A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 102
Daily Observations by Home Intelligence
Tuesday, 17th September, 1940

While many continue to anticipate invasion, and indeed hope that it will come within the next few days, reports show that some people are suggesting that its likelihood has diminished. Rumours that it has already been attempted and has failed continue to be reported.

Regional reports continue to state that there is an increase in the amount of listening to German broadcasts.

The great delay in the receipt of the national morning papers in many parts of the provinces has led to requests that the B.B.C. should revive their 10 o'clock morning News.

Londoners whose families have been re-billeted or who have evacuated themselves are having great difficulty in making contact with them. Suggestions are made that Rest Centres should keep careful records of the destinations of those they house temporarily, and that anxious relatives should be instructed to apply at these centres to trace their families.

Descriptions of our retreat from Sollum are criticised for attempting to disguise bad news as good news.




17.9.40 .

2. NORTH-EASTERN (Leeds) Confidence throughout the region is very high. Rumours are rife that attempts at invasion have been made. Some people are listening to Haw Haw and the New British Broadcasting Station appears to have a large number of listeners. Despite the bombing of London and local propaganda, there is no appreciable difference in the rate at which Leeds children are being registered for evacuation. Censorship of letters to Eire appears to cause some resentment. It is felt in some quarters that undue publicity has been given to the bombing of Buckingham Palace.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) Morale still remains high, and once again some people feel the threat of immediate invasion has disappeared. New refugees from London are settling down, but it seems that billets earmarked for troops or compulsory evacuees are at present being occupied by them. There appears to be a slight increase in listening to German broadcasts. A number of stories are in circulation concerning alleged invasion, and it is said that isolated groups of vessels have been beaten off. There are increasing signs of a disposition to settle down to winter routine.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading) London's reaction to air raids, German air losses, and stories of the R.A.F. attacks on invasion bases stimulate confidence and courage. Threatened cities such as Portsmouth and Southampton are effectively adapting themselves to war conditions. A fresh wave of evacuees from London is disquieting local authorities in the northern part of the region, which already has refugees from coastal cities and evacuated children, and the billeting demands of the military are also increasing.

8. WALES (Cardiff) Air successes on Sunday and the bombing of the Channel ports has increased confidence in our ability to cope with the enemy. There is criticism of the report of the B.B.C. observer in Egypt on our “withdrawal” from Sollum; “If we retreat, let us admit it.”

10. NORTH-WESTERN (Manchester) While Manchester and Liverpool have been heartened by London's resistance to a week of severe bombing, there is growing perturbation over stories of lack of shelters, and accommodation for those who have been bombed; many people are worried over lack of shelters in this region, and in one or two housing estates rent strikes have been staged until shelters have been provided. Many people are urging that municipal transport should continue to run until danger is imminent.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells) Stories of damage to London brought by lorry drivers are becoming increasingly lurid, and demands for reprisals equally emphatic. More information regarding results of air raids is urged from many parts of the region. There is a demand that the sounding of sirens should be entrusted to local authorities when lone raiders are overhead. There is some dissatisfaction among Kent members of the Home Guard because, although in the “front line”, they are without steel helmets and respirators. Many hop pickers arriving in a hurry from London are saying “What is the good of going on?” A report from Folkestone says that morale is adversely affected by the exodus of a large number of well-off people from London, and others from Folkestone, including A.R.P. and Red Cross personnel who should be in the front line.




Morale steady; public on whole settling down to new air raid life cheerfully and show fewer signs of tiredness. Small pockets of bad morale reported from different districts especially with regard to over-crowded Rest Centres (this is now being dealt with by London Region Ministry of Health). Bermondsey contact reports “talk against Government on account of inadequate number and poor equipment of local shelters. Shelters under railway arches have insufficient seats and people are forced to sit and lie on pavement.” This and other “target” areas of the docks still need some voluntary scheme of evacuation of mothers and children, also old and infirm, state social workers and other responsible people. This less true of other bombed districts such as Lewisham, Stoke Newington, Finsbury, Battersea etc. where people cling to their homes at all costs. Stoke Newington contact states bombed people in district very philosophical; “majority set to work to clean up mess at once and say ‘it might have been worse’”. Same contact reports many people would like to get their old parents out but that the old people are difficult to move. South Kensington contact states rounds men upsetting housewives by gossip of air raid damage and numbers of customers leaving the district. Suggests propaganda to stop this. Rumours of unexploded bombs far outweigh their numbers and it is suggested that people should not believe such rumours but look only for police warnings. West End business woman states her own class feel that more generous treatment should be given to East Enders who have lost homes or have to spend nights in shelters. Reports also “bitterness against Government for not having built deep shelters to protect population”. Business circles ask for a definite lead on working hours and transport. Latter question increasingly difficult for workers although car drivers are giving lifts more readily than a few days ago. Working women reported to wish to use ground floors and basements of empty houses to sleep in to meet shelter difficulty. Day rest periods for workers, mentioned by Minister of Labour, being asked for by factory workers who are not sleeping well because of night raids.

Home Intelligence.

17th September, 1940 .

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