A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



2.9.40 .

Despite the activities of German raiders, all reports confirm the steadiness and fortitude of the population.

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle). Although loss of sleep is causing fatigue, many are adjusting their hours of rest by going to bed earlier, and are transferring bedrooms to the ground floor. The policy of stopping buses during raids is causing criticism amongst workers who have to walk home after a heavy day's work. Rumours of alleged damage and casualties after air raids are increasing in Stockton-on-Tees.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham). Bombs have fallen in many parts of the region, but those chiefly affected have shown great courage and cheerfulness. Complaint of inadequate defence comes from the Beeston and Chilwell area, where casualties and much damage occurred; fighter planes did not appear and it is alleged that all available guns were not in action. There is divided opinion in the region on the siren policy; in Northampton it is believed that without a warning civil defence services may not be mobilised; there is lack of confidence in Chesterfield due to bombs falling after “raiders passed”. In the latter town there is a tendency to stampede in the streets when the warning is heard, and reluctance to obey wardens. The “slight damage” formula of official communiques is regarded in many quarters as an understatement, and it is suggested that casualty totals should be published each fortnight.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol). Reports from Bristol, Exeter, Weston-super-Mare and Salisbury, all of which have been bombed recently show that morale has not been affected. In the Saturday raid on Salisbury many refused to take cover, and the fire services were hampered by people flocking to see where incendiary bombs dropped. Complaints from Barnstaple that context filters have not been fitted to gas masks following the arrival of evacuee children with respirators complete. Londoners living in Bath consider that too much is made of damage to London. It is also commented that victims of damage receive no compensation for consequential expenses “which hits the middle-classes with fixed incomes and obligations, very hard.”

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh). There is profound relief that the children from the torpedoed evacuee ship are safe. 76 Scottish children from towns other than Glasgow and Edinburgh are among the evacuees, and the chief officer reports that practically all the children will want to go back to Canada. Some alarm has been created on recent occasions by gunfire practice, and it has been suggested that the public might receive previous notice in some way. Exaggeration of casualties and damage done by raiders in England is still widespread, and the story is circulating in Edinburgh that 300 were killed in the Croydon raids; there have been comparatively few raids in Scotland and people tend to compensate their comparative isolation by exaggerating stories received in letters from the South..

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast). Bitter resentment is felt at the sinking of the evacuee ship bound for Canada. There is speculation about the possibility of a curfew for the winter months in Northern Ireland. The concession to the linen trade contained in the new flax order is welcome here. Criticism is expressed by the farming community about the new prices for cattle and pigs, and it is expected that the Ulster Farmers' Union will make a strong protest to the Ministry of Food.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham). Midland industrialists are concerned about the effect on production of the constant night raids and some consider there should be more active interception of enemy planes proceeding to the area. Altered factory hours are helping to meet the situation and many workers are insisting that they shall be allowed to carry on during raids, their chief concern being that their wives and families shall get due warning. There are demands for increased tea ration in many industrial towns.




From many districts it is reported that people start queueing with bedding outside public shelters about 9 p.m. One West Ham shelter with particularly good amenities is said to have attracted people from distance - even owners of Anderson shelters. West Ham observer reports:- “Some mothers with young children do not undress and fear to sleep in case they miss siren; people who have experienced bombs falling in same road help to cheer others and seem less nervous than residents at some distance from damaged area.” Reported mistrust of public street shelters among several Tooting residents owing to rumour of occupants being trapped in a Brixton shelter. South East London observer reports:- “Many people go to shelters now at first sound of gunfire and planes even if siren not yet sounded: wardens and shelter marshals very helpful and friendly: it is found that four can sleep comfortably in Anderson shelter, whils six cannot arrange themselves for sleeping.” Woolwich observer reports that many people feel no warning necessary when only solitary raider is near. Observer in Stepney reports splendid courage and calmness during bombing on Saturday night and A.R.P. services “magnificent”; some disgust that sirens were not sounded in time. Observer reports annoyance of passengers held up by night raids at inability of transport workers to say which routes available after raid damage. East Ham resident reports nervousness after Friday night's raid and less confidence in Anderson shelters owing to fatal casualties in shelters nearby; often unable to hear raiders approaching owing to sound of steam trains.

Home Intelligence.

2nd September, 1940 .

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