The Charlotte News

Wednesday, September 16, 1942


Site Ed. Note: From "somewhere in England" comes the picture adorning the front page of a group of soldiers from Charlotte, part of a medical evacuation unit. One of their number holds a copy of The News. The News got around.

Here are six other photographs of the unit.

As the thirteen-part series of Alexander P. de Seversky nears the end of its run on the front page, here is the Walt Disney presentation of "Victory Through Air Power", based on Major de Severskyís book of the same name. This largely animated feature lasts 64 minutes (beginning at the five-minute mark, if you wish to skip the contemporary introduction by Leonard Maltin).

The film was released in July 1943 and at this time in fall 1942 had just started into production. Although a bit facile in its approach to the war and, for obvious reasons, full of both propaganda and inaccurate facts for the early stage of the war during which it was made, it is nevertheless a fact-packed little film, useful for an overall view of the conceptualization, if not the ultimate full realization, of the warís air strategy.

It begins with a 20-minute history of the thirty year development of military air power preceding World War II, then devotes itself to the strategic uses of air power in the war, first by the Nazis to overcome British naval strength and the French infantry dug in at the "impregnable" but outmoded Maginot Line, then, in return for the lessons provided the too navy-dependent British at Dunkerque, the development of the RAF and resistance provided by it to the 1940-41 Blitz and its 1942 counter-blitz of Germany and France. The film points out, for instance, that the early June bombing raid of Cologne dropped from its largest in history contingent of one thousand planes twenty times more explosive power than all the bombs dropped by air in World War I; that the entire first flight by the Wright Brothers across the 40 yard stretch of dunes at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903 could have been performed across one wing of the sleek new one-off B-19 experimental, long-range Super Fortress, (actually a little exaggerated as the total wingspan was 212 feet, nevertheless twice that of the B-24 Liberators).

A substantial portion of the film devotes itself to the manifold problems of maintaining lengthy supply lines across the U-boat infested waters of the Atlantic and to the north to Russia via Murmansk and Archangel, and the long routes, made more circuitous and thus longer to avoid enemy bombing range, to the Pacific encampments and around to the Suez Canal feeding the still largely British North Africa campaign, permitting only two shipments of supplies per ship per year. By contrast, Germany had relatively short supply routes and Japan, while routes to the far reaches of its newly acquired territory in the Dutch East Indies and northern Solomons were lengthy and complex, nevertheless had acquired sufficient territory in the Pacific to afford a network of land hops necessary to establish supply lines, all at the time still relatively immune in home waters from Allied attack.

The concluding segment, largely narrated by Major de Seversky, advocates the need for airplanes with dramatically increased range from the current thousand miles to three thousand miles, to enable land-based strikes on Japan, at the time not possible, even though within range from bases within China and Siberia. (To avoid confusion with a piece on the editorial page of the date which indicates that this three thousand mile range was already achievable by the B-17 and exceeded, to four thousand miles, by the new B-24, those figures are based on radius ranges without bomb loads; the ranges were reduced considerably by average bomb loads, to 2,000 miles in the B-17, to about 2,400 miles in the B-24, meaning something over half that distance for the flying radius since the return trip would be unloaded, thus enabling a B-17 roundtrip of about 2,500 miles. The film was suggesting the necessity of a round-trip range of three thousand miles each way, requiring a radius range of 6,000 miles, carrying a full bomb load on the inbound strike. The distance, for instance, from the northern part of Australia at Darwin to either Singapore or Manila was 2,000 miles, then from Manila to Tokyo another 1,900 miles; from Midway to Tokyo was 2,500 miles; from Guam, 1,625 miles, from Wake Island, 2,000 miles, and of course these latter two islands were in the hands of the Japanese; from the Aleutian islands of Attu and Agattu, still held by the Japanese, it was 2,000 miles.) Chinaís terrain, as the film explains, combined with the need to fly through Japanese lines, prohibited access to Japan, while any attempt to fly from bases in or around Vladivostok likewise would face the capability of a Japanese stranglehold from the air out of Japanese-held territory in Manchuria.

Out of presumed diplomacy to allied Russia, the film does not explore the fact that Russia would not allow the establishment of bases in its territory for the very good reason that it did not want to open a two-front war by breaching the Russo-Japanese mutual non-aggression pact thus far kept by the Japanese, its hands already too full on the German front.

De Seversky advocates a direct hit on the heart of Japan, not the time-consuming and costly process of reacquiring, island by island, the lost territory in the Pacific. He points to the foibles of carrier-based operations versus the far more effective land-based operations at the disposal of the Japanese to protect their territory, the latter enabling far greater fighter strength with heavier planes capable of longer range than carrier-based squadrons.

The film omits mention of the Doolittle raid and the manner by which it was achieved, via Gandhiesque starry plough link belt-tautened B-25's, (with an unloaded radius of 2,700 miles), taking off from Shangri-La. For, let's face it, for Major de Seversky to have stated the origin of the raid as Shangri-La would have perhaps lent to the film a less than auspicious air for the future of air power, as but few raids could originate there, obviously.

While the film is flawed for its early time in the war, with factual inaccuracies, such as assuming that only 150 planes accomplished the attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as over-simplification of strategic motivations of the enemy, it nevertheless provides a reasonable overview of the war at this stage, even if occasionally in its early portion lapsing into the childish conventions usually accompanying animation. In its totality, it affords a view into how Major de Seversky believed the war could be won.

