A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

43 44

No. 76
Daily Report on MORALE
Thursday, 15th August, 1940

There is little change in morale which continues to be high. Intensified raids have been taken with calmness and courage. At the same time there is further evidence of casualties being caused because people did not take cover.

There are many inquiries about the most effective methods of securing protection against flying glass. Many people feel that they are not being given the benefit of previous experience and ask for local demonstrations of various protective measures.

The siren controversy continues: some reports show acute anxiety as well as anger at the non-sounding of sirens. There still appears to be a great deal of uncertainty about official policy. Many people feel that the methods adopted are purely empirical.

News continues to come in for a good deal of criticism: people complain about the relative slowness with which facts are released as well as about the reiteration of formulae (“Serious but not Critical” “Agency messages report”)

Eden's broadcast was well received and praised for the indications which it gave of “offensive action”. Women particularly commented favourably on the speech.


4th June, 1940.

Many thanks for sending me the translation of the passage in the Paris “L'Ordre” about the technique adopted by the Germans when they seized the aerodrome at Rotterdam. I am passing this on to my people at once in case it has not already come to their notice.

W.P. Crozier, Esq.,

The Manchester Guardian,

Guardian Buildings,




15th August, 1940.

From both Tunbridge Wells and the Holesworthy area of Suffolk come reports of people refusing to take cover when sirens have sounded, and treating the warnings with contempt. The fact that the ‘bus service continues to operate in Tunbridge Wells is one reason for this attitude. Warnings for sporadic raiders in South Wales are now so frequent that carelessness becomes daily more apparent, and the majority of casualties in Portsmouth, Gosport and Southampton was among people who did not take shelter.

2. NORTH EASTERN (Leeds) Morale is higher than at any time previously in Hull, particularly among the working class, and the increased efficiency of the Home Guard has improved morale in Barnsley. The exodus from the coast has slackened, and some people are returning to it from the West Riding. The finding of parachutes has not had a disturbing effect. Resentment is expressed in Sowerby at attempts to represent the Somaliland situation in a more favourable light than is considered justified. It is reported from Driffield that if there is a repetition of the funeral of the Nazi airman with full military honours, it may provoke hostile demonstrations. There is still confusion on the safeguarding of windows from blast, and strips of paper are still being put up on windows.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge) Reports from coastal areas suggest a slight stiffening of attitude towards the war. R.A.F. exploits continue to arouse intense satisfaction. The discovery of shell fragments apparently fired from the French coast has caused a deep impression, although no alarm. There is some grumbling by members of the Forces over delay in getting leave. Anxiety is still felt for men of the 7th Battalion Royal Norfolk regiment, which was in the Dunkirk evacuation. Eden's broadcast was generally approved. The air raid siren controversy continues in the Romford area. Scheme has been approved in Chelmsford for the purpose of providing mutual relief in the event of air raid damage. The question of appointing women police is still raised from time to time in various localities.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading) The air battle in the South has stimulated the whole region and to a great extent smothered anxiety over Somaliland. Stories of the bravery and coolness of inhabitants of the bombed towns have spread rapidly. Some observers consider that our air successes are being unduly magnified in that they give the impression that we are mastering the full force of aerial blitzkreig. After the raids, families in the poorer quarters who have their dwellings destroyed are in urgent need of comfort and advice, and it is difficult for police or Civil Defence personnel to supply these demands on account of their special duties.

8. WALES (Cardiff) Many of the more careful are now furnishing their shelters and those who can afford it are making provision to keep out the wet. Recent Air Force victories have been loudly praised, and even the few sceptics confess that the published results are better than their wildest expectations Eden's speech received very well and the forecast of initiative and aggression on our part has been welcomed. Slowness of our Authorities in releasing news, compared with the German and Italian authorities, is the cause of some grumbling. The bombing of North Italy has caused great satisfaction. Hoover's food ship proposals are still decried. The printing trade is gradually reaching the depths of depression.

10. NORTH WESTERN (Manchester) Eden's speech criticised as too long, and containing too many propaganda clichés, but prospects of our taking the offensive are welcomed. The use of “serious but not critical” in connection with Somaliland is thought inapt, as the public remember it in connection with France. Raids on Italy give widespread satisfaction.

12. SOUTH EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells) There is a shortage of eggs, and poorer families have had none for a week; preserved eggs are not to be obtained, A local non-conformist minister with pacifist leanings has had his windows broken and peace notices removed, and his printer will not produce his monthly magazine unless it is submitted to censorship.

ERRATUM - Points from Regions, 31.7.40. South Eastern. Line 3 should read:- Public do not respond promptly to sirens in towns which have not yet been bombed.


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