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Mass-Observation Archive: Topic Collections

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TC 29: 5 boxes


Please note that papers resulting from Mass-Observation's study of women in the Forces have been organised in a separate Topic Collection (TC 32): Women in Wartime. This includes attitudes of men towards women in the services

Part of the Forces material is composed of reports sent in by voluntary Observers (ie members of Mass-Observation's National Panel) who were in the Forces. As a general rule their regular contributions as Panel members are to be found with the rest of the Panel material (the Directive Replies and Diaries) but special reports such as those on army education and proxy voting have been retained as part of this sequence. The ordinary Directive Replies from Service men are obviously another source of information about life in the Forces and an index of people in the Forces is available in the Archive

Further material on the Forces may be found elsewhere, specifically in Topic Collection Work (TC 27) and Small Collection SM 38 - World War II Publications


September 1980


29/1/A: Mass-Observation: Forces Investigations

Internal memoranda about proposals and comments relating to studying men in the Forces

Notes, lists and miscellaneous comments

General correspondence relating to study

Reviews of books about the Forces and articles about the Forces by TH

29/1/B: Observations: the public behaviour of men in the Forces 1939-40

Overheards, Bolton 1939 (JC)

Observations in London of the behaviour of soldiers, 1939 (AH, HP, BA)

Notes on canteens, London, 1939

Report on members of the RAF and Army in Blackpool, 5.8.40 (AH)

Observation in Bolton, 29.7.40 (BA) and in Stepney, 29.7.40 (NM)

Observations and overheards , London 27.7.40 - 18.9.40 (DH)

Observations and 'follows' in Worcester, 17.7.40 - 21.10.40 (DA)

29/1/C: Attitudes to Conscription 1939

Press cuttings May 1939

Letter from TH re Conscription Survey, 28.4.39

Report of Survey (TH) carried out by EBC, MER, AH, LT, KB, HAC in the East End of London, Norwood, Westminster, Poplar, Streatham and 'in the streets' (434 interviews). Replies to question: "What do you think of conscription?" with analysis sheets

29/1/D: Recruitment 1939

Observations at London recruitment offices made by VMD, KB, JA and BA, November 1939

Notes relating to recruitment

Overheards on conscription gathered in Fulham (LE), 29.7.40

Brief report on an Observer's experience of registration, (LE) 9.11.40

Observation at an Employment Exchange (London?) during the registration of engineers (JS) 19.8.40

Report by JA of his Medical Examination, 8.3.40

29/1/E: Manpower Questionnaire 1941

Replies to questions on the Government's conscription plans including the conscription of women, the conscription of wealth and Government ownership of essential industries (JS, MT, CM) 3.12.41

29/1/F: The Public and soldiers, 1940 - 41

Overheards: comments about soldiers collected by WRL in Uxbridge, DH in Cookham; observations of the behaviour of members of the Forces and public reactions. Reports of conversations with soldiers mostly in London but some reports from Romford, Bolton and Worcester

Civilian-soldier relations: reports, comments and observations

Observations of soldiers on railway stations in London (GD) June 1941

29/1/G: Knowledge about the Air Ministry, August 1941

Questionnaire about reactions to Air Marshal Joubert's radio broadcast and knowledge about the Air Ministry. Interviews carried out in Bolton, Streatham, Nottinghill Gate and Limehouse

29/1/H: The RAF and the Air War 1940

Envelope of charts identifying German and British aeroplanes published by the News Chronicle

Extracts from The Aeroplane about aircraft production and preparations for the air war

Notes (TH)

29/1/I: Exhibitions and fund-raising events related to war weapons 1940 - 45

Report from voluntary Observer: War Weapons Week in Chelmsford, 18.4.40 with newspaper cutting

Assorted reports, newspaper cuttings and observations in London areas about War Weapons Week, May 1941

Report on Donnington Tank Week (LE) August 1941

Report on Trafalgar Day Ceremony in London, 21.10.42

Report: Wings for Victory Week in Fulham, 11.3.43

Report: Wings for Victory Week in London, Trafalgar Square, 12.3.43

Report on local activities in Beckenham, 26.6.43

Report on Army Exhibition, London 16.7.43

Report: Army Cadet Exhibition, London, 27.3.44

Report: Salute the Soldier Exhibition, London, 3.4.44

Reports: RAF Exhibition, Dorland House, Regent St, London, 24.4.45

(For printed material gathered at some of the above events, see Box 3)



