A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 19
Friday, 7th June, 1940

People are still anxious but there is an undercurrent of cheerfulness. Several of our reports contain indications that the news from France is received with a certain scepticism, others show indications of detachment. These evidences of detachment seem to be due to an emotional weariness of perpetual crises. In this connection it is interesting to note that the East Suffolk inland villages which are the subject of special observation are beginning to show more strain.

Suspicion of strangers appears to be steadily increasing in all areas and rumour is on the decline.


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NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) Unanimity of approval of Cripps as Ambassador to Russia. 65 wounded B.E.F. men interviewed all expressed strong approval of French soldiers “Splendid in a tight corner”. French are recorded as saying: “English not serious enough; still many young men at home doing nothing”. Also strong French feeling against our C.O's. No criticism of withdrawal of newspaper placards. Chalking up limited. Local air raid alarm taken very calmly. Grimsby makes following suggestion: Many civilians refused to take cover wishing to see the sights. Too many unofficial cars on roads; they may obstruct A.R.P. vehicles and emergency traffic. Unshielded lighting of matches should be prohibited. Householders should black-out their sleeping quarters as lights turned on suddenly when a warning is given stand out dangerously. Confusion about car lights in warnings. Police instructions vary as to whether these should be on or off.

CARDIFF (Wales) No antagonism towards France; rather guilt that we have left them too much to do. Great welcome for French Military Mission. Strong recommendation that it should visit areas where there is anti-French feeling. Wide wish for complete co-operation with Russia. Feeling towards America rather angry. Continuation of Gram Swing type of commentator recommended. Anti-war organisations steadily losing ground. Growing anti-Italian feeling. No reactions to poster prohibition.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) Anti-Belgian refugee feeling growing; main ground is food shortage. Circulation of Daily Worker 10 dozen; Peace News 6 dozen; Action not handled. Chalking up of placards has produced very little reaction.

MANCHESTER (North Western) Speech by Lord Derby on French war effort received great ovation. Restricted luxuries order well taken but demand for further action. Motor pleasure driving much criticised. Cars common outside Road Houses every night.

BRISTOL (South Western) Still some lack of faith in our communiqués and preference for statesmen's speeches. Growing resentment against those responsible for lack of equipment for B.E.F. Effect of prosecution of rumourists most salutary.

LEEDS (North Eastern) To-day's main interest, last night's air raid warning. Taken very calmly. Much criticism of large number of people still doing useless work and slowness of authorities to use up available labour on vital work. Resentment on holiday ban for non-urgent workers grows. Almost all B.E.F. men interviewed express warm admiration for French. A few violent Left-Wingers still regard France bitterly. Anti-war organisations on the wane.

EDINBURGH (Scotland) Growing discontent against leaders of Chamberlain Government. Widespread wish for complete alliance with Russia. Working class Edinburgh women say they will fight Germans in streets if men can't stop them. B.E.F. soldiers warm in praise of French. No anti-French feeling but some doubt about French internal politics. Anti-war groups remain fairly strong and some public criticism of lack of police action against them.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) Calm during last night's air alarm. No anti-French feeling noticed in region. Gram Swing popular. A desire for continuance of this type of talk expressed. Chalking up causes no reaction. Little comment on Cripp's Mission, such as there is is favourable.

READING (Southern) Hugh Ellis's broadcast generally welcomed. Some anxiety about how soon B.E.F. can get out to help French. If Germans forced French lines it is suggested Duff Cooper should broadcast explaining that this is only part of a gigantic operation and that even a serious initial break through may be rectified by resistance further back.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) Broadcast of statement by German prisoners about their own lack of protection from R.A.F. have been criticised as “propaganda”. Anti-war journals seem very unimportant in this region. Requests for continuance for Gram Swing type of broadcast. Chalking up of little importance, though newspapers would like to be able to have placards for special occasions. Very little voluntary evacuation.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Public strikingly calm in air raid alarm last night. Attitude to Russian mission “perplexity”. Traces of anti-French feeling apparent last week have now vanished. Attitude to America “resigned”. Public indifferent to cessation of placards. Chalking up has produced no special reaction. Some voluntary evacuation of adults on East Coast.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Western) Only reaction in towns where last night's air raid warning occurred is disappointment that they were not mentioned in Air Ministry's account of raid. Anxiety at Horsham about failure to camouflage local landmarks. Growing confidence in French Army. Aliens in business in Tunbridge Wells complain anti-alien feeling is ruining them. Eastbourne much calmer with evidence of local military activities. Tonbridge worried about local A.R.P. inefficiency. No chalking up reported.


Public continue calm. Reactions to broadcast speeches: Sir Hugh Ellis, general feeling good but not striking. Priestley's postscript very popular. Ronald Cross very good indeed. General view of present broadcasts is that Duff Cooper stands out above the others. In new housing estate lack of neighbourliness still very marked and a potential cause of lack of confidence, thanks to lack of companionship. A common comment on wireless news is that it is too long and many people switch off after 10 minutes thus failing to hear the talks. From Wimbledon comes report of great satisfaction of new Old Age Pension scheme. A false alarm on a housing estate of parachutists occasioned by a flock of pigeons resulted in about half the tenants rushing to the roof and the rest rushing to the shelters in the basement. In the melee several women fainted. These people are normally calm and collected. They seem to need more advice as to what to do and how to do it on such occasions.

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