A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


Copy No. 287

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.



67 69 3 71 5 72 6 73 7 74 76 10 78 12


No. 147 29th July, 1943

(Covering period from 20th to 27th July, 1943)


1. General state of confidence and reaction to news

The high level of public spirits reported last week has risen even higher with “the best news yet - the sudden downfall of Mussolini”. People are delighted at this sign of Italian “shakiness”, but many are curbing their excitement until they are certain this is the first step to Italy's capitulation, and not “only a new name on the old shop front”. Intense discussion as to its cause and possible effects is general, and the bombing of Rome and the Allied progress in Sicily have taken second place. Satisfaction with these, however, continues, and is also reported for the very heavy bombing of Hamburg and Essen, the Russian counter-offensive and “the good news from everywhere”.

Forecasts on the length of the war in Europe are very optimistic this week: “Italy, in any case, will be out of the war any day now or within a month.... and then for Germany!” Some expect “we'll have another armistice on November 11”. The more cautious still give it a year, and criticise the over-optimistic.

Home Front : Holidays - with the struggle against all difficulties - continue to be the main topic. The strain and tiredness resulting from four years of war are thought to have made a change of air and scene essential.

Housewives still complain of clothing difficulties (particularly footwear), and of the shortage in towns of fresh fruit and tomatoes.

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

2. Mussolini's resignation, and the change of Government

This news came as a great surprise. It is widely and excitedly discussed, and pleases everybody. To the majority, it indicates that the Italians are disorganised and demoralised, particularly by our invasion of Sicily and the bombing of Rome. They see in it the end of Fascism and “the beginning of the end of Axis resistance”. Italy is expected to be out of the war soon, and rumours that she has already surrendered are widespread.

A minority, however, for various causes, are less optimistic:

  1. Some are waiting to see what will happen and whether the new administration is any different from the other.

  2. A few fear that Italian resistance, far from being weakened by the new administration, will be strengthened by “a Government containing army leaders”.

  3. A few others feel “it's a put-up job arranged by Hitler - possibly at his recent meeting with Mussolini - who will now be running the show with Victor Immanuel and Badoglio as figureheads”.

A separate peace : Many think that Badoglio will negotiate for a separate peace with the Allies and, having thrown over Fascism will expect considerate terms of surrender. It is hoped that, “whatever happens, we will insist on unconditional surrender, and will be just as tough with him and the King as with Mussolini”. Badoglio is considered “no better than the rest”, and his Abyssinian cruelties, particularly the use of poison gas, are widely remembered. Another reason “for refusing an easy peace” to Italy is that Germany may expect it too, and “this time the war must be finished off properly”.

People wonder what Hitler will do if Italy sues for peace. “It will mean endless new headaches for him.”

Mussolini : People think that “he must have been in a very tight spot to resign, as he'd have paid almost any price to hang on to his dictatorship”; some are astonished that “a dictator could resign”.

There is considerable speculation as to his whereabouts; Spain and Germany are suggested - while “the rumour that Mussolini has sought sanctuary within the Vatican is angrily discussed”.

Reactions on other countries : Events in Italy are expected to have the following effects:

  1. Greatly to encourage people in the Occupied Countries; there is “some anticipation of repercussions in the Balkans”.

  2. Effectively to prove to the Allies that the Axis facade is vulnerable.

  3. To give the Germans food for thought: “If Musso can get the push like that, then what about Hitler?”

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

3. Sicily

Satisfaction with the speed of Allied progress is widespread, as is the belief that Sicily will soon be ours. Only a few complain of “our slowness”, or suggest that the Germans may be able to put up a prolonged defence round Mount Etna.

Praise continues for “the grand job” of planning and carrying out “this model of combined operations”. It has given people the highest confidence in the Allied leaders, Forces and equipment.

Catania : People feel that the Eighth Army has been given the toughest job - “which is to be expected and is right. The Americans are less seasoned troops and should be given the Wops on a plate, while the best army in the world attends to the really dangerous enemy.” There is, however, some feeling that “the Eighth Army ought to get more credit for it - all the praise seems to go to the Americans and Canadians”.

