A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 60
Daily Report on MORALE
Saturday, 27th July, 1940

The people are cheerful and there is some risk of complacency. There is little nervous tension about the prospect of invasion and there are indications that many people are beginning to believe that “Hitler's plans have gone awry”. Some observers report that the press is thought to be “keeping up the idea of invasion as a newspaper stunt”. There are reports too that Hitler's speech is considered “a sign of weakness”. These tendencies are signs of over-optimism to which careful attention should be paid.


N.B. The work of Home Intelligence has been considerably dislocated by the present press campaign and in consequence the daily analyses of reports has of necessity been much curtailed.


27.7.40 .

Criticism of the withholding of the news about “Lancastria” continues.

Relations between military and civilians are stated to be improving steadily in several regions, (Newcastle, Nottingham, Reading, Edinburgh). Reading states that the ubiquity of uniform has excellent effect on civilian morale and that people are becoming accustomed to the inevitable dislocation which the presence of the military causes. There are minor grievances about the roughness of the Canadians and lack of helpfulness on the part of the military to the L.D.V. In Aberdeen church-goers are developing a scheme of private hospitality to soldiers.

Complaints about the condition of shelters are reported from Newcastle, Nottingham and Bristol; Anderson shelters are becoming waterlogged and public shelters put to improper uses. The need for organised cleaning of public shelters is stressed.

Satisfaction at the amendments to the regulations on the new War Courts is reported from two regions.

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) Increasing public agreement with postponement of oversea evacuation, thanks to recent news of sinking of passenger ships.

2. NORTH-EASTERN (Leeds) In spite of Joubert's explanations many people still claim to be able to tell a German plane by its broken note. Lord Harewood's remark that: “our morale will be upset if we become aware that the Government is not telling us the truth” has met with much approval. Dissatisfaction reported on coast where men on defence work are earning £9 a week while soldiers get 14/-. Liability of evacuees from Jersey for military service is discussed in Huddersfield, as they are believed to be exempted.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham) Criticism that tea rationing affects poor far more than rich is common. Price of fresh fruit and shortage of eggs causing annoyance. Many parents express relief that decision about overseas evacuation has been taken out of their hands.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) Constant repetition of identical or similar news in B.B.C. bulletins continue to be criticised. Requests that detailed descriptions of aerial dog-fights should be placed at end of news. Some demand for a detached weekly review of the war situation.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading) Complaints from Aldershot that Army building contracts are going to firms from London and elsewhere not in the area.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol) In spite of last night's aerial activity morale continues high. Growing feeling of confidence in R.A.F. Sight-seeing prevalent in Cheltenham during recent daylight raid. Requests in Chippenham for Contex filters and shelters.

8. WALES (Cardiff) Interest increasing in events in Balkans. Many hope Russian and Turkish interests will soon conflict with those of Germany to our advantage. Satisfaction at additional American embargoes.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) Reports indicate much discussion of the likelihood of a blockade war rather than an invasion, and this is causing a false sense of security. Bus Company is appealing for staggering working hours at factories so that it may continue to carry its ever increasing number of passengers.

10. NORTH-WESTERN (Manchester) Suggestion of daily one minute's silence is received unfavourably. Many people sceptical about “masses of planes” from U.S.A. They still read of 6 Hurricanes fighting 80 Messerschmidts and say “let the facts speak; we are not interested in paper planes.” Profiteering over soft fruit is believed by many housewives to be occurring.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh) Continued praise of Beaverbrook's broadcast; his accent made a pleasing change from that of the usual B.B.C. speaker.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells) There is confusion over the Government's attitude towards holidays. Those engaged in war work understand there will be no holidays for them, yet many officials are apparently to get their annual leave with pay. This strikes many people as unfair.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) Report of attack on convoy by German aircraft off Ulster coast has stimulated interest in war.




Women increasingly disgruntled at lack of employment, particularly in munitions factories. Much comment about sinking of “Lancastria”. More definite news wanted about air-raids. Private information often exaggerates damage done and official attitude does not allay anxiety caused in this way. Much comment about allowances of all kinds. Soldiers wives' allowances not based on present cost of living figures. Some soldiers said to be throwing up promotion because extra pay, instead of benefiting their wives, is deducted from special grant. Allowance for aliens compares favourably with Public Assistance and allowance for soldiers' children. Anti-Chamberlain feeling still strong in some areas. Cheap milk scheme not yet fully understood.

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