A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 67
Daily Report on MORALE
Monday, 5th August, 1940

There is little change in morale which continues to be high.

The Prime Minister's message (on invasion) was warmly welcomed by those in positions of responsibility and reports indicate that his warning was not without effect. Nevertheless there are many who say that, taking into account the popular view that “Invasion is off”, the warning was not personal enough nor strong enough.

There were large holiday crowds over the weekend but there is still a good deal of confusion about the official attitude to holidays.

Mr. Duff Cooper's broadcast was on the whole favourably received but there are signs that the continued press campaign has made people less ready to accept what he says uncritically. This attitude has not developed far and many people suggest that it might not have developed at all if he had been broadcasting regularly. From direct and indirect questioning it is clear that a large number of people disapprove of the press campaign against the Minister even though they have been influenced by it. At the street level “Cooper's Snoopers” have scarcely made any impression: most people, especially in the provinces, have little idea of what the fuss has all been about. The whole controversy has been well above the head of the man in the street. Reports show that a majority of those who had any opinions about the “snoopers” were in favour of them: those who were against them frequently had distorted ideas of their functions. “Snooping under the bed” and “Spying through the keyhole” were reported hallucinations.

The granting of increased Old Age Pensions is a cause of satisfaction (although minor pension grievances still remain in this field). Nevertheless there is evidence that the concession has been insufficiently publicised.

The siren controversy continues.




5th August, 1940 .

For the time being, it is proposed to give points from only six regions each day, so that these points will cover two-day periods, instead of one-day periods. If however, events of importance occur in any region a daily report will be given from that region.

The Prime Minister's warning against complacency towards the threat of invasion has been widely welcomed. Newcastle reports that it has checked undue complacency in several quarters. Bristol regards it as very necessary as many people were refusing to think about the black side. It is also stressed that the statement will help to “show the enemy that we have not gone to sleep.” Northern Ireland regards it as timely, as public expectation of invasion had definitely receded. Nottingham states that general opinion is that invasion threats will have to materialise before Hitler's boasts are taken seriously. “The time has passed when the population could be frightened by the threat of invasion.”

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) There are requests from Scarborough that some form of assistance should be arranged for middle class people who are seriously hit by the defence regulations. The continued success of the R.A.F. as shown by official communiqués is leading to a little scepticism, and there are requests for explanation of the R.A.F's qualitative superiority. Flooding of air raid shelters continues to be complained about. There are complaints of “excessive” poetry reading in wireless programmes.

3. NORTH MIDLAND (Nottingham) Limitation of siren sounding popular in Chesterfield. Rural areas without sirens ask for advice as to their conduct when town sirens are heard in the distance. Many still claim to be able to distinguish German from British planes by their sound. Deduction of income tax at source popular. Many people suggest C.Os should receive only army pay plus allowances and some people would welcome same rates of pay for factory workers. High fruit prices are still a cause for complaint.

7. SOUTH WESTERN (Bristol) The arrest of Japanese in England is popular with the public. No grumbles about the absence of Bank Holiday. Hoiday resorts on the Bristol Channel coast complain about the mention of the Bristol Channel in Home Security bulletins and say that their trade has thereby being ruined. Devonians still think they can identify enemy planes by their sound.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) Although munition workers continue busy over the Bank Holiday there is a good deal of criticism; complaints from several centres say that workers feel overtired and that more good would be done by relaxation of the regulation than by rigid observation of the non-stop working plans. Some people in country districts think currency notes may depreciate and silver hoarding is being reported. The need for stable hours of work in factories so as to ease the burden of transport undertakings is acute.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh) The siren controversy is in full swing again as bombs have preceded sirens on three consecutive nights. At this time the public are not upset by the bomb explosions and many prefer to avoid the suspense of waiting after the sirens have sounded. There is some public feeling that the A.A. defences of Edinburgh are not as strong as they should be.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) Birchall's broadcast “mercilessly trouncing Hitler” keenly appreciated. Sinclair's clear exposure of Nazi exaggeration of British shipping losses highly praised. Public attitude is summed up thus “facts are the best propaganda”. Few people said to be listening to Haw Haw, Italian news in English or New British Broadcast Station. Anti-war propaganda by communists in Belfast is having little effect. Some complaint that recruiting drive has given results below expectations.




Morale is on the whole quite good and there is almost an apathetic feeling growing up amongst some people; they feel that the danger of invasion is growing less and that the war probably won't last very long. No feeling of panic or alarm even in districts where bombs have been dropped and damage caused. Amongst the more thinking section of the population there is a growing feeling that some really constructive policy for the future should now be formulated. Appeals to people's courage unnecessary; invigorating and homely talks like Mr. Hackett's more effective. Still many complaints about hardships caused by inadequate allowances to soldiers' families; similar cases very often treated differently. Discontent amongst evacuees from Margate living in Hanworth about their allowance relative to that given to foreign refugees. Less feeling against refugees; in some districts they are able to get work thus creating a much better spirit among the refugees themselves. Interest in the news seems if anything to be decreasing; one day seems very like another. Preference is expressed for B.B.C. rather than press reports. Fulham reported that the women in the district seem to be much happier now over having sent the children out of London. Shopping is proving a little difficult in some districts and queues for eggs have been noticed. These can now be procured for 2/-, but 3/- a dozen was being asked for fresh eggs. Very little grumbling is heard about food difficulties.

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