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Propaganda: Home Front

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"Keep mum – she's not so dumb" - Charcoal, gouache, ink & pastel on board.

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Keep mum – she's not so dumb

"Keep mum – she's not so dumb"

Catalogue ref: INF 3/229Links to the Catalogue


A careless talk poster, illustrated with the figure of a blonde-haired woman reclining, and officers from each branch of the Armed Forces about her, with the slogan ‘Keep mum – she's not so dumb!' The slogan was an adaptation of the 1940 campaign, ‘Be Like Dad, Keep Mum', which had so enraged the Labour MP Dr Edith Summerskill.

The campaign was issued in 1942, for the attention of all ranks, with this particular image intended for officers' messes and other places where the commissioned ranks met. At the end of May, Advertiser's Weekly noted that ‘sex appeal' had been introduced in the form of a beautiful spy, who they insisted on ‘christening Olga Polovsky after the famous song'. In June 1941 they further noted that, having covered public house talk, wayside conversations with strangers, and ‘harmless chat' with friends when on leave, the government believed they had identified ‘the major problem' at last. The campaign was to make a direct appeal along the lines of ‘Cherchez la femme', as a reminder that ‘when in the company of a beautiful woman, remember that beauty may conceal brains'. Service personnel seemed particularly ready to disclose their station and line of work.