Friday, February 4, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, February 4, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Germans of the Tenth Army had struck four times in the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead area, three times north of Padiglione, eight miles northwest of Anzio, and at a location west of Cisterna. Each time, the Nazis were repulsed with heavy losses inflicted while the Allies improved slightly their positions in the process.

The German High Command claimed that the Allies were surrounded along the beachhead, an area fourteen miles in length, extending eight miles inland.

Daniel DeLuck, an Associated Press reporter, indicated that American soldiers, initially having possessed confidence from their easy advance following the landings at Anzio and Nettuno, now were finding the going rougher than even the tough time endured at Salerno in September. At Cisterna, they had encountered stiff opposition of an enemy encapsulated in a honeycombed network of pillboxes. Allied air cover, however, had been successful in breaking up Luftwaffe raids on the beachhead.

At Cassino to the southwest of the beachhead, Nazi resistance stiffened as the Allies, supported by tanks, had to engage in house-to-house fighting to ferret out the Germans from basements and dugouts amid rubble into which they had rooted themselves.

On Kwajalein, the Fourth Division Marines had completely taken Namur to combine with the capture the previous day of the Roi airbase at the northern end of the atoll. The Seventh Division of the Army in the south had eliminated 1,250 of the 2,000 Japanese defenders with 27 Americans dead, 190 wounded, and nine missing.

Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner stated that, as with the Gilbert operations in November, casualties in the Marshalls operation were far below those expected.

Three German blockade runners, carrying rubber bales, tin, strategic ores, and fats from Japanese bases in the Pacific, were sunk in the Atlantic by three American destroyers, the Omaha, Jouett, and Somers, as the Germans sought to elude the Allied blockade.

In Russia, the encirclement of ten German divisions in the Ukraine, west of Cherkasy, continued, with 10,000 of the Germans already killed during the five-day offensive. The Nazis had been reduced to exhausted "groups of wanderers", as they congregated on the banks of swollen streams and in swamps.

In several plants spread through Michigan and Ohio, 20,000 members of the independent union, Mechanical Educational Society of America, walked off the job in protest of a CIO attempt to organize MESA members in a shop of the Toledo Willys-Overland Company, responsible for manufacture of aircraft.

The President signed into law a bill to provide between $100 and $300 of mustering out pay to soldiers honorably discharged from the service.

The Senate defeated a States' Rights substitute to the bill to provide uniform Federal absentee ballots to soldiers, providing the first substantially positive indication that the Administration's proposed bill would pass, even after its initial bypass by the Senate in December, instead reporting a bill to refer the matter back to the states. A similar measure to that earlier Senate bill had just passed in the House after a roll call vote was held which defeated the President's measure.

After a directive in December by the President that members of Congress could not serve two masters, both the people as elected representatives and the military, 41-year old Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., future vice-presidential candidate in 1960 and Ambassador to South Vietnam under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, resigned his post in the Senate to join the Army. He had, during the spring and summer of 1942, been on active duty in the North African theater before being ordered home by the President, as with all other Senators and Representatives in active service at the time.

Senator Lodge would run successfully for the other Senate seat in Massachusetts in 1946, but would be defeated in 1952 by Congressman John F. Kennedy.

Hal Boyle reports on his joint press interview with General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, commander of Allied forces in the Mediterranean, newly appointed to that position December 25, replacing General Eisenhower who took over the European command. Behind his back, General Wilson's imposing girth caused the men to provide him the nickname "Jumbo", which no one dared utter within earshot.

He was matter of fact, stating laconically that the Germans were predictable, always acting according to form. On strategy, he offered succinctly that the most dangerous time during an amphibious operation was when the troops were "half-part ashore and half-part afloat".

On the editorial page, "Raymond Clapper" laments the passing of the syndicated columnist after the bomber from which he was observing wound up in a mid-air collision with another American plane two days earlier over the Marshalls, giving praise to Mr. Clapper's mental acuity and clarity of reporting, both on politics in Washington and on the war.

Mr. Clapper had visited the fronts three previous times, England during latter summer, 1941, North Africa, India, and China during the summer of 1942, and North Africa and Sicily, being onboard one of the planes during the first mission to bomb the rail yards of Rome, during July and August, 1943. On this trip to the Pacific begun December 28, his good fortunes ran out.

The piece places him within the pantheon of columnists and equates his death with that of any fighting man who had lost his life in the war.

His keen insight to current issues would, says the editorial, be missed as if the newspaper had lost one of its own.

"Our Fortune" reports of the higher wages being paid during wartime in the nation's cities, the largest increases being registered in the South.

"Our Plans" commends the City Council for passing a 16-point program for post-war planning for the community.

"Line-Up" lists the North Carolina and South Carolina House members who had voted for or against a record vote on the soldier-ballot bill, finds the North Carolina delegation overwhelmingly in favor of a record vote, while the South Carolina delegation overwhelmingly opposed it.

The matter was moot by this point, as the front page reports that the House had finally agreed to a roll call vote and struck down the Presidentís proposed measure by a tally of 224 to 168.

Drew Pearson reports that Republican Senator Chan Gurney of South Dakota had told his fellow Republicans in caucus that they should consider taking advantage of what he saw as a Democratic faux pas by three Democratic Senators, including Harry Truman, on the Military Affairs Committee. They had opposed the immediate approval of the permanent promotions to major general for General Patton and General Somervell, and favored tabling consideration of all such permanent promotions until after the war when a more clear-headed assessment of each officer's worth could be determined.

The Republicans rejected the idea on the premise that enlisted men appeared to support the action, even if many officers favored the promotions. Enlisted men far outnumbered officers.

Mr. Pearson tells of a strange man dressed in a green shirt who, on six occasions since January 19, striking each time between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m., had rifled through offices at the Department of Commerce. Security personnel had been unsuccessful thus far in capturing him, and had concluded that he was working from the inside among the 700 night employees at the building.

Whether his initials might have been "G. G. L." was not available.

Perhaps, he was one of the wood nymphs of Sherwood Forest, upon his white reigned, steened steed, wearing his doublet of Lincoln green, searching, searching evermore upon the plain in rue for the reason of what he did, only finding always that in a pig's eynd, an errand errant posited in an old mother's cupboard hubbard shoe.

"Stick It Up Your Jumper" might have been the sub-heading for the last segment of Mr. Pearson's column, instead of "Jumpless Chutists", anent the loss of "jump status" by 3,000 parachutists awaiting their call for overseas transport. The reason for the interruption of status was to save money, the paratroopers being paid $60 extra per month for their military service while officers received $100.

Samuel Grafton again chafes at the failure of the State Department to establish a working relationship with a government for either the French or Italians. He follows the lead of Secretary of State Cordell Hull in setting aside political casts in selecting that leadership and concludes that therefore the United States should support General De Gaulle for the French, overlooking his immense popularity among the Free French and anti-Vichy attitude, consistently held since the fall of France; likewise, in Italy, support the Six-Party Coalition, overlooking its democratic intentions, in lieu of the former Fascist sympathizer, Pietro Badoglio.

Raymond Clapper, having printed the second of his eight posthumously published pieces, provides further glimpses of soldier opinion on the upcoming election, most favoring Roosevelt, and the general trend of opinion against isolationism after the war. Neither Japan nor Germany, they emphatically agreed, should ever again be allowed to be a world power.

Some opined that if the Germans could be defeated in the spring, the Japanese surrender would follow within six months.

This, after he had signed "Short Snorter bills", as he called them, for autograph hounds among the soldiers.

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