The Charlotte News

Wednesday, March 25, 1942


Site Ed. Note: The major front page news this date was the Allied strike against Wake Island and Marcus Island, located 1,000 miles west and to the north of Wake. The latter, just 950 miles from Tokyo, was being compared to Pearl Harbor for its strategic significance to Japan as a long range defense bulwark.

The reports also indicated more Japanese attacks on the Andaman Islands, thought to be prelude to attack on India. The Andamans are 650 miles from Calcutta.

On the editorial page, Raymond Clapper tells of his arrival in Calcutta from Egypt on his junket through the war zones. He lauds Sir Stafford Cripps, recently arrived British envoy responsible for establishing an acceptable barter between independent sovereignty for India and loyalty to Britain in the war against the Japanese, now knocking at the door from Burma. He says that Cripps was trusted by the Hindu population for his friendship to Gandhi's protege and Hindu leader, Nehru. The question mark, he instructs perspicaciously, was the Muslim population.

"Tender Spot" tells of the cardinal sin vis à vis loyal Georgians, talk of rationing of Atlanta's own Coca-Cola and, in the same breath, (have you ever?), suspension of Athens's own Bulldog football and that of the Yellow Jackets combined for the duration of the war. Such wayward ways of man surely had never before had hearing within God's firmament at any time comprising the memory of any living soul or scarcely even the hazy ectoplasm comprising the souls of the dearly departed. We trust that the war was won without resort to such uncouth and utterly radical measures as that heretically proposed by Chip Robert as to Georgia football. And it goes without saying that war could not have been won without ample helpings of Coca-Cola. The very idea of rationing such a precious commodity.

"On And On" tells of the Nazis' favoring dissemination and adoption of the opinion held by Japanese Captain Hiralde, that the Japanese should strike Australia and India with the same tenacity with which it had struck in the South Pacific during the previous three and a half months. He believed that the acquisition of raw materials in the offensive could not be utilized to full advantage unless Japan was able to transship these materials to factories in Central Europe for conversion to industrial goods and also engage thereby in trade for manufactured goods necessary for sustenance of Japan's military machine. Moreover, with Australia left as a launching pad for counter-offensive operations, Japan would always be on the defensive in the Dutch East Indies and in Singapore.

The Nazis supported this strategy for its effect of diverting attention of the Allies in the Pacific theater, to enable success in the spring offensive in Russia. And, of course, the Nazis also favored an attack on Vladivostok in the west, to cause Russia to divide its forces in defense.

Supply lines, however, having become so long and thin, the Imperial High Command diverged from this strategy, believing the best and safest course for the nonce would be to shore up supply routes and protect the vast territory acquired in such short order. Moreover, there was not the direct route by sea to conquer Australia as with the other territories.

The goal of the attack at Pearl Harbor was to put the Americans out of the war for at least six months. While debilitated, America's Navy was very much in the thick of the Pacific war nevertheless, almost from the time of the departure of the last wave of bombers from Oahu on December 7. To take Australia, Sydney and Melbourne had to be taken. And the way around the east coast to those ports was perilous. To the east lay the Solomon Islands in which Allied naval operations and patrols were regularly taking place. Planes and Allied airmen and soldiers were regularly arriving in Australia from the United States. The pugnacious MacArthur was there heading the operation now.

With reports of labor strife being resolved in America and the industrial juggernaut beginning to approach full speed, with evident sacrifices being made by the American people at a level unprecedented since the Civil War, with even the suspension of production of the synonym for Twentieth Century individual prosperity, the shiny new automobile, in favor of tanks, support vehicles, and airplanes, the Imperial High Command, no doubt, sensed that the giant was awakening to the harsh reality of the war, and that it had been a rude awakening.

Should the Japanese navy divide its forces and sail into the Indian Ocean, then the Allies could deliver a crushing blow to the remaining forces in the Southwest Pacific and potentially bottle up the rest of the navy far from home. Thus cut off from supplies and reinforcements, the ground operations, in Burma, in Thailand, in Indochina, would quickly wither and have to retreat. The whole house of cards could collapse quite as quickly as it had been built and perfected.

And, as to an attack on Vladivostok, the Japanese had the fear that the Russian surprise of 1941 to the Nazis might be returned with equal vigor and fortitude to the Japanese, this time in their home waters, laying the ground for a pincer move on Japan itself, by Russia from the west and the other Allied forces from the east.

Thus, while potentially providing to Hitler the diversion he needed to drive to Moscow and from there to the other side of the Urals, to which the manufacturing facilities had been transplanted, Japan might indeed find itself quickly defeated, and within a few months.

Moreover, neither Hitler nor Tojo had either Coca-Cola or football as diversions on their side. Heck, they didn't even have basketball.

Stanford, incidentally, beat Dartmouth 53 to 38 in Kansas City on March 28, 1942 to win the fourth NCAA title game ever held. The bowls were not cancelled, even if the Rose Bowl had to find a new venue. Why should the basketball tournament? They only had three rounds in those days anyway, accommodating but eight teams. The NIT was the more prestigious affair. It was won by West Virginia over Western Kentucky.

Who won the cola wars then, we don't know. It was a perpetual jump ball maybe, after each made goal--imbibing the fruit, meanwhile, of the delectable, inscrutable cola nut.

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