A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 98
Daily Report on MORALE
Thursday, 12th September, 1940

In London particularly morale is high: people are much more cheerful today.

The dominating topic of conversation today is the anti-aircraft barrage of last night. This greatly stimulated morale: in public shelters people cheered and conversation shows that the noise brought a shock of positive pleasure. It made people feel that “all the time we had a wonderful trick up our sleeves ready to play when the moment came”.

The increased noise kept people awake but tiredness is offset by the stimulus which has been created.

The Prime Minister's speech was well received but not so enthusiastically as usual. The speech was admired for its plain speaking, but there is evidence that many people, having convinced themselves that invasion is “off”, disliked being reminded of it again. Some people remarked that he sounded “tired”. In Wales people were surprised that Wales was omitted as a possible point of invasion. The speech nowhere created alarm.

There is still a good deal of unplanned evacuation from London, and there is evidence that small batches of refugees arriving without money at provincial stations are creating anxiety and some alarm. There are exaggerated stories of the damage to London circulating in the provinces. These reports are partly due to the stories told by these refugees, but there is also evidence that Haw Haw rumours have greatly increased.

A reliable observer just returned to London from the North reports that press and radio have given an account of London damage which has an exaggerated effect. Many people appear to think that London is “in flames”. There is great sympathy for London and on the whole a belief that “London will see it through”.


Attached are two reports from London for September 11th & 12th 1940



12th September 1940 .

2. NORTH EASTERN (Leeds). There is intense sympathy with London and a general confidence that the capital will stand up to the present strain. The way in which the King and Queen freely visited the bombed areas is the subject of much favourable comment. Many people still believe that the civilian population in Germany should be bombed. The new warning system for factories is welcomed amongst men, and women are pleased that the sirens are still to be sounded.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge). News of evacuation plans for Colchester and Ipswich has spread to towns outside the new evacuation area, and there is some speculation as to whether Norwich and other towns are to be included. A rumour gained currency along the Essex and Herts. border to the effect that parachutists had descended; this was apparently due to puffs of smoke being seen from A.A. guns.

8. WALES (Cardiff). Morale is still very good. Interest still centres on action in the Thames Estuary and London, and news is awaited with anxiety. Widespread sympathy is expressed for those in congested areas. The continued bombing of Berlin is a source of general satisfaction. Opinion is widespread that more details of provincial bombing should be released. The procedure for obtaining relief in respect of raid damage is becoming more generally known but there are complaints that official assessment of damage is based on figures below the present cost of replacement. Stirrup pumps are now in great demand following “Self-help" propaganda, but they are extremely difficult to obtain. Little interest is evinced by news from Italy and Africa due to events at home.

10. NORTH-WESTERN (Manchester). Shortage of shelters is a predominant topic at the moment, and many people realise that they should have planned their protection sooner. Authorities everywhere are pushing on with schemes for erection of shelters, and the sight of bricks and mortar is having a good effect. There was a feeling of anger when it was learned that Buckingham Palace had been bombed.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells). In view of the fact that the heavy raids on London indicate that the war is entering a new stage, some people believe that it will be over soon with an Allied victory. There is a complaint from Brighton of lack of synchronisation in sounding “Raiders Passed”. There is still some grumbling over the fact that R.A.F. bombers sometimes return from Germany without unloading their bombs.




Morale has jumped to new level of confidence and cheerfulness since tremendous A.A. barrage. This is true of every district contacted, including East End and areas badly hit yesterday such as Woolwich and Lewisham. “We'll give them hell now” is a typical working class comment to-day. City far more cheerful and less crowded with sightseers than yesterday. Kensington people rendered homeless in night joking when taken in by neighbours. In spite of little sleep, factory workers are turning up as usual and working well; employers reported to be very accommodating about time. Traffic dislocations causing delay and annoyance; people passing in empty cars are much grumbled at by queues of workers waiting for buses who would like to be offered lifts. Unofficial walk-out from dock areas still going on; people from Greenwich reported to be taking buses to Bromley from where they hope to go to the west; others going to Bucks and Herts. A few have any but vaguest ideas as to where they are going and how they will fare there. Many people taking rugs and cushions from poor districts to spend nights in West End shelters: fear of great dock-side fires appears to be chief motivating force. Stoke Newington and other boroughs not close to docks report most people “sticking to their homes” as long as they can. Re-billeting of homeless people proceeding, but many Rest Centres still overcrowded, as they are not provided with shelters adequate for number of people in them. There is apprehension in districts such as Bermondsey as two Rest Centres have been bombed with great loss of life. Stoke Newington now reported to be fitting public shelters with bunks for children.

Home Intelligence.

12th September, 1940 .

We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close