A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 77
Daily Report on MORALE
Friday, 16th August, 1940

Confidence and cheerfulness prevail. Intensified raids are everywhere received with calmness, the results with jubilation. At the same time there is continued criticism of the siren policy.

Observations made during the warnings in London showed that many people did not take shelter but continued their normal activities. Many left shelters after a few minutes although today more people stayed in shelters for a longer time. Dominant feeling was annoyance and boredom (outside Croydon). In Croydon there is a good deal of criticism that the sirens were not sounded until too late. (Further details contained in London report - over).

Observers report that taking shelter and obedience to A.R.P. instructions is much more in evidence in middle-class areas than in working-class districts. It is noticed that after warnings or raids conversation is greatly stimulated, and it has been suggested that this provides an opportunity and occasion for ‘talking points’.

Reproduction of Lord Trenchard's suggestions in the Penny Press brought many enthusiastic comments. The idea is one which is in accord with public sentiment at the moment.

The passing of ‘August 15th’ is reported to have had a tonic effect and there is evidence that the date had become well planted in people's minds. One report says the banding about of dates has had a lowering effect on morale.

Interest in the Somaliland campaign has been obscured by the ‘Battle for Britain’. There are, however, a number of anxious references to ‘what lies behind the scenes in Africa’.

Joubert's broadcast had many favourable comments and several reports enquire why he does not broadcast more frequently.

There have been references to the Swinton Committee in today's reports. There is general confusion about the subject but the result of the publicity has been to stimulate the suspicion which has been remarked upon so often. “I wonder what lies behind it all”.

Many examples have reached us of recent propaganda by Moral Re-armament: the card headed ‘Morale’ which has been sent to many local authorities is creating a certain amount of suspicion that local officials being made a vehicle for this propaganda




16th August, 1940 .

News of R.A.F. punishment to enemy raiders continues to have a stimulating effect on public opinion, and more than counteracts the effects of disturbed nights in raided areas. Complaints about unopposed raids from Scotland have decreased.

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) The fact that fighters on night patrol are more in evidence has caused satisfaction. Eden's speech was well received. Many complaints are received of the freedom with which soldiers discuss the work they are engaged upon.

3. NORTH MIDLAND (Nottingham) Confidence prevails. Suggestions are still being made that there should be a statement on the Government's aims after the war. Approval of broadcasts by Dr. Wood, George Hicks and Harcourt Johnson. The rationing of raw materials for manufacture is a matter of serious concern for those engaged in hosiery, boot and shoe manufacture; it will almost certainly cause short time and employees are already apprehensive about continued employment in the late Autumn. Lincoln reports a strong feeling that sentimentalism must be combated with regard to Hoover's proposal to feed Europe.

7. SOUTH WESTERN (Bristol) Intense interest in the air war overshadows the fighting in Somaliland, but a report says that people are prepared for “a strategic withdrawal”. In Exeter the passing of August 15th without fulfillment of prophecies has had a tonic effect. Complacency is not so evident and the possibility of land invasion uppermost in most peoples' minds. The heavy raids on Germany are popular in Plymouth, and the public think we shall hit back very hard now without waiting for the enemy to take the initiative. Criticism of alleged muddle of air raid warning at Crediton.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) Morale unaffected by enemy raids but renewed criticism of the delay in issuing siren warnings; last night casualties had been caused before the sirens sounded. There has been a recurrence of localised parachutist rumours due to the finding of German parachutes, but it is not affecting public steadiness. There are some complaints from Nuneaton that the rising cost of living is affecting people with fixed incomes.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh) Many people in Scotland are now waiting impatiently “for their turn to come, and a first glimpse of a Spitfire chasing a Dornier.” The news of invasion by parachutists in Ayrshire (as it was thought) caused considerable excitement, but no sign of fear. Rumour has it that the parachute plane came from Ireland, and this brought a renewal of speculation about the Ireland menace. There is a growing impression that “we get the truth but not the whole truth” in the news. There is some evidence of a growing disquiet about the situation in Somaliland, and anti-Italian feeling seems to be even deeper than anti-German feeling. Both men and women are being paid off in Singers Works at Clydebank and they are told this is due to the capitulation of France; there is a strong demand that Singers should go into war work at once. Many recommendations are coming in asking that the public should be persuaded or compelled to carry gas masks. Many people are uneasy about surface shelters in school playgrounds which are practically white and would make an excellent target.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) Some quarters think that the reported losses of British aircraft do not include planes that may be destroyed on the ground. It is felt that a decisive Italian victory in Somaliland would seriously damage British prestige. There is continued criticism of high unemployment in Ulster, and a more dynamic policy by the N. Ireland Government is demanded. Farmers will be badly hit by the prohibition of the sale of cream, as much is exported.




Croydon reports morale excellent during and after raid. Many comments, however, that casualties could have been avoided if sirens had been sounded before bombs dropped. Factories in district stopping work anyway at time of raid so that warnings would not have prevented valuable production. Observer reports workers leaving damaged factory looked shaken but not panicky. Everybody in district helping people affected by raids; excavation still going on. Surrounding districts such as Mitcham, Romford, Lambeth and Carshalton excited by raid; many people watched it instead of going to shelter. Criticisms to-day by factory workers in these districts at absence of siren warning. Apprehension reported among old age pensioners in Romford who live close to each other and alone in small bungalows; “afraid to sleep at night in case of raid with no alarm”. Carshalton reports crowds of children “thrilled by spectacle of air raid; not nervous at all”. Reaction to warnings in other parts of London various. Four people in one Kensington bus panicked at siren; other reports show many people running to shelters and then leaving them before All Clear was sounded. Complacency about no air raids on London vanishing, but people on the whole are excited rather than apprehensive. Much satisfaction expressed at descriptions of how German 'plane losses are counted, especially talk by Air Marshal Joubert. These descriptions are making people believe almost completely in the authenticity of news of German losses. Observer listening to public broadcast outside shop describes audience laughing scornfully at German reports of losses and terrible damage to Southern England. Expressions of opinion overheard that German propaganda has overstepped the mark. More bitterness reported against Italy than Germany and keen desire to attack Italy herself. News of Italian raid very welcome. At same time, sympathetic attitude towards Italians long resident in England, reported from many districts. Hampstead states need for including refugees in national effort growing urgent. Belgians especially becoming thoroughly depressed; lack of work lowering their morale. Willesden reports difficulties of mothers asked to visit evacuated children when ill because of lack of funds. Townswomen's Guilds report jam-making going strong in suburban districts.

Home Intelligence .

16th August, 1940 .

We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close