A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 103
Daily Observations by Home Intelligence
Wednesday, 18th September, 1940

Provincial reports show that the bombardment of London is still the outstanding news interest. Sympathy for “London's ordeal” is widely expressed, and there is reason to believe that the communiqués describing detailed damage (but not the amount of London which still stands) and the newspaper pictures of ruined buildings are producing a greatly exaggerated picture in provincial minds. This is coupled with such expressions as “if London can take it, so can we”. At the same time some people are beginning to wonder how long London will be able to go on taking it.

Rumours of damage to London, some accurate but many exaggerated, are common in the provinces and the Northern Region comments that the B.B.C.'s revelation on Saturday evening that a bomb fell on Madame Tussaud's was regarded as “the most humorous remark on the wireless this year”; everyone had known about this for at least two days.

The rumour that invasion was attempted a few days ago and failed with considerable loss to the Germans is now reported to be causing excitement in the Midlands. There is also the rumour reported from the South-western Region that British Marines have landed in Jersey.

It is again reported that listening to the German wireless is on the increase. This is attributed by many to the fact that when the 9 o'clock News has to cut out on account of raids, the English News from Germany is often audible without re-tuning.

Though strong demands for reprisals on German civilians are still reported, there are many who are satisfied that the wisest policy is to continue attacking invasion objectives.




18.9.40 .

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) Expressions of sympathy with London are numerous, and there is an atmosphere of expectancy. In some centres local A.R.P. wardens are anxious to go to London to relieve those on duty there. It has been suggested that more broadcasts from the Service Ministers would be appreciated. There is little discussion of peace aims at present. Some complaints have been made by munitions contractors of the inexperience of Government inspectors.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham) London casualties have caused anger, and there is a growing feeling in Notts. that we ought “to dose Hitler with his own medicine”. Official statements that if we hold out for a period of weeks the major crisis will pass, has been interpreted by some as meaning the war will end with the crisis. A report from Leicester states that benefits which can be immediately claimed by air raid victims for material losses appear inadequate, and the replacement of furniture is said to be particularly difficult.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol) People are facing the prospect of attempted invasion calmly, and are confident of the ultimate outcome. Three reliable contacts in Devon say that people with the least satisfactory attitude towards the war are mostly found in the income group from £250 - £750. Some dissatisfaction reported from Exeter and Penzance where bombs were dropped without the sirens being sounded. There are complaints from Weston-super-Mare that buses cease running in air raids. Evacuated Londoners are spreading highly coloured accounts of raids in Swindon. There is some speculation as to whether London can stand up to the bombing. The need for bombing barge concentrations is appreciated, and there is a decrease in demands for retaliations on Berlin.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) The rumour that an attempted German invasion last Sunday was frustrated with heavy losses is widespread. There is much feeling about lights on motor cars being left on after sirens are sounded. The question of earlier closing for public houses comes before the Justices tomorrow. There are complaints of lack of transport facilities for workers from Coventry.

11 SCOTLAND (Edinburgh) Middle-class people are beginning to ask “What is going to be the end of this mutual bombing?” The chief reaction to the terror raids is one of anger with the enemy and admiration for those enduring the ordeal. There is some disquiet about the Italian advance. There is some adverse comment at the absence of A.A. fire in Glasgow, and the public would welcome some assurance that British fighters were up.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) There is some speculation as to the reason for the Secret Session in the House of Commons yesterday, although it is not presumed that the situation is more critical. It is generally felt that any attempt at invasion would be repulsed. In intellectual circles General Sir Alan Brooke's statement welcoming an invasion attempt is thought to be ill-advised. Ministry of Supply experts are investigating iron ore and bauxite sources in Ireland.




Londoners still remain outwardly calm and are putting up with difficulties extremely well, but there are still numbers of people anxious to get out. One Earls Court Square has practically evacuated itself after bombing there; others in less fortunate position need schemes to help them. A certain amount of panic shown in individual cases where people have had horrible experiences but this is often due to temporary physical reaction. There are still criticisms about Rest Centres - inadequately staffed and equipped - although some districts report gradual improvement. Re-billeting of homeless still causing difficulties and organisation reported to be bad in some areas e.g. Chelsea, St. Pancras. A.R.P. warden in West End and also social workers in East End feel Mayfair billeting does not solve the problems of homeless East Enders - they feel homesick and lonely and food prices are beyond them. Still much criticism about inadequacy of shelter amenities. Many people have lost faith in surface shelters and now go to tubes where atmosphere is reported to be bad; more supervision and help required here. Transport difficulties increasing and several observers comment on number of half empty cars in congested streets. Harrow factory which carries on with production throughout the “Alert” resents Government offices in the neighbourhood closing down: workers finding it more and more difficult to do essential shopping and transact necessary official business (Post Office, Labour Exchange, Stationery Office). Increase in unemployment reported in North London as many industries are without facilities for carrying on (water etc.), even where property remains undamaged: this is causing a certain amount of anxiety and distress.

Home Intelligence.

18th September, 1940 .

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