A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 49
Daily Report on MORALE
Saturday, 13th July, 1940

There is little change in morale: there is an optimistic temper. People frequently say that R.A.F. successes and aggressive air action over Germany make them feel confident and cheerful.

In some Regions there is evidence of relaxation: “Down here we are resting on our oars.” In some cases this lull appears to promote an increase of criticism of the Government. There are also signs that the strain of the past few weeks is having an effect on continuous effort.

News from abroad continues to arouse little interest. Even the French situation is not a strong topic of conversation. There is a growing feeling of “isolationism”.

Although the public response to the appeal for aluminium has been good, there are still criticisms of the Government's failure to use its compulsory powers.


129 130 2


13.7.40 .

In spite of explanations, criticism continues that aluminium articles are still on sale. It is pointed out from Reading that this situation suggests inadequate Government planning, and this mistrust tends to affect other Government schemes. Dissatisfaction is widely expressed at the postponement of the overseas evacuation scheme. Comment is “occasionally heard” in Newcastle that now rich children have been safely evacuated the scheme is dropped when it comes to the turn of the poor. Educated circles in Reading suggest that without careful explanations the United States may be annoyed after their many offers of hospitality.

NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) Considerable exasperation over Eire's attitude. It is felt that the press pays too little attention to the area in British hands throughout the world, as compared with area conquered by Germany on Continent. Nottingham reports cases of friendly aliens, left free by tribunals, who have been victimised by fellow employees.

CARDIFF (Wales) General attitude of crowds in shelters during daylight warnings cheerful and optimistic. Civil Defence services in many districts commended. Disappointment that Italian Navy still eludes ours. Hooper's and Sinclair's broadcasts well received.

MANCHESTER (North Western) Optimism grows as time passes and invasion does not occur.

BRISTOL (South Western) Postponement of invasion has done much to relieve anxiety. Impression common that our recent activities “have given Hitler something to think about”. Small minority still wonder if conditions under Hitler would be worse. Exciting nature of air battles has led to slackening of precaution in coastal regions. Bath complains that the day after the recent appeal for defence work volunteers, Post Office officials were ill-informed of the scheme. Newquay refers to its “ghastly” state of unpreparedness, as do other towns. Strengthening of defences in Penzance has had heartening effect.

LEEDS (North Eastern) Hull standing up well to daily raids and disturbed nights. Barnsley reports healthy attitude to the war. Committee of men and management set up in Doncaster to stop absentee-ism among young miners. Dissatisfaction at inadequate watch on roads near coastal zone. Complaints of wasteful work, such as road mending, still in progress.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) Durham reports men listening more frequently to Haw Haw to secure details of raids on England. In some quarters people show less inclination to obey air raid alarms and only get out of bed on hearing planes or gun fire. Satisfaction at increased supplies for L.D.V. Anti-Chamberlain comment shows signs of increase.

READING . (Southern) Comparative lull has brought increase in criticism of Government. Criticism that appeals for L.D.V.s and aluminium were badly presented.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) Dissatisfaction from Stafford and Sutton Coldfield about equipment and control of L.D.V. Coventry reports that evacuees from coastal areas are too loose-tongued about incidents in their areas. Reported that air raid wardens too frequently pass on yellow warnings to the public.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Evidence that people are accommodating themselves well to new restrictions, although the elderly undoubtedly feel the strain of the situation. Slight apprehension at news of imposition of curfew in certain northern coastal areas. Spirit of younger people remains keen. Evidence of conscious reticence in matters likely to help enemy. Packard's agreement to produce aero-engines created satisfaction.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) After expecting blitzkrieg for eleven days Kent and Sussex people are beginning to relax, though many realise Hitler wants to create this attitude. Efforts to arouse sense of responsibility in men drafted to Sheerness for defence work has met with limited success, and removal from their families affects their outlook. Hooper's talk well received in Tunbridge Wells.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) Success of R.A.F. offensive attacks thought to cause Hitler's hesitation to invade Britain. Petain's activities viewed with mild contempt. Silent Column campaign approved but suggestion to place “chatter boxes” in clubs and hotels regarded as childish. Country folk visiting Belfast circulate stories of military occupation of farms. Much interest aroused in scheme to give civil defence lectures in cinemas.

EDINBURGH (Scotland) Air raid which caused civilian casualties in Greenock has not adversely affected morale. Glasgow observers stress difficulty of taking interest in war as there has been no evidence of military activity in the city since the outbreak. Complaints that broadcasts describing defence preparations make no mention of Scotland. Glasgow shopkeepers who are opening their shops on Fair Monday, complain that those in nearby towns do not propose to do so. Bombed towns still produce usual rumours.




Morale remains the same; people growing less apprehensive of invasion, but determined as ever to win the war. Complaints that national appeals are made before machinery exists to deal with them. This irritates people and has been the case with appeals for women's work; motor mechanics for aeroplane work; need for aluminium and now for smaller matters such as buying and storing of coke and acquiring of stirrup pumps - neither of the latter available to enquirers. Some cases of hardship reported among people evacuated to London from coastal areas: removers charging double normal rate, while people left in Defence Areas afraid to wait until ordered to move with one suitcase as they cannot afford new furniture. French soldiers and sailors appearing in West End public houses; observers report new spirit of comradeship between them and British springing up and open expression of feeling that we are all fighting now for Democracy and know who our enemies really are. Society doctor reports many wealthy patients asking for poison prescriptions to take if Germans come. Irritation about rationing among well-to-do circles shows itself in luxury restaurants such as Harrods. Customers walk out saying they will go elsewhere to get more generous portions of sugar. Some expression of opinion in middle class intellectual circles that it is hypocritical to talk about fighting Naziism and treat refugees harshly. Croydon: “Service men complaining they must pay full postal rates in England, whereas in France their postage was free. Another grievance is that cigarettes given free in France are not given in England”. Honor Oak Estate: observer reporting lack of neighbourliness now gratified to find W.V.S. starting housewives' service and co-ordinating people's activities; this improving morale greatly. More appreciation of Duff Cooper's speech and reports that Anti-Rumour campaign already having effect; people in buses and other public places discouraging gossip.

We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close