A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 43
Daily Report on MORALE
Saturday, 6th July, 1940

The French fleet action is still having a good effect on morale, although today many people are wondering what percentage of the French fleet has in fact been saved. There is a declining interest in the news, partly accounted for by an increased interest in invasion, but primarily brought about by bewilderment both about the content and the interpretation of news.

1. The public finds it difficult to understand official reasons for withholding news about air raid damage, and are dissatisfied with the explanations so far given. There is much private communication of detailed news and many rumours, both of which contribute to public disquiet. There is no doubt that the public would prefer to be told the truth however unpleasant, and an impression is growing that the withholding of unpleasant news is official policy. “Why don't they tell us? We can take it”, is a common expression.

2. There is some growth of anti-French feeling of an indiscriminate kind. Most people condemn the Petain government, but some say “We shall be fighting the French soon,” “We were never real friends with the French.

3. The Channel Islands evacuation, now becoming more widely known by the distribution of refugees, is the subject of critical and anxious comment. It is even referred to as “The beginning of the end”; “inefficient and disheartening”; “it has the smell of defeat”.

4. Although the internment of aliens has popular support, in intellectual and professional circles the situation has created grave alarm and some defeatism. Letters carry news of this “breakdown of high principle” to other countries. There is criticism not only of the desirability of internment but of the methods by which it is carried out.

5. There are rumours about the Duke of Windsor; most persistently, that he will be the puppet ruler of a Nazi administration.

6. There are fewer grumbles from the agricultural community.

7. The use of labour and material for non-essential building is strongly criticised in reports from all parts of the country.

8. The fear of “appeasement” is strong in certain sections of the community, and the movement against certain Ministers is gaining ground. Many letters show that the movement is spreading to those who are not normally politically minded. “Does the Government realise it is playing with fire?”

9. Reports from all over the country show that morale is high and that the will of the people to prosecute the war is sound. At the same time there is evidence that the “will to sacrifice and to win” is in constant need of stimulation and guidance. “The hungry sheep look up and are not fed.”




6th July, 1940.

NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) Feeling against conscientious objectors growing in Peterborough. From the same town reports of uneasiness that the appeasement Ministers continue in office. Work people express the opinion that some firms are not being given the opportunity to work to capacity. (clothing factory and foundry).

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) Great interest shown in announcement of recruiting for two battalions for home defence. German propaganda about the British threat to Eire's neutrality is regarded as indicating an early German air invasion. R.A.F. attacks on German Naval bases have created great satisfaction.

MANCHESTER (North Western) Indiscriminate internment of all aliens distresses more thoughtful people who regard it as evidence of panic action.

BRISTOL (South Western) Marked increase in neighbourliness in Plymouth as a result of recent events. Suggested that L.D.Vs are the worst offenders in spreading rumours of parachutists. Many Bristol housewives are arranging bedrooms on the ground floor to cope with air raid alarms. Devonport accepts the damage to the Scharnhorst sceptically.

LEEDS (North Eastern) There are more recruits for Doncaster L.D.V. than required. Miners' leaders have had to appeal to young miners not to leave the pits to join up.

EDINBURGH (Scotland) Some resentment felt against the impression given by the Government that as the Channel Isles are strategically unimportant, no one should worry about the inhabitants. A Stonehaven report indicates that those associated with Moral Rearmament are saying that there is no need for this country to be at war with Germany and differences could be settled by the application of M.R. principles.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) In Middlesborough public shelters are being manned about 11 p.m. particularly by women and children, whether there is a warning or not. Voluntary Wardens and A.R.P. workers are feeling the strain of continued night work.

READING (Southern) Bournemouth is upset by damage to Summer season.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) Coventry reports agitation about the loss of the Channel Isles. Many believe that they are near the British Coast.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) The sinking of the Arandora Star has caused uneasiness amongst parents planning to send children overseas. Hope is expressed in Coastal towns that financial help from the Government will go much further than at present indicated.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) The Bishop of Chichester and the Mayor of Eastbourne have made statements about evacuation causing alarm in the Eastbourne area. Some belief in Chatham that dockyard workers, waiting for ships to come in for repairs, are short of work.



Chief topics of conversation still French Navy and abandonment of Channel Islands. Action over former generally approved; Channel Island policy considered disquieting, especially in districts receiving refugees. More explanation asked for. Churchill's speech had rousing effect, reports many observers. Widespread anxiety about children evacuated to Wales and South West England, combined with no details of raids. Parents disturbed in mind as to whether to bring children back or not. Evidence that deaf people are increasingly apprehensive of raids. Many stay up at night watching the sky. In some districts arrangements are made that someone will be sure to inform them of warnings. Morden: “Army allowances inadequate. Delay in arrival of special allowances causing annoyance to women concerned. Need in this and other districts for creches or day nurseries to free mothers for war work." University College Hospital: “Hospital Almoner encouraging pregnant woman to register for evacuation. Comparatively small response.” Chiswick: “Two hundred Dutch and Belgian refugees resented by soldiers' wives as many are men of military age. Work should be given them as they are bored and appear ungrateful.” Woolwich Labour Exchange: “People working twelve hours a day for seven days a week: too busy to be nervous of raids. Large body of married women seeking factory work. Cannot all be absorbed at once.”

Tidbrook: “Neighbours getting together and helping each other with Civil Defence.” Pinner: “People disturbed by Civil Defence Lecture in which statement occurred that if bomb dropped in Wealdstone it would destroy houses in Pinner (four to five miles away). Women combining to buy aeroplane. Fifty have contributed”. Clapham: “More definite information required as to what arrangements will be made for homeless if bombing is heavy. Rest Centres being set up where people can remain for 48 hours but too few for large population”. St. Johns Wood: “Individual has organised small street of 60 houses for fire fighting. Has collected 45 fire fighters, 12 stirrup pumps, and £10 worth of equipment. Scheme working well.” Holloway: “Interned aliens want useful work; very distressed to think they are useless. Work would strengthen their morale. Women could sew and prepare hospital equipment.” Bermondsey: “People in neighbourhood anxious about Norwegian sailors who appear to have plenty of money and nothing to do. Spend all day in Public Houses and then go to West End. Many casual dock labourers out of work. Percentage absorbed into Civil Defence, but do not take readily to regular work. Considerable unemployment amongst women in luxury trades.”


We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close