A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 74
Daily Report on MORALE
Tuesday, 13th August, 1940

There is very little to add to the reports of the last few days. Morale is still high and the fact that many people are taking a few days' holiday has reduced criticism. At the same time this leisure has given people more time to read the press and to review the situation: this fact brings strongly to light requests for explanation and news interpretation. It may also have contributed to the increased criticism of the press (and of news sources) which is evident in our reports. However, there are more indications that the public is ignorant and uncertain than that it is highly critical. Public confidence in the outcome of the war is still strong and has not yet been much affected by these perplexities. Reports from remote and rural areas show that many people there are insufficiently conscious of the gravity of the situation and that the war is by no means the main topic of conversation. On the other hand, observers report that people in intensely raided areas are beginning to feel the strain.

An investigation is being conducted into the attitude of the public towards the “blockade of Europe”. An interim report shows that the great majority of people are, at the present time , unmoved by the prospect of starving populations and express realistic views about Nazi propaganda on this subject. It will be important to check any change in public opinion during the coming months.




13.8.40 .

Reports from raided areas show that morale remains high, and the raids have had a stiffening effect. In South Wales continued increased air activity and its successful results has consolidated confidence in the R.A.F. and created encouragement for the future.

2. NORTH-EASTERN (LEEDS) Despite recent raids, most people believe soldiers who were in France, who say we have little idea what an air raid means. Postal censorship reports on letters from this region to Eire show that morale is very high. There is criticism in Driffield at the burial of a German airman with full military honours and ostentation in contrast to the recent quiet burial of a soldier who died as a result of the Dunkirk action. The naming of places recently bombed is much appreciated. There is a demand from Huddersfield that the Union Jack should be more in evidence.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) There are complaints in Norwich that those whose houses were damaged in recent raids have not been provided by the local authority with alternative accommodation to which they consider themselves entitled. There is optimism in rural districts at the success in harvesting grain crops despite the potential menace of incendiary bombs. A tour in the rural areas of Bedfordshire has shown the existence of a demand in smaller villages for adequate protective equipment for A.R.P. workers. There is some scepticism concerning communiqués describing air raid damage, and it is noticed that both British and German communiqués disclaim the successes of enemy attack. A number of complaints have been received of profiteering by catering establishments.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading) Public is uneasy that Italians are being allowed to keep the initiative in Africa, and in view of former withdrawals a lack of confidence is felt in our military machine. The rise in unemployment figures also needs explanation if the feeling that there is still something wrong with the Government, in spite of the Premier's leadership, is not to gain ground. The suppression of place names in connection with Friday's running fight is criticised.

8. WALES (Cardiff) People of all classes are snatching a few days holiday, although mostly staying at home or taking day trips. Opinion is strong that the blockade must be rigorously pursued. There is concern at the decreasing amount of work available in coal mining districts. Some disappointment at the lack of naval activity in the Mediterranean. Many are confident that Russia's interests will compel her to check German influence in the Balkans. Some complaints from troops at the lack of uniformity and regularity of leave.

10. NORTH-WESTERN (Manchester) Although the public does not believe it is told the whole truth, there is confidence that we can beat a blitzkrieg. Warm discussion goes on in Merseyside of siren policy, where bombs have dropped without warning. Hope is expressed that the Premier will use the anniversary of the outbreak of war to make a speech on the new order we intend to establish.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells). When sirens sounded yesterday in Tunbridge Wells the public behaved, as stupidly as on previous occasions, despite strongly worded articles in local press; wardens attempting to get people to cover were jeered at, and it seems evident that parents have told children to come home if a warning is given when they are on the streets. Wearisome repetition of news items by B.B.C. is causing annoyance. Now that Eastbourne is in a defence area, laundries are only working two or three days a week: female employees sent a round robin to the Minister of Supply asking to be given work of national importance for the rest of the week. He is reported to have said he cannot make use of their services and this has caused some bitterness among them.


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