A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 85
No general Report to-day .

26.8.40 .

Reports indicate that morale is maintained at a high level, and there is a continued increase in our ability to secure ultimate victory. The offensive and defensive exploits of the R.A.F. are almost entirely responsible for the present outlook and in particular the bombing of Berlin has caused great satisfaction.

1. NORTHERN (Newcastle). Reports show strong support for the official policy on the food blockade. There now seems some uncertainty amongst the public on the advisability of mentioning towns by name in air raid reports due to anxiety of relations of residents. The success of local campaigns for Spitfires has been remarkable. The broadcasts of the British Workers Challenge Station are regarded in several small towns as poor in quality, and the language irritating. Approbation expressed about several of the Ministry of Information's films.

3. NORTH-MIDLAND (Nottingham). Despite disinterest in African affairs, there is continued evidence of disappointment over Somaliland campaign. Too many people continue to go into the streets in Chesterfield, during the period of air raid warnings. Anderson's announcement on warnings has caused misgiving in certain quarters, particularly as on Friday purple warnings were received half-an-hour after bombs were dropped. A number of rumours about damage to Croydon is prevalent, and casualties are said to be high. Renewed demands for fresh news to be given at the beginning of B.B.C. bulletins. In Chesterfield cheap milk for children over five would be welcomed, and there is evidence that the sugar ration for jam is being abused.

7. SOUTH-WESTERN (Bristol). A noticeable improvement of morale in Barnstaple is apparent. Reports are received of dissatisfaction over “strategic withdrawals” and people ask when we are going to make an attack. The necessity for continuing the food blockade is appreciated. Exaggerated account of air raid damage are widespread.

9. MIDLAND (Birmingham). The air raid warning controversy continues and in Birmingham questions are asked about the fact that raiders are apparently allowed to hover for long periods without apparent challenge.

11. SCOTLAND (Edinburgh). Wide expression of approval on the bombing of Berlin. The Premier's statement on the blockade has found ready acceptance. The Lord Provost of Glasgow's refusal to sponsor the Spitfire fund has gained considerable support on the grounds that it is the Government's job to provide planes. Press comments on the congestion in Glasgow Harbour are that “it is an invitation to the Germans to come over.” Considerable complaints about interference by German broadcasts with Home Service Programmes, particularly after 10 p.m.

13. NORTHERN IRELAND (Belfast) Great admiration for the way in which the British are taking German raids, and detailed reports of damage are regarded as a sign of British confidence. Announcement that food rationing scheme is to be overhauled is welcomed, as the difficulties of retailers in disposing of surplus stock has been the subject of comment in both press and Parliament.

Home Intelligence.



London has come through a weekend of extensive raids with courage and calmness. Croydon proper extremely resentful that after one hour's warning Raiders Passed signal sent them back to bed only to have bombs dropped on them in ten minutes time with considerable damage and loss of life. Responsible local official states public has lost all confidence in warning system and this loss of confidence is spreading to other branches of civil defence. Most districts remarked on fact of raiders returning after warning ceased on Saturday night. East-Enders experiencing screaming bomb for first time expressed great fear but did not panic. Those in shelters remained, although they said it sounded as if the bomb was falling right on top of them. Still far too many people go sight-seeing after first ten minutes in shelters. No absentees to-day from large Silvertown factory in spite of employees' sleepless nights and experience of bombs. Local people impressed by vigour and efficiency of fire fighting at Docks. Delayed action bombs causing apprehension in these areas. Exaggerated rumours of casualties and damage rife. Shoreditch: “large crowds gathered to-day to see raid damage; show no resentment at being kept at safe distance by cordon and police. People tired to-day but very excited; nine out of ten overheard conversations concerned bombing. Although women will not go far from home they are carrying on their normal occupations.” Muddle reported in Stepney Green over people rendered homeless by bombs; matter was taken in hand by authorities. Tooting reports people still careless about showing lights. Stepney people using new brick shelters in streets. Those with Anderson shelters now arranging them to spend night in. East Ham has recruited 10,500 volunteers for Mutual Aid for Good Neighbours Association to provide in each street supplementary system to civil defence. Watford reports considerable hardship locally among people who cannot pay their rent because of war time financial stress. Maltese refugees in Kensington hotel appear to be bored and aimless. Do not seem to make full use of adjacent park to take their babies in.

Home Intelligence.

26th August, 1940 .

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