Public Morale

Photo:Jean Gordon (nee Morton) digging for victory

Jean Gordon (nee Morton) digging for victory

Jean Gordon

Public mood and opinion

As a result of total war, with its civilian population as an essential tool in the war effort, the Government found it necessary to uphold public morale on the Home Front.  To keep public morale in check, the Government closely monitored the mood and opinion of its citizens and attempted to educate and influence the public through various propaganda campaigns, such as ‘Careless talk costs lives’ and ‘Dig for Victory’. The campaigns were often accompanied by numerous Government issued leaflets and posters.

Although the Government strove to depict good morale and a communal feeling among the general public, the war and the Government’s response to it evoked certain unrest and resentment among the population. In October 1940, the War Cabinet reported that ‘there continues to be much criticism of the warning system in areas where there has been bombing before or after the warning period and where enemy planes are heard though no warning is sounded’. In the same document it was reported that the flow of unofficial evacuees from London, had presented serious difficulties in locating accommodation. The charges for private accommodation had in some areas been greatly increased and numerous complaints of extortion had been made. The consequences of air raids had a vast impact on the British population both in terms of material, bodily and emotional impairment. In a report re-examining the Government’s plans for long-range rockets in 1944, it was suggested that ‘as the sheer devastation grows under continuous bombardment, I fear that the public will become angry, though whether the anger will be directed solely against the enemy may be doubted.’    

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 04/11/2011.