A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 86
Daily Report on MORALE
Tuesday, 27th August, 1940

Air raids dominate thought and conversation. Determination has not weakened but our reports show a definite increase in apprehension. This appears to be caused by:

1. An increasing lack of confidence in sirens. Many are reported to be saying “They don't mean anything: a bomb's just as likely to drop after the All-Clear”. They are beginning to prefer to rely on their own diagnosis of an approaching raid and to sleep in shelters rather than risk a false All-Clear. The siren situation is beginning to create restlessness and, in those people not urgently occupied, a sense of being on the ‘qui vive’.

2. Women with children are beginning to show strain.

3. The inconsistency of regulations leads to irritation, e.g. In some places no one is allowed to leave until the raid is over, in others they are free to do so.

4. There is still a good deal of uncertainty about transport facilities at night.

5. There are complaints about the conditions in public shelters, e.g. insufficient seats.

6. The realisation that night raids may persist throughout the winter is bringing despondency.

Superficially people are cheerful and it should be remarked that there are many complaints of people ignoring shelter instructions. At the same time a large number of people took shelter for the whole of last night's raid.

There are certain specific rumours about air-raid damage and casualties, e.g. the three hundred girls killed in the Croydon scent factory, but on the whole people are speaking with control about raids.

Reports from cinemas show that audiences have taken the warnings calmly, that they generally stay until the end and do not panic. There has been no noticeable decline in attendances.

There is a definite and noticeable increase in the demand for recriminatory measures and some anger at reports that our aircraft have returned with their bombs from Germany. There is still an inadequate realisation of the importance of targets. There is quite a strong demand for retaliation on civilians. At the same time, in our judgment, there is yet no great anger against the Germans. There is as much bitterness about sirens. A condition of affairs exists, however, in which anger against the Germans may grow rapidly. It is important that this emotion should be canalised and should not be allowed to attach itself to what is considered to be a major grievance at home: siren policy




27.8.40 .

Criticism of the present siren policy continues. Several reports indicate that people in raided towns consider they are inadequately safeguarded by A.A. defences. There is also a growing feeling that reprisals should be taken for deliberate German attacks on non-military objectives and the machine-gunning of civilians, and the fact that our bombers bring back their loads if unable to locate the enemy target is not well received in towns subjected to German attempts at demoralisation.

2. NORTH-EASTERN (Leeds). Bombs causing fatal casualties fell 2 hours after “Raiders Passed” had sounded. The first serious raids in the West Riding have raised rather than lowered morale. Communiqués on air raid damage are not believed by many who live in bombed areas. Inhabitants of Bridlington complain that the town has no A.A. guns, and it has suffered severe damage. Many comments are received from isolated rural areas in the Yorkshire Dales about inadequate blackout precautions, where lights can be seen for miles.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge). Monday's raid on Cambridge increased controversy over the siren policy, and there is bewilderment at the absence of A.A. defence and fighters. There is a tendency for people to remain in their doorways watching for air battles during alarms. There appears to be a general feeling that the Germans do greater damage by sporadic raids rather than by mass attacks. The apparent ease with which R.A.F. stations are attacked has caused some surprise, especially among those who learn of the effects at first hand.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading). Although the region has had a large share of raids there is no sign that morale has been affected. It is likely that too frequent reiteration that civilian bombing is of no significance will not be believed, and it has been pointed out that Holland was compelled to surrender largely through the threat to repeat the bombing of Rotterdam at Utrecht. Recent restrictions imposed on public meetings are likely to cause dissatisfaction.

8. WALES (Cardiff). The bombing of military objectives in the suburbs of Berlin has met with unanimous approval, and there is widespread criticism that our planes should bring back their bombs if unable to locate a definite target. The effect of recent speeches by Ministers is still apparent in the feeling of confidence which is prevalent. Many still hope for offensive naval operations against Italy soon. The evacuation of Somaliland still rankles despite the official explanation. There is a large influx into cinemas when daylight warnings are sounded, and on account of the length of recent warnings and loss of transport comment is frequently overheard that entertainment must be enjoyed within walking distance of home, and at an early hour. The slow methods of public shelter construction in N. Wales are the object of much criticism.

10 NORTH-WESTERN (Manchester). Much interest is aroused by our raids over Berlin, and there is a feeling that we should have no scruples about bombing civilians there. Criticism is growing over what the public considers to be attempts to gloss over damage to this country, and the use of such phrases as “a few deaths”, etc. New posters boosting the contribution of the railways to the war effort has intensified feeling against higher fares.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells). The people of Gillingham are not going to shelter at the sound of guns. During night raids public shelters have been little used and most people appear to have kept awake with lights burning almost all night. The public seems prepared for similar enemy action in the future, with the hope that Berlin inhabitants are undergoing the same experiences. Voluntary civil defence workers would like a press appeal to employers to allow staff so engaged to arrive late for work in the morning when they have been on duty after midnight. Destinations chalked by railway workers on wagons containing war materials are believed to make valuable information available for the enemy.


We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close