CHAPTER 10 INFORMATION SERVICE

The Information Service covered both post-raid information and assistance and also an emergency service to give information to the public if other means of communication failed.

Post-Raid Service

One of the most important and helpful services for those who were made homeless or who suffered loss through enemy action was the provision of adequate information and help on the numerous and extremely varied problems with which they were faced. These ranged from the loss of identity, insurance and other cards to questions regarding salvage of clothing or furniture, billeting, compensation for war damage to property, private chattels or business equipment and the provision of immediate financial help. In the giving of this information and help, many agencies were involved and close planning was required.

Immediately after an incident an Information Centre was opened in the earlier days of the war at Lloyd Park Mansion but later at the Town Hall. (On some occasions it was also found possible to provide a Sub-Centre near the incident but staffing problems made this difficult.) An Information Centre served, of course, an entirely different purpose from that of the Incident Enquiry Points dealt with on page 15. At the Information Centre the various post-raid services operated for as long as necessary and people in need of information and help were directed there by the Civil Defence personnel. The Information Centre was, in effect, continuously open during the Flying Bomb and Rocket periods and, although it was impossible to keep a record of all the cases dealt with, a test made during July 1944, showed that over 3,000 persons sought the guidance of the Information Service in one week.

Some misunderstandings and misdirections were inevitable with problems of such scope and complexity but the existence of an Information Centre where persons suffering as a result of enemy attack could receive advice and help without having to be directed from place to place was an important factor in maintaining the morale of the public.

Emergency Information Service

The Emergency Information Service was potential rather than active for the greater part of its existence. The reasons for its inactivity did not lie with those who volunteered for the work but in circumŽstances outside their control.

Originally the organisation was to disseminate information to the public if other channels were blocked consequent upon raiding and for this purpose official Information Boards were erected at various places in the Borough. The Boards provided by the Ministry of Information were so inadequate in number that they had to be supplemented by the Council in order to ensure a reasonably wide distribution of notices if need arose. Having made the provision we awaited material for publicity from the Regional Information Service. This was simply not forthcoming and when we asked for authority to issue our own publicity material we were forbidden to do so, with the result that the boards were not used until later in the war when we did, in fact, use them occasionally for our own notices.

The other main function which the Service was designed to serve was provision of information in the event of Invasion. Fortunately this did not materialise and again a reservoir of enthusiasm was left untapped. In 1944 and 1945, however, some of the enthusiasts gave useful assistance at the Incident Enquiry Points and they at least were able to feel that they had at last been able to make some practical contribution.

The rest had to comfort themselves that " they also serve who only stand and wait."

Part I - General

Part IIa - The Services

Part IIb - The Services

Part III - The Story of the Raids

Part IV - Flying Bombs & Rockets

Part V - To the Unknown Citizen