A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 47 .
Daily Report on MORALE
Thursday, 11th July, 1940

The public is cheerful and there is little change in morale. There is evidence, however, that cheerfulness is superficial: people are disinterested in the general war situation and its international implications, and Hitler's failure to arrive is promoting a apprehensive feeling that “he must have something very unpleasant in store for us.” Determination to challenge and meet this surprise is widespread, and confidence in the Navy is at a high level. “The Navy will win the war for us in the end”.

Air raids continue to be taken calmly. In heavily raided areas there is a demand for further reprisals, and aggressive R.A.F. action is strongly applauded. Official policy about the publication of air raid casualties and damage is not understood and widely resented. Local information about casualties, which are not reflected in official bulletins, has brought suspicion on other official communiqués, and on the honesty of official news as a whole.

There is considerable dissatisfaction that the evacuation of children to the Dominions is receiving set-backs. The public is confused and alarmed at this apparent change of policy without detailed explanation.

Comments on the statement that no civilians are to be included in Honours Lists have shown some resentment, and provide indications that although civilians do not necessarily want rewards, they feel themselves to be, or about to be, in the front line of battle. Honours are a recognition of this fact. There are other signs that the relationship between the civilian and the military needs watching.




11th July, 1940

NOTTINGHAM (North Midland) Complaints that Nottinghamshire villages are inadequately protected against bombs. Evacuated children are in Lowtham, where schools are without shelters. Support in rural areas for compulsory measures for obstructions on possible landing grounds. Small response to Regional Commissioner's appeal. Criticism of inadequate passenger transport facilities in rush hour.

CARDIFF (Wales) Public still uneasy about air raid warnings. Many calls for an entirely different ‘all clear’ signal. Uneasiness in North Wales concerning the number of cyclists, presumably on holiday, with only an identity card without photograph as a check. Raid and casualty rumours still prevalent.

MANCHESTER (North Western) R.A.F. feats cause much satisfaction. Banning of Fascists approved, but considered overdue. Criticism of tea rationing; cafes and restaurants provide means of evasion for those who can pay. Aluminium appeal has caught public fancy, but people ask why shops are still selling these goods. Butler's broadcast good, but delivery too “Foreign Office.”

BRISTOL (South Western) Continued raids on S.W. coast accepted philosophically. Criticism in S.Devon and Cornwall that defences are not as good as they might be. Concern from poorer quarters of raided towns over restoration of damaged property. Government policy, “in due course” not clear. Torquay complains that some people appear to be taking no part in war effort and ask for compulsory service. Also complaints of the inefficiency of the warning system.

LEEDS (North Eastern) Big air battle widely discussed. Irritation that papers give too much German propaganda from American sources. Dissatisfaction that road barricades round Doncaster are made of old cars, etc. which could be used at scrap. The barricades are thought to be of little use. Rationing accepted without complaint.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) Possibility of invasion of Ireland widely discussed. Opinion expressed that I.R.A. would give active support to Germany. Prevalent opinion in many centres that time is ripe to abandon voluntary system altogether. People anxiously awaiting a lead. New rationing accepted calmly as part of the war effort.

READING (Southern) Aluminium appeal goes well. Newport Employment Exchange reports reluctance of farm workers to be associated with C.O.s. Suspicion that we are not frank about air raid casualties linked with continued announcements that German raids here do minimum damage. Demand for fuller news about Mediterranean and Africa.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Siren controversy fully resumed. Lowestoft Town Council in favour of greater freedom, as also the rural communities. Reported that some women reluctant to allow their husbands to go to work so long as present warning system remains.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) Growing confidence in ability of R.A.F. to defend the country. Rumours of unnecessarily high wages being paid to youths on defence work by Contractors.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) Perturbation that bombs drop during yellow warnings. Many people in recently bombed areas spend early hours of the night in shelters. Warwick reports concern that the removal of place names is not sufficiently thorough. Controversy at Coventry over retention of C.O.s in municipal services.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) R.A.F. successes yesterday strengthened confidence. Satisfaction at banning British Union. I.R.A. activities cause strong feeling against anything savouring of Fifth Column.

EDINBURGH (Scotland) Anxiety about Ireland and disbelief in ability to defend itself against invasion. Prevalence of drunkenness in Glasgow at weekends causes comment. Some scepticism as to reported ineffectiveness of German raids. Suppression of British Union welcomed. Absence of news of shipping losses adversely commented on in Glasgow circles which know such losses have occurred.




People disturbed to find aluminium still sold in shops when they go to buy enamel to replace pots and pans given to the Government. This reported from Mill Hill, Victoria, and Kensington. Discontent expressed at differences between soldiers' allowances and high pay of men in some reserved occupations; equality of sacrifice asked for. Children still returning from raided areas. Hoxton reports some brought home from South Wales after sending letters to parents saying they were nervous from so many warnings. “These returned children look well” states observer, “and show no sign of nerves”. Twenty-seven children from same school returned in last five days from Radstock. Many people fear wholesale coming back to London before long. Stepney: “owing to growing unemployment in district there is considerable depression. Typical remarks are: ‘fares going up, food going up, no work and no money coming in. It's a nice world!’” Announcements in press that Government may not be able to send children overseas causing anxiety and annoyance. Dissatisfaction at red tape and trouble over getting all particulars finished to send children away. Suspicion voiced that publicity has been given to scheme for ulterior motives. This may have bad effect on morale among disappointed middle and upper classes and still more among working classes who think that only rich children have got away early. Working class hardly aware of existence of New British Broadcasting Station, but roughly 10% of middle class with powerful sets occasionally listen from curiosity. “Haw Haw listening has gone down since news became very serious”, states many observers in different districts. Some women who listen remark: “we get our news first from German stations as long as Germany is winning the war.” Harrow: “lack of rifles among local L.D.V. causing disquiet and lack of confidence; factories still not armed”. Hammersmith: “friction over local civil defence personnel”. Willesden: “proposed Government scheme to set up small creches has induced people to start them voluntarily. Women anxious their small children should be cared for while they are at work.” Poplar: “children having to go long distances to school because own schools are closed. Many parents refusing to let them go so far afield. Responsible people anxious that law of compulsory education should in this manner be allowed to slide.”

We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close