Casualties : Some fear that casualties in the Catania sector may be heavy, and are “anxiously waiting for news”.

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

4. The bombing of Rome

“So they have bombed Rome at last - I'm glad.” seems to have been the reaction of all but a very few. This is usually followed by: “Why have we waited so long?” and: “Why apologise?” The raid is thought by many to have been “the finishing touch, the final push that toppled over Mussolini”. Many hope it will be “followed up by others, which, in the view of some people, need not be preceded by leaflets and can include the Vatican City”.

Roman Catholic opinion , with a few exceptions - notably in Northern Ireland - is said to “approve of the bombing, if it is really necessary for the war effort”. Some, indeed, are described as being “all for it”. Many Catholics “point to the destruction of the churches of Britain and ask: ‘Why should the Axis shelter behind our Catholic churches?’” The general feeling among Catholic seems to be - “We are British first”.

The planning and execution of the raid are more criticised than praised this week. Although the care taken in preparing and carrying out the raid is again commended, many people are very critical of “the unjustifiable risks to the airmen” involved by:

  1. The dropping of warning leaflets (Six Regions): There is sarcastic comment on the lines of: “How decent it was to warn the Italians! No one sent me a warning the night before my home was destroyed.”

  2. Precision bombing (Three Regions): Airmen's lives are “worth more than historic monuments”.

  3. Carrying out the raid in daylight (Two Regions): It was thought “foolish to arrange for valuable pilots to present a clearly seen target to well-prepared defences”.

The airmen taking part : There is comment on the fact that only Americans took part in the raid, and some regret that there were no British airmen. It is even said by a few that “our men refused to do it”. Others think it was a shrewd move, “to counter U.S. Catholic opinion” and “cause less trouble with the Pope”. People were interested that Roman Catholic pilots took part. A few suggest that it is now the turn of the British to bomb Rome, to show the Americans we have not left them “to face the dirtiest piece of propaganda this war has yet produced”.

The ancient monuments in Rome are the cause of some apprehension, which has been greatly relieved by details of “the accuracy of our bombing and our care not to injure historic objects”. Nevertheless, a minority regret the damage to the Basilica of San Lorenzo. “Those who had thought that all of Rome was stuffed with places of antiquity welcomed the maps, which relieved them of the fear that air raids could not fail to destroy much that was of historic interest.” It is clear, however, that the general public do not understand why there should be any cultural reasons for distinguishing between Rome and London, Canterbury, or Coventry.

The Pope : The Pope's letter to the Vicar-General of Rome has caused considerable comment, most of it adverse. There is said to be no sympathy for the Pope, and some sardonic comment at his claims to be impartial. There is impatience at his protests, which are thought to have come “rather late in the day”. Many people believe that the Pope “condoned the terrible attack on one of the oldest Christian peoples” - the Abyssinians. It is also asked why the Pope should “cry out when one Roman Catholic church suffers partial damage and remain silent when 4,000 religious edifices in this country - including St. Paul's and other Cathedrals - have been attacked”. There is also some comment that “he made no mention of the loss of life, but only of buildings”.

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

5. The next moves

The next move now most eagerly awaited is that of Italy rather than of the Allies.

Many continue to look on Sicily as “a preliminary” to our invasion of Europe, and think that “there are more surprises in store for the Axis”. A small minority still complain that Sicily is a “flea-bite”, and that they want “a real Second Front”.

Speculation goes on; but the Balkans, via Crete, have now replaced Italy - which may capitulate without invasion - as “the best bet”. Turkey, it is again suggested, may come in on our side. Norway, France and Belgium are all once more mentioned as “possibles”.

