A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 89
Daily Report on MORALE
Friday, 30th August, 1940

In London particularly people are more cheerful today.

Many people anticipating night raids went to shelters early and slept there all night. In Stepney, for example, there were queues outside shelters at 6 p.m. “We might as well prepare for the worst”.

Although there is no noticeable decline in morale, collected verbatims show many remarks like these: “Well it can't go on like this for years”, “Some one ought to show common-sense and stop it”, “No one can contemplate six months of this”, “This sort of thing is lunacy”.

Our reports clearly indicate that morale is higher in the provinces (particularly where warnings and raids have been experienced for some time) than in London (where in some districts people have shown considerable apprehension during the last few days).

In the provinces there are a number of exaggerated rumours about the raids over London. There is also some slight resentment at the way in which London air-raid news has been starred. This is due in part to the fact that many provincial towns, unlike London, have not been named.

There is a general increase in rumours and exaggerated statements about air-raid damage. Rumours about gas attacks are common: some of them can be traced to the false alarms about gas given recently.

The prominence given by the press to the behaviour of the King and Queen and the Prime Minister during air-raids (not taking shelter) has caused many people to enquire what is the official policy .




30.8.40 .

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle). The recent intensification of raids has made no change in morale. The problem of loss of sleep is becoming increasingly acute, and in many quarters a definite lead for the public on how to adjust habits to recover sleep is urged. Owing to the comparative silence of A.A. guns lately there is a rumour that A.A. guns have been diverted to the south in view of the supposed greater need there.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham). There is an increase of feeling that we are not hearing the whole truth about damage to industrial plant, and there are rumours both of damage and of heavy casualties. The offensive action against Italy has caused satisfaction. There are less people carrying gas masks than 3 months ago in Grimsby. There is also a protest from Grimsby that the B.B.C. unduly magnifies the raids on London when other parts of the country have also suffered badly. Reported from Lincoln that many farm-workers listen to Haw Haw, although chiefly for amusement.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol). Air attacks on this country and on Germany monopolise public conversation. People are standing up well to continuous bombing. Sirens are again the subject of complaint in Glastonbury and Trowbridge, and in the former town, where no bombs have yet fallen, people run into the streets when the sirens sound to see what is happening. Lack of shelters is reported from Tiverton. 400 people have left the Scilly Isles this morning due to air attacks, and the population feels that the defences of the Islands have been neglected. There is a rumour in Bristol that gas mask parades are being held in Berlin, and it is reasoned that the Nazis are preparing to make gas attacks.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh). The absence of specific news of damage in the south is causing the public to exaggerate the amount considered to have been done. Annoyance is expressed that Berlin is not being bombed as is London. The public is surprised to learn that we have guns on the south coast capable of bombarding France which have not been used for fear of upsetting the French. The publicity given to a Committee to explore the use of Glasgow as a port more fully is considered a direct invitation to the Germans to pay more attention to Glasgow. There is resentment that the railway companies should be considering an increase of fares. There is criticism against the announcement of the resumption of horse racing; it is felt that the feeding stock for horses should be used for poultry which is being killed off.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast). Curiosity aroused by hints in press of preparations of counter strokes against Germany. Little comment on German apology to Eire for bombing the “Kerryhead”. Interference with Home Service programme reported during 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. news.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham). The bombing of Berlin has caused great satisfaction. Following recent raids on Birmingham there is considerable discussion as to the adequacy of the city's defences, and it is felt that the interception by fighter aircraft must be possible at some point along the raiders' route. There has been an increase in the amount of rumour following the recent raids, suggesting in Coventry that Birmingham has been heavily damaged and vice versa, and quite untrue.




People reported to be prepared for anything provided Germany is raided too. Some questioning of absence of gunfire and fighting when raiders approach, especially after reports that R.A.F. bombers faced 250 miles of severe A.A. barrage on way to Berlin. London glad not to be disturbed by warnings even though 'planes heard. Beckenham upset by bombs with casualties and no sirens. Jewish mothers in East End keep calm though highly strung; still attending needlework and cookery classes. Comment that fewer German 'planes brought down lately. East Ham: “complaints of unhygienic conditions of salvage put out long before collection. Keepers complaining of experiencing difficulty in clearing parks of children especially as unable to blow whistles. Shift workers disturbed during day by noisy children playing in streets”. Angel; “part of shelter divided off for sleeping, but unfortunately sleepers disturbed by conscientious marshal asking periodically if everyone is all right.” In many districts complaints that men stand about outside shelters or on balconies smoking during raids; when activity comes close they dive into shelters startling occupants who are unaware of nearness of danger. Some quarrelling reported among tired women in Housing Estate shelters. Old people living in top floor flats of Estates get flustered and take long time to reach shelters. Chelsea: “occupants of shelters disturbed by colourful running commentary on raid by wardens”. Complaints that lights of torches and car lamps often too bright during raids.

Home Intelligence.

30th August, 1940 .

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