A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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Wt 39944. 10M 11/43. W.R.R. & S. Ltd. GP 38. (14).

No. 178. 2nd March, 1944

(Covering period from 22nd to 29th February, 1944)


1. General

Spirits appear in many cases to have fallen a little lower than last week, and the feeling that the war may not be over this year is growing stronger and more widespread, due chiefly to the Prime Minister's speech. Other sobering factors are the renewal of enemy raids and the slowness of the Italian campaign.

The London raids have been one of the most discussed topics of the week; many people suspect that they are being played down in the news.

Home Front : The coal situation, housing, clothing and postwar topics continue the subject of much discussion. War-weariness, fatigue or strain are still reported (Seven Regions).

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

2. The Prime Minister's review of the war (February 22)

This is said to have had a very favourable, but not enthusiastic, reception. Little criticism is reported, but some considered it less vivid and colourful than usual, and it is suggested that the Prime Minister's speeches were “more inspiring when he was unhampered by consideration for our Allies”. Comment has not been very detailed and has centred round Mr. Churchill's references to:

The end of the war in Europe . All reports refer to the sobering - in some cases depressing - effects of his remarks, as a result of which hopes of an early end to the war have still further receded. It is widely felt, however, that this jolt to complacency was most necessary.

Russo-Polish question (Seven Regions). Considerable interest was taken in his references to this, and most people seem to have accepted his point of view as just and reasonable - his “skilful choice of words being greatly admired”. Some, however, fear Russia will use all her strength to get what she wants and that the U.S.A. and ourselves will be unable to ensure Poland getting her due.

Yugoslavia and Greece (Six Regions). Many people are glad that he “cleared the air” about these. “His generous praise” of Tito caused great pleasure, but it is asked why it “took the Government so long to find out that Mihailovitch was a quisling”, and how this state of affairs arose. His reference to the internal position in Greece has caused some anxiety.

Our air offensive (Five Regions). Mr. Churchill's reference to this being the foundation of our invasion plans has been taken by some to mean that the date originally fixed has been postponed while our bombers reduce the power of the Luftwaffe. Others think his stress of our bombing policy and rather vague references to the second front were “a bluff for German consumption”.

“The British share” (Three Regions). People approved his “stress on our sacrifices here”, and considered it “a necessary correction to opinion abroad as well as at home”. The figure of casualties, especially those of the Merchant Navy, caused “a whistle of astonishment”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 18 passim)

3. Air raids on this country

The raids on London have been a widespread and continuous topic, and are widely believed (Seven Regions) to have been heavier and more serious than reported. Exaggerated rumours of damage and casualties are also reported from Seven Regions. Some Scots are said to have cancelled journeys south because London is again in the front line.

Sympathy for Londoners (Three Regions) is allied to a feeling - current also in London and the Home Counties - that people “are weary, and their nerves are not standing up to the raids as they did”.

Other points mentioned are:

  1. Speculation as to (i) the possibility of raids elsewhere (Six Regions), and (ii) how long the Germans will be able to keep up the present ones “with their depleted air force” (Two Regions).

  2. Disappointment that more raiders are not brought down (Four Regions) - particularly “after the boosting of London's A.A. barrage”.

  3. Comparisons with old times; these have not been well received (Four Regions).

  4. Talk in reception areas in the Eastern, Southern, South Eastern, and South Western Regions of a possible re-evacuation of Londoners. Some apprehension is reported in certain villages in the Southern Region “because many former hostesses are now on war work”.

In London - in addition to the more general reactions above - considerable depression is reported in some areas which have suffered severely.... “There seems to be no end to it.”

On Merseyside there is said to be widespread dissatisfaction with the February 20 “Transatlantic Call” broadcast, which is regarded as “an open invitation to the Germans to bomb the port of Liverpool”. People are amazed that references were allowed to be made to Liverpool as the “Gateway of Battle”, and to “ships containing munitions of war from America having to queue in the river”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 18)

4. Allied air offensive

Wholehearted approval is reported for the stepping up of the air offensive, and admiration for both the R.A.F. and U.S.A.A.F. Many think this bombing a sure way of shortening the war.

While concern over our losses continues - particularly 79 aircraft in one night - many people accept them as proportionately small on an average and when set against the results of the raids.

Criticism continues of the Bishop of Chichester's speech (Seven Regions as against twelve last week).

(2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 18 passim)

5. Italy

Widespread disappointment is again reported (Twelve Regions), particularly with the situation at the bridgehead, but also with the whole campaign and with the “deadlock” at Cassino ... “The obliteration of the monastery does not seem to have benefited our men there”. The Prime Minister's words only partially allayed anxiety; some console themselves with the view that “at least we are keeping ten German divisions occupied”; others are depressed by the recently strengthened enemy resistance.

Comment is chiefly on the following lines:

  1. The bombing of the Abbey of Monte Cassino (Nine Regions): Almost unanimous approval is reported, many people are said to feel disgust that any lives should be sacrificed for buildings “ancient or otherwise”, and there is again criticism of our slowness in bombing the monastery.

  2. Our strategy (Nine Regions): Many people criticise the “mishandling” of the campaign, particularly on the ground that our generals failed to exploit the situation on the bridgehead in the first place.

  3. The Second Front (Eight Regions): Apprehension is again reported - “if Italy is the best we can do”.

  4. Russia (Five Regions): Comparisons are again made on familiar lines.

  5. General Montgomery (Three Regions): Some think it was a mistake to bring him back.... “He could have handled the situation.”

