A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 109 .

25.9.40 .

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) As a result of the sinking of the ‘City of Benares’ there have been a number of cancellations for overseas evacuation in Middlesbrough; on the other hand, one or two statements have been received that parents think there is serious risk for their children whether they go or stay. The news of Gen. de Gaulle and Dakar is considered confusing. Criticism is voiced of the regular publication in the Press of pictures showing widespread damage in London. There is said to be confusion in the minds both of people and traders as to the methods of imposition of the Purchase Tax. Rumours that the bodies of German soldiers are being washed up on the east coast are prevalent.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham) As a result of hearsay, correspondence and newspaper pictures, exaggerated stories of damage to London are being spread. More complaints are received of the poor reception of broadcasts, and it is suggested that as a consequence people are inclined to listen to German stations which are clearly heard. There is dissatisfaction at C.O.s being able to derive financial advantages through exemption. There are reports of the freedom with which soldiers speak in canteens and elsewhere.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) There is little to indicate that the torpedoing of the ‘City of Benares’ has caused opposition to trans-Atlantic evacuation, and it is felt that such misfortunes are exceptional. A mutual fund for helping people suffering air raid damage has been started at Rubery, near Birmingham; Coventry is also making good progress with a fund to provide supplementary assistance to that offered by the Government.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) It is generally thought that the R.A.F. is inflicting heavier damage on Germany than is being received by London and S.E. England. The possibility of invasion is still discussed. There is puzzlement over the situation at Dakar. The Belfast deputation which has been studying A.R.P. organisation in London has returned full of praise for the fortitude of Londoners in air raids.





Responsible people in the East End say emphatically that women, children and old people should be got out of the badly raided districts; many of the women already show signs of great nervousness and fatigue; there is a lot of bitter feeling about the Government's slowness in coping with the emergency, the enormous difficulties of which are not realised. Tremendous crowds again used Tube Stations for sleeping last night, an observer remarked on orderliness of crowds; the obvious relief of mothers at feeling safe; that the kindness of L.P.T.B. workers was much appreciated. From Aldwych it is reported that though the tunnel is not yet officially opened, enormous crowds spent the night there, and the overflow was accommodated in Aldwych House. Observer visiting a Hackney Rest Centre reports that workers are worried about hygenic conditions, as people are not examined for contagion and infection, and bedding is used by different people on successive nights; also need for more workers as present system of two teams of three people on twenty-four hours shifts is too exhausting. The need for keeping track of people who have evacuated or changed their address continues; Citizens Advice Bureaux have many enquiries from men of the services home on leave who are unable to trace their relatives; from Poplar a case is reported of nearly 1,000 people departing in charabancs from the West End to the country, and not even husbands knew where their wives were going.

Home Intelligence

25th September, 1940.

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