A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 48
Daily report on MORALE
Friday, 12th July, 1940

There is little change in morale. Cheerfulness continues. There is increasing confidence in the R.A.F. and in Civilian Defence measures.

Air raids were taken calmly although reports from certain districts show that after raids there is some measure of civilian evacuation. The siren controversy continues strongly in certain districts. There is public criticism of the withholding of detailed casualty lists.

The publicity given to brick and conrete domestic shelters has produced misunderstanding and criticism among local authorities, because shortage of labour and materials is well known.

The rationing of tea is being criticised in working-class districts.

The appeal for domestic aluminium, after meeting with an enthusiastic response, is now being criticised because of the stores of aluminium freely on sale in shops.




12.7.40 .

Desire for removal of appeasement members of Cabinet reported from Godalming, Middlesbrough, Wadebridge, Newquay, Lincoln and Cambridge; report from Northampton states that feeling is dying down. Duff Cooper's broadcast generally well received, but opinion expressed in Manchester that it was “too ineffectual” to do us good in the United States.

NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) Conduct of public in shelters at Grimsby admirable. Recent official warnings about imminent invasion said to have been overdone. Impatience reported of men in middle twenties who have not been called up. Satisfaction expressed in Grimsby at Duff Cooper's second letter.

CARDIFF (Wales) Will to win increased by experience of air raids. Many optimistic that Russia will be helpful to us in her own time. Rumours of result of air raids still rife.

MANCHESTER (North Western) R.A.F. successes a tonic. First enthusiasm of aluminium damped by large stocks of articles for sale. Adverse comment on railway conditions for troops.

BRISTOL (South Western) People generally in good heart. A complaint from Wiltshire that tea rationing affects the cup made after an air raid. Preparations for defence have heartening effect. Morale in Falmouth low and many people have left recently.

LEEDS (North Eastern) Air raids have improved morale. Criticism “Why has Government not controlled aluminium producers more successfully?”

READING (Southern) Raid on Southern city has entirely failed to shake morale. Civil defence functioned well.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) Disquiet that isolated raiding planes have dropped bombs although there had not been even the yellow warning. Plea from Coventry that notification of yellow warning be sent to schools to get the children into shelters. Wolverhampton reports some dissatisfaction about tea ration.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Growth of feeling that time is ripe for Britain to take aggressive action. Surprise in Norwich at air raid warnings when bombs have not fallen, after appreciating the restricted siren policy at night time. Approval of Prime Minister's appeal to Civil Service.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) Fear that Ireland may be another Norway, only with more serious consequences. Increasing demands for military bands. Reported from Canterbury that soldiers are becoming restive because of curtailment of leave facilities.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) Noticeable absence of grumbling. Conduct of public in air raids steadily improving. Criticism exists with regard to provision of shelters. Reports from Blaydon and Stanley areas of undercurrent of dissatisfaction amongst miners, on grounds that unemployment amongst miners and closing of pits should not be tolerated.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) Leading advocates of united defence plan now admit that Eire neutral is an insuperable obstacle. Craigavon's statement is regarded as clearing the air. Continued demand for scheme to get unemployed into work.

EDINBURGH (Scotland) Observers report that people in Glasgow are pessimistic though not defeatist. In Scotstoun and other places, workers are being paid off whilst systematic overtime is still worked. In some places people are discounting the possibility of invasion. Reported that holiday-makers are apprehensive that the powers of police and L.D.V. might be used against them.




General morale high; people cheerful and optimistic on the whole. London considered by many too well protected to be raided; others think this complacency dangerous. Exaggeration of damage done by bombers in country districts of which details are sent in letters and passed on from person to person. Suburban districts such as Southgate reported uninterested in national issues. Anxiety expressed over Ireland. Complaints received that B.B.C. is stressing events of last war; “we are inclined to rest on our laurels too much.” Intelligent observer considers isolated cases of defeatism most dangerous, e.g. people who consistently believe bad news and mistrust good news have depressing effect and no argument will move them. If they were made to look ridiculous, suggests observer, they might be cured. Positive ideas and plans for post-war world asked for by thinking middle class. Tea rationing beginning to affect people who find two ounces will not last a week. Elderly women asking for three ounces as they need the stimulation of tea several times a day. Duff Cooper's speech considered excellent by many people; but some afraid they will be closely watched and unable to talk at all. Areas taking in South and South East Coast refugees have adequate preparations for them. Woolwich factory reports wireless and gramophone music have greatly increased workers cheerfulness: “staff working busily and happily in spite of long hours and do not seem unduly tired. This is proved by freedom from serious accidents”. Marylebone: “rumour among women that sons are being asked to volunteer as parachutists in case of invasion; mothers strongly advise them not to as they think it is ‘absolute butchery’”. Some feeling among poorer people who buy from small local shops that prices are not strictly controlled, is reported in West End. Downham: “parents of evacuated children cannot see them now as they are too far away; suggest that mayor or other important person in borough should visit children and bring back news”. Richmond: “strong resentment among parents of four hundred children registered for Dominions. Opinions held: “the Government should not have publicised scheme until sure of children going; if ships can take interned aliens, surely it is more important to take children.”” More complaints from several districts that people are buying aluminium in shops for themselves. Shepherd's Bush: “one thousand French convalescent soldiers in White City; need news, amusements and amenities”.

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