News presentation (Nine Regions): There is a widespread feeling of “being kept in the dark”.

The recent hold-up of press dispatches continues to cause indignation. On the other hand, some blame press correspondents for having given “a false picture” of the position on the beachhead, first over-optimistic then over-pessimistic.

Statements by public men (Three Regions): Annoyance is again reported at inconsistencies. The pessimism of Mr. Mackenzie King's and President Roosevelt's statements is contrasted with General Alexander's “all is well”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 18 passim)

6. Second front

Comment - on a reduced scale - continues on familiar lines: (a) Fear of slow progress, “as in Italy”, when the second front is launched (Eight Regions). (b) Speculation as to date (Six Regions); also some impatience at delay and the hope “it will open soon”. (c) Minority view that “the talk may all be bluff”. (Six Regions); or alternatively that a second front may be unnecessary. (d) Apprehension about casualties (Six Regions). (e) Rumours of preparations, particularly in coastal areas (Five Regions). (f) Expectation of some dislocation of civilian life (Three Regions) - particularly transport.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 18)

7. Russia

Military : Admiration for Russia's “non-stop” successes continues general.

Some think more publicity should be given to the part our supplies have played in these successes (Three Regions).

Political : There is less comment this week. Fears of Russia's position in the postwar world and at the peace conference continue (Six Regions).

Russo-Polish dispute : Comment is again less, though concern continues.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 18 passim)

8. Finland

It continues to be hoped that Finland will make peace (Six Regions). Some think she should accept whatever terms Russia offers (Two Regions). Others have some sympathy for her, “caught between the devil and the deep sea”.

(2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 7. 8. 10. 13. 18)

9. Far East

Increased interest is again reported, and praise for the American offensive in the Pacific continues. It is thought that “distances involved are beyond grasp” and there is some demand for better maps.

Burma : The news of the Japanese defeat on the Arakan front brought relief and pleasure. People are anxious for more news.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 10. 11. 13. 18)

10. Japanese atrocities

Distress and concern are again reported. Comment is on familiar lines.

(1. 4. 5. 5SE. 7. 9. 18)

11. President Roosevelt and the Tax Bill

This has aroused only slight interest. People simply do not understand what it is about nor what are the issues at stake - U.S. politics are “beyond most people”.

(3. 4. 5. 6. 8. 13)

12. White Paper on National Health Service

General approval for the proposals continues, though public interest is still slight and there is little detailed comment. It is thought the proposals need more publicity.

The free choice of doctor continues to be approved (Five Regions); but the fact that doctors can be paid privately will mean, it is thought, a differentiation in service and treatment (Five Regions) ... “After all, doctors are human.”

There is some concern about the future of voluntary hospitals (Four Regions). Boards and managers are worried about their financial position when “people are faced by a great increase in rates and taxes consequent on a national scheme”. Members of the Hospital Saving Association are said to be confused as to what their position will be under the scheme (Two Regions). Some feel that the nationalisation of hospitals is long overdue.

There is some speculation as to how the scheme will be paid for (Three Regions).

Doctors are said to have generally welcomed the scheme (Three Regions), though they are waiting for more details. However, some fear an increase in bureaucratic control.

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

13. By-elections

Comment continues on lines reported last week.

In the Eastern Region there has been a good deal of local interest and excitement over the Bury St. Edmunds by-election, but many discussed it for its “news value” only.

(1. 2. 4. 5. 5SE. 9. 10. 11. 18)

14. Electoral reform

This appears to arouse little interest.

(3. 5. 9. 10)

15. Broadcasting and presentation of news

There is very little comment on news presentation this week, apart from the news from Italy (See Section 5).

General Forces Programme (Six Regions). Little comment on the changeover has so far been received. There is approval for the increased news bulletins (Three Regions) and for the link between overseas Forces listeners and their relatives at home. The programme is however criticised as being “too scrappy and moving too rapidly from one thing to another”, and for too much jazz (Two Regions each) ... “Still, if it's what the Forces want, that's that.”

Praise for : J.K. Lawson, M.P., Postscript, February 20 (Seven Regions); Squadron Leader John Strachey's War Commentary, February 24 (Four Region); Broadcast plays (Three Regions); Commander Anthony Kimmins' talk, February 18 (Two Regions).

(1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 18)



16. Miners and mining

Reactions differ little from those dealt with fully last week.

The miners are widely blamed for taking advantage of the present situation to strike or threaten strikes, and relatives of serving men are very bitter. Some people, in industrial rather than rural areas, sympathise, however; and miners who report for work, and are sent home because no wagons are available, are becoming bitter at being blamed for the coal shortage.

The Government and the Ministry of Fuel and Power are widely blamed for “failure to clear up the position”, “muddled policy”, “long neglect of the industry”, and for “placating the cupidity of both owners and men”. People continue to advocate the return of miners from the Forces, or nationalisation.

Some, “heartily sick of the miners, the owners and the Ministry”, say: “Conscript the miners, dispossess the owners and send the trainees home.”

The Porter Award : Familiar comment, with the public still contrasting higher wages with lower output. In areas where the wages were already above the minimum, people ask why the price of coal has been raised by 3/- when the miners will not benefit from it.