29/2/A: Calder Marshall, A

Reports in the form of letters to TH from Bushfield Barracks, St Cross, Near Winchester written between 1.8.40 and 8.10.40. Includes details of other soldiers and reports on soldiers' reactions to the Blitz

Report from ACM's wife, Ara Calder Marshall in Chiseldon, near Swindon, Wilts, 5.11.40 on the local area and relations between soldiers' wives and the local residents

Report on morale by ACM including information on training in the Army, 11.6.41

29/2/B: England, L

Notes from former full-time Observer with Mass-Observation, now a Private in the RAOC stationed at Donnington: notes on reactions of fellow soldiers to news items, 25.4.41; letters about possible investigative work inside the Army to be carried out by counsellors

29/2/C: Lee, WR

Reports from Private WR Lee in the Intelligence Corps at Winchester. WRL also a former full-time Observer for Mass-Observation now engaged in top security work. Joins up in November 1940

29/2/D: Novy, H

Detailed and lengthy reports from former full-time Observer now private in the RAMC stationed at Leeds (1.12.40 - 23.2.41), at Catterick, Yorks, (Feb 1941 - April 1941) and at Shotley Bridge, Co Durham (April 1941 onwards)

(Further reports on the RAMC and life in Leeds are filed in 66/11/G

29/2/E: Assorted short reports from other Observers in the Army

Royal Air Force

29/2/F: Pepper, C

Reports from A/C 2 Pepper stationed in Torquay, Devon from September 1940 and in Canada from September 1941

CP was a full-time Observer for Mass-Observation before being called up. He later died in action

29/2/G: Papineau, R

Reports and letters to Mass-Observation from LAC Papineau stationed at Blackpool, June 1941

29/2/H: Picton, R

Account of first medical examination, Ipswich, May 1940

Observations, Alderton, July 1940

Correspondence with TH and reports on RAF life

Selection for Air Crew, Cardington, Beds, August 1940. Stationed at Blackpool (Aug 1940), Torquay (Oct 1940), Newquay (Oct - Dec 1940), Weston-super-Mare (March 1941 - September 1941) where he becomes a Sgt Flying Instructor, Wick (Sept 1941)

29/2/I: Sommerfield, J

Correspondence with TH: stationed at RAF Silloth, Cumberland (1940-41) and at RAF Mellisham, Wilts, July 1941 - Aug 1941

Formerly full-time Observer with Mass-Observation

29/2/J: Assorted material sent in by other Observers in the RAF

Royal Navy

29/2/K: Hutchinson, G

Diary, letters to mother and letters to TH with an account of registration at Shepherd's Bush, Jan 1941. Stationed at Skegness (June 1941) and at Torpoint, (June 1941 - Dec 1941)

Additional notes 27.9.43

29/2/L: Miscellaneous reports from Observers in the Navy


29/3/A: National Service

General material covering all of the Services including three copies of National Service (HMSO 1939), official enlistment forms and other official information for troops

29/3/B: Royal Air Force

Books, leaflets and other official material

29/3/C: Royal Army

Books, leaflets and other official material

29/3/D: Royal Navy

Books, leaflets and other official material

29/3/E: Forces Publications

Official and unofficial Forces magazines with correspondence. Includes Blighty (April 1942) and Jankers (1941) sent in by Tom Driberg

Typescript: broadcast by Tom Driberg giving advice on producing magazines and papers in the Forces

29/3/F: British Legion

Literature including leaflets about pensions

29/3/G: Miscellaneous ephemera

This folder includes advertising material (eg for uniform suppliers), religious booklets, samples of official stationery, bills, forms, tickets, receipts, labels, ration cards, posters and leaflets etc., material also about Forces entertainments

29/3/H: Overseas Troops

Assorted material about the Services of other nations including the Canadian Army, the Norwegian Air Force and the French Forces

29/3/I: Charitable War Organisations

Leaflets and pamphlets produced by the Red Cross, the Friends Ambulance Unit (including a handwritten report). Relating to Prisoners of War, war relief and mobile canteens

