A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 45
Daily Report on MORALE
Tuesday, 9th July, 1940 .

Morale continues high: there are indications that invasion is ceasing to be the terrifying and novel idea that it once was. In coastal areas evidences of preparation make the subject dominant in public and private conversation and there is keen anxiety below a calm surface. In other slightly less vulnerable areas military confidence has been transmitted to the civilian population and, as one observer remarked, “everyone is so keyed up, I can't think what will happen if Hitler doesn't come after all.” There is still a good deal of questioning about the Government's evacuation plans, although people are satisfied on certain points, and many people have now completed their private plans for “crash” evacuation. On the whole there is more talk of invasion than of air raids, which everywhere have been taken calmly. There is a considerable increase of public confidence in siren policy.

The threat of invasion brings strongly to the front popular demand for aggressive leadership.

Lord Woolton's broadcast was welcomed as a sign of official determination and direction: the public is in a mood to respond to any call for sacrifice. References to the newly rationed foods were all amiable. “Fancy spoiling our nice cup of tea.” “There'll be nothing to do in the air raid shelter”. There are only isolated examples of disapproval and hoarding.

There is little interest in the news, and some tendency to over-simplify the war situation, the intricacies of which are beyond public interest and comprehension.

Recent statements about the extent of our defence preparations found a ready response: people are thirsting for information, and any attempt to meet their demand is soon reflected in a decline of public criticism.


143 144 2


9.7.40 .

Lord Woolton's announcement of the new rationing restrictions was very well received, except in one region. (Birmingham). Cardiff reports that people are very sorry but more willing to sacrifice than ever; the introduction of the rationing without notice was greatly appreciated. Belfast states that the restriction is accepted as inevitable. Reading stresses the excellence of the broadcast and suggests that it should be made into a pamphlet. Cambridge feels that the hardships will not be unduly heavy and the cheerful way the news was presented made a good impression. Tunbridge Wells states that well-to-do customers are proving most difficult to shopkeepers and are demanding up to 1 cwt of tea. The majority of public, however, accept the measure cheerfully. Bristol reports that the new rationing is accepted willingly by everybody and the great majority of people are ready to put up with still more if necessary.

NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) Duff Cooper's circular letter very well received. Requests for further details of damage we do to Germany on our raids. Villages in Lincolnshire which accommodate A.A. guns complain because they have no shelters. Further requests for propaganda pointing out to women what life would be like under Hitler.

CARDIFF (Wales) Invasion of Ireland generally anticipated. Some decline in demand for conscription of everything and everybody. Some people are enquiring about possibility of changing paper money into silver in case of emergency.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) Dissatisfaction that there are still 40,000 workless in Northern Ireland. Good response to recruiting drives for home defence battalions. Much discussion of united Ireland defence plan; if de Valera had his way, people say, all Ireland would be neutral, disarmed, and helpless. Britain must therefore either get Eire's consent for entry of British troops to prevent invasion or send in troops without consent.

MANCHESTER (North Western) People on Fylde coast nervous about invasion from Ireland. Packard refusal to make aero-engines is causing uneasiness as to whether all is well concerning our purchasing commission. Policy about friendly aliens is causing anxiety.

BRISTOL (South Western) The past fortnight's raids have thoroughly awakened the public in the South-west. Cornwall still complains about inadequate local defences. Gloucester is greatly encouraged by the obvious reinforcement of its defences. Plymouth, which has suffered heavily, is standing up to the raids philosophically. There is, however, a good deal of anxiety at the absence of detailed casualty figures. Anti-C.O. feeling is again increasing, particularly in north Wiltshire.

LEEDS (North Eastern) Simplification of war and news of Britain's armed strength has improved morale, and comments on administrative muddles are rarer than they were. Complaints of lack of details of air raid casualties are common. Possibility of invasion via Ireland much discussed.

EDINBRUGH (Scotland) Small Scottish burghs are confused about the voluntary organisation of labour for defence purposes. There is doubt as to whether they or the county authorities are responsible for obstructing possible landing grounds.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) Private evacuation from Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Scarborough continues. Public confidence has considerably increased since sirens have been sounded promptly in this area for the last few days and A.R.P. personnel have proved very efficient.

READING (Southern) The South coast is taking its conversion into a defence area calmly. Bournemouth people wonder why their liberty to receive visitors is destroyed, while that of Brighton remains. Reading reports irritation with air raid wardens who unnecessarily advertise yellow warnings and worry their neighbours thereby.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) From Coventry, Stoke, Nuneaton, and Wolverhampton, come demands that members of the former Government still in office should be removed.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Towns not affected by ban on private motorists were greatly confused by announcement in two London papers yesterday that ban covered “a large part of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex.” Voluntary evacuation from coastal towns goes on slowly, and there are now some complaints at the cost of keeping two homes going. Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds, and other towns, witnessed aerial battles without sirens. This has led many of the population to spend their nights in Anderson shelters, and women are staying up all night to make sure that their sleeping children are taken to safety if bombs fall but no siren is heard. The need for the ‘all clear’ siren after an aerial battle when no warning siren has been sounded is particularly stressed.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) General satisfaction at the announcement at the size of our defence forces but much comment at appeals for voluntary labour when we still have so many unemployed. Brighton middle-class people are asking whether if they stay put they will lose all their furniture in a rush evacuation, and if so whether it would not be advisable for them to evacuate now.




Tea rationing caused surprise but accepted as necessary; poor people wonder how to manage as usual consumption is considerably more than two ounces a week. Acton: “Feeling very bitter about surrendering Channel Islands without resistance. People feel we may be sold out like the French.” Increase of insularity reported from several quarters. People expressing confidence in being British and having no-one left to let us down. Observers worried by non-protection of bicycles left in railway cloak rooms. Demand action. Though relief is general that aliens are watched carefully and apprehended if suspicious, opinion is held that real danger lies among our own people. Some evacuated children writing and asking to be brought back because they have experienced raids. Stepney: “Soldiers waiting for discharge often experiencing hardship as allowances are delayed. Assistance Board will not accept responsibility until final discharge is through.” Brixton: “Works closing down; growing unemployment among builders, dockers and other workers unused to being out.” Club leader reports effect of new long hours on juveniles. Boys of fifteen now working twelve hours a day showing unmistable signs of fatigue with grey faces and heavy eyes.” Hendon; “People arriving from South East Coast - Margate, Ramsgate etc. - and enquiring at C.O.S. offices about money. Some able to get billeting allowance although evacuation was not compulsory. People in district expressing confused ideas about the whole situation”. Although people are still grumbling at not being given more details of air raids, from several sources reports show that Air Marshal Joubert's explanation had a good effect on morale. More confidence in R.A.F. noticed, state observers, since this talk.

We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close