The ballot for the mines : Critical comment on familiar lines. People think it would be better to send conscientious objectors down the mines than “brilliant boys with scientific minds” and specialised training.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 18)

16a. Fuel

During the past four weeks there has been increased comment on the fuel situation, chiefly about the following topics:

Domestic supplies (Twelve Regions), especially:

  1. Bad distribution and slow deliveries (Ten Regions). Complaints have increased since last month and now exceed those on other aspects of domestic supply; they come particularly from people living in the country, in flats with no storage space, or in poorer districts. The inability to carry over an order from one month to the next, if the retailer cannot deliver supplies during that time, is considered “a harsh ruling”. It appears not to be realised that the allowance is a maximum, not a ration.

  2. Poor quality (Eight Regions). People particularly dislike paying “top prices for this rubbish”.

  3. High price (Eight Regions). This is thought to be very hard on poorer people, though Major Lloyd George's statement that the Government felt it could not ask the consumer to shoulder a further heavy burden has reassured some people.

  4. The “inadequate” allowance (Six Regions). Allegations of particular hardship for: (i) those with no alternative form of heating; (ii) households with billetees needing meals cooked at odd hours; (iii) workers whose working clothes have to be dried daily in the winter; (iv) households where the washing has now to be done at home owing to laundry difficulties; (v) people who rent a furnished room and who may be without a fire altogether, if the householder cannot spare them any coal. It is asked why houses with gas and electricity should receive the same quantity of coal as rural houses with neither.

  5. Coke (Six Regions) and anthracite (Two Regions). There are complaints of the shortage and high price of coke - higher than that of coal in some districts - and the shortage of anthracite. These scarcities are not understood after coke and anthracite have been “so widely advertised”.

Fuel saving (Eight Regions): The efforts of consumers, the price of coal, the smallness of the allowance, the mildness of the weather, and the availability of wood, have all been mentioned as aiding economy. Lack of coal does not always lead to saving, however, since “it often means the gas ring is kept going for warmth” if there is no coal for the kitchen range. Where no shortage is felt, people are said not to appreciate the seriousness of the position. Some people, too, still fail to realise waste of water is waste of fuel.

Fuel-saving propaganda is described as “a lost cause, with so many strikes”. Appeals to save are criticised as bad psychology when they are combined with “veiled threats” ... “Why threaten the public over increased consumption, and not the miners?” Appeals also annoy housewives, obliged to economise by the smallness of the allocation.

Coal for neutrals (Five Regions): There is criticism of coal being sent to Spain - especially in view of her “pro-Axis sympathies” - and to Portugal. People ask the reason, “when we are so short”.

Miners' allowances of coal (Three Regions): “Non-mining families in mining areas complain of the coal allowance of a load each month, allowed to miners and employees of colliery companies, even those who do not work underground”, while “other war workers with similar needs receive only a quarter of this amount”. There is also criticism of “the surreptitious selling of some of their coal allowance by pitmen”.

See also Constant Topics, No. 5.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 18)

17. Postwar

During the past four weeks discussion has continued widespread. Anxiety and scepticism still predominate, but there is evidence of some increase in optimism. Furthermore, from three Regions there are reports of a recurrence of a “let's win the war first” attitude among a minority.

People again ask for less “woolliness” and more precision in Government plans; the delay in implementing the various Committee Reports is not understood.

Interest centres chiefly round:

(a) Housing (Eleven Regions). Many consider this the most urgent problem, and there is satisfaction that Lord Woolton is giving it priority. Particular anxiety is felt for returning Service people (Five Regions), young couples, and bombed-out people (Two Regions each).

Pre-fabrication has aroused considerable interest and some difference of opinion. A number say “anything will do so long as we get a place of our own”; others dislike the idea because they think pre-fabricated houses will necessarily be temporary. Workers on Teesside want “just plain houses” suited to the North, rather than “hare-brained ideas” emanating from London.

(b) Employment (Nine Regions): Widespread anxiety continues, particularly concerning the prospects for war workers, and for Servicemen generally, especially untrained youths and (One Region) former indentured apprentices; it is felt the latter may need financial help to complete their apprenticeship when they are demobilised.

In the Northern Region , “What's going to happen to us after the war?” is the question said to be asked everywhere, particularly among workers in the iron, steel, and shipbuilding industries. The conviction that there will be a slump and mass unemployment in the Region continues. It is thought that “no steps must be left untaken” to prevent this. Suggestions are that there should be legislation to prevent more factories being built in the London area until the North and other special areas have what they need; and that the Government should give them priority for building new factories to compensate for the lack of up-to-date wartime ones. Workers in shipbuilding want a Government statement on postwar allocation of shipbuilding as between different yards.

The building trades are said to be “the only bright light on the horizon”.

(c) The Beveridge plan (Nine Regions): Considerable discussion is reported, and also speculation as to chances of its being implemented.

(d) Lord Woolton (Eight Regions): People are said to “pin their faith” to him, but there is some feeling that he is being “crippled”. It is hoped he will have “real scope and power”.

(e) State controls in industry (Seven Regions): Businessmen remain anxious to get rid of controls as soon as possible. The general public and workers are more divided, some wanting them to continue, particularly control of the location of industry and of working conditions; others saying “there will be serious trouble” if people are not allowed to choose their own jobs again.

(f) Production and export trade (Three Regions): Difficulties in the changeover period are foreseen. Particular concern is felt about the prospects of overseas markets, some fearing American competition. Some businessmen ask for Government guidance both over reconversion of factories to peace-time production and over the type of goods they should plan to produce.

(g) Emigration (Three Regions) is said to be contemplated by a few, chiefly through fear of unemployment.

(h) Small traders (Three Regions) are worried about dominance by Co-operative Societies, multiple stores, etc.