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

6. Holidays

The desire for holidays, and “the grim determination to get away whatever the difficulties” are again reported to be strong and widespread. Holidays are believed to be a necessity, to overcome the war strain from which so many are said to be suffering. Most people, workers especially, feel that they must “get away for a change of air and scenery after four years of war” and “before facing another blackout”. Many, regarding it as a right, “no longer feel guilty about going away” - especially now that the war has taken such a turn in our favour. Workers “ask why their one week's holiday a year should be ‘cluttered up with restrictions’, while members of the Forces get regular leave and are able to travel”. The chief draw-back to holidays at home is that they “give no rest to the housewife”.

Holiday travel : The “tales of terrific congestion” which are circulating seem to have done little to deter would-be travellers, but have led to much criticism of the Government (for not “doing something about it”), of the Ministry of War Transport (for “not making up its mind”), and the Railway Companies (for “vacillating”). It is suggested that “the Government should have made some determined attempt to stagger holidays to avoid the congestion arising from the concentration of holidays in August”. “Trouble is anticipated at Bank Holiday week-end, if the Government and the railways don't do something” - Blackpool alone is said to be expecting a quarter of a million visitors.

War-workers complain of being crowded off the trains by holiday-makers; they say that appeals to police regulating queues to give them priority are without avail, as the police explain that they “have no instructions and that the Ministry of War Transport is the body responsible”.

The patience and good behaviour of huge queues at London termini is commented on.

Conditions at holiday resorts : There are complaints of holiday-makers buying up food in short supply; residents think that visitors should bring their own food with them. One report refers to difficulties arising from “refusals to honour emergency cards both for the public and the Forces”.

There are also complaints from workers at “the exorbitant prices charged for apartments at seaside hotels”, while people obliged to go to such places on business resent having to pay “exorbitant charges of 25/- a day in hotels normally charging much less”.

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

7. Allied air offensive

The excellent news from other war fronts and the raid on Rome have diverted much of people's attention from the continued air offensive on Germany and Italy. Satisfaction, however, continues.

Hamburg raid (July 25): People were both pleased and awed by the raid on Hamburg. “Comparison with the London raids has given some idea of the weight of the attack; it proves that our strength must be great indeed, if we can do this while maintaining operations in the Mediterranean.”

The Essen raid (July 26) further increased people's satisfaction. The damage to Krupps was “eagerly discussed, especially by war workers in large factories” in Scotland.

At the same time, much of our air offensive is now taken for granted. The routine questions are now: “Where did we go last night?” and “How many did we lose?”. “Many people expect every raid to be bigger and heavier than the last, and so remain unexcited; others feel that the number of planes taking part is more real than the weight of bombs dropped, and the absence of the former information is regretted and the reason not always appreciated.”

Flying Fortresses : The armament of Flying Fortresses as compared with that of our planes, is a subject of discussion; people compare R.A.F. losses with the Flying Fortresses that fail to return home, and wonder “if our machines are sufficiently well protected”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 10. 13. 18 ten P.D.Rs.)

8. Russia

As with the air offensive, so with Russia. Mussolini and Sicily have put Russian news in the background, but satisfaction and admiration continue to be general. Further Russian advances are expected, and Germany is considered “up against it”. “As Russia is doing so well during the summer, many are hoping for great things from her in the winter.”

The timing of the Red Army offensive is taken as evidence that “the strategy of the United Nations is now co-ordinated”. In London, however, “while many feel the Sicilian campaign has been of great assistance to the Russians, it is asked by others whether in fact there really is co-operation, and whether Russia really is receiving all the help the Allies can possibly give”.

Russian figures of German losses in men and material are still treated “with reserve”. (Seven Regions)

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11. 13. 17 eight provincial P.Cs. 18 sixteen P.D.Rs.)

9. Far East

There is no change in public comment about the war in the Far East. Relief continues as the news of British prisoners in Japanese hands comes in. Sympathy for China is again mentioned.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 9. 10. 13. 17 two provincial P.Cs. 18 nine P.D.Rs.)

10. North African Politics

Comment continues in moderate volume along the same lines as in the past three weeks.

