A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 46
Daily Report on MORALE
Wednesday, 10th July, 1940

There is little change in morale: people are generally cheerful, although in those areas which have been constantly raided there is anxiety and lassitude. There is no diminution in determination.

1. The morale of women in working-class raided areas is being lowered by lack of sleep and by the family responsibilities with which they are burdened.

2. The public is not convinced of the necessity for withholding information about air raid damage and casualties, and disappointment has been expressed that Sir Hugh Elles devoted so little time to this matter. Districts in which damage has been done cannot understand the official phrase “damage was slight”, and particular suspicion becomes generalised.

3. Reports on the state of feeling among young people show that many have failed to identify themselves with the war, and many are consciously, as well as unconsciously, non-cooperative.

4. Many people feel a need for martial music, processions and bands, and other stimulants of righteous aggressiveness. The sight of Dominion troops in London has been heartening, but there have been many suggestions that opportunities should be found for parades and marches.

5. The Channel Islands evacuation still causes considerable disquiet. The publicity given to the evacuation has left a feeling of defeat and planlessness. Further explanations are needed.

6. A public statement is needed on the withdrawal of savings from banks.

7. A further day's observations have brought to light some complaints about tea-rationing, and there appears to be evidence in certain districts that the public bought heavily during the day of the announcement.

8. Reports from those areas considered to be likely target of invasion show that the population is confident (if not over-confident) and that preparations ought to be made for the situation in which no invasion occurs.




10.7.40 .

The siren controversy still continues in those areas subjected to raids. Cambridge, Bristol and Cardiff report that lack of air raid warnings is affecting public confidence. The effect of lack of sleep on the nerves of the population, although relatively slight, is becoming apparent.

NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) A group of professional men discussed with concern the serious impression created on the public mind by the accuracy of some of Hitler's forecasts. The view was expressed that some of Hitler's technique should be adopted by us in this respect. “We shall be no worse off under Hitler” is commonly heard amongst young girls in their teens. New food rationing accepted philosophically.

CARDIFF (Wales) Evidence of preparations for defence creates state of optimism. General feeling that manual workers should be allowed extra rations of tea and butter.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) Agitation for getting Ulster's unemployed on urgent war work continues. Parents asking for early decision as to possibility of evacuating Ulster children overseas. A number of people are disturbed by Morrison's broadcast statement on the Empire's inferiority to Germany in steel production.

MANCHESTER (North Western) Yesterday's yellow warning during the day rapidly became public property and was acted upon as if it had been a red warning.

BRISTOL (South Western) Real desire of parents in Falmouth to get their children away, although the women mean to stay by their menfolk. Communiqués which announce “a few” or “several” casualties make the public think that the casualties are very heavy.

LEEDS (North Eastern) Civil Service still causes grumbling on account of administrative slowness. It is widely suggested that Moral Rearmament constitutes a Fifth Column on the ground that the Oxford Group Movement went to those countries where Fifth Columnists have been successful, the leader is a German and the movement is associated with the wealthy, who are potential Fifth Columnists. Absenteeism continues among miners in the Doncaster area.

EDINBURGH (Scotland) Very small working class pockets in Glasgow still maintain that they would be “as well off under Hitler”. Grumbles about L.D.V. and A.R.P. have been greatly diminished in the past fortnight. Opinion in the West of Scotland favours a forced occupation of Ireland, preferably by Dominion troops rather than British.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) Still criticism of the failure to utilise more fully the unemployed.

READING (Southern) The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth has moved from his house to live in the Guild Hall in order to encourage the “stay put” movement. Hotels and boarding houses in Bournemouth and Southsea expect Government compensation, following their inclusion in the Southern defence area. The reluctance of Packard to manufacture aero-engines is creating anti-American feeling. The impression spreads that the Government is not frank about air raid casualties.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) The Government's appeal for volunteers to work on local defences is receiving good response.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Norwich took yesterday's air attack well, though the high proportion of women killed has aroused a feeling of resentment against the present siren policy; had they been sounded many might not have been caught in the streets.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) Stories are circulating that the army is underfed, although complaints appear to be directed against poor cooking and bad service rather than against the food. The public think that as sugar is difficult to get, fruit which would normally be used for jam-making should be available at low prices. Irritation at the congratulatory tone of the B.B.C. announcement with regard to low unemployment figures, when there should be no unemployment at all. There is concern about the bridge to the Isle of Sheppey. If destroyed the island would be entirely cut off from food supplies.




People calm everywhere in spite of suspecting that air raids are more serious than divulged officially. Tea rationing accepted as necessary sacrifice; working class women wondering how to manage and many saying:- “My husband will not be able to drink tea as strong as brandy, and the children will have to have milk. Office staffs are very concerned about the ration. Some leakage of information evidently in Chelsea as several grocers found themselves selling large quantities of tea on Monday. Could not understand reason until after broadcast. Mr. Alexander's speech highly approved. Some movement of people into outer London from South and South East coast. Evacuees being billeted without difficulty. Professional women's club considers B.B.C. talks lacking in inspiration. Would like martial music as a change. Many people think Dominions troops should have had proper official welcome. Some foster mothers in West Country writing to parents in London that bombs are dropping all round. This causes anxiety, but parents on the whole loath to bring children back and spoil their holiday. Children evacuated to Brixham and Newton Abbot write home commiserating with parents for having so many raid alarms in London. Red Ensign Club: “Twenty-nine Estonian Seamen just brought in after ship blown up. Grateful for kindness. No feeling against them or other foreign seamen noticed in Club”. Chelsea: Four hundred Polish refugees just arrived from France, mostly women, adding to several hundred Dutch and Belgian refugees in neighbourhood. Refugees who have been in Chelsea for some time have very low morale and long to return to their Countries. Men and women are separated and only one per cent have been given work. Except for wealthier workers. Local people suspicious and unfriendly towards them. No Civil Defence arrangements in being and possibility that they may panic in air raids. Some expression of suspicion in Chelsea that Sir John Anderson has Fascist sympathies and is protecting or releasing Fascists who have been detained. Deptford; “People still worrying that they have had no news for many weeks of menfolk in Army. Delays of thirteen weeks to six months in some cases in receipt of old age and widows pensions, causing serious hardships.” Twickenham: “People still dissatisfied with arrangements for salvage; consider there is slackness in other matters including rendering large playing fields useless for landing grounds”.

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