(i) People in East Coast seaside resorts (Eastern and North Midland Regions) are anxious about the future. Swift help, particularly for bombed areas, is thought necessary, especially in view of the anticipated demand for holidays after the war.

(j) Local Government (Two Regions): There is some discussion as to how it will be organised.

Postwar agriculture (Seven Regions): Comment has decreased, but has been on much the same lines as before. Both farmers and laymen are said to be sceptical and apprehensive about the future of the industry; they want the Government to announce a long-term policy now which will ensure a prosperous agricultural industry after the war.

Rehabilitation of Europe (Three Regions): Little interest. Some people expect restrictions to go on for a while; they are ready to accept these in so far as they are needed to help occupied countries, but there is no desire for sacrifices on Germany's behalf.

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

17a. The Education Bill

During the past four weeks interest and approval have again been reported - once more chiefly among a limited section, particularly educationalists. There is some concern as to whether it will be possible to put the Bill into practice.

Comment is largely centred on:

(a) The Roman Catholics (Eight Regions): Their resistance is condemned and people hope it will not prevent the Bill becoming law. They are thought to have been well treated - even favoured.

The Roman Catholics feel their case is being ignored and that the Bill will deny them liberty of conscience (Three Regions).

(b) Raising the school-leaving age (Five Regions): The majority approve, though many feel the proposed arrangement is too vague. Some want definite, unalterable dates included in the Bill; a few want the age raised at once.

People in rural areas are again said to object, also some working-class people - some of the latter on the grounds of the additional financial burden to parents. Others think smaller classes, more teachers and adequate accommodation are more urgent matters.

(c) Teachers (Five Regions): A number feel that a sufficient supply of adequately trained teachers is an urgent problem and that planning to this end should start now if the Bill is to be practical; others want “real professional salaries” for teachers. They contrast their earnings with those of doctors.

(d) School buildings and equipment (Three Regions): The shortage is thought to be a serious problem and people want plans drawn up at once. However, financial difficulties are anticipated, particularly in poorer districts.

(e) Denominational schools generally (Three Regions): Reports indicate that there is little sympathy with those who want these continued.

The Anglican and Free Churches are praised for their willingness to “give and take in the Government's scheme” (Two Regions).

(f) Problems of rural areas (Three Regions): It is hoped a higher standard of teaching and better facilities will be introduced, and that both teachers and curriculum will be suited to rural life

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

18. Housing and accommodation

During the past four weeks great concern over this “desperate problem” has continued. People with children (Four Regions), newly-weds, and transferred and night workers (One Region each) are said to be in particular straits.

Chief complaints are of:

  1. Shortage of all types of accommodation in both town and country (Eleven Regions). There are some complaints of unhealthy conditions through overcrowding.

  2. High prices and rents (Nine Regions).

  3. Repair difficulties (Four Regions).

Suggestions are that:

(a) There should be an immediate rebuilding programme (Seven Regions), both to alleviate the present position and to make sure “homes are ready when the men and women return”. It is thought “both materials and labour could be found if the will were there”.

(b) Requisitioning and repairing of property should be more energetically carried out (Five Regions); the authorities should do more to cope with the situation.

They are, however, criticised for requisitioning country houses and cottages for evacuees when they are needed for local people (Southern Region).

(c) Prices should be controlled - “if rents, why not prices?” (Three Regions).

Agricultural cottages (Two Regions): Delays in construction and “difficulty in finding tenants” are said to have caused caustic comment. However, some approval of the design is reported, though the gardens are thought to be too small, and rents too high unless wages are maintained at the present level.

See also Constant Topics, No. 2.

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

19. Clothing

Men's suits (Five Regions): This week the lifting of the austerity regulations is again mentioned with pleasure, but some women continue indignant because no concessions have been granted to them (Five Regions).

During the past four weeks familiar complaints have been reported of:

Insufficient coupons (Twelve Regions), particularly for:

  1. Household replacements (Twelve Regions). In the fifth year of war many people find their household linen and towels beyond repair and the demand for some coupon concession is widespread, particularly in view of the present laundry difficulties. The surrender of coupons for all but the most expensive curtain material is felt to be a hardship and housewives complain of the “tragedy of seeing their homes fall to pieces”. One report refers to a complaint that “sheeting, usually bought by the thirfty, is on coupons”.

  2. Clothing generally (Eleven Regions): Complaints are widespread. Stocks are depleted and the need for “even a small additional allowance” is stressed. The position is said to be particularly hard for industrial workers and poorer people “who started from scratch when rationing began”.

  3. Clothing for growing children (Ten Regions): Parents complain of insufficient coupons for growing children particularly in view of the poor lasting quality of much of the footwear available. To prevent misuse of children's coupons it is again suggested they should bear some distinctive marking (Two Regions).

  4. Industrial workers (Six Regions): Although the extra ten coupons are welcomed, many workers in heavy industry and chemicals complain that the supplementary allowance is not enough, and ask that consideration should be given to individual needs according to jobs done. Some agricultural workers also feel the need for more coupons.

  5. Newly-married people (Two Regions): It is thought that some coupons should be allowed for household linen.

Footwear (Ten Regions):

  1. Repair difficulties (Nine Regions): Complaints of time taken for repairs and poor quality leather used are widespread. There is also the difficulty of getting repairs accepted at all, - in one case two months' notice is said to be needed.

  2. Poor quality footwear on sale (Eight Regions), particularly children's, which are said to be of “such poor quality that they cannot be passed on to younger children” and in some cases “do not last a fortnight”. On the other hand, there is one reference to children's shoes “appearing to have improved lately”.

