The Charlotte News

Saturday, November 28, 1942


Site Ed. Note: The front page indicates a speech by Winston Churchill to be broadcast from London on Sunday evening, Sunday afternoon in the United States. The text of that speech is set out below.

In it, he would lay forth a summary of the previous month’s victories in North Africa and the promising new counter-offensive taking shape in Russia. He exalts the cooperation and coordination demonstrated in the North African operation by the British and American forces under the command of General Eisenhower and the general direction of President Roosevelt. Yet, before any final peace may be realistically achieved, he predicts, there would be a difficult time ahead. Nevertheless, he counsels post-war planning--forecasting that which would become the February 1945 Malta and Yalta conferences--while the war was still being fought and thus fresh to the somatic and psychological responses of the planners--unlike Versailles where more than seven months had passed since the cessation of hostilities before the treaty was finally signed and ratified, removing thereby the insistency of its predicate to avoid recurrence of war in the future.

As the Allies continued their push toward Tunis and Bizerte in Tunisia, as the soldiers under General MacArthur continued to press the Japanese into a net at Buna on New Guinea, and as the defenders of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal shot down sixteen Japanese torpedo planes seeking to bomb ships unloading desperately needed supplies to the Marines, praise came from the Allies for the French stand at Toulon, scuttling the fleet before the Nazi occupiers could seize it. The Russians proclaimed it as an act which would cleanse France’s name and reputation of the scorn and scourge for its former obeisance to Nazi will. London observers predicted that Admiral Darlan’s public pronouncements supporting the action would result in unifying French forces in North Africa under his command, theretofore held suspect of Axis loyalty.

From moribund Italy came the news that Mussolini was suffering from ulcers. Rather than eating the bitter fruit of the fascist philosophy he revived from his ancient forebears and poured into the modern era, he should have long before adopted the plan of Vice-President Wallace for peace and good health, a quart of milk a day.

And, as Gerald Ford helped in the football coaching duties generally at the North Carolina Pre-Flight School during his year there in 1942-43, he may have been on the sidelines during the football game against Fordham mentioned on the front page, (the final score of which would be the same as that given at the end of the first quarter--the end of a golden era for Fordham football, as the program was thereafter suspended for the duration of the war--after the game, not the first quarter). But, since he is not mentioned in the detailed account to which we make reference, perhaps he was given leave to return to Chapel Hill prior to the game after he informed the head coach that he had forgotten to have his helmet accompany him to Yankee Stadium.

On the editorial page, “Curtain Call” offers high praise to the actions of Admiral Jean de Laborde in ordering the scuttling of the French fleet, an act it sets alongside the greatest traditions of France, ever trending toward liberty and ever opposed to the Nazi ideal thrust upon it and nearly swallowing it whole during the previous two and a half years.

Paul Mallon discusses why Mussolini had those ulcers, and why Der Fuehrer might be not far behind.

Raymond Clapper predicts layoffs in factories manufacturing anti-aircraft guns and ammunition, as well as those producing tanks and trucks, to make way for a shift in emphasis, increasing output of planes and ships as the greater need for the present war effort, in contrast to abundant supplies of tanks, trucks, and anti-aircraft materiel.

Humorist and essayist Harry Golden, who had moved to Charlotte the year before and started publishing The Carolina Israelite in 1942, takes issue with the editorial column in a letter to the editor, finding its November 24 editorial laced with specious reasoning when it painted with a Red brush the $25,000 after-tax income cap implemented by the Administration, for its having been originally proposed by the American Communist Party in 1928. He suggests that the Red taint originated with the Hearst newspapers and columnist Westbrook Pegler, out of their longstanding prejudice toward anything remotely smacking of communism. His counsel: the limit would curb wartime inflation as the Administration sought; The News should therefore objectify its opinion, stressing merits, not sentimental preconceptions of guilt by association.

Incidentally, Mr. Golden, previously convicted of mail fraud in 1929 for over-speculation with client funds in his brokerage business, had served four years in prison, but was pardoned for the offense by President Nixon in 1974.

Richard Nixon was pardoned by President Ford in 1974. But that pardon related to more recent matters than that which had taken place in 1929. And, of course, Richard Nixon had not served time in jail for his crimes--that is, his alleged crimes, those in which he participated, allegedly, as an “unindicted co-conspirator”.

Regardless, in neither case do we suggest guilt by association between pardoner and pardonee.

The text of the Churchill speech of the following day follows. (Here also, in RealAudio, is the audio of the first two paragraphs of the speech.)

