A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 63
Daily Report on MORALE
Wednesday, 31st July, 1940

There is little change in morale today, and the Press campaigns against the secret session and certain Ministers have aroused relatively little public interest. The Press reports from foreign sources of troops massing across the Channel have aroused rather more interest, but even this is limited.

The arrest of the British subjects in Japan has been considerably talked of, and three Regions record a public demand for strong action. Such remarks as “We should never have given way on the Burma Road question”, “That's what comes of trying to appease the Japanese”, are mentioned as typical.

Sir John Anderson's short talk on A.R.P. last night was generally appreciated. Its simplicity and terseness were welcomed and it was described as “a good refresher course on household A.R.P.” His reference to gas has produced many inquiries about Contex filters in those areas where filters have not yet been fitted.

The proposed modifications in the tea ration have been received with “general thankfulness”. Several Regions report that the tea ration has affected the public as a whole more than any other food ration introduced so far.




31.7.40 .

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) Interest reported in Balkan situation, and desire to know what British action is being taken. Absence of sirens has caused many protests, and some older people are not going to bed till daylight: there is a rumour in Newcastle that air raid warnings will not be given even to wardens.

2. NORTH-EASTERN (Leeds) Morale still high. Some evidence that Secret Session is unpopular with the public.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham) The withholding of news of the “Lancastria” still gives rise to critical comments. It is widely urged that soft fruit prices should be controlled. Overtime among workers is causing strain and absentee-ism. Many villages complain of delay in receiving Contex filters. Dissatisfaction from Leicestershire that Army casualty lists get unduly large headlines in several leading papers. Persistent conviction that recent earth tremor was an explosion due to enemy action.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) Resentment still felt in Norwich owing to absence of sirens yesterday. Evacuation from coastal towns slackening, and many who have left believe that they are free from rent and rates.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading) Demands from Guildford, Portsmouth, and High Wycombe for more detailed news of German air raids on Britain, and that the B.B.C. news should be made more interesting. Evidence that Haw Haw's following is diminishing, but the German news still attracts listeners.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol) Morale remains high. People still affected by the withholding of news of the “Lancastria”, and wonder what else is kept back. Complaint from Minehead that potential holiday-makers have the impression that S.W. resorts are dangerous areas.

8. WALES (Cardiff) Continued night warnings have caused much tiredness. Criticism that the only news of our shipping losses is from German communiqués. Reports confirm that troops are the worst offenders in discussing military matters in public.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) Houses of pacifists stoned in Coventry, where City Council has decided not to discharge C.O.s. Demand in Smallheath (Birmingham) that Home Guard should be decentralised on the basis of street units. Transport organisations claim that they will be unable to cope with winter traffic unless munition workers hours are staggered.

10. NORTH-WESTERN (Manchester) Some disappointment that Premier does not intend to answer Hitler, as Halifax was considered inadequate. Swiss reports of troops massing for invasion of Britain has had unsettling effect on many.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh) Irritation at alarmist chalking “Invasion imminent?” by news-boys in Edinburgh. Still slight mistrust of R.A.F. successes. Parents of evacuated children worried because they are receiving fewer letters: this is due to high postage expenses and to the children taking the injunction against careless talk so seriously.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells) High morale in Dover area following Monday's raid and satisfaction expressed with civil defence services. Public respond promptly to sirens in towns which have not yet been bombed. Budget increases faced cheerfully. In country districts many who have grown more food and now left with a surplus. Belief in Maidstone that an invasion attempt was made during Monday's raid on Dover.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) Opinion that invasion is postponed is modified by reports of troops massing on French coast. Business men welcome Dalton's statement on tightening the blockade. Criticism of large numbers of unemployed in Ulster. New ration of supplies for home textile trade caused disappointment among manufacturers.




On the whole morale remains good, though some people continue to wonder how Britain can win. A certain amount of discontent persists amongst women because of small army allowance; this may ultimately affect their morale. Feeling against foreign refugees growing in some districts. Foreign troops in Chelsea mistrusted as people think “they are eating our food and they get the rifles our Home Guard should have”. Comment about the scarcity of eggs - even hospitals have difficulty in getting them. Delay in news about LANCASTRIA still causing resentment and announcement that S.S. LIVERPOOL had not been lost caused some people to listen to Haw Haw to obtain more correct version. Resentment still felt amongst women not able to obtain munitions work in London area. Comments that in poor localities certain food bought in small quantities is charged at proportionately higher rate than large quantities. After announcement had been made that extra sugar was obtainable for jam making it was found that grocers did not have the extra sugar to sell; fruit which had already been bought to make jam was thus wasted. Some Finchley refugees would like to do odd jobs, even a few hours weekly. Labour Exchange officials disapprove even though British workers would not take such jobs. Few cases reported in this district of victimisation of British subjects bearing foreign names.

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