  3. Shortage of footwear (Seven Regions), especially for children. It is suggested that the shortage of their larger sizes may be aggravated by adults buying them for heavy war work and to save coupons (Two Regions).

  4. Difficulty of obtaining Wellingtons (Two Regions), for both adults and children.

Shortage and high price of household linen (Nine Regions): particularly sheets. This is said to cause serious discomfort to poorer people who had only the minimum amount to begin with.

Quality of clothing (Nine Regions):

  1. Clothing generally (Four Regions) ... “It is a waste of coupons to buy some of the clothing at present on the market” - on the other hand “a few praise some Utility clothes for durability and value”.

  2. Socks and stockings (Seven Regions): The shortness and poor quality of men's utility socks produce comments “that won't bear repeating”. The quality of stockings is criticised, but “a few praise Utility No. 732”.

  3. Underwear , including Utility (Four Regions).

Corsets (Six Regions): Poor quality and shortage of corsets for middle-aged and outsize women. The need of corsets for women who are standing all day is stressed. Those specially ordered by doctors' certificate often take months to obtain (Two Regions).

Outsizes (Five Regions): Women have difficulty because of the shortage of outsizes in shops and dressmakers keeping materials so long. There are complaints also of shortage of outsize underwear for both men and women.

Coupon values (Five Regions): High coupon value of men's suits (Two Regions), working boots and footwear generally, and fully-fashioned stockings (One Region each). The general flat rate of coupon value irrespective of price is thought “unfair to poorer families, as cheap clothes don't wear so well”.

Laundry difficulties (Five Regions).

High price of hats (Three Regions).

See also Constant Topics, Nos. 1, 7, 19.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 18)

19a. Furniture

During the past four weeks complaints of the high price of furniture have continued (Four Regions), also of the shortage and “exorbitant charges for new and secondhand floor coverings”. Excessive prices at auction sales (Two Regions) and the outbidding of private buyers by dealers are alleged, and it is asked why the Government cannot take steps to stop this racket.

Utility furniture : Some people complain that the number of units allowed is not enough, and that newly-married people cannot get permits until they have secured the necessary accommodation, after which “there is a wait of at least six months before they can get their Utility furniture” (One Region each).

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

19b. Batteries

During the past four weeks complaints of the shortage of torch and cycle batteries have continued (Nine and Seven Regions respectively). The shortage of cycle batteries is said to cause overcrowding of public transport services and late arrival at work; there is “considerable resentment among workers, particularly those fined for riding without lights”.

See also Constant Topics, No. 16.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5SE. 6. 7. 10. 11. 18)

19c. Alarm clocks

During the past four weeks very little complaint of shortage has been reported, but there is some feeling that the 5 a.m. time limit covering the issue of permits is too arbitrary, and some resentment that permits are only obtainable through a Trade Union.

(2. 5. 6. 10)

20. Industry and man-power

During the past four weeks there has not been much comment on industry, apart from mining. There has, however, been some discussion of:

Strikes (Ten Regions): Little sympathy for strikers is reported, and many people feel that much stronger action should be taken, whether by the Government, the Unions concerned, or “the Authorities”. Strikers are once more contrasted with the fighting Forces and with the Russians. One suggestion is that “the names and photos of strike leaders should be published in the press to let public opinion deal with them as saboteurs of the war effort”. Relatives of servicemen suggest drafting strikers into the Forces.

Idle time (Eight Regions): Since last month there has been an increase in reported comment about idle time in factories. Allegations follow familiar lines - men making lighters; women knitting jumpers; workers being compelled to put in a 12 hour shift, when there is not work for 8; people still being directed into factories when there is nothing for them to do.

Reduction of staff, over-time and production (Six Regions): Talk about reductions in staff - both actual and impending - come both from the public and the workers themselves. There is also comment on reduction of work and over-time, and rumours of cancelled contracts. (Some of the comment is specific, much of it vague.) These phenomena are variously felt to indicate that (a) There is over-production; (b) Government contracts are now being given only to larger firms; (c) Engineering can be done quicker and better in the U.S.A.; (d) Younger men are needed for the Forces or the mines, older men for transfer; (e) The war will be over in 2-3 months.

Some workers are perplexed at this lack of work and would like “a definite statement on the position of the munitions industry”, and in Jarrow increased local unemployment is causing concern.

The “call-up of elderly women” (Four Regions) causes familiar comment from those who claim to know of younger women still evading the call-up.

Evasion of call-up (Four Regions): There has been a little desultory comment on the number of young able-bodied men thought to be in civilian jobs. Specific mention is made of “fit young Jews in Brighton evading service” and “farmers' sons buying farms of their own as a precaution against being called up”.

Long hours (Four Regions): Their tiring effect is complained particularly by workers who live far from home. Twelve hour shifts are thought to be too much for girls; some women are said to be out of the house for 14 hours on end. Some workers consider shorter hours would give better results.

Reinstatement in Civil Employment Bill (Four Regions): Approving comment has continued, though some fear there are loopholes and think it needs strengthening. It is asked, too, what is the position of a man who was in a firm which has closed since the war.

See also Constant Topics, No. 9.

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

20a. Wages

During the past four weeks there have been complaints of:

  1. Disparity , between:

    1. Skilled and unskilled workers (Seven Regions), particularly between skilled men and their unskilled wives and daughters.

