The Spirit of the Blitz: Home Intelligence and British Morale, September 1940 - June 1941

Paul Addison (Editor), Jeremy Crang (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportAnthology

Abstract / Description of output

During the Blitz, the morale of the British people was clandestinely monitored by Home Intelligence, a unit of the Ministry of Information that kept watch on the behaviour and opinions of the public and eavesdropped on their conversations. Drawing on a wide range of intelligence sources from every region of the United Kingdom, a small team of officials based at the Senate House of the University of London compiled secret reports on the state of popular morale as the Luftwaffe attacked Britain's major towns and cities between September 1940 and May 1941.

Edited and introduced by two leading historians of the period, who tell the inside story of Home Intelligence and why it proved so controversial in Whitehall, the complete and unabridged sequence of reports provide us with a unique and extraordinary window into the mindset of the British during a momentous period in their history. Not only do they include in-depth reports on the effects of the bombing, including special reports on Coventry, Clydebank, Hull, Barrow-in-Furness, Plymouth, Merseyside and Portsmouth, but also insights into almost every aspect of everyday life in Britain as well as the response of the public to the shifting military fortunes of the war.

Reading like the collective diary of a nation, the reports strip away the nostalgia that has grown up around the period, reminding us instead of the sufferings and sacrifices, the many frustrations and difficulties of daily life, the administrative bungling, the grumbling and petty jealousies, and the determination of the overwhelming majority to put up with it all for the sake of beating Hitler.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages544
ISBN (Print)9780198848509
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2020


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