(1. 2. 3. 5SE. 7. 9. 10. 13. 18 three P.D.Rs.)

11. The War at Sea

Thanks to the anti-U-boat successes and the work of the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean, general satisfaction with the situation continues to be expressed. Praise for the Merchant Navy is again voiced.

(1. 3. 5. 9. 10. 11. 18 five P.D.Rs.)

12. The Education White Paper

The increasing interest in education, and approval for the proposals outlined in the White Paper are again reported. “In mining and quarry districts it is said that education has been popularly discussed in quarry cabins and pubs for the first time. People are asking: ‘Will it really mean that my son will have the same chance as the Works Manager's son?’”

The proposal to raise the school leaving age seems to be the point most often discussed. Most people are said to be in favour of this, many favouring “education till 16 and over, with part-time continuation to the age of 18”; but a few suggest that “some children do not benefit from the education given, and would be better apprenticed earlier to suitable trades”. A small minority fear that we may become too educated and wonder “who will do the labourers' jobs”.

Other points approved are the proposals to introduce more nursery schools, to abolish examinations at 11, and “the attempt to solve the system of dual control”. It is hoped that provision will be made for teaching such things as “the necessity and machinery of local government, the incidence of rates and taxes and why they are levied”; also the functions of social services and public utility undertakings.

A minority are critical, mainly on the grounds that “half the new ideas are impractical and too expensive”. Teachers in particular are said to consider the proposals “handsome on paper, but unlikely to make any real changes in the present position”.

(1. 3. 5. 5SE. 6. 10)

13. The Birth Rate

There has been little comment on the discussion in the House of Commons on the trend of the birth rate. In London, a typical remark is: “I don't know what all the fuss is about; every young woman I see seems to be in a state of expectation”.

Two factors working against pregnancy at present are mentioned:

  1. The lack of domestic help for mothers who have their babies at home.

  2. The refusal of house and flat owners, and those who let furnished rooms to take people “when they hear there are, or are going to be children.” The complaints of Servicemen's wives are particularly bitter.

Two long-term factors are said to be:

  1. “Lack of guarantees against future wars.” “People resent losing their children at 18 just when they have reached an interesting, useful, and profitable age.”

  2. Among the middle-classes, clergy, etc., “the very high cost of the education these parents are anxious to give their children”.

(5. 6. 9. 10)

14. Resignation of M.P.s from the Home Guard

There have been cynical comments at the announcement that a number of M.P.s have resigned from the Home Guard. Their lot is contrasted with that of the “ordinary man, who, though working far harder, is goaled for non-attendance at parades”.

Penalties against workers who miss Home Guard parades are increasingly resented. It is thought that “training is too arduous for many on top of a full day's work”.... “especially as there is now so little chance of the Home Guard having to fight”.

(2. 5)

15. Broadcasting and presentation of news

News bulletins are eagerly listened to, and newspapers “snapped up as soon as they appear”; but, although the news is thought, on the whole, to have been well handled by both press and radio, there is criticism of over-optimistic statements about Catania; too much apology for the Rome bombing; and of the B.B.C's “habit of jeering at the re-formed 15th Panzer division”.

There is special admiration for the work of the war correspondents and the “risks they take to get their stories from the front line”. Photographs from the battle front are also much appreciated and “do an extraordinary amount of good”. More are asked for. The Sunday Chronicle (July 11) is criticised in one report for “presenting an artist's impression of a landing scene in Sicily, which gave a harrowing impression of our troops on the beach under gunfire; this was at variance with the facts and unnecessarily distressing to relatives of men there”.

The European Service news bulletins are again reported to be far more interesting than those in the Home Service.

Programmes :

J.B. Priestley's “Make it Monday” series has, on the whole, been much liked (Nine Regions), though some think he is not necessarily constructive and true to life. His final broadcast was considered “specially good”. “They really should have a young Serviceman giving his views as Priestley suggests.” It is thought that “another Sunday night series might revive the interest once taken in the Postscripts”.