    2. Miners and industrial workers.

    3. Agricultural workers and youths on war work, labourers working for government contractors, surface miners.

    4. The “lower grades of professional people, unable to meet the rising cost of living”, and young workers generally.

  2. High wages of young people (Six Regions), of industrial and of unskilled workers. It is not understood why firmer action has not been taken in controlling maximum wages.

See also Constant Topics, No. 10, 13.

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

21. Domestic help

During the past four weeks complaints of the shortage of domestic help have continued widespread (Eleven Regions). There are again complaints that the wealthy or “influential” can get servants; “rationing” is suggested.

Those particularly affected are:

  1. Old people (Eight Regions).

  2. The sick (Six Regions). In some cases soldiers are said to have had compassionate leave to look after the children during their wives' illnesses; workmen also have had to stay at home.

  3. Mothers with small children (Five Regions).

  4. Institutions (Two Regions).

  5. Landladies (Two Regions).

  6. Doctors' and farmers' households, and those with large houses (One Region each)

See also Constant Topics, No. 18.

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

22. Health

During the past four weeks there have been frequent complaints of:

  1. War weariness, fatigue and strain (Eleven Regions).

  2. Minor illnesses thought to be caused by:

    1. diet deficiencies (Six Regions),

    2. long hours of work (Three Regions),

    3. bad ventilation (Three Regions).

Shortage of doctors (Five Regions): This is causing uneasiness; cases are quoted of 40,000 people with only 9 doctors and of 10,000 people with only 2 doctors. It is asked if doctors in the Services could not be made available to relieve civilian doctors, and it is pointed out that no substitute is apparently available if the G.P. is taken ill.

V.D. campaign (Five Regions): The posters and advertisements are praised, especially poster No. 7 on clean living, which it is thought should be placed first to give it greater weight. The film “Road to Health” is criticised.

Tuberculosis (Four Regions): There is fear that tuberculosis is on the increase. The lack of sanatoria and of beds and bedding in homes, thus preventing the necessary segregation, are thought to be spreading the disease.

See also Constant Topics, No. 3.

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

23. Food

Oranges : Complaints of unfair distribution continue widespread (Nine Regions), though satisfaction is again expressed by those who have received oranges (Eight Regions). There are also a few complaints of the oranges being in bad condition (Three Regions).

Marmalade oranges : In the Northern Region and Scotland lack of sugar is thought to be affecting the demand for these.

Lemons : Some fear about their distribution being unfair, if the ration books are not marked is reported from the North Western Region.

Tinned marmalade : Both pleasure and grumbles that this is to be placed on points are reported (One Region each).

During the past four weeks satisfaction with the general food situation has continued (Eleven Regions several more than once). At the same time there have been some complaints of the monotony of wartime food (Six Regions), and of diet deficiencies affecting health (Six Regions). “All this clap-trap about Britain being better fed than before the war has been overdone.”

There are some fears, too, that the food situation may become worse when invasion starts.

In addition, the following “grumbles” have also continued:

  1. The shortage, bad distribution and poor quality of fish (Twelve Regions, the majority more than once).

  2. The small milk allowance (Eight Regions) - particularly for old people - and the uneven distribution of milk (Five Regions).

  3. The inadequacy of the following rations :

    1. Meat (Six Regions). The suggestion of[Text Missing]n cut caused some concern (Three Regions). The “eternal mutton” is also criticised (Four Regions).

    2. Fat (Five Regions) - aggravated by the difficulty in obtaining suet (Two Regions). The statement that consumption of fats is only 15% less than pre-war is ridiculed (Two Regions). The suggestion of a cut in the butter ration also caused concern (Two Regions).

    3. Sugar (Four Regions).

  4. Rationing difficulties of olderly people (Six Regions), people living alone , and small families (Three Regions) each, heavy workers (Two Regions), and children (One Region). Rural and other areas without British Restaurants or canteens suffer particularly (Four Regions).

  5. The poor quality of bread (Five Regions).

There has been praise for:

  1. Ministry of Food advertisements (Four Regions) though some complain that the recipes are “over-elaborate”, “uneconomical” and “dull”.

  2. National Milk Cocoa (Three Regions).

  3. School Meals (Three Regions).

  4. The extra points allowance and food concessions for agricultural workers (Three Regions).

See also Constant Topics, Nos. 8, 11, 15.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 18. 24)

23a. Shopping difficulties and food queues

During the past four weeks widespread complaints have continued of:

  1. Queues (Ten Regions) - particularly for foods. Housewives who go out to work, or who have small children to look after, complain that they cannot wait in queues and consequently suffer when unrationed foods are on sale.

  2. Preferential treatment by shopkeepers and under-the-counter sales (Eight Regions) - particularly as regards fish (Four Regions). Favouritism in respect of telephone orders is particularly resented (Two Regions).

  3. Early and lunch-time closing of shops (Five Regions).

See also Constant Topics, No. 6, 14.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 18 nine P.D.Rs.)

24. Agriculture

During the past four weeks comment on the revised prices , and feeling about them, have considerably declined. Farmers are less dissatisfied, and people generally believe “they are doing very well at present”.

Farmers' main anxiety now - apart from postwar - is said to be the shortage of labour (Four Regions, Southern more than once); Land Girls, milkers, and thatchers for ricks are wanted at present; harvest helpers, in the future.

Complaints continue of the number of forms farmers have to complete (Two Regions).

Other troubles are (One Region each):

  1. The way contractors have left land in the Burnsley (Notts) area, on which open-cast mining has been in operation - fences uprooted, ground not levelled, dumps on grassland.