November 29, 1942

Two Sundays ago, all the bells rang to celebrate the victory of our Desert Army at Alamein. Here was a martial episode in British history which deserved special recognition. But the bells also carried, with their clashing, joyous peals, our thanksgiving, that in spite of all our errors and shortcomings, we have been brought nearer to the frontiers of deliverance. We have not reached those frontiers yet. But we are becoming ever more entitled to be sure that the awful perils which might well have blotted out our life and all that we have and cherish, will be surmounted, and that we shall be preserved for further service in the vanguard of mankind.

We have to look back along the path we have trodden these last three years of toil and strife to value properly all that we have escaped and all we have achieved. No mood or boastfulness of vainglory, of over-confidence must cloud our minds. But I think we have a right which history will endorse to feel that we had the honour to play a part in saving the freedom and the future of the world. That wonderful association of States and races spread all over the globe called the British Empire, or British Commonwealth if you will--I do not quarrel about it--and above all our small island, stood in the gap alone in the deadly hour. Here we stood, firm though all was drifting. Throughout the British Empire no one faltered. All around was very dark. Here we kept the light burning which now spreads broadly over the vast array of the United Nations. That is why it was right to ring out the bells and to lift our heads for a moment in gratitude and in relief, before we turn again to the grim and probably long ordeals which lie before us, and to the exacting tasks upon which we are engaged.

Since we rang the bells for Alamein, the good cause has prospered. The Eighth Army has advanced nearly 400 miles, driving before them in rout and ruin the remnants of the powerful forces which Rommel boasted and Hitler and Mussolini believed would conquer Egypt. Another serious battle may be impending at entrance to Tripolitania. I make it a rule not to prophesy about battles before they are fought. Everyone must try to realize the immense distances over which the North African war ranges and the enormous labors and self-denial of the troops, who press forward relentlessly twenty, thirty, forty and sometimes fifty miles in a single day. I will say no more than that we may have the greatest confidence in Generals Alexander and Montgomery, and in our soldiers and airmen, who have at last begun to come into their own.

At the other side of Africa, a thousand miles or more to the westward, the tremendous joint undertaking of the United States and Britain, which was fraught with so many hazards, has also been crowned with astonishing success. To transport these large armies of several hundred thousand men, with all their intricate, elaborate, modern apparatus, secretly across the seas and oceans and to strike, to the hour and almost to the minute, simultaneously at a dozen points in spite of all the U-boats and all the chances of weather, was a feat of organization which will long be studied with respect. It was rendered possible only by one sovereign fact, namely, the perfect comradeship and understanding prevailing between the British and American Staffs and troops. This majestic enterprise is under the direction and responsibility of the President of the United States, and our First British Army is serving under the orders of the American Commander-in-Chief, General Eisenhower, in whose military skill and burning energy we put our faith and whose orders to attack we shall punctually and unflinchingly obey. Behind all lies the power of the Royal Navy, to which is joined a powerful American fleet, the whole under the command of Admiral Cunningham, and all subordinated to the Allied Commander-in-Chief.

It was not only that the U-boats were evaded and brushed aside by the powerfully escorted British and American convoys. They were definitely beaten in the ten days' conflict that followed the landings both inside and outside the Mediterranean. There was no more secrecy. We had many scores of ships continuously exposed. Large numbers of U-boats were concentrated from all quarters. Our destroyers and corvettes, and our aircraft took up the challenge and wore them down and beat them off. For every transport or supply ship we have lost, a U-boat has been sunk or severely damaged. For every ton of Anglo-American shipping lost so far in this expedition, we have gained perhaps two tons in the shipping acquired or recovered in the French harbours of North and West Africa.

Thus in this respect, as Napoleon commended, war has been made to support war.

General Alexander timed his battle at Alamein to suit exactly this great stroke from the west, in order that his victory should encourage friendly countries to preserve their strict neutrality and also to rally the French forces in Northwest Africa to a full sense of their duty and of their opportunity. Now at this moment the First British Army is striking hard at the last remaining footholds of the Germans and Italians in Tunisia. American, British and French troops are pressing forward side by side, vying with each other in a generous rivalry and brotherhood. In this there lies the hope and the portent of the future.

I have been speaking about Africa, about the 2,000 miles of coastline fronting the under-side of subjugated Europe. From all this we intend, and I will go so far as to say we expect, to expel the enemy before long. But Africa is no halting-place. It is not a seat but a spring-board. We will use Africa to come to closer grips.

Anyone can see the importance to us of re-opening the Mediterranean to military traffic and saving the long voyage round the Cape. Perhaps by this short cut and the economy of shipping resulting from it we may strike as heavy a blow at the U-boats as has happened in the whole war. But there is another advantage to be gained by the mastery of the North African shore. We open the Air battle upon a new front. In order to shorten the struggle it is our duty to engage the enemy in the Air continuously on the largest scale and at the highest intensity. To bring relief to the tortured world there must be the maximum possible air fighting. Already the German Air Force is a wasting asset. Their new construction is not keeping pace with their losses. Their front line is weakening, both in numbers and on the whole in quality.

