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Half the Battle: Civilian Morale in Britain During the by Robert Mackay

By Robert Mackay

This ebook exhibits that earlier than international warfare II the professional analysis in Britain used to be pessimistic yet that measures to reinforce morale have been taken however, particularly with reference to defense opposed to air raids. An exam of more than a few indicative components concludes that morale fluctuated yet used to be more often than not reliable, correct till the top of the warfare. In explaining this phenomenon, due credits is accorded to govt guidelines for the upkeep of morale, yet unique emphasis is given to the “invisible” chain of patriotic feeling that held the kingdom jointly in the course of its time of trial.

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27 R. J. Minney, The Private Papers of Hore-Belisha (Collins, 1960), pp. 152–4. 28 Harrisson, Living Through the Blitz, p. 31. 29 O’Brien, Civil Defence, p. 155. 30 Titmuss, Problems of Social Policy, p. 19. 31 Report of Home Publicity Sub-Committee, 27 September 1938, INF 1/20. 32 Memorandum by Stephen King-Hall, September 1938, INF 1/713. 33 I. McLaine, Ministry of Morale: Home Front Morale and the Ministry of Information in World War II (Allen & Unwin, 1979), p. 14. 34 The lack of urgency shown by the Government in organizing information services fits uneasily with the claim that is sometimes made that it had already in the 1930s naively accepted the assumptions of some sociologists about the susceptibility of the attitudes and behaviour of the masses in modern society to manipulation by the mass communications media.

But there were also numerous other measures dedicated to this end that were less visible. The ARP programme involved the setting up of an elaborate system of emergency services to meet every foreseeable contingency. About one and a half million people, some three-quarters of them voluntary part-timers, were recruited to staff these services: wardens, firemen, rescue men, ambulance drivers, medical staff, telephonists and messengers. Each of the 250 local authorities appointed an ARP controller who, working to Home Office guidelines and acting in conjunction with the chief medical officer, the local authority surveyor, the chief warden, and the local heads of the police and fire brigade, set up the practical arrangements for limiting the effects of air attack.

For a full eight months, until the AngloFrench expedition to Norway, apart from isolated engagements at sea, both sides held their fire. No massed flights of German bombers appeared above Britain’s cities to batter the citizens into submission. The ‘Phoney War’, as it was called, was a big anti-climax, an absolute confounding of everyone’s expectations. If there was a problem of public morale it was nothing like that anticipated and prepared for. The Phoney War turned out to be but the first of four phases in the evolution of the problem, each phase having its distinct characteristics.

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