A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 93
Daily Report on MORALE
Friday, 6th September, 1940

The public continue to take the bombing in good heart. In London last night's alarm was talked of jokingly for the most part, and fewer people complain of tiredness today; more are sleeping through the night alarms.

There is general satisfaction at the Prime Minister's announcement that something is to be done about the sirens, and the details are awaited eagerly.

An increasingly fatalistic attitude towards the effect of bombing is reported, and this appears to be coupled with a high state of morale. In the East End the searchlights rather than the sirens are now taken as a sign for going to the shelters. Cooperation and friendliness in public shelters are reported to be increasing, but there are many complaints about “insanitary messes” in shelters, and improper behaviour of various varieties is causing distress among the more respectable elements of the community.

During the six days August 23 - 28 the Wartime Social Survey investigated the popularity of our different broadcast speakers. In 551 interviews, the number of times the names of specific speakers were mentioned was as follows:-

  • Churchill 166, Eden 76, Duff Cooper 62,

  • John Hilton 42, Onlooker 21, Swinton 18,

  • Morrison 17, Joubert 14, Bevin 14, Sinclair 14,

  • King Hall 12, Mais 11, Beaverbrook 10.

  • Some 46 other names were mentioned.

In response to a specific question on Duff Cooper's talks 58% approved of them (of whom 28% expressed enthusiastic approval), 19% disapproved, 16% did not hear them, and 7% held no opinion. A similar question about J.B. Priestley's talks showed 52% approving, 2% disapproving, 43% not hearing them, and 3% expressing no opinion.




6th Sept; 1940.

1. NORTHERN (NEWCASTLE) The Prime Minister's speech has been warmly welcomed, and in particular his reference to the revision of the siren policy. Complaints have been received of the showing of lights by the military when billeted in empty houses etc., A.A. ammunition which is thought to be a new and improved type is much discussed and welcomed. Protests have been received against the action of the Northumberland Education Committee in insisting on the normal hours of school after warnings the previous night, in view of the loss of sleep which is said to be seriously affecting children.

3. NORTH MIDLAND (Nottingham) Residents in bombed areas of Nottinghamshire are said to be “not unduly afraid”. Many people are asking for a quicker and more complete news service of R.A.F. activity. There is still dissatisfaction with such statements as “casualties small” and “little material damage”, and more people are said to listen to German broadcasts to discover the names of places which have been bombed. The opinion is expressed in Rutland that we should retaliate for German indiscriminate bombing. In Grimsby it is also felt that too much emphasis is placed on the age of the American destroyers, and too little on the uses to which they can be put. There are a number of instances of people who have not had news of relatives serving in the Near East since May, and some anxiety is being caused.

7. SOUTH WESTERN (Bristol) Air raids are the chief topic of conversation. The Prime Minister's reference to the siren question was welcomed. It is reported from Plymouth that morale is “wonderfully good” and that womenfolk are getting hardened to raids and warnings. During the first warning at Taunton people acted calmly and went to cover without delay.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh) In Glasgow it is reported that Hitler's speech aroused a high degree of optimism, as it was felt that “he must be badly rattled to talk like that”. The Premier's speech was warmly approved. Travellers returning from the Orkneys report that there is popular discontent over the high rates of pay for labourers on Government work; this criticism is freely expressed by both rural workers and soldiers. There are complaints in Stirlingshire among the troops, that as all halls and empty shops have been taken over by military authorities, they have nowehere to go, and local inhabitants are doing very little for them.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) The Premier's forecast of a more determined onslaught on Britain is expected to materialise, but there is less talk now of the invasion of Britain through Eire. In light of recent outrages attributed to I.R.A., the N. Ireland Ministry of Public Security is considering what remedial action can be taken.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham) There is perturbation about the behaviour of a section of the public when night warnings have been sounded; Some people are taking a lot of paraphernalia into the shelters, and there are complaints of people settling down for the night, and of flashing of torches. There are requests for air raid news on a county basis in order that people may be kept more fully informed.




The Prime Minister's speech was welcomed. The siren policy is still a controversial subject; most Londoners seem to approve the idea of a preliminary “stand-by” siren with a further warning to indicate immediate danger. However there is a small school of thought who wish for no sirens. The problem of night sleeping in shelters is the greatest concern of observers, particularly in the poor and crowded districts. Sanitary arrangements in many cases are inadequate: the atmosphere becomes very foul: there are increasing numbers of cases of colds and septic throats especially among children and it is feared that there may be epidemics. In several districts cases of blatant immorality in shelters are reported; this upsets other occupants of shelters and will deter them from using the shelters again. Much distress is reported among school teachers at the fall in school attendances as they feel that their work of years is being completely undone. Woolwich observer notes great excitement and satisfaction at hearing guns in action during day battle and disappointment that they did not fire during the night; also people who have lost everything are cheerful and willing to put up with any discomfort provided Germany is getting her share of raids. Observer in Mayfair has heard many complaints that luxury hotels and wealthy houses do not seem to be strictly dealt with when lights show during black-out. Observers feel that more organisation needed, following Raiders Passed signal, to form crowds into queues at stations and bus stops that have not been in operation during the raid period; suggestion that motorists might relieve situation by giving lifts. Silvertown observer remarked on wonderful spirit of people rendered homeless by raids; fears ill effects from continued sleeplessness due to noise of guns and bombs in Docks area.

Home Intelligence.

6th September, 1940 .

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