A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 107
Daily Observations by Home Intelligence
Monday, 23rd September, 1940

There is anger and indignation about the torpedoing of the child evacuee ship. The effect has been to increase the demand for “reprisals on German civilians”. A number of enquiries have been received about the seavacuation scheme: Will it go on? Was the ship convoyed? etc. Many people appear to think that the scheme will be discontinued. This is the first piece of news for a fortnight which has deflected people's interest from air-raids.

Further investigation into the situation in those places outside London where “refugees” have gone shows that while there is much sympathy for these people, there is an increase of criticism about their dirty habits and inconsiderate behaviour. The exodus is still largely unorganised and is producing local irritation. Shortages of certain kinds of food have been reported and accounts of exaggerated stories continue.

People in London are cheerful but continue to enquire when there will be protection against night bombing.




23.9.40 .

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle) There is evidence of growth in the demand for reprisals on the German civilian population, although more thoughtful people realise that no real military advantage can be secured thereby. Newsreels showing the King and Queen visiting victims of air raids have received unusually warm applause. There is a feeling that there is too much red tape and too little responsibility and encouragement given to local authorities when dealing with air raid victims, and many quarters urge greater elasticity of administration. Complaints about the quality of reception of B.B.C. programmes have noticeably increased during the last two weeks. The desire for a real military success against the Italians remains very strong.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol) Bitter demands for reprisals against German civilians are reported as a result of the news of the sinking of the evacuee ship; Barnstaple reports that apprehension is felt as to the effect of the sinking on a scheme for transporting children to Barnstaple Massachusetts. Activity amongst troops and Home Guards during the weekend is said to have been responsible for a further crop of invasion rumours. In spite of wireless talks and press reports Salisbury states that the position of men working after the siren has sounded is still not clearly understood.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) The drowning of evacuee children due to U-boat action has evoked indignation throughout the region. The fact that there have been no raids over the region for the past two days has encouraged the belief that Hitler has abandoned his invasion plan. Rules for air raid shelter conduct have been issued by the chief constable of Wolverhampton, and wardens may refuse permission to persons living near who have been provided with domestic shelters. Day Nurseries for children of women engaged on war work are opening in Birmingham.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) There is deep indignation at the sinking of the evacuee ship bound for Canada. The public is watching developments in the Mediterranean, and there is speculation as to the future policy of Spain. The appeal by the Minister of Aircraft Production for continued work in factories after the sounding of sirens is welcomed here as encouraging workers to intensify their efforts.




Londoners trying to carry on as cheerfully and normally as possible, but many asking “Can nothing be done to stop this night bombing?” Main concern still centres round shelter arrangements and re-billeting the homeless. Criticism reported from Bethnal Green, Stepney and Bermondsey over Rest Centres and rehousing of homeless, but matters are improving, though somewhat slowly. Outer London Boroughs coping with evacuees sent to their areas, but social workers feel that rehousing rather than billeting would be more acceptable: local Councils need to take more drastic steps about requisitioning empty premises. More workers of the right type still needed in Rest Centres and shelters. Great bitterness expressed over sinking of liner taking children to Canada; it is feared that this tragedy may upset the whole overseas evacuation scheme. Social worker visiting hop fields at weekend suggests that East Enders might be allowed to stay in hop field hutments rather than return to devastated areas.

Home Intelligence.

23rd September, 1940 .

We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close