A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 71
Daily Report on MORALE
Friday, 9th August, 1940

There is very little to report.

Fear of invasion is low in those parts of the country remote from the Eastern coasts.

Interest in the African situation is negligible.

There is satisfaction at the increases of pay for the men of the armed forces.




9.8.40 .

The news of the R.A.F. successes yesterday has produced general satisfaction in the South-Western and Midland regions. Scotland records cheerful comment, but some people are wondering whether our losses in ships and planes do not outweigh the German losses. There is general satisfaction that the Germans state that they have lost only two planes. Belfast records great admiration and enthusiasm at the result of the air battle.

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) While the full meaning of the Viceroy's statement about India is not clearly understood, reports express general appreciation of it; there is feeling that it should strengthen the loyalty of India and also have an effect on American public opinion. Bevin's statement about transference of labour welcomed; farmers are criticised for refusing to define their labour requirements for harvesting; unless this is done satisfactory transfer of unemployed is impossible. “Stay put” pamphlet generally welcomed, though a more aggressive tone in this and other statements about invasion would be popular. It is suggested that de Gaulle should announce his intention of subjecting the present French government to trial in due course. Some anxiety among poor, whose wages have not increased, at effect of increases in prices of clothes.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham) Royal visit to Derby created greatest enthusiasm both in town and surrounding country, although advance news of it was only passed round by word of mouth the previous evening. Some discontent reported at our lack of aggressive action against Italy. Employers and workers both want a definite lead from the Government on the subject of holidays; some workers have now been given holidays while in other factories the original no holidays decision remains unaltered.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol) Events in Somaliland are not arousing much interest though the more intelligent minority are stated to be worried about the possible effects on our communications with Red Sea and Suez. Exeter is stated to be very far from dismayed that it was raided two nights ago. This undercurrent of satisfaction is said to be associated with a feeling that the city has “grown up”. Areas which have not yet received Contex filters for gas masks are once again asking for them, as evacuees who arrive already possess them. People are stated to be quite unmoved by Hitler's peace terms leaflet.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) Many complaints received by R.I.O.s office because bombs dropped in Birmingham causing one fatality last night nearly an hour before sirens were sounded. Birmingham people also complaining about shortage of eggs. Magistrates reported to be taking a more severe view of blackout offences and some are considering prison without the option of a fine.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh) News from Somaliland provoking mildly critical comment: “Why is it always a case of small British forces fighting heroically against great odds?” Reports show that for past 10 days many have been asking for strong action against Italy; news of strategic retreat is doubly unwelcome. Comments have also been received that good news from the air is usually a preparation for bad news in other spheres. Many believe that Italy has transported a large number of soldiers to Libya in spite of our Mediterranean blockade. On Clydebank over-confidence is reported about invasion. On east coast, however, invasion is expected but this is not causing alarm. Siren controversy continues, but official policy is gaining ground. Edinburgh postal censorship on Irish mail confirms this. In Edinburgh area feeling is growing at absence of our fighters when raiders are over, and an official explanation is requested. Edinburgh postal censorship reports morale as shown in letters to be excellent. Soldiers wives writing “very bravely”.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) Still some uneasiness about our shipping losses. Complaints in Londonderry at excessive testing of air raid sirens. Farmers complain at low potato prices fixed by Ministry of Food




Morale on the whole quite good but in some of the poorer districts people rather unhappy and worried about making ends meet especially where husband on service and evacuated children always needing new clothes. Some misapprehension expressed in various quarters about situation in Somaliland. In Chelsea, intelligentsia said to be almost defeatist in consequence: London businessmen yesterday also depressed about it. Morale of well-off Jewish refugees said to be low - reputed to be extremely selfish. Suspicion in some quarters about official news because of delay over “Accra”; doubts also expressed about numbers of our aircraft lost. People in financial circles and big business wonder how to meet their commitments; still feel Budget too indeterminate, don't know what policy to adopt. People in doubt about the powers of the Home Guard especially those not in uniform. Resentment said to be growing amongst soldiers' wives and older men over munition workers' earnings. Belgian refugees in Hackney, Stoke Newington and Hampstead all express desire for work: observer in Hampstead afraid that idleness will have bad effect on their morale. Possible need for special Belgian Legion. Shortage of eggs still felt. Reported from Bethnal Green that small businesses suffering because of lack of supplies. Approval expressed about broadcast talk on Tuesday night by “The Armstrongs”; felt to be an excellent medium for getting across points of everyday interest and vital importance but would be more effective if moral less obvious. Morale of French soldiers and sailors at White City said to be bad because of enforced idleness.

Home Intelligence.

9th August, 1940 .

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