Commander Anthony Kimmins' broadcast (July 15) on the Sicilian landing is again widely praised (Seven Regions). “Talks by the men who do things are the highlights of the news.”

Air-Marshal Sir Philip Joubert's war commentary (July 22) is praised (Four Regions). Such broadcasts “have greater weight because of the avoidance of any tendency to over-statement”.

Professor John Hilton's talk on North Africa was also much appreciated, though “some think him too patronising”.

Praise is also reported for: Douglas Houghton's “Can I help you?” series (Two Regions); and for Itma, the Radio Padre, Marching On, and Mr. Elmer Davies' (July 25) Postscript (One Region each).

B.B.C. announcers : Maurice Shillington's voice is said not to be liked (Three Regions), and is described by some as “nasal and American”. There is regret that Joseph Macleod is no longer an announcer.

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



16. Clothing

Complaints of the inadequacy of clothing coupons continue on the same lines as last week and at about the same level. Concern at the proposed cut is widespread, particularly in view of the “shoddy” quality of much of the utility clothing and footwear available. It is felt that “the Board of Trade has ‘fallen down’ in not ensuring better standards”.

Some shops are said to be taking utility labels out of clothes so as to sell them at exorbitant prices.

The chief difficulties are: (i) shortage and poor quality of children's shoes; (ii) length of time taken to get repairs done - “often with leather of such poor quality that the labour is wasted”.

According to a report from the North Western Region “Manchester bus conductresses express resentment at the Board of Trade's demand for the surrender of twelve clothing coupons from the new book, which the women say is ‘not yet legally in use’. Friday, July 16, was the date assigned for surrendering coupons, under threat of prosecution. Many have refused to comply. The conductresses also consider it unfair that their uniform (unlike that of postwomen) is not free, but has to be hired at the rate of 2/6 a week - (according to a regulation left over from the last war) - and they are ‘not allowed to keep it at the end’.”

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11. 13. 17. 18 eleven P.D.Rs.)

17. Mining and miners

Mr. Bevin's statement that boys of 16 will be directed to work in the pits has aroused strong feeling and is said to be “not too well received in the mining industry”. It is, however, said that “no one in the mining industry will seriously object if the labour is really necessary” provided “such a call-up is not confined to mining families” and “the children of the well-to-do are taken”. Otherwise it is thought that the call-up would cause “a storm in the industry”.

The boys themselves are said to be against it. “They would rather wangle their age and join the army as the mines are too dangerous.”

It is felt that “the large number of men” in the army and working in factories and quarries, who have had mining experience, should be returned to the pits before any further action is taken. From Scotland comes the suggestion: “Why not put Italian prisoners-of-war in the mines and put the boys on the land?”

Coal for Italy : The recent statement by Mr. John Armstrong at the Mineworkers Federation conference (July 21) to the effect that coal will be needed in Sicily and Italy has caused slight comment on the lines of: “Why should we spoon-feed enemy countries?” and: “The miners don't seem anxious to provide coal for their own kith and kin, and they will be much less likely to buckle down to provide coal for Italians”.

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

18. Pensions and allowances

Further reactions to the new pensions plan have been “very mixed” (Seven Regions). While some are delighted at the new concessions, many people “are still not satisfied and press for more generous treatment”. The concessions to the Services have made old age pensioners the more bitter.

Criticisms of the new plan are as follows:

  1. ‘Fit for Service, fit for Pensions’ (Four Regions). “No matter what the Government says.”

  2. The pensions proposed are still not enough (Four Regions): Ex-servicemen “expect more security than after the 1914/18 war”. The totally disabled, particularly, “will still be the poorest section of the community”.

  3. The taxation of war widows' pensions (Two Regions): “It should be recognised that a wife's commitments are not much reduced by the death of the husband.”

It is said that “there is much ignorance and emotion” about the whole subject, and that the Government should put out publicity about the true facts of the situation.

