A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 42
Daily Report on MORALE
Friday, 5th July, 1940

The French Fleet action has had a good effect on morale: underlying anxieties have decreased and there is general relief. This sign of aggressive action on our part has been generally welcomed and even the fact that many French sailors lost their lives has been allowed to pass with little comment. There have been indications of apathy during the last week but today confidence and certainty are returning to check the drift in morale.

Raids were taken calmly and there is reassurance over the sounding of sirens. Rumour about raids is still high.

There is some increase in rumours attributed to Haw Haw: many of these are concerned with coastal evacuation.

Inefficiencies in the mobilisation of manpower and womanpower continue to be the subject of critical comment.




5.7.40 .

All regions express widespread approval at our action against the French fleet. The public feel that no other course was possible and they welcome this evidence of our initiative. Reports on the Prime Minister's and the First Lord's speeches are universally and strongly favourable.

NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) Return of 400 airmen prisoners to Germany has quite discounted any sentimental feeling which may be present about the French. Reports indicate strong feeling that we should continue to take a firm line in our dealings abroad particularly with Japan. Rumanian situation is stated to have decreased anti-Russian feeling, and many say we should accept Russian help without scruple. Opinion about America continues hopeful of ultimate and decisive intervention. Farmers who are willing to make fields unsafe for plane landing are asking for a Government lead.

CARDIFF (Wales) Industrial work in factories and mines continues vigorously. The Balkans situation is viewed with indifference by the great mass of the public.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) De Valera's statement about maintaining and defending Eire's neutrality is regarded by the majority as banging the door on any proposals for a united military command of Ireland. Disappointment in many parts that Ministry of Supply has refused to establish munition factories in Northern Ireland.

MANCHESTER (North Western) Channel Island children who are to be moved from manufacturing towns to country districts do not want to go and the towns do not want children to leave. The people have taken the children to their hearts.

BRISTOL (South Western) Comparative inactivity of past few days has further steadied public attitude towards air raids. Welfare officers again stress that the most nervous part of the community are women only partially occupied at home. Raids have greatly improved the attitude of people in Taunton reception areas to evacuees; the public feel that evacuation is now necessary, and increased billeting allowances have further helped. A bomb in Cornwall has increased enthusiasm for civil defence. A false alarm of parachutists at Exeter demonstrated a prompt and efficient reaction by the L.D.V., and has increased local confidence.

LEEDS (North Eastern) Hull and Keighley Corporations have sacked C.O.s. There is general public satisfaction with the Services but still much dissatisfaction with the Home Front. Salvage campaign is weakened by sight of new steel girders put into buildings not intended for war work. In Leeds there is difficulty in getting men and bricks for building shelters and this has led to an attack on the Building Trades Federation at the City Council. There is still resentment at the appointment of ex-officers rather than experienced rankers as L.D.V. commanders, and working people in factories still feel they are inadequately defended. The public is eager to help but many state they do not find the same spirit of urgency in the authorities.

EDINBURGH (Scotland) French and British troops in Glasgow reported to be fraternising in good spirits. De Valera's speech has renewed anxiety about Eire. Some vague resentment against Lord Craigavon who is regarded as an obstacle to agreement with southern Ireland on joint defence. Sinking of Arandora Star has frightened many parents who were in course of registering children for overseas evacuation.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) Lorry drivers are again reported as spreaders of exaggerated air raid damage rumours.

READING (Southern) Regret tinged with criticism at our giving up of the Channel Islands. Some feel they should have been held at all costs like the Ypres salient in the last war. Some criticism of the Government attitude in repeatedly urging the public to keep calm; requests for more emphasis on the martial side and demonstrations of our military strength by parades, processions of tanks, and bands. Flimsy and inadequate road barricades are criticised.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) Members of Information Committees receive protests about bombs falling during yellow warning. Anxiety about the armament of the L.D.V. continues.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Increasing support for the idea of sounding sirens rather more freely during daylight raids than at night.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) Requests for a weekly five-minute talk from the Minister of Information. Still some mistrust of news reported. Many state they would always prefer to know the worst.


Feeling of satisfaction reported from most districts about action taken over French navy. “Regrettable, but impossible to do anything else in circumstances”. “People glad we have taken initiative at last.” Luxury trade workers in West End losing jobs rapidly. Camden Town Labour Exchange reports situation becoming increasingly difficult as many of such workers live in district. Ranks of unemployed also increased by closing down of East coast places and people returning to London without work. From Chiswick comes strong criticism of conditions in small factories during black-out. “Lack of ventilation and smoky atmosphere affects women workers. Canteen arrangements often appear inadequate.” More criticisms of lack of L.D.V. equipment in works and factories, especially of steel helmets. Some factories urgently seek directives as to type of defence arrangements to make and how questions of insurance and workmen's compensation will be settled. Lack of co-ordination reported between recently set up information committees and bodies such as the C.O.S. and C.A.B.s. Ealing: Icilma Factory lately put on to confidential Government work. “Workers, although tired from long hours enthusiastic at doing something important for national effort at last.” Hornchurch: Neighbourly scheme in operation for sharing civil defence apparatus. Council gives demonstrations and lectures and provides stirrup pumps to those who have attended them. Southall: “Refugees from Channel Islands have created situation of disquiet in neighbourhood, as they arrived before announcement of demilitarisation of islands had been made, and arrangements were not made to receive them.”

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