  2. The depredations of foxes in W. Berkshire. “They ought to be exterminated.”

  3. Much produce, particularly potatoes, being wasted - it is rumoured in Lincolnshire - through lack of transport.

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

25. Transport

During the past four weeks transport difficulties have been reported from eleven Regions.

The chief difficulties continue to be:

  1. Inadequate rural bus services (Five Regions). Infrequent buses, overcrowding, and the difficulty of boarding buses between termini are mentioned. Grumbles are reported from areas which have to share their infrequent buses with Forces personnel.

  2. Overcrowding (Four Regions). School children and women shoppers who travel on the buses at peak hours for short distances are criticised.

  3. Lack of late evening transport (Four Regions). This is particularly hard on people arriving late by train.

  4. Lack of Sunday morning transport (Three Regions).

  5. Buses passing stops, although not full (Three Regions).

  6. Breakdowns of producer-gas buses (Two Regions).

  7. Incivility of conductresses and conductors (Two Regions).

The more satisfactory transport arrangements in Hull and in the Oxford-Banbury area are appreciated.

See also Constant Topics, No. 4.

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

25a. Petrol

During the past four weeks there have been increased references to the waste and misuse of petrol (Eight Regions). Complaints continue on familiar lines:

  1. Too many taxis available for non-essential journeys (Four Regions), in particular for joy riding and drinking parties. It is suggested that priorities should be established to exclude non-essential users.

  2. Petrol being obtained for non-essential purposes (Three Regions). It is still thought that there are too many private cars about.

  3. Waste by American troops (Two Regions). Thus, the great number of empty vehicles seen “running around” is commented on by Cornish people.

  4. Waste by Government officials (Two Regions). In Wales, for example, it is said that certain officials can come and go as they please.

See also Constant Topics, No. 12.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8)

26. Home Guard, Fire Guard and Civil Defence

During the past four weeks there has been less comment, but still some feeling that:

  1. These duties are too much for workers (Home Guard and Fire Guard, two Regions each; Civil Defence, one Region). Married women doing a full-time job particularly complain of Fire Guard duties, and Home Guards of unnecessary parades.

  2. The duties are a waste of time and money in inland and less vulnerable areas (Fire Guard, two Regions - the North Midland every week; Civil Defence, one Region).

Gas mask inspection : Wardens continue to complain of little interest among the public.

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

27. Servicemen's pensions and allowances

During the past four weeks comment has slightly increased, and has been on the following lines:

  1. Complaints of delays in granting pensions and allowances to both servicemen and their dependants (Three Regions).

  2. A belief that pensions and allowances are inadequate , and hopes that cases will be dealt with generously rather than grudgingly (Three Regions).

  3. Some feeling that the Government should do something for Great War pensioners , both ex-servicemen and widows, in view of the increased cost of living (Two Regions).

  4. Deprecation of the ease with which, it is said, servicemen's wives' allowances can be stopped . It is thought that servicemen “should not be able to shelve their responsibilities more easily than civilians”. Unmarried wives are said to have “a much easier time” (One Region).

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

28. Old age pensions

During the past four weeks there has been little comment. Dissatisfaction with the basic rate is again reported, particularly in view of the higher cost of living (Two Regions). Delays in the receipt of pensions are also alleged, and those with a small income of their own are said to think a means test unfair (One Region each).

(2. 3. 6. 8. 10)


(Covering period from 8th February to 29th February, 1944)

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

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

1. Inadequacy of clothing coupons for :

(a) General

10 February Regions 1. 2. 5. 6. 8. 9. 11.
17 February Regions 1. 3. 5. 5SE. 6. 9. 11.
24 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 9. 10.
2 March Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 7. 8. 10.

(b) Renewing household goods

10 February Regions 1. 2. 5. 5SE. 6. 10. 11.
17 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 8. 10. 11.
24 February Regions 1. 2. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
2 March Regions 1. 2. 5. 5SE. 6.

(c) Children

10 February Regions 3. 9. 10.
17 February Regions 1. 5. 5SE. 6. 8.
24 February Regions 1. 3. 5. 5SE. 6. 7.
2 March Regions 2. 5SE. 6.

2. Housing difficulties

(a) Shortage of accommodation

10 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 9. 11.
17 February Regions 2. 3. 5. 5SE. 9. 10. 11.
24 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11.
2 March Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 10. 11.

(b) High price of accommodation

10 February Regions 1. 4. 5. 9. 10.
17 February Regions 2. 3. 7. 9. 10.
24 February Regions 2. 4. 5SE. 9.
2 March Regions 4. 11.

3. Tiredness and ill-health

10 February Regions 3. 5. 5SE. 6. 8. 10.
17 February Regions 1. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
24 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 7. 9. 10.
2 March Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 9. 10.

4. Transport difficulties

(a) General

10 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 8. 10.
17 February Regions 1. 3. 5. 6. 8. 9. 10. 11.
24 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 7. 10.
2 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 7. 10.

(b) Rural

10 February Regions 2. 5SE. 6.
17 February Regions 2. 3. 6.
24 February Regions 3. 4.
2 March Regions 2. 4. 6.

5. Coal supplies

(a) Bad distribution

10 February Regions 1. 2. 4. 6. 11.
17 February Regions 1. 2. 5. 6. 10. 11.
24 February Regions 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9. 10.
2 March Regions 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9.

(b) Inadequate allowance

10 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 9.
17 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 9.
24 February Regions 1. 3. 5.
2 March Regions 1. 3. 5. 9.

