A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 66
Daily Report on MORALE
Saturday, 3rd August, 1940

Morale is high.

There is a growing confidence in the defences of “our island fortress”, and although there is at present no danger of a “Maginot line” mentality this is a possibility which publicists should not overlook.

The idea of a fully comprehensive salvage scheme is readily accepted, and there is willing cooperation on the part of housewives; at the same time interviews show that householders are sceptical about the success of official schemes and critical of the present position.

Reports show that many workers are in doubt about holidays. Should they take family holidays if possible? Where is it desirable to go? Is it really Government policy to encourage holidays lasting a week or more?

Indifference about international affairs continues.

Although there is a high degree of national unity about the prosecution of the war, the poorer sections of the community are outspoken in their belief that sacrifices are unequal. Although the family income of many industrial communities has increased, it is clear that certain regulations and restrictions strongly affect the working classes. Practical difficulties, e.g. long hours; high prices, tea rations, are frequently spoken of in illustration of the inequality of sacrifice demanded.




3rd August, 1940 .

Three regions report general satisfaction at Lord Beaverbrook's inclusion in the War Cabinet. Hope is expressed in Manchester that he will displace Chamberlain, and anxiety lest aeroplane production may suffer.

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) Many sources report satisfaction at the modification in treatment of refugees. Criticism received of the removal of road barricades, which in some cases has decreased the feeling of protection. Local troop manoeuvres gave rise to a rumour that immediate invasion was anticipated.

2. NORTH EASTERN (Leeds) It is generally expected any day the war will take a more serious turn and people are prepared for it. Many protests against the high prices of fruit, and growers complain they get no return.

3. NORTH MIDLAND (Nottingham) Belated news of losses still criticised, although there is praise for the Admiralty communiqué explaining differences between our tonnage losses and German claims. General agreement that a tobacco concession should be made to the Armed Forces and many consider free travel warrants should be given to troops who have to go long journeys for leave. Some demand from householders for a more uniform policy of billeting evacuees. Leicester reports difficulty in disposing of surplus allotment produce.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) Hitler's leaflets regarded as a sign of weakness on his part. Publication of full series of R.A.F. raids has favourably impressed the public; some quarters suggest an explanation might be given as to why our machines are superior. Molotoff's speech considered a setback for us, and there is a growing feeling for a stronger attitude towards Japan. Siren policy still criticised in Norwich. Encouraging reports of high morale received from a bombed E. Anglian village.

6 SOUTHERN (Reading) Reports show that the public is confused over the point at issue in the Press attack on the M. of I. Many towns complain they see less of their M.Ps. than in peace time.

SOUTH WESTERN (Bristol) Air activity continues, and lack of co-ordination in sounding sirens is commented upon. Alleged lack of A.A. protection in Penzance. Plymouth hopes references to “a town in the South West” will be abolished, as visitors from London expect to find it in ruins. Bristol reports need for instructions on how to prevent flooding of Anderson shelters.

8. WALES (Cardiff) Continuous air raids, although causing lack of sleep have stiffened morale. Doubts as to whether we are doing as well in N. Africa as B.B.C. and Press make out. Reported project to arrest Japanese as reprisals welcomed.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh) Hitler's leaflet has re-assured people of the accuracy of the Press reported speech; some criticism of the action of the chief constable in collecting them. Slight recurrence of invasion talk. The sounding of sirens in Cayport after a bomb had exploded has caused renewed, although milder complaints.

SOUTH EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells) More people inclined to stay in bed while raids are in progress. Many regard criticism of M. of I. as a newspaper stunt, and there is an idea that the Ministry's title suggests giving information as its chief function.

NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) Ulster Farmers Union to lodge protest against low prices to be paid to potato growers for next two months. Further evacuation of children being planned from Belfast. The courage of the gunners of the “Highlander” is praised by the seafaring community.



Allowances for wives of serving men still quoted as causing hardship and resentment in all districts especially compared with civilian wages. Growing unemployment in Watford where printing industry is turning off hundreds of workers, making people express fear of coming winter and its hardships. Some women reported to be agitating about proposal to introduce vitamin B into white bread, saying it will be doped; instead would prefer wholemeal bread such as rich can buy. Seavacuation considered “a muddle”; women asking for clear statement of present position. Fear that Nazi propaganda blaming Britain for possible famine in Europe may not be sufficiently countered, especially in conquered countries. Boys between fourteen and nineteen finding difficulty in getting training as firms know they will lose them when old enough for army; club leaders being called up; a responsible observer feels that some scheme is urgently needed to absorb these young people. Chiswick complains that children are destructive in neighbourhood and breaking windows. Suggestion that parents should be encouraged to teach children how to use leisure time constructively. Woolwich reports women's register of unemployed increased by 450 last week because of M. of I. munitions film. Southall: milk scheme well organised. Clapham reports mistrust of “house visitors” but most contacts volunteer that in their opinion criticism of Social Survey is largely press stunt. Walworth Evening Institute states students saying “we never listen to Haw Haw now - he is not nearly as funny as he was”. Lack of condensed milk new hardship among very poor in district as they cannot afford fresh. Townswomen's Guilds report housewives delighted at prospect of increased tea ration. Islington: some pessimism has been noticed among civil defence personnel due, observer states, to long idle hours in canteens and recreation rooms. People complaining of waiting many hours in Exchanges in Brixton and Tooting for P.R.D. payment as officials are seriously overworked. Soho: “gossip that more prominent Fascists are free while inoffensive waiters and other workers interned. Many tales of discontent voiced about Arandora Star”.

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