A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 91
Daily Report on MORALE
Wednesday, 4th September, 1940 .

The public is still in a comparatively cheerful state of mind. The continued successes of the R.A.F. both at home and abroad account largely for this feeling, but it has been much helped by the announcement about the acquisition of American destroyers. In some quarters this has led to a certain amount of optimistic thinking that this may be a sign of the U.S.A.'s imminent intervention on our side.

There are further signs that the feeling of bitterness against the enemy is becoming more directly associated with Nazi airmen, though this is not always apparent, as might have been expected, in areas which have suffered the worst raid damage.

The public particularly in London continues to adjust its sleeping habits satisfactorily to the altered conditions brought about by continuous raiding. Although in those areas which have been most heavily bombed, there is naturally a certain amount of nervousness particularly on the part of women with children. The resistance of the public is on the whole extraordinarily good. It may be some indication of the improved condition of morale that drunkenness has decreased considerably during the past week.

There is some criticism, mostly from people of moderate means, of the Government's plans for compensation for damage to property and businesses.

Mr. Eden's speech although received with mild approval, does not seem to have aroused much interest anywhere.




4.9.40 .

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle). Evidence that regular raids are creating some bitterness against the enemy. The problem of help for people of moderate means whose houses and furniture have been damaged by air raids is coming to the front, and Government schemes are thought to be inadequate. The raids on Berlin are welcomed. Fuller accounts of damage done by our raids on Germany are requested. Complaints are received of the hours of duty of civil defence workers, who, after a 12 hours spell, are called back to long waiting during warnings. Adverse comment is heard of the prominence given to raids on London.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham). In occasionally raided areas it is noticed that elderly people are calmer than their families. In raided villages the inhabitants are showing fortitude and common-sense. In places where factory owners are not obliged to provide shelters, streets are filled with workers after warnings are sounded. Complaint from Chesterfield that clean salvage is not being kept separate from garbage. Miners ready to go on night shifts who notice pit-head lights are extinguished, as is the practice during purple warnings, are returning home.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol). In spite of great night activity recently there are no signs of defeatism. The transfer of American destroyers ranks with air raids as the chief topic of conversation, and it is felt that America cannot withdraw if we need future help. As a result of last night's raid in Weston-super-Mare, people showed more inclination to take cover during this morning's warning. The visit by the Regional Commissioner to the Scilly isles has had a beneficial effect in Cornwall. Exaggerated stories of air raid damage are still widespread.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham). The continuance of heavy raids has induced the more timorous to go to country districts adjoining the towns during the danger hours at night. The transfer of destroyers has caused much satisfaction. Many people in Coventry have made application for shelters and demand greatly exceeds supply. Many public shelters in the Midlands are being misused by people who take in to them cumbersome articles such as perambulators, thereby reducing accommodation for other people.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh). There is great satisfaction everywhere on account of the addition to our naval strength from America, and much optimistic talk on the probable date of America's entry into the war. It appears to be taken for granted that most of the children in the torpedoed ship will carry on with their plans as a matter of course. Commercial travellers and others returning from bombed areas are saying how calm and unruffled the people are. Eden's reference to the continued possibility of German invasion has had a salutory effect. Rapid developments are taking place in Edinburgh to provide hospitality for members of the armed forces.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast). Enthusiastic welcome for the Anglo-American agreement. Ulster farmers are to join with British and Scottish Unions in an appeal against new price levels for agricultural produce. Criticism of incorrect broadcast on Tuesday to the effect that a bomb had exploded in a crowded shelter in Belfast. Disappointment that the scheme for acceptance and transport of books and magazines for members of the services without postage does not apply to Northern Ireland.




West End cinemas attended normally during day but tendency marrked for people to go home before 9 o'clock as expect night warning to take place about that time. In bombed districts cinemas attendances have fallen. Greenwich contact reports morale greatly improved since exciting air battle plainly visible last Saturday. Before this, people nervous and on edge since dropping of H.E. bombs nearby, but since air battle tension has gone and they are quiet and calm. In most districts chief problem is sleep and shelters at night. In crowded districts such as Stepney, Bethnal Green, Southwark, Paddington, St. Pancras etc. people using large tunnels, subways or cellars where conditions from hygienic point of view are far from desirable. Companionship cheers these people and they state they prefer discomfort and overcrowding together and a feeling of safety to staying at home in bed. In districts where Anderson shelters are common such as Lewisham, people adapting them for sleeping but damp, lack of air and overcrowding make them unsuitable. One Anderson shelter in district is reported to hold eleven people sleeping in two tiers. Hampstead reports people now sleeping under stairs but those with children tend instead to use public shelters. High praise in this district for civil defence services. Reports from East Ham vary on local morale. One contact states people extremely nervous; other reports state that though district has had bad time people are “behaving splendidly and act in orderly fashion.” Officials in district trying to persuade people to get good nights' sleep by staying at home on ground floor instead of going out to uncomfortable shelters. West Ham reports misgivings among some householders re-housed after homes have been demolished in houses with higher rents than they are used to or able to pay. Grumbling among workers at railway terminus in London suburb when caught by raids and unable to make tea as gas mains are turned off.

Home Intelligence .

4th September, 1940 .

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