A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 108
Daily Observations by Home Intelligence
Tuesday, 24th September, 1940

  1. In London people remain determined, but cheerfulness varies. People are anxiously considering night life in shelters under winter conditions.

  2. The King's speech was generally praised, and the creation of the George Cross and Medal has been widely welcomed.

  3. Reports show that most people feel that the evacuation of children to the Dominions should proceed. To many the torpedoing was felt as a challenge to go ahead.

  4. Rumours and exaggerated stories continue: in particular there are stories of poisonous substances dropped from enemy planes and of “secret weapons” with which we shall eventually stop night bombing.

  5. There is a steady drift towards public and away from private shelters.

  6. Except in certain areas invasion talk has receded into the background.

  7. “Refugees” continue to move into the country round London. Here a general comment is “no one has learned anything from the problems and failures of last September”.




24th September 1940

2. NORTH-EASTERN (Leeds) The King's speech was widely listened to and has been the subject of much favourable comment; many people seem to have expected him to announce grave news, and so the speech came as a relief. The new George Cross undoubtedly meets a general demand for recognition of civilian heroism. The sinking of the ‘Mercy’ ship is much discussed and the questions “Why was it not convoyed the whole way?” and “Was it convoyed at all?” are being asked. There are rumours of poisonous substances being dropped by enemy planes.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) The effect of the King's broadcast has been particularly marked on women. The news of the ship carrying evacuees to Canada has aroused considerable anger; one reaction is “I thought it would happen”. The publication of pictures showing damage by the R.A.F. to German-occupied territory has been effective, but there is criticism of the small number and poor quality of the photographs. Criticism that vivid pictures illustrating conditions in an underground railway tunnel published in a Sunday picture paper are a useful gift to German propagandists.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading) The exodus of refugees from London continues, and although the great majority is far from defeatist their stories support newspaper criticism that A.R.P. preparations have been unequal to the emergency. There is renewed criticism of Chamberlain's continued presence in the Government. Some resentment is felt among workers at the alleged unwillingness of the middle classes to receive refugees. There is keen satisfaction that we have taken the initiative at Dakar.

Intellectual circles eagerly await news from Egypt. Reports from South Coast cities which have been bombed indicate that the exodus has been small. Rumour, which is rife, concentrates upon invasion and damage due to raids. The proportion of Jews among evacuees is causing anti-Semitic talk.

8. WALES (Cardiff) Interest still centres around the bombing of London, and admiration is expressed for the courage of Londoners. There is some exaggeration of damage in bombed areas by people enlarging upon their experiences. Reports from North Wales express uneasiness in regard to the slowness of Civil Defence preparations by local authorities. America's increased friendliness gives satisfaction, and there is hope that all efforts are being made to rally Morocco to de Gaulle. The recent broadcast talk on Rumour was much appreciated and there is a call for similar talks in Welsh, and for talks on the Egyptian situation. Rumours of invasion persist. Haw-Haw's alleged references to local places have a disturbing effect.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells) Complaints of the immunity with which enemy bombers fly over towns by night are still on the increase. Despite denials of reports of attempted invasion, the belief in the attempts is still widespread. There is some uneasiness over the system of warnings, in view of the fact that this morning two fairly large formations of enemy bombers circled over the town some minutes after “Raiders passed" had been given, and when hundreds of school children were setting off for school. People in Canterbury are asking for Anderson shelters left in evacuated coastal towns. There is some renewal of talk of the Government going to Canada.



Morale still steady, but transport difficulties remain one of the greatest problems for London workers. West End staffs feel that Government does not cope with disrupted communications efficiently. Shelter problems still acute but Home Security's statement issued yesterday has given a certain amount of reassurance; Willesden contact, however, states that surface shelters in this area will not be blast-proof as poor material has been used. Tubes in some places said to be more crowded than ever. Rest Centres generally are said to be improving. Women with young children still asking to be sent to a safe area and seem to be unaware of the various Government schemes. Factory supervisor, Clerkenwell, with depots all over London reports that his Home Guard numbering 400 are still without uniforms and arms and are losing interest: he states that some large firms have disbanded their units because of this. Land mines are still giving rise to much talk and exaggerated stories about their effects are spreading. The question of liability for rents and rates by people whose homes are damaged or who must leave on account of time bombs is causing a good deal of anxiety in Willesden. Difficulty is experienced in getting hot meals in some districts in East End and more mobile canteens and kitchens would ease the situation considerably.

Home Intelligence.

24th September, 1940 .

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