A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 64.
Daily report on MORALE
Thursday, August 1st, 1940 .

No change in morale. There are signs however, that a feeling of complacency is beginning to grow up in some quarters. This is shown in a fairly widely expressed belief that invasion may be indefinitely delayed. Coupled with this development are indications of wishful thinking about the possibilities of aid from Russia, hostility to which country is seldom expressed.

A tendency to scepticism is still noticeable in opinions about news. This is partly attributable to the way in which it is put over by the B.C.C. There are criticisms of war talks on the ground that there are too many, and that these are sometimes “depressing instead of reassuring.” “The B.B.C. news bulletins still minimise our reverses.

The prevailing uncertainty about the siren policy is still reflected in a few regions, though anxiety on this score seems to be lessening. A slight increase is shown in other worries, among which are the wage anomalies of certain skilled workers, and the uneven working of the salvage scheme. Most of these problems however, seem to be of local rather than national significance.




1.8.40 .

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) Belief in German invasion diminishing. Reports show that Russia's assistance in the war will be welcomed by many who do not like the social system of U.S.S.R. Complaints about wage anomalies increasing among skilled craftsmen. Situation in Scarborough serious where many small businesses are faced with bankruptcy, largely due to the evacuation of the well-to-do.

2. NORTH-EASTERN (Leeds) People in raided areas are adjusting themselves well to the raids. Many fishermen whose vessels have been requisitioned by the authorities resent not being allowed to serve on them. Official explanation of removal of road obstructions generally accepted. S. Yorkshire reports that practical munition work is popular in Technical schools.

3. NORTH MIDLAND (Nottingham) Indications that all sections of public would welcome Russia as an enemy of Germany, if not as an ally of Britain. Scepticism with regard to official news is widespread. General feeling Budget is not nearly drastic enough. Grumbling in Rutland at insufficient number of shelters. Excellence of Beaverbrook's and Dorothy Thompson's broadcasts still discussed.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) Siren controversy continues unabated in Norwich. Reference in Anderson's talk to the possibility of being sprayed by gas has caused some alarm in Chelmsford area. Complaints that there are too many war talks, and that they depress, instead of reassuring.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading) Complacency in some districts because anticipated German attack has not materialised. Complaints among middle-classes over continued failure to mobilise man-power. General feeling that B.B.C. news bulletins still minimise our reverses.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol) Morale still remains high. People are now used to nightly visits from raiders and take to their shelters as a matter of course. Reports that the working-class is pleased with steps taken to deal with the “hard-core” of unemployment.

8. WALES (Cardiff) Occasional bombs have dropped in agricultural districts in mid-Wales, causing little damage, and the general reaction is one of pride that these areas are now “in the show”. Some disappointment that direct action against Italy has not been taken this summer due to scepticism of the standard of Italian forces. The secret session has aroused little public interest.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) The practice of dropping flares from aeroplanes is causing concern in Herefordshire, especially among women. Cancellation of August Bank Holiday received with equanimity. Midland towns are responding well to Government's appeal to save and salvage.

10. NORTH-WESTERN (Manchester) Women worried by hint of check up on sugar used for jam, as many have kept some hoping for cheaper fruit prices. Criticism of waste of material likely to result from removal of road barriers. Hustle to complete elaborate barrier system in Liverpool has attracted much attention. Some uneasiness about U.S. ban on export of aviation spirit.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh) The new registration scheme for Glasgow dockers will help to ease matters, as Glasgow is the only large port in which this scheme is not yet operating.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells) Indignation at absence of sirens especially for raid on Sheerness on Tuesday of last week. Though morale is good, many do not go to bed or else sleep fully clothed. 79 Voluntary evacuation continues from Dover area, but a number who left some weeks ago have now returned. All large hotels in Eastbourne have closed down, and few boarding houses are doing any business.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) People unperturbed by reported plans of immediate invasion. Belfast pleased with the performance of the “Alcantara”, which was built and lengthened there. A few evacuated children have been brought home from reception areas.


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