A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 87
Daily Report on MORALE
Wednesday, 28th August, 1940

Morale is much the same today although a good many people in the London area are suffering from the effects of loss of sleep as the result of the raids during the last few nights.

There has been no noticeable increase in the number of people carrying gas masks, and the fear of invasion seems to have receded.

The air war remains the chief topic of conversation and the optimistic faith in the R.A.F. is still the highest common factor of conversation. There are however, complaints that we are not doing enough in the way of bombing Berlin objectives, and there is a demand that Berlin should be bombed yet more heavily.




28.8.40 .

There is no perceptible change in morale which remains high, although the effect of loss of sleep is noticeable in some areas. Exaggerated accounts of damage to various parts of Great Britain as a result of air raids are once again appearing.

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle). There are increasing complaints of the burden placed on those whose income is just too large to be eligible for a free shelter. In view of the fact that the rural population cannot provide so many Home Guards as the urban, and consequently the more frequent periods of night duty for each Guard, it is suggested that the towns might arrange for some of their members to serve the surrounding countryside. Some indication that the approaching long winter nights are being viewed with apprehension.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham) Raids in Leicestershire have stiffened morale, and all those concerned with civil defence have responded well. With the exception of the Prime Minister's speech, recent utterances by other Ministers are not considered to have made an effective contribution to morale. Members of H.M. Forces and civil defence are guilty of much indiscreet talk. In Leicester the guarding of air raid damage by troops with fixed bayonets is considered “unnecessary and likely to cause resentment.” There is further evidence of public indifference to the need for carrying gas masks.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol). War in the air excludes almost all other topics; there is strong demand for the bombing of Berlin and offensive action against Italy, and the latest naval reports have been well received. The need for continuing the blockade is emphasised. Bristol inhabitants are becoming so accustomed to raids that they are little inclined to seek shelter when warnings are sounded. Some concern in Plymouth that an enemy plane was able to circle for several hours without a fighter appearing. People consider that the prospects of invasion are receding. There are rumours of supposed air raid damage.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham). The Lord Mayor of Birmingham has inaugurated a Spitfire fund. It has been suggested that unless country schools can be provided with shelters, the authorities should be given warning of raids so that the children can be sent home.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh). Few among academic and professional people seem satisfied with the presentation of news, and in particular with the way in which that of the week-end raids was broadcast. There is much exaggerated talk of damage, and photographs in the papers serve to increase the impression of the harm done. There is some nervousness in the Shetlands, due to the fact that these islands are nearer than the rest of Great Britain to Norway, where invasion preparations are said to be in progress; there are also rumours that several mail planes have been shot down, which produces a feeling of isolation, and there are rumours of Fifth Columnists in the labour camps. Interference with the Home Service programme is reported from Fife and Angus.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast). The extension of the British air offensive over Germany and Italy is welcomed. The German claim that bombs on Wexford villages were not dropped by German planes was anticipated in Ulster, and the Eire Government's statement accepted. Belfast Telegraph Spitfire fund expected to reach enough for a squadron to-day.




Observer spending nights in public shelters in poor crowded districts states glare of electric light and noisy manner of some adults upsets children who cry and fray peoples' nerves. Many come with inadequate protection against cold and concrete floors. Harrow official describes cheerfulness of destitute awaiting money after raids. Great neighbourliness evident. Many sightseers to scenes of damage causing extra work for police. Greenwich contact reports:- “congregations of people without shelter at either end of river subway, which is closest during air raids; women in shelters singing to drown noise of H.E. bombs; men standing outside shelters but big bang hurried them inside; tram men refuse to drive during raids - general opinion expressed that communications should cease during raids, and night facilities be available afterwards to convey marooned people home from central London.” Members of West End Evening Institute regret economic wastefulness of refugee internments, and failure to make use of “propaganda potential” of Anti-Nazis and Anti-Fascists: light B.B.C. programmes often beneath intelligence and taste of listeners. Richmond factory girls holding raffles for Spitfire fund. Malden raid evoking many new orders for air raid shelters. Mitcham: fears that U.A.B. allowances to destitute after raid not sufficient to eliminate financial worry. Complaints that Croydon land suitable for allotments still unused. Reported pilfering from Enfield shelters. Also tendency to crowd doorways of shelters, preventing free ventilation. Complaints about shabby Underground advertisements and spaces that could be used for gay propaganda paintings. Stanmore contact reports that a local hospital has inadequate shelters and staff not fully protected for duties during air raids; local troops could dig additional trench shelters; many children in wards could be evacuated to less vulnerable area. Some station canteens inadequately stocked to supply crowds caught by raids. Shelter rest rooms needed in many large munition factories to help combat fatigue and strain. Hackney contact reports:- appreciation of Hilton's talks; belief that U.S. may yet enter war; worry at increased costs of gas and electricity.

Home Intelligence.

28th August, 1940 .

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