(1. 3. 5. 5SE. 7. 9. 10)

19. Food

Satisfaction over the food situation continues to be general except for the shortage of soft fruit and tomatoes , complaints of which are reported from ten and eight Regions respectively. Comments about this, though on familiar lines, are strong, particularly in the Northern Region and in Scotland where “housewives who have no time to queue have never seen fruit”; in Scotland “housewives are beginning to cry out for some system to be devised to do away with queues”.

Allotment holders are said to be unable to get any fruit at all (Three Regions): Having “loyally tried to grow their own food, they have to watch women who have made no effort at gardening carry home good quantities of fruit”.

The other outstanding food topics this week are:

The promised increase in the jam ration : This is looked forward to with great pleasure (Seven Regions) but - as was the case with the dried eggs - there are some who say that this means “it must be going bad”. Others say: “Marvellous.... but it depends on the jam”.

The announcement that stores of chocolate are being built up for occupied Europe has again caused varying reactions, mostly approving (Four Regions). Some are pleased for altruistic reasons, others are glad if it means more boiled sweets instead of chocolate; others, again, are content so long as “our own children don't go short in consequence”.

The announcement that increased supplies of blancmange and custard powder are to be on sale has caused varied comment (Four Regions). There is pleasure; annoyance that, in spite of the announcement, people still cannot get it; and surprise that increased supplies should coincide with the reduction of the milk ration.

Canteen food : Complaints about the food in canteens come from three Regions. It is not the food that is complained of, but the way it is cooked, particularly “in factories where canteens are run by catering firms”. At Findlay's Shipyard, Old Kilpatrick, however, it is the food itself which causes dissatisfaction, according to the Scottish report; workers describe it as “poisonous” and say that it “comes from Ministry of Food dumps”.

The allowance of sugar for jam is again the subject of pleasure (Three Regions), mixed with the feeling of: “What's the use, when you can't get fruit?”

Cereal zoning is criticised (Two Regions), particularly by those who regard Kellogg's “All Bran” as a medicine, and can no longer get it.

The increase in rations for expectant mothers is again praised (Two Regions), but some people feel that “there should be a monetary allowance to enable Servicemen's wives to take full advantage of it”.

The importing of African wine is again criticised (Two Regions), as it is felt that fruit should have been imported instead.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11. 17 all provincial P.Cs. 18 twelve P.D.Rs.)

20. Agriculture

Crops : Pleasure at “the excellent hay crops” is again reported this week, as well as talk about the good prospects for corn, potato, apple and pear crops.

Harvest labour : Farmers in the Northern and North Midland Regions complain of a labour shortage, and “harvest helpers” in Kent are worried at the small number of volunteers for harvest work.

From the Southern Region this week, comes a demand for more general publicity as to “facilities and amenities at harvest helpers' camps, and where to enrol”.

Plough land : Small farmers in the North Midland Region complain of the amount of land they are expected to plough in, and in the North Eastern Region of the delay in the payment of ploughing subsidies.

New potato crops : “The big muddle over the potato business” continues to be criticised in Lincolnshire. In the North Eastern Region there are complaints that hardship is being caused to small farmers through the delay in the acreage payment for delivered potatoes.

Allotment holders in the Northern Region are reported to be very uneasy “lest they should be summarily evicted from their holdings at very short notice after the war, because their land is required for building sites”. Apprehension is said to be greatest among older men “who remember what happened after the last war”. Allotment holders would like to know “what provisions, if any, have been made to safeguard their interests”.

(1. 3. 5SE. 6. 7. 9. 10)

21. Strikes

Transport workers : The recent strike of women transport employees in Leicester, though condemned in principle, is said to have been looked on sympathetically by many people. The girls, who were asked to do a nine hour shift, complained that they are handling dirty money all day and have no facilities for washing their hands before they eat their sandwiches. Lavatory accommodation is also lacking. “Their objections were considered justified.”

Unrest is reported among the drivers of the Yorkshire Traction Co., because income tax, which would normally have been deducted during the recent strike period, is being deducted now, in addition to current income tax deductions. As a result pay packets are reduced.

