A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 65
Daily Report on MORALE
Friday, 2nd August, 1940

There is little change in morale: there is cheerfulness and increasing confidence in our defences.

Although there are indications of some slight over-complacency among certain sections of the community, there is also evidence that the dangers of “a false lull” are beginning to be appreciated.

Interest in the international aspects of the war has revived a little by the publication of Molotov's speech and conversations show that many people are vaguely disappointed both by the general tone of the speech and by the references to this country. Evidently there has been a good deal of wishful thinking among people who are not politically minded: Russia has been thought of as a potential ally or at any rate as a factor not likely to operate to our disfavour.

There has been a good deal of popular satisfaction at the revision of the defeatist talk sentences, although there is little evidence that people at large are greatly concerned about the curtailment of civil liberties. Many factory workers are fatigued and working long hours: there is more concern about conditions of work and prices than about libertarian principles. On the other hand professional classes are considerably disturbed by the regulations of recent months and by the curtailment of liberties which appears to threaten.

The treatment of C.Os. is another subject which is causing concern to professional opinion.

A report on anti-Chamberlain feeling still shows a high percentage of people who think that Mr. Chamberlain should not be in the Cabinet, but sentiment is not as strong as it was and it is noticed that more people are saying they have no opinion and that more people make evasive replies.

The withholding of the news about the Lancastria is having a noticeable effect on people's belief in “official news”. Comments show increasing scepticism.


Note: Contact with several agencies using interview methods shows that there have been no increased difficulties or untoward incidents. The man in the street has not been touched by the press campaign.

Attached is a copy of the German leaflet dropped over this country last night.

74 75 2


2.8.40 .

1 Four regions report disappointment in Molotov's speech. A comment from Wales is that it indicates a prolonged war, and from Scotland comes the criticism that “inspired” Press articles had anticipated a change in Russian policy. It is realised that Russia is playing her own game.

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) Some complaints of differing interpretations by officials of the conditions governing entry into defence zone. Delay in announcing the loss of the “Lancastria” has weakened belief in the news, and reports show a tendency to listen more frequently to German broadcasts. Strong complaints from shipbuilding industry about new purple warning regulation, as danger from accident is thought to be greater than from bombs. Problem of cold tea for harvest workers causes anxiety in rural areas.

2. NORTH-EASTERN (Leeds) Morale and confidence unchanged. Bevin's remarks on C.O.s appreciated, also Lord Portsea's speech on the Channel Isles, as many evacuees from there are now in this region. Opinion in Leeds not unfavourable to Manchester's scheme of blackout curfew for children. Royal visit to Hull revealed no diminution of loyalty to the Crown.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham) In Grimsby where naval losses are known almost immediately, delay in official announcements is shaking public confidence. Interest in B.B.C. bulletins has decreased on account of repetition. People are not taking shelter in Grimsby during A.A. gunfire, due to curiosity. In raided areas enemy action has stiffened morale. Obstruction of fields against landing aircraft has been intensified by farmers.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) Need for declaration of a clear policy with regard to sirens is regarded as urgent in Norwich; there is faith in the shelters, but no opportunity for using them. The release of the town's name for publication has aroused mixed feelings, and it is felt that there is a case for publishing the casualty roll. The apparent absence of R.A.F. and A.A. protection over Norwich is causing disquiet.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol) News of leaflets dropping in Somerset spread quickly, and the public were eager to secure them as souvenirs. Complaints from Bristol of lack of buses for troops in out-of-the way camps and that there is chafing at present inactivity, especially among Dominion troops. Siren controversy persists in Trowbridge. Coal shortage still acute in Trowbridge, Truro and Exeter.

8. WALES (Cardiff) Reported machine-gunning of Norwich has aroused resentment. Many believe invasion postponed till events will give Germany hope of consolidating on part of our coast or on Eire.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) Morale of women in bombed rural areas excellent. Criticism from Nuneaton that midnight passes for Polish airmen sometimes cause scenes after closing time.

10. NORTH-WESTERN (Manchester) Mention of names of towns bombed, and visited by royalty has caused satisfaction. Eager enquiries as to whether enemy leaflets were dropped in this region. Disappointment that so little has been done to stop internment of anti-Hitler aliens.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh) Concern in Edinburgh that Polish and Czech officers have no official club, and from Glasgow comes comment on the plight of Polish officers and men, and their families, who are depending on public assistance. Private efforts are being made to assist them.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells) Some criticism of prominence in Press to Stimson's statement that we may be defeated in 30 days, as likely to spread despondency and alarm.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) Favourable comments on specific mention of Dover and Norwich in air raid bulletin. Macmillan's statement for full employment of industrial capacity on war requirements received with satisfaction.




Several people express opinion that attack on Ministry of Information is a press stunt. More politically minded people antagonistic, expressing fear that democratic methods are being superseded. Average person not affected. German leaflet dropping aroused interest. Suspicions voiced that there is something in leaflet not revealed in reports of Hitler's speech as leaflets were so quickly collected. Suggested publication of text of leaflet in Press. Lack of discipline among children in most districts increasingly noticeable; attributed by responsible observer to absence of fathers on National Service. Morale of Belgian refugees lower than others as they have no Government here to give them a lead. Allowances vary in different Boroughs. “Mightier Yet” posters most effective yet produced by Ministry. Romford people disturbed by fact of enemy planes circling for about two hours overhead without British planes; might feel happier if warnings were given when enemy planes above. Some poor people do not know suitable person to countersign application forms for new milk scheme. Milk retailers are found to be uncooperative about milk scheme as it creates additional work; this keeps some people from making applications. Charlton people would like some form of lighting during black-out; feel that rationing is necessary and no one feeling the pinch except for sugar. Finsbury report that morale is excellent but strain showing physically - complaints of overwork and tiredness.

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