A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 34
Tuesday, 25th June, 1940


There is little change in morale today. Confidence is maintained, and there is a slightly more optimistic tone in reported conversations.

Air raids were taken calmly. Many people expressed relief that the period of waiting appears to be coming to an end, and they will now have a chance to show “how tough they are”. Reports from public and private shelters show that there was, with very few exceptions, discipline and common sense. There are general complaints this morning of lassitude after a broken night, and it would be well worth considering ways in which shelters could provide facilities for rest. A survey of our reports indicates that between ten and twenty percent of the population in London failed to hear the air raid warning. Many people did not leave their bedrooms, and parents were reluctant to awaken children.

The French situation takes second place in conversation. The French-Italian armistice caused no surprise. There are many rumours that parts of the French fleet are already in British ports (Dundee, Portsmouth, Liverpool).

Criticism of the Government continues but the efficiency of A.R.P. services during the raids has mitigated its effect. There are still a large number of complaints that the national resources are not fully mobilised, that the police departments are unable or unwilling to pay attention to public dangers reported to them, and that the internment of aliens is promoting localised pockets of defeatism (among the middle-classes). Prices continue to cause anxiety among the poorer classes.

Reports from localities where there are French troops show that the public is uncertain of its attitude towards them, and that the French troops themselves are confused and ignorant about the course of events. There is urgent need for information on the subject.


Note: There will be no daily report tomorrow, 26th June.



25.6.40 .

NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) Public cheered by de Gaulle's speech and suggestion that he may be joined by Reynaud. Air raid taken very calmly; some even enjoyed it; some grumbling about loss of sleep. View that France has let us down gains ground. Parts of public believe that some of French Fleet is already safe in British harbours.

CARDIFF (Wales) Air raid warnings taken very calmly; L.D.V. and A.R.P. activities gain confidence. A strong public feeling that we should not continue to talk about effect of economic stress on Germany and poor morale of Italian troops, until these have been demonstrated more conclusively. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) Apprehensiveness of women attributed to excessive listening to radio news. Public hope Lord Woolton is not being too optimistic about food. Much support for speech by M.P. officer home from France who calls for taking all unemployed of military age into war service and for internment of aliens.

MANCHESTER (North Western) Communist activities greatly increased in munition factories during the past fortnight. Disappointment that the American Election seems likely to delay help for Britain. Wide interest in Trans-oceanic evacuation; many parents believe this is going to be compulsory in poor districts.

BRISTOL (South Western) Public behaved very well in first air raid in Bristol. A.R.P. worked efficiently. Many rumours followed raid. In all districts where alarms were sounded morale reported good.

LEEDS (North Eastern) Criticism continues of Government slowness “rather similar to the former French Government's slowness”. Reports of men volunteering for war work at Labour Exchanges being discouraged by lack of response. Criticism of certain members of Cabinet increases as newspapers give public the “low down” on French collapse.

EDINBURGH (Scotland) Nicolson's and Bevin's broadcasts well received; Priestley appeals more to women than men. West of Scotland still concerned about Eire and invasion.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) Some evacuation of civilian population from Middlesbrough. Jarrow behaved excellently during raid and confidence in Anderson shelters has increased.

READING (Southern) All classes show increased bitterness against France, due largely to failure to distinguish between Government and public. Possibility of Eire being used as a German base is much discussed.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) Public stood up very well to first raid in the area. Attitude curiosity rather than terror. Stress laid on lorry drivers as spreaders of exaggerated air raid rumours.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Sporadic raiding early this morning taken very calmly. Evacuation of certain towns in the event of invasion also received calmly by public thought advice is needed on withdrawal of banking deposits.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) Much public feeling that C.O.s are in safe jobs getting good salaries while other peoples' sons and husbands are facing danger for a few shillings a week. Government should mobilise everybody and pay them a standard rate. Growing irritation at super-politeness of B.B.C. in referring to our enemies. “Is this cissy attitude due to the existence of an appeasement policy”?


Silvertown factory; workers very disturbed this morning because of news on radio of bombs on South West town. Many with children evacuated in South West and in Wales. These jammed telephones instead of working as usual. Parents of children not evacuated said; “Ah, you see London is the safest place after all”. Others said they would try and bring their children back. Shoreditch and Bethnal Green report public morale higher since bad news of last week. This true of both Jewish and Christian communities. Juveniles under 18 very enthusiastic; those not in clubs or boy scouts should be gathered into some scheme as now they are running round the streets undisciplined. Because of Club leaders being called up, 80% of boys in these districts are not club members. Elderly workers tired after lack of sleep; wish B.B.C. news could be changed from 9 o'clock to an hour or even half an hour earlier so that they could go to bed and have sleep before the early morning sirens start. East Ham; many complaints of loud wirelesses kept on throughout day until late at night. This disturbs workers, some of whom sleep during the day. Bethnal Green Lady Margaret Hall Settlement; “Vast numbers of babies still here as no arrangements for their evacuation. Mothers willing to send them to Nursery Schools but will not let them be boarded out.” 400 Belgian refugees in Hampstead anxious for work. Discontented and defeatist with nothing to do. John Barkers, Kensington; “extraordinary improvement in morale of staff since French capitulation. Now we are alone there is no-one to let us down”. Desire for position of French Navy to be stated reported from many quarters. Good deal of talk about sinking of boats coming back from France with troops. Harold Nicolson's talk very much liked. Repetition of news aggravating people. Westminster; “strong feeling that more should be done to encourage men due for Army to use training grounds to make themselves fit. Too much hanging round street corners.”


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