A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 32
Saturday, 22nd June, 1940


There has been little change in morale during this period of waiting. People have got over the shock of the French collapse and are quite calm.

There is a revival of interest in Hitler's terms to France, and there are a number of rumours about their nature. There is no evidence, however, that these rumours are having a particularly damaging effect.

There is a clear realisation of the danger of invasion and from some Regions come reports that the public think preparations for it have improved. An insistent demand continues for cooperating more fully in the war effort, and there are many expressions of opinion which show that compulsion would be considered advisable and acceptable.

Air raids were taken philosophically, although, particularly in the S.W. Region, they gave rise to uncontrolled rumours. There is criticism of the midnight news reporting the beginning of the raid: it promoted nervous apprehension. Observers report that one of the main reactions in raided districts is weariness through broken sleep with consequent depression.

Certain areas report a slight return to an attitude of disassociation and mental evasion.

Besides waiting for Hitler's terms people are still waiting for a strong lead.




22nd June, 1940

NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) People going about calmly at their businesses. Banks increasingly willing to lend to Farmers. Growing tendency to regard Petain as a Fascist, particularly since it is known he was Ambassador to Spain and therefore, presumably a friend of Franco. Increasingly cordial feeling towards America, partly because of hospitality offered to children, partly because of arrival of material and partly because of hospitality and partly because of changes in U.S. Government.

CARDIFF (Wales) Continued demand for conscription for A.R.P. and L.D.V. and also for cutting off of luxury supplies at the source.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) Public believe Northern Ireland now much better prepared for emergencies, great keenness to play a part in Civil Defence. Explosion on waste ground in Belfast last night believed to have been due to a bomb which owner wished to get rid of.

MANCHESTER (North Western) Stirrup pumps and sand have proved most effective in dealing with incendiary bombs. Much satisfaction at strengthening of Police and A.F.S.; position still unsatisfactory about volunteers for A.R.P. and L.D.V.

BRISTOL (South Western) Region full of rumours about districts bombed. Exeter anxious about A.A. Defence.

LEEDS (North Eastern) Still much criticism of Authorities, very poor attendance at A.R.P. meeting addressed in Leeds by Lord Harlech. Public demand abolition of voluntary system for A.R.P. Keighley A.R.P. Organiser arrested under Defence Regulations; this has stimulated interest in Fifth Columnists.

EDINBURGH (Scotland) News of last night's raids caused little comment. Main interest centred on terms of French peace.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) Public becoming “philosophical” to air raid warnings. Intense irritation over conflicting instructions about lights on cars. A.R.P. personnel anxious to be armed. Doubts about powers of police and military to order people off streets in air raids. At Stanley (Co. Durham) communists had to have personal protection from crowds.

READING (Southern) Many rumours about extent of air raids, considerable demand in Reading for passages for children to the Dominions.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) Satisfaction at accelerated rate of registration, but many would like wider conscription for service. Still inadequate removal of road indications, particularly where road names give clues to their direction; Estate Agents boards and tradesmens vans also may reveal localities.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Sporadic raiding in early hours today made little impression on civilian population.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) Arrival of Empire Troops cheering. Hooper's broadcast last night much appreciated “Like Duff Cooper he speaks to us in our own language.” Great success of lectures explaining Civil Defence Schemes. No serious Bank withdrawals, but rather the reverse. No Anti-French or Anti-Russian feeling detected. Middle-aged volunteers of both sexes at Labour Exchanges very disappointed when their offers of service are turned down. Invasion pamphlet well received, only two criticisms:-

It is a little too wordy and Section 7 makes no mention of Ministry of Information messages to Information Committees.


Some return of children evacuated to Wales reported. Many questions asked about Duke of Windsor. Lorry drivers are reported to be giving details of air-raid damage which arouses surprise when compared with meagre press statements.

193 3


For the information of the Authorities concerned the following points have been extracted from the various reports received today by Home Intelligence Division:-

NAVAL INTELLIGENCE Anxiety is expressed about the ability of spies to land with refugees at coastal villages, as the only local check is made by the Village P.C. and Harbour Master. It is suggested that some more adequate form of supervision should be set up to deal with this possibility.

M.I.7 . Exeter is anxious about its A.A. defences as there is said to be no barrage or searchlights. Strong criticism is made of inadequate defence arrangements.

AIR INTELLIGENCE Short official bulletins about raids are regarded with distrust and give rise to many alarmists stories; though the inability to provide details is appreciated, reports of a rather more circumstantial nature would do much to dissipate dangerous rumours.

HOME SECURITY Lack of information on the liabilities of compulsorily evacuated persons with regard to standing charges (rents, rates etc.,) is causing serious anxiety on many parts of the East Coast. Much inconvenience is being caused by a conflict of orders about lights on cars during air raids. It is emphatically urged that there should be a national announcement of the Police powers in this matter. This applies also to responsibilities of the Police for clearing streets of pedestrians.

Criticism is made of the fact that factories other than those engaged in Armament work, but which may perhaps be doing vital export trade, do not receive anything like the same encouragement in the form of “Comforting words to their employees” as those engaged in munition making etc., “Factory workers like ourselves could do with a little encouragement, by being told that our work is important, even though it may seem to be rather trivial at the moment”.

Yesterday's Daily Mirror photograph of an undamaged Anderson shelter which withstood a nearby bomb explosion has made an excellent impression, and it is suggested that this photo should be more widely publicised.

As Railway carriages appear to be fruitful sources of gossip, it is suggested that all railway Companies should be encouraged to display anti-gossip posters in their carriages.

MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT There still seems to be much confusion about the removal of direction signs “Many roads in this area (Birmingham) are so clearly labelled as to a give a complete guide to the direction which should be followed”. It is thought that the instructions about this matter are not sufficiently definite.

MINISTRY OF SUPPLY Manchester reports that the demand for stirrup pumps and sand far exceeds the supplies of either, and urges that some form of control of manufacture is essential in the case of the former.

MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE Many town dwellers are eager to spend such holidays as they may have in some form of agricultural work, but it is said that local Exchanges have been un-co-operative in this matter, and some guidance on the way in which this work can be obtained would be widely welcomed.

NATIONAL SAVINGS Portsmouth Information Committee say the National Savings campaign would be helped by suspension of the Hire Purchase System. Many people whose wages have recently been increased are buying more extensively than before instead of lending their savings.


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