(c) Poor quality

10 February Regions 1. 5. 6. 8. 9. 11.
17 February Regions 3. 5. 6.
24 February Regions 5. 5SE. 6. 9.
2 March Regions 1.

(d) High price

10 February Regions 1. 2. 5. 8.
17 February Regions 2. 3. 5. 5SE. 6.
24 February Regions 5. 5SE.
2 March Regions 4. 5.

6. Shopping difficulties and food queues

10 February Regions 1. 5. 8. 10. 11.
17 February Regions 1. 5. 8. 9. 10. 11.
24 February Regions 2. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 7. 8. 9. 10.
2 March Regions 4. 5. 5SE. 8. 9. 10.

7. Footwear difficulties

(a) Poor quality

(i) Children's

10 February Regions 2. 3. 6. 9. 11.
17 February Regions 1. 3. 5. 6. 11.
24 February Regions 1. 3. 5. 6. 7. 9.
2 March Regions 5. 10.

(ii) General

10 February Regions 2. 5.
17 February Regions 2. 3. 5. 6.
24 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 9.
2 March Regions 1. 2. 5. 10.

(b) Shortage

(i) Children's

10 February Regions 1. 3. 7. 8.
17 February Regions 2. 6. 7.
24 February Regions 1. 2. 5. 6. 8.
2 March Regions 1.

(ii) General

10 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 7. 8.
17 February Regions 2. 3. 6.
24 February Regions 2. 5.
2 March Regions 2. 3.

(c) Repairs

(i) Difficulty and poor quality

10 February Regions 2. 5. 7. 8.
17 February Regions 2. 3. 6. 7.
24 February Regions 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9.
2 March Regions 2. 3. 5. 6. 10.

(ii) Long delay

10 February Regions 1.
17 February Regions 1. 3.
24 February Regions 1. 4. 5.
2 March Regions 2. 6. 10.

8. Smallness of present milk ration

10 February Regions 3. 4. 5. 6. 11.
17 February Regions 6.
24 February Regions 2. 4. 5. 6. 11.
2 March Regions 4. 5SE. 7.

9. Enforced idleness in industry, wasted time, or complaints of bad organisation

10 February Regions 1. 5. 5SE. 6. 8.
17 February Regions 1. 2. 3.
24 February Regions 3. 4. 5. 9.
2 March Regions 4. 9.

10. High wages

10 February Regions 3. 5.
17 February Regions 3. 5. 6.
24 February Regions 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 8.
2 March Regions 1. 3. 5SE.

11. Inadequacy of fat ration

10 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 5SE.
17 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 5SE
24 February Regions 1. 5SE.
2 March Regions 3.

12. Waste or misuse of petrol

10 February Regions 2. 3. 5.
17 February Regions 1. 6. 8.
24 February Regions 3. 4. 8.
2 March Regions 7.

13. Disparities in pay

10 February Regions 3. 5. 6. 9.
17 February Regions 3. 6.
24 February Regions 2. 3. 5SE. 8.
2 March Regions Nil.

14. Preferential treatment by shopkeepers and conditional sales to the public

10 February Regions 5. 6. 10.
17 February Regions Nil.
24 February Regions 1. 4. 5SE. 9.
2 March Regions 8. 11.


15. Shortage of fish

10 February Regions 2. 3. 4. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 10. 11.
17 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 5SE. 6. 8. 10. 11.
24 February Regions 1. 2. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.
2 March Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 10.

16. Shortage of batteries

(a) Torch

10 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5SE. 6. 7. 10. 11.
17 February Regions 2. 3. 6. 7. 10. 11.
24 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 6. 7. 10.
2 March Regions 1. 2. 3. 5SE. 6. 10.

(b) Cycle

10 February Regions 1. 4. 6. 10.
17 February Regions 2. 3. 6. 7. 10.
24 February Regions 2. 3. 4. 6. 7.
2 March Regions 2. 6. 10.

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

10 February Regions 1. 2. 4. 5SE. 6. 10.
17 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 6. 8. 10.
24 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 6. 10.
2 March Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5SE. 6. 8. 10.

18. Shortage of domestic help

10 February Regions 1. 3. 4. 5. 5SE. 6. 8. 9.
17 February Regions 1. 2. 6. 8. 9.
24 February Regions 1. 5. 6. 9.
2 March Regions 1. 4. 6. 7. 8. 10.

19. Shortage of bedding, including sheets

10 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 5SE. 6. 7.
17 February Regions 3. 5SE. 8.
24 February Regions 1. 3. 4. 5SE. 7. 9.
2 March Regions 3. 4.

20. Shortage of razor blades

10 February Regions 1. 2. 6. 10.
17 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 8. 10.
24 February Regions 1.
2 March Regions 2.

21. Shortage of matches

10 February Regions 2. 3. 7. 10.
17 February Regions 3. 10.
24 February Regions 2. 11.
2 March Regions 2. 6.

22. Shortage of shoe polish

10 February Regions 1. 2.
17 February Regions 1. 2. 3. 6.
24 February Regions 2. 10.
2 March Regions 3. 10.

The following subjects, included in this list last month, are now omitted as there have been fewer than nine references to them during the past month: (i) Criticism of Utility clothing (ii) Non-collection of salvage (iii) Shortage and bad distribution of fruit, except oranges (iv) Shortage of and desire for Wellingtons (v) Shortage of and demand for alarm clocks (vi) Shortage and high price of spirits (vii) Shortage and unequal distribution of sweets and chocolate

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