The British, the American and the Russian Air Forces, already together far larger, are growing steadily and rapidly. The British and United States expansion in 1943 will be, to put it mildly, well worth watching. All we need is more frequent opportunities of contact. The new Air Front which the Americans and also the Royal Air Force are deploying along the Mediterranean shore ought to give us these extra opportunities abundantly in 1943.

Thirdly, our operations in French North Africa should enable us to bring the weight of the war home to the Italian Fascist State in a manner not hitherto dreamed of by its guilty leaders or, still less, by the unfortunate people Mussolini has led, exploited and disgraced.

Already the centers of war industry in Northern Italy are being subjected to harder treatment than any of our cities experienced in the winter of 1940. But if the enemy should in due course be blasted from the Tunisian tip--which is our aim--the whole of the south of Italy, all the naval bases, and all the munitions establishments and other military objectives, wherever situated, will be brought under prolonged scientific and shattering air attack.

It is for the Italian people, forty million of them, to say whether they want this terrible thing to happen to their country or not.

One man and one man alone has brought them to this pass. There was no need for them to go to war. No one was going to attack them. We tried our best to induce them to remain neutral, enjoying peace and prosperity and exceptional profits in a world of storm. But Mussolini could not resist the temptation of stabbing prostrate France and what he thought was helpless Britain in the back. Mad dreams of imperial glory, the lust of conquest and of booty, the arrogance of long unbridled tyranny, led him to his fatal, shameful act. In vain I warned him. He would not harken. On deaf ears and a stony heart fell the wise, far-seeing appeals of the American President. The hyena in his nature broke all bounds of decency and even common sense. Today his Empire is gone. We have over one hundred Italian Generals and nearly 300,000 of his soldiers in our hands as prisoners of war. Agony grips the fair land of Italy.

This is only the beginning, and what have the Italians to show for it? A brief promenade, by German permission, along the Riviera; a flying visit to Corsica; a bloody struggle with the heroic patriots of Yugoslavia; a deed of undying shame in Greece; the ruins of Genoa, Turin, Milan. And this is only a foretaste.

One man, and the regime he has created have brought these measureless calamities upon the hard-working, gifted and once happy Italian people, with whom until the days of Mussolini, the English-speaking world had so many sympathies and never a quarrel.

How long must this endure?

We may certainly be glad about what has lately happened in Africa, and we may look forward with sober confidence to the moment when we may say, "One continent redeemed."

But these successes in Africa, swift and decisive as they have been, must not divert our attention from the prodigious blows which Russia is striking on the Eastern Front. All the world wonders at the giant strength which Russia has been able to conserve and to ply. The invincible defense of Stalingrad is matched by the commanding military leadership of Stalin. When I was leaving the Kremlin in the middle of August I said to Premier Stalin: "When we have decisively defeated Rommel in Egypt I will send you a telegram"; and he replied: "When we make our counteroffensive here," and he drew an arrow on the map, "I will send you one." Both messages have duly arrived and both have been thankfully received.

As I speak, the immense battle, which has already yielded results of the first magnitude, is moving forward to its climax. And this, it must be remembered, is only one part of the Russian front stretching from the White Sea to the Black Sea, along which at many points the Russian armies are attacking. The jaws of another Russian winter are closing on Hitler's armies. One hundred and eighty German divisions, many of them reduced to little more than brigades by the slaughters and privations they have suffered, together with a host of miserable Italians, Rumanians and Hungarians dragged from their homes by a maniac's fantasy--all these, as they reel back from the fire and steel of the avenging Soviet armies, must prepare themselves with weakened forces and with added pangs for a second dose of what they got last year. They have of course the consolation of knowing that they have been commanded and led not by the German General Staff but by Corporal Hitler himself.

I must conduct you back to the West--to France, where another vivid scene of this strange, melancholy drama has been unfolded. It was foreseen when we were planning the descent upon North Africa that this would bring about immediate reactions in France. I never had the slightest doubt myself that Hitler would break the Armistice, over-run all France and try to capture the French fleet at Toulon. Such developments were to be welcomed by the United Nations because they entailed the extinction for all practical purposes of the sorry farce and fraud of the Vichy Government. This was a necessary prelude to that re-union of France without which French resurrection is impossible.

We have taken a long step towards that unity. The artificial division between occupied and unoccupied territory has been swept away. In France all Frenchmen are equally under the German yoke and will learn to hate it with equal intensity. Abroad, all Frenchmen will fire at the common foe.

