A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 20
Saturday, 8th June, 1940

Cheerfulness with an undercurrent of anxiety (in London) and detachment (in the provinces) is the prevailing feeling. It is clear, however, that opinion, on a state of affairs about which there is considerable ignorance, is mobilised around press reports. Judgment is lacking and waits on events.

Air raids appear to have been taken calmly; many people remained in bed during the warnings.


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8th June, 1940

NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) Public more cheerful. No evidence of Anti-French feeling. Confidence in Weygand “Old but tough” Newspaper placards not missed; general opinion is we are better off without scare headlines. Many people slept through air raid alarms, no upset at them. Criticism that sirens at Grimsby followed the sound of planes. School children not upset, school attendances good, though pupils very sleepy. Grimsby “Equaminity of the people extraordinary”. America regarded rather as a useful source of supplies than as a valuable belligerent.

CARDIFF (Wales) Anxiety great at present battle. General feeling “All right so far”. Further requests for continuance of American broadcasting commentator. Increasing criticism of Chamberlain and Baldwin. Criticism of numbers of pleasure parties in motor coaches still on the road.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) Increasing home defence measures greatly welcomed. Criticism of lack of leadership in A.R.P. continues. People puzzled by Italy's hesitation. Her entry awaited with a fatalistic shrug.

MANCHESTER (North Western) Many feel Hitler is having his “Battle of the Somme” others anxious at falling back in good order by French. Pleasure expressed at activity of French Air Force. Heatwave is making many people anxious about holidays. Much comment on £5,000 pension for Lord Simon.

LEEDS (North Eastern) Air raids have caused annoyance rather than alarm. General disquiet at present siren system, and upset in Goole because Dock and Railway lights were left burning while German planes passed over. Growing feeling that women should be given more work; still 2,000 unemployed women in Sheffield. Public regard America as opportunist and would welcome help but do not expect it. A stronger wish for Russia's friendship rather than America's. Many requests for American broadcast commentator. Refugees not popular, response to evacuation registration poor. Shortage of Civil Defence Volunteers persists.

EDINBURGH (SCOTLAND) Morale of working women seems to have improved. Growing anti-Italian feeling. Italian shopkeepers in Glasgow may fare badly if Italy comes into war. Some anti-Jewish feeling. Little voluntary evacuation. Women and children are taking early holidays. Slum dwellers in Edinburgh may evacuate to a Caravan Colony at Port Seaton which would make a fine bombing target. Excessive air warfare reports in the news are arousing suspicion.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) No panic or undue excitement at air raid warnings on Tyneside, Durham, etc., On Tyneside dancing continued in many halls. At Bishop Auckland and Chester-le-Street people tended to collect in the streets to watch A.R.P. activities. Spy mania increasing in some parts. Criticism among local Defence volunteers that platoon Commanders have little or no military knowledge, while men under them have big experience. Further reports show public favourable to Cripps's visit to Russia. Little comment on stopping American commentaries, such comment as there was favoured continuing.

READING (Southern) Public mainly re-assured about Weygand line. Minority sceptical. Growing impatience with Italy and resentment at any suggestion of conciliation by Allies. Intervention of Mussolini would be welcomed rather than feared. Industrial responses to heavy work excellent. Little concern about air activity, though some evacuation from Isle of Wight. Public dissatisfied at lack of care for welfare of large numbers of B.E.F. camped at Oxford. Alterations in reserved occupations welcomed. Criticism of delay in call-up common.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) New B.B.C. announcer widely criticised as depressing. Wide apprehension about Fifth Column, spies seen all over the place. Strong feeling for interning more Aliens.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Air raid warning taken calmly by public. No alarmists rumours after it. Criticisms at Peterborough (just outside Region) where bombs are reported to have exploded in the street because no siren sounded until after explosion. General feeling against any further evacuees in this region.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) General feeling is that news is “not too bad”. A quite common tendency has been noted for the public to criticise Baldwin and Chamberlain very vigorously. Many think Hitler will invade first Eire and then Cornwall and some of public are bringing back the evacuated families from Cornwall. Folkestone Information Committee projects a training course in Leadership Morale.

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