A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 99
Daily Observations by Home Intelligence
Friday, 13th September, 1940

In London the anti-aircraft barrage continues to stimulate morale. People are sleeping better in spite of increased noise, and reports show there is an increased feeling of security based on the psychological knowledge that we are hitting back.

People living near guns are suffering from serious lack of sleep: a number of interviews made round one gun in West London showed that people were getting much less sleep than others a few hundred yards away. Very few used ear plugs, and many of those interviewed were still relying on deck chairs instead of mattresses. There is little complaint about lack of sleep, mainly because of the new exhilaration created by the barrage. Nevertheless this serious loss of sleep needs watching.

There is a growth of anger against the Germans and growing demands for “reprisals on civilians”.

Reports continue to show a great increase in rumours about damage and casualties (“They say the casualties are really ten times bigger than we are told.”)

Motorists do not appear to give lifts willingly and there is considerable criticism of “the rich in their cars”.





1. SOUTHERN (Reading) The Prime Minister's speech has been received “with approbation and quiet confidence”. There are some signs of a recrudescence of 5th columnist rumours, some of which are attributed to Haw-Haw. Exaggeration of the casualties on a recent raid on Southampton gives rise to a suggestion that the B.B.C. should give a reminder that gossip about air raid damage “can be just as dangerous as the spreading of totally unfounded rumours”.

3. NORTH MIDLAND (Nottingham). Leicestershire I.C. has received “urgent representations” about the delay in supplying the civil defence services with uniform and equipment. The Nottingham I.C. would like an explanation of the variation of the Ministry of Labour Gazette's cost of living index. The decrease of two points during August seems to be doubted.

7. SOUTH WESTERN (Bristol). Mr. Churchill's speech has had “a stimulating effect”. A demand for reprisal raids on Berlin is made in various parts of the Region. Concern is expressed about the way in which the King and Queen and Prime Minister are visiting the bombed areas, although the effect of their behaviour on public morale is fully appreciated.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham). There has been an enthusiastic reception for the Prime Minister's speech. This applies also to the new raid warning system. Various Information Committees have commented upon the display of car lights which are to be seen on trunk roads throughout the Region.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh). Full approval is given to the Prime Minister's speech. It has enhanced the expectation of invasion, but the public are nevertheless confident about the outcome of such an enterprise. There are many rumours dealing with this subject.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast). Investigations are being made into the accommodation available for the reception of Londoners rendered homeless through air raids. This problem is being considered by the Northern Ireland Cabinet. The local Press alleges that the voluntary recruiting system has been unsatisfactory and that young men prefer the dole.



Majority carrying on with calmness and courage even in heavily bombed areas. Most prevalent emotion anger with Germans and irritation over constant raids. Real hatred and savagery flash out at times from those who have come in contact with actual tragedies; “we must wipe them off the face of the earth” is working man's comment heard to-day. A.A. barrage continues to be encouraging. Much talk to-day of invasion; expectancy but not fear expressed. Croydon contact reports local people “determined to see it through” but that defeatist sentiments are voiced by isolated members of middle class. Noticeable friendliness everywhere among all classes and types of people. Everybody is trying to help everybody else - except motorists who are rousing angry bitterness at not offering lifts with empty cars to long queues of tired workers. Even when Home Guard asked motorists to give lifts in Balham to stranded workers they refused. Misuse of public shelters in Wandsworth reported; people push in with bedding and prevent strangers from getting a place; conditions described as dirty and unhygienic. Borough of Finsbury keeps its public shelters in excellent condition; result is that people come to large underground shelter from other boroughs in cars and crowd it out. Authorities feel they cannot turn people away as in present state of nervous tension there would be angry scenes.

Home Intelligence.

13th September, 1940 .

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