As soon as the war broke out, many people
became very concerned that the country would be full of German spies.
This belief was strengthened when the government decided to intern
large numbers of Germans and Austrians. It appeared that secret
agents could be anywhere.
The government was also worried by the
possible presence of a Fifth Column (people working or spying for
the enemy) in the country. As a result, the department responsible
for propaganda, the Ministry of Information, began a campaign called
'Careless Talk Costs Lives'.
Many of the posters used in the campaign
were designed to be funny. Some showed people having conversations
on the bus or in cafés with Hitler listening in the background.
Others used cartoon characters such as Popeye to get the message
across. The funny nature of the posters helped people to understand
The other famous slogan used on posters
was 'Keep Mum - she's not so dumb'. This also encouraged people
not to gossip or talk about the war effort in case their conversations
were overheard by spies.
The 'Careless Talk Cost Lives' campaign
was very successful. It worked because people found the message
easy to understand and liked the fact that the posters were funny.