A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 82
Daily Report on MORALE
Thursday, 22nd August, 1940

1. During the four days August 16th - 20th (i.e. before the Prime Minister made his statement) the Wartime Social Survey asked the question:

“What do you think of our food blockade of German-controlled countries?”

with the result:

Approval Qualified Approval Disapproval No Opinion
82 % 1 % 3 % 14 %
Percentage of men approving 90
Percentage of women approving 72 (because greater percentage of women had no opinion)

An analysis of the arguments put forward by those who disapproved showed that some objected on humane grounds, others from self-interest (disease from famine areas will spread to England).

Those who expressed qualified approval were generally sceptical about the success of our blockade (upper and middle class reaction).

About 60% of those expressing approval did so on grounds of “absolute necessity”, “could not do otherwise” etc.

The subject will be continuously studied and a further analysis of the replies is being made.

2. There was considerable disappointment that Sir John Anderson did not make a full statement of policy yesterday. Most people appear to have expected it.

Therefore the siren controversy continues unabated.

3. Further criticism of Mr. Duff Cooper's last broadcast is coming to light. There are more strongly unfavourable than favourable references in our reports. There is a small minority strongly in favour.

4. There is a good deal of annoyance and some anger at “misleading official statements about casualties and damage”. People in a damaged area cannot understand the use of phrases like “little material damage”, “Few casualties”, and although morale remains high, this subject represents a definite point of tension and dissatisfaction.




22.8.40 .

Reports from raided areas show that morale remains very high, and seems to rise in proportion to the number of raids, about which most people are philosophical, and not unduly worried.

The aftermath of the Premier's speech is confidence, and his remark about the Russian Air Force has given rise to a good deal of speculation.

2. NORTH-EASTERN (Leeds) Comment on the Air Minister's broadcast reflects the confidence of the man in the street in the progress of the war. Complaints regarding the sounding of sirens continue to be received, principally from Rotherham which was recently bombed. Keen dissatisfaction was expressed at the Hebden Bridge Local Elementary Education Committee at the inadequate air raid accommodation for schools.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) An exception to calm behaviour in air raids has been at Ramsey, Hunts., where, after a warning, 20 mothers went to the local school to demand their children. Some comment has been aroused in Lowestoft that B.B.C. news bulletins made no reference to the fact that six people were killed as a result of direct hits on shelters. The appearance of R.A.F. fighters was heartening. Absence of warnings in the Chelmsford area has caused nervousness and renewed demand for private shelters. A rumour has gained currency in the same area that troops, engaged on anti-invasion manoeuvres on the coast, were unable to cope with the emergency. Many fields in West Norfolk are still not obstructed against enemy aircraft.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading) There is some danger that people may mistake the Premier's optimism in ultimate victory for a feeling that it is already in sight, and more thoughtful people realise that hard times are ahead and that we may suffer reverses in different parts of the world. The siren controversy still continues, especially in the smaller towns.

8. WALES (Cardiff) Daylight raids without warnings leave a sense of grievance, and Anderson's explanation of the Croydon incident caused disappointment. Speculation is widespread concerning the lull in daylight raids. Raids on military objectives in Italy cause great satisfaction. The Air Minister's broadcast had a mixed reception.

10. NORTH-WESTERN (Manchester) Somaliland is almost forgotten already, but there is some puzzlement about the Balkan situation. Air Minister's talk approved, but some people fear we may exaggerate Nazi losses by too much manipulation of figures. Opinion is sharply divided on the Home Guard, and many think officers and better discipline are needed. Manchester is receiving many stories about air raid damage to other Midland cities.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells). Complaints have been received from a number of villages because they have no sirens, and in country districts where there is perhaps not even a village constable, there is a feeling that wardens should have more authority. Lorry drivers say that they cannot hear sirens above the noise of their engines, and sometimes drive into towns being raided without realising it. There is discontent among bus drivers and conductors at not being allowed to stop their buses in raids, as some had narrow escapes last Sunday. Country dwellers say the supply of sugar for jam making is considerably delayed. Reference in the Press and by the public to the “All Clear” instead of “Raiders Passed” led many civil defence workers to believe that if gas is used in air raids, people will remove their masks when the “Raiders Passed” is sounded.


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