The destiny of France must be worked out by Frenchmen themselves. We may be sure that after what has happened the ideals and the spirit of what we have called "Fighting France" will exercise a dominating influence upon the whole French Nation.

I agree with General de Gaulle that the last scales of deception have now fallen from the eyes of the French people. Indeed it was time.

"A clever conqueror," wrote Hitler in Mein Kampf, "will always if possible impose his demands on the conquered by installments. For a people that makes a voluntary surrender saps its own character and with such a people you can calculate that none of these oppressions in detail will supply quite enough reason for it to resort once more to arms."

How carefully, how punctiliously he lives up to his own devilish doctrines. The perfidy by which the French Fleet was ensnared is the latest and most perfect example. That Fleet, brought by folly, and worse than folly, to its melancholy end, redeemed its honour by an act of self-immolation, and from the flame and smoke of the explosions at Toulon, France will rise again.

The ceaseless flow of good news from every theater of war which has filled the whole month of November confronts the British people with a new test. They have proved that they can stand defeat. They proved that they can bear with fortitude and confidence long periods of unsatisfactory and unexplained inaction. I see no reason at all why we should not show ourselves equable, resolute and active in the face of victory. I promise nothing. I predict nothing. I cannot even guarantee that more successes are now on the way.

I commend to all the immortal lines of Kipling:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same.

There is my text for this Sunday's sermon, though I have no license to preach one. Do not let us be led away by any fair-seeming appearances of fortune. Let us rather put our trust in those deep, slow-moving tides that have borne us thus far already and will surely bear us forward--if we know how to use them--until we reach the harbour where we would be.

I know of nothing that has happened yet which justifies the hope that the war will not be long or that bitter and bloody years do not lie ahead. Certainly, the most painful experiences would lie before us if we allowed ourselves to relax our exertions, to weaken the disciplined unity and order of our array, if we fell to quarreling about what we should do with our victory before that victory had been won.

We must not build on hopes or fears, but only on the continued faithful discharge of our duty wherein alone will be found safety and peace of mind.

Remember that Hitler with his armies and his secret police holds nearly all Europe in his grip. Remember that he has millions of slaves to toil for him, a vast mass of munitions, many mighty arsenals and many fertile fields. Remember that Goering has brazenly declared that whoever starves in Europe it will not be the Germans. Remember that these villains know that their lives are at stake. Remember how small a portion of the German army the British have yet been able to engage and to destroy. Remember that the U-boat warfare is not diminishing but growing and that it may well be worse before it is better.

Then, facing the facts undaunted--the ugly facts as well as the encouraging facts--we shall learn to use victory as a spur to further effort and make good fortune the means of gaining more.

This much only will I say about the future and I say it with acute consciousness of the fallibility of my own judgment. It may well be that the war in Europe will come to an end before the war in Asia. The Atlantic may be calm while in the Pacific the hurricane rises to its full pitch. If events should take such a course, we should at once bring all our forces to the other side of the world to the aid of the United States, to the aid of China, and above all to the aid of our kith and kin in Australia and New Zealand in their valiant struggle against the aggressions of Japan.

While we are thus engaged in the Far East, we could be sitting, with the United States and with our ally Russia and those of the United Nations concerned, shaping the international instruments and national settlements which must be devised if the free life of Europe is ever to rise again and if the fearful quarrels which have rent European civilization are to be prevented from once more disturbing the progress of the world.

It seems to me that should the war end thus--in two successive stages--there will be a far higher sense of comradeship around the council table than existed among the victors at Versailles.

Then, the danger had passed away. The common bond between the Allies was broken. There was no sense of responsibility such as exists when victorious nations who are masters of one vast scene, are most of them still waging war side by side with one another. I should hope, therefore, that we shall be able to make better solutions, more far reaching, more lasting, of the problems of Europe at the end of this war than was possible a quarter of a century ago. It is not much use pursuing these speculations further at this time for no one can possibly know what the state of Europe or of the world will be when the Nazi and Fascist tyrannies have been finally broken. The dawn of 1943 will soon loom red before us and we must brace ourselves to cope with the trials and problems of what must be a stern and terrible year. We do so with the assurance of ever growing strength and as a nation with strong will, a bold heart and a good conscience.

We hope that your appropriate allotment, and only that, of oysters came your way on Thanksgiving.

On this night in 1942, the tragic Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston would occur, taking 490 lives, thought originally to have been caused by a carelessly dropped match, igniting decorative palm fronds in the nightclub and quickly catching ablaze the cloth, bamboo, and rattan ceiling. The 1943 official study of the fire, however, while finding numerous building code violations which accelerated its spread, could not pin the origin to the match or determine any other likely source. It stands as the second worst fire in a single structure in U. S. history. It would be covered in Monday's News.


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