A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 68
Daily Report on MORALE
Tuesday, 6th August, 1940

Morale is high.

The Prime Minister's message about invasion continues to be discussed: people in authority emphasise its timeliness and except in remote and rural areas there is some evidence which shows that the public has taken note of the warning.

There are many in authority who feel that the present lull should have been used (and might still be used) for a clear statement of a constructive peace policy on our part. Some of our reports show that there are members of the public who would like to be given an opportunity of reading for themselves the German leaflet giving Hitler's speech in full, and thus assuring themselves that nothing had been hidden from them. They are under the impression that definite “peace terms” have been put forward by Hitler.

The Prime Minister's leadership is unchallenged but evidence suggests that there is no such close identification between the people and the Government as a whole. There are comments which suggest that the people are not fully informed about Government policy and they do not consider themselves closely in touch with it. Grumbling at personal discomforts and wartime dislocations is low but there is vague and somewhat bewildered criticism of Government activity. Reports show that press criticisms have confused the public mind without disturbing it seriously. Verbatims show this: “I suppose there's something behind it all”, “There's something hidden but I don't know what it is”, “I wish there were a few more like Winston”, “Does the Government know what it's doing?.......” At the same time there is confidence in the armed forces especially in the Navy and the Air Force, and there is evidence of increasing satisfaction at the state of our land defences.

The siren controversy continues. From various regions come reports showing concern that people do not take cover in daylight raids, and there is some evidence that taking cover is ceasing to have the sanction of public opinion.




6th August, 1940 .

The regional reports continue to endorse the value of the Prime Minister's warning against complacency about invasion, and some suggest that this complacency is still not yet removed. Leeds says the warning is timely. Cambridge states that there is danger that the warning has not been fully driven home; over-optimism is still general except in parts where bombing has been heavy. Reading welcomed the statement as an antidote to the growing unimaginative complacency, adding that the complacency is not yet destroyed. Many people argue that we are now so well prepared that Hitler will hardly dare to attack, and the Dover success has encouraged hopes that our air defence will be able to deal with the enemy.

2. NORTH EASTERN (Leeds) Plans to make Home Guard a second line army are popular. Many people anticipate a “blitzkrieg” next weekend. Confusion about who is to ring church bells in the event of invasion is still prevalent. Many reports of dissatisfaction with local leadership of Home Guard. Shop assistants who had to work over Bank Holiday, are upset because many large munition works in the region closed down.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) Some friction reported between hosts and evacuees in reception areas. High morale of women in villages which have been bombed is reported.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading) Reports suggest that best stimulus to public opinion would be news of offensive action against the enemy in addition to bombing. This feeling is most marked in places where Dominion troops are restlessly kicking their heels. There is a growing demand for the announcement of a progressive and constructive peace policy on our part. Some little speculation on how we are to win if Japan enters war against us.

8. WALES (Cardiff) Increasing public confidence in power of the R.A.F. to deal with night bombers. Duff Cooper's broadcast commented on very favourably as also is his last newsletter. Growing anti-Japanese feeling and satisfaction at arrests of Japanese. Hopes expressed that Japan's attitude may lead America into the war before Christmas. Some uneasiness that French Colonies will in due course be used as bases for operations against us. There is a growing public desire among the more thoughtful classes for a Government post-war plan for Europe, to counteract Hitler's campaign for a new order in Europe. The rumour situation is much improved.

10. NORTH WESTERN (Manchester) Our firmer attitude to Japan is popular in Lancashire. Some grim amusement that the United States are having to deal with sabotage and strong hatred of Lindbergh. Considerable depression at unemployment figures and many wonder whether we cannot learn from Germany how to make proper use of manpower. Priestley considered best broadcaster yet and many regret that he should clash with the popular item “Hi! Gang” in the Forces programme.

12. SOUTH EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells) Dissatisfaction in villages in Defence Areas that police permission is not always granted for relatives to visit them while Londoners enter areas by cycle on by-roads and are not stopped.


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