

  1. Careful selection of billets . Homes were mainly those of middle-class people - “fairly comfortably off” - who could give the Americans some degree of privacy.

  2. High billeting allowance . This was higher than for Government evacuees or British other ranks - usually £2. 5. 0 a week.

  3. Good billeting liaison work . The Liaison Officer, an English major, took great pains to smooth away troubles He insisted on hearing both sides in all cases of difficulty, and “the Americans were only too ready to apologise if they were in the wrong, provided they were told bluntly and truthfully”. Many of the Americans were of Italian or German parentage; typical of the kind of difficulty which had to be smoothed away was the case of an American who jokingly remarked that he preferred his German mother to his English father; this was said to an English couple whose son was missing. Billets which continued unsatisfactory on either side, were changed.

  4. The “good type” of American in Bury . The men were “not the ordinary doughboy” but were selected from various branches of the Army to undergo a special military training at the Military College of Science. The townspeople found them “quiet, studious and well-mannered”, and attributed this to the fact that they came from “the officer class”.

  5. Their restricted leisure time : Much stress is laid on the fact that the soldiers had to work hard and had little leisure time for “desultory lounging and pub-crawling”.

  6. Their short stay : Three weeks to four months was the normal period of their stay; this helped towards good relations, because people felt they were getting down to intensive work, and wasting no time.

  7. Hospitality arrangements : There does not appear to have been much “private entertainment” for the men, but stress is laid on the fact that the billeters “made them part of the family, including them in family cinema parties, etc”. Organised entertainment was left chiefly in the hands of the Rotary Club and similar organisations. The men themselves patronised the local dance halls and tennis clubs.

(14. North Western Region)



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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