A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 25
Friday, 14th June, 1940


1. Anxiety and tension are increasing. Reynaud's appeal to America has caused many people to express the fear that the French may collapse at any moment. Many inquiries are made about the state of French morale and there is a growing fear that we shall soon be left to fight alone. Questions are urgently asked about the extent of our immediate aid to France.

2. In certain districts women are showing increasing signs of strain.

3. There is increasing criticism of our apparent lack of effort. This finds expression in criticism of the Government which is only partly retrospective. There is some confusion in the distribution of blame and the present Government as well as “Chamberlain” are being attacked both because of inefficient and inadequate preparedness and because the “Germans are successful in aggression”. This confusion is unhealthy especially as it is found in association with a guilty admiration for Hitler's fulfilment of his prophecies. It is widely remembered that Hitler said he would be in Paris by June 15th. There is thus some danger of increasing fear, tension points and pockets of defeatism.

4. There is increasing criticism of the L.D.V. and a strong feeling is growing that the voluntary system should be given up both for the L.D.V., A.R.P. and industrial recruitment. There is a feeling that the determination of the public to win is not being supported by adequate material preparations. Phrases like “We will never surrender”; “We will fight in the streets, on the hills ------” are being criticised in the light of inadequate mobilisation of men and materials.

5. Rumour . New rumours are of a kind which show increased alarm and apprehension, e.g. the Government are going to Canada, Rumania has stopped oil supplies to France and Britain.





NOTTINGHAM (North Midlands) Miners making tremendous efforts to increase output. Some criticism of ploughing-up policy as many landowners are just scratching worthless ground to get the subsidy. Order of Area Commander putting Nottingham Dance Halls out of bounds to Officers has created much resentment. People on Lincolnshire coast worried at state of coastal defences.

CARDIFF (Wales) Continued resentment against last Government and growing outcry that we should make more use of our manpower. Three parachutists baled out near a congested area causing consternation among women. Arrival of police allayed tendency to panic.

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) Much dissatisfaction with Anderson's statement about Ulster-Eire border. Strong feeling that rigid safeguards against passage of dangerous persons over border are needed. Hope expressed that Anderson will consult Ulster Government at once. Criticism of Home Defence and A.R.P. persists.

MANCHESTER (North Western) Public increasingly impatient, demanding acceleration of our war effort. They would accept any orders but are disinclined to volunteer. Response to appeal for Civil Defence volunteers most disappointing. Birkenhead reports confirm lack of faith in voluntary system. Fear expressed that reticence about smoke-screens will cause crop of wild rumours.

BRISTOL (South Western) Public anxious lest French statesmen are becoming a little hysterical. “Tell the truth” speeches by French Officers in the area widely welcomed and more are demanded. Public apprehensive as so many B.E.F. men have been seen without rifles, while French troops have them. Apparently, on arrival in England B.E.F. rifles were collected. If this were explained view that British troops dropped rifles and ran for it would vanish. Opposition to Horse and Greyhound racing almost unanimous, including even Cirencester. Bristol manufacturers demand conscription of labour. A stranger to the region travelled 360 miles in the West Country without difficulty, thanks to hotel and other private advertisements on the road, and the clearness of the white lines on the roads leading to towns. Exeter welcomes evacuees “cleaner than the last lot”. St. Austell makes strong criticism of our poor effort in France. French are staking all while we have half a million unemployed.

LEEDS (North Eastern) Much dissatisfaction with maintenance of L.D.V. being left to voluntary contributions. “Why no Government funds?” Much bitter comment on Juliana's evacuation to Canada.

EDINBURGH (Scotland) “We are not doing all we can to help France”. Montrose British Legion organises anti-rumour plan. Edinburgh attempts to form “Sixth Column” to discover Fifth Columnists. This is not regarded favourably by police.

NEWCASTLE (Northern) Constant complaints about lack of proper equipment for L.D.V. Many groups show exceptional keenness and buy ammunition out of their own pockets to get shooting practice. Strong criticism of Government parsimony in not providing this or refunding money spent.

READING (Southern) We are to blame as much as the French for the present situation. Feeling strong that declaration of war by America would force doubting neutrals -e.g. Turkey and Spain, to come in with us. Minister of Health's statement on evacuation not well received. His arguments lacked conviction. If coast is to be invaded the sooner we evacuate unnecessary civilians, the better; otherwise we shall have streams of refugees as in Holland, Belgium and France. Everyone is tired of the voluntary principle. If Government wants volunteers among youths, conscript them. Same applies to industry. Firms still complain they have volunteered for Government work for months but nothing has happened yet.

BIRMINGHAM (Midland) Criticism of our lack of effort continues, especially the slowness of the call-up and the failure to conscript men to deal with the emergency.

CAMBRIDGE (Eastern) Minister of Home Security's appeal to the public to keep away from East Coast has created a little alarm but more thoughtful people recognise the necessity for this precaution. Coast resorts deeply worried at grave prospects now that all holiday business has stopped.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS (South Eastern) Seaside resorts concerned at curtailment of pleasure trips to coast and many now look forward to complete loss of business.


People realise how serious the situation is. Fall of Paris has shaken them considerably; though they are calm they show dismay and a growing anger at our lack of men and equipment. Recrimination against the previous Government, especially Chamberlain is heard, and there is questioning as to whether the French will capitulate. Disappointment is expressed at America's lack of concrete help and at our failure to use all our manpower. Difficulty reported in getting A.R.P. volunteers in South London. In Albert Docks Italian shops attacked by hooligans with nothing better to do. Older people expressed disgust at this. Poplar women angry at able-bodied men spending their time at Greyhound racing. Greenwich and Deptford report possibility of our not being victorious is now being considered by some people. West Ham Mission have opened as a substitute for schools. Evacuation in the City of London only 6% of those registered turned up. Some improvement in evacuation attitude reported following B.E.F. stories of the true horrors of war and showing of news reels of these horrors.


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