(2. 3)

22. Civil Defence and firewatching

Firewatching remains “an unpopular duty”, and adverse comment has been continuous though not widespread during the past eight weeks. Official criticism, directed at the less painstaking, is resented, particularly by “those who are really pulling their weight”.

Other complaints have been as follows:

  1. “The strain of firewatching in conjunction with other duties” (Four Regions): Particular reference is made to the hardships of married women with household responsibilities in full or part-time jobs; of those working long hours, and of shift workers.

  2. The “dodgers” (Four Regions): Suspicion that “many able-bodied men are not pulling their weight” continues, and women are particularly resentful. Compulsion for all is advocated, though there is some belief that “press gang watchers do not carry out their duties properly”.

  3. Allowance rates (Three Regions): There is some dissatisfaction with the varying rates of pay and allowances, and demands for “a national scheme”.

  4. Unfair allocation of duties (Two Regions), particularly “too much week-end firewatching”.

The new Fireguard reorganisation which has been coming into operation since the beginning of the year has aroused some adverse comments on the lines of:

  1. The orders are “badly phrased and complicated”, and “too numerous”. “The public”, it is alleged, are “reduced to apathy by the repeated Fireguard Orders, and there comes a time when people can be over-organised”.

  2. The plan for closer working arrangements between the fireguards and the N.F.S. is disliked in some places, and there are doubts of its practicability in rural areas.

The Civil Defence debate (June 30): Comment continues to be very slight. Some doubts about “the new warning system” are reported from the Hull area, where “feeling is still strong at the delay in sounding sirens” in recent raids (see Home Intelligence Weekly Report No. 143, July 1). In Wales the reduction in Civil Defence personnel is welcomed, but some people in London fear that “a twelve per cent cut at this stage in the war is not in the public interest”; “the air raid lull may only be temporary”.

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

23. Miscellanea

Plague of moths : A plague of clothes moths is reported both in London (Ealing, Kentish Town, Hampstead, Kensington, Chelsea) and in Bristol. More official guidance is asked for on how to deal with these pests.

(7. 24)

Blood Transfusion : Comfortably off women in Merseyside dormitory areas are reported to be slow to come forward as volunteers for blood transfusion. “Thousands of them, when approached, said they were anaemic and so their blood would be no good.” Some people object to giving blood because “it removes the sugar from the blood and leaves a craving for sweet things”.



“Plan for London” Exhibition at County Hall .

The exhibition was opened on July 14, 1943. By July 22, nearly 11,000 people had visited it. Visitors included the King and Queen; many young men and women in the Services (some were charged with reporting back on the plan to their units, while others made return visits); children with their teachers (many children returned bringing their parents); members of the Allied Forces; groups of transport and clerical workers; housewives, professional people and students. Many visitors asked whether the book describing the plan could be sent to Prisoners of War.

Among the reactions of the public were the following:

1. A number of people took it for granted the plan would come off.

2. Many feared “it will be too difficult”, or “it will cost too much”.

3. Many feared they would not live to see it realised. Thus an A.T.S. girl remarked that she would not see much of it, and “it will be the younger generation that will benefit”.

4. Some feared that “the old and good” will be swept away, while “modern atrocities like Regent Street or Shell-Mex House” will remain.

5. Many had difficulty in understanding the plans. Thus, a map showing the “peppering” distribution of factories in Stepney was assumed to represent bomb damage. The models, pictures, and relief map were better understood.

6. Almost everyone tended to refer the plan to his or her home and work. Members of motor firms were particularly interested in the new roads. Business people studied the location of shopping centres. Mrs Smith of Stepney wondered what would happen to her home; while the King, inspecting proposed alterations in the Constitution Arch area, is said to have exclaimed: “I hope you are not going to take our garden away!”

7. Some people appeared more concerned with the present housing shortage than with the future. There were also some who found difficulty in reconciling the reduction in the population of the County of London with the need for many more homes.

(14. London)



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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