29/3/J: War Savings

Literature from campaigns to encourage war savings: War Weapons Week, Salute the Soldier etc. (see also 29/1/I)

29/3/K: Air Propaganda

Samples of leaflets dropped by the RAF over Germany and German-occupied Europe, 1941

29/3/L: Impact of Blitz on East End

Typed report on effect on soldiers of news of Blitz. 25.9.40


29/4/A: Life in the RAF, February 1941

Small surveys conducted by Observer D Douglas at RAF Marston, Kent

  1. Interviews with 54 Ground Defence men, Fire Staff, Police, Cooks, Drivers and orderlies about their attitudes to being in the RAF, what they miss about civilian life, going to church, their expectations for the postwar period and the possibility of invasion
  2. Interviews with 50 RAF men about going out at night, type of entertainment most enjoyed etc
  3. Interviews with 44 airmen about what they missed most from peace time

29/4/B: Public attitudes towards the Army, June 1941

Approx. 200 replies to a 5 point questionnaire about the Army carried out in Kilburn (CF), Hendon (JS), Euston (NN), Croydon (VT) and Oxford (HH)

Tabulations and notes (EL) analysing results of survey

29/4/C: Army Education 1941

Letters from BW to TH about Mass-Observation's study of Army Education (March-April 1941)

Letter from Raymond Gauntlett (1941 Committee) to TH

Copies of Current Affairs in the Army: an outline of a new plan (ABCA), War: News Facts for Fighting Men, No. 2 and Current Affairs No. 1 (1941). All sent to M-O by B Dobree (War Office)

Reports from men in the Forces, April 1941 on educational facilities (includes information on reading habits, special education schemes, course, radio listening habits etc)

Listener Research Report (BBC) 15.4.41

29/4/D: Service Clubs

Brief descriptions of three service clubs in London by GH (Navy), August 1941

29/4/E: Army Pay and Social Welfare

Article in New Statesman 10.8.41 about Army pay

Typed manuscript of questions and answers on social services available to members of the Forces and their families (no date)

Special report on pay, 22.9.41 from J Gaston in Luton

Survey conducted by LE in Donnington, November 1941

Extracts from Mass-Observation diaries compiled by YL on army pay and conditions (1941)

Report on pay based on M-O Directive Replies, August 1941 (BW)

Note on army compensation, Stepney (NM)

Army expenses: personal note from LE, May 1941

Report: Soldiers' expenditure in a country unit sent in by HN, RAMC, 22.6.41

Newscuttings and quotations from the press and from Hansard, 1941

Indirects on pay, August 1941 collected in Walham Green (MS), Mill Hill and Neasdon (JS & GD)

Notes by JF, 7.8.41

29/4/F: Service Allowances Survey, September 1942

155 replies to a 6 question survey conducted in London areas: Hyde Park (TO), Paddington (LB), Clerkenwell and Holborn (POL), Notting Hill Gate and Marylebone (CM) and Kilburn (CF). Includes attitudes towards increases in Servicemen's pay, dependents' allowances, comparisons with the pay of other nationalities stationed in Britain

29/4/G: Prisoners of War, June 1942

Extracts from letters written by PoWs to their families which were sent to M-O by the Red Cross. All the PoWs in German prison camps 1941 - 42. Notes by HP

29/4/H: The Home Guard

Reports sent in to M-O by members of the Home Guard 1940 - 44 with leaflets

(Further material on the Home Guard is available in the Topic Collection AIR RAIDS (TC 23))

29/4/I: Proxy Voting in the Forces, July 1944

Reports from members of the M-O panel in the Forces at home and abroad on the availability of information about proxy voting


29/5/A: Deserters, March 1947

Opinions about deserters collected informally by BS and HS (no location)

29/5/B: Recruitment Survey 1956

General material about the survey with instructions for interviewers, August 1956, advising personnel that the survey is being commissioned by the Government Social Survey at the request of the Ministry of Defence to assess the effectiveness of recruitment campaigns

Sample questionnaire

Coding sheets

29/5/C: Names and address of interviewees

Lists of the many towns in which the interviews took place

Lists of the names and address of the interviewees


Tabulations of results with notes


Computer print out of results


Miscellaneous papers and press cuts relating to the whole FORCES Topic Collection

Mass-Observation Studies 1937-55

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