De Seversky was a World War I flying ace for Russia who flew numerous successful combat missions despite losing a leg in the early part of the war; he came to America just after the 1917 Russian Revolution and fell under the tutelage of American flying ace Billy Mitchell. Besides establishing his own flying records as a test pilot, he developed designs for airplanes and eventually became a recognized strategist and exponent of the sine qua non centrality in modern warfare of air power, enhanced in the public mind with his popular book on the subject, that from which came the segments being reprinted during this time in The News.

The ramifications to the Allies attendant with not heeding de Severskyís theories, as well those concordant notions of his mentor Billy Mitchell, were becoming daily more manifest, or so it seemed from news reports of the time, suggesting for the previous three months, as with todayís front page, the potential opening by the Japanese of a new front, either in India or Siberia. Some doubted whether Japanís already stretched supply lines could handle any further thinning to enable even more far-flung operations, as well whether Japan, despite the published statements quoted in the piece of its desires to foster the "new world order" being established by the Axis nations, truly wished to aid Hitlerís efforts in Europe, being thought instead content to hold and develop the potential over time of its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere established during the five months following Pearl Harbor, (not to mention the key axial radii afforded by the airdromes built in French Indochina during the four and a half months before it).

Meanwhile, the first reports surfaced of the weekend fighting, already concluded by this point in favor of the Allies, in the Lunga River offensive by the Japanese, their second major attempt to reacquire Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, both miserably failed.

A first-hand account is also included on the page from June 4, proffering a view of the last days of the carrier Yorktown before it sank June 7 after being fatally hit three days earlier during the Battle of Midway. This date, three months later, the Navy officially for the first time acknowledged its loss.

On the editorial page, "Wake Island" looks forward to the premiere on Friday of the new feature film of the same name on the 14-day ordeal of the Devil Dog Marine brigade which held the island against odds in December. A ten minute montage of the film may be found here. The ubiquitous William Bendix appears among the cast. He got around during the war, as a Marine at Wake and again on Guadalcanal, before hiring on for a stint with the merchant marine by 1944, to name but three roles. As we suggested, the life of Riley.

"Old Master" lauds the appointment of John Towers to central air command in the Pacific theater, noting his penchant for offensive strategy, foreshadowing such a welcome plan of action.

Raymond Clapper writes of a diplomatic mission by Henry F. Grady to India, to try to effect a resolution of the thorny problem with the Gandhi-led All-India Congress Party demanding immediate independence from Great Britain as the price for cooperation in the war effort against the Axis.

This Henry Grady, incidentally, future first U.S. Ambassador to the newly independent state of India in 1947-48, was from San Francisco and should not be confused with the lionized journalist for The Atlanta Constitution in the latter nineteenth century, Henry W. Grady, no immediate relation.

And, we suppose we could not allow to pass the opportunity presented most delectably by that little preview heading to the right of the front page without suggesting its seeming adept chronicling of the recent reaction to the troubling outburst of South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson last week, shouting during the Presidentís address to the body "You lie!" upon the Presidentís assertion that illegal aliens in the country would not receive free health care under his proposed health care plan--in fact expressly excluded from the plan.

Yesterday, the House, on a partisan vote, formally rebuked Congressman Wilson for the outburst.

Perhaps, the greatest wing clipping of all, however, was that unintended rebuke accomplished by his wife when, it is reported, shortly after the speech, she first asked the Congressman who the "nut" was who yelled out "You lie!" (We understand that she quickly laid claim to misquotation, contending that instead her words were garbled, that she actually stated, "Hu wasnít that nut who yelled ĎYou lie!í?", of course making an arcane reference to Dr. Hu, appointed in 1942 to the newly created post of "high adviser" to the Chinese cabinet, that underlain by her assumption that Dr. Hu was now in the Congress of the United States. Another account has it, however, that she sometimes calls her husband "Dr. Hoo", an affectionate moniker of unknown origin. It is rumored, however, among the yellow press affiliates, to be maintained therefore hush-hush and on the Q.T., that the derivation has something to do with a sombrero and long pants adorned by Un Gato, a swordsman of renown in Mexico, as he arrived on their balcony during their honeymoon many moons ago.)

Another way the matter might have been handled was for the President originally to have stopped mid-speech and demanded forthwith an immediate apology from the Congressman, failing which the President would have simply walked away from the rostrum and refused to finish his speech.

But, we think, on balance, the President probably handled it the best way.

In some countries, the Congressman would have been taken out back and immediately dispatched.

In any event, again we ask the question, not without substance: where do the illegal aliens receive their health care presently and for the past several decades?

Reverting momentarily to the editorial page, "Carriage Trade" predicts with fair acuity of imagination the war baby-boom and its consequent need for perambulators for the perambulation of baby, not to mention the precedent connubialization necessary in order to effectuate the symbiosis requisite ultimately to realize perambulation, at least amounting to any significant demographic impact.


Then thereís the editorial on statements of Earl Browder, recent recipient of presidential commutation of his sentence for falsifying of his passport, originally done, according to his claim, so that he might travel to the Soviet Union, unmolested by Nazis.

And another, on the reactionary Reverend Gerald L. K. Smithís failure to win the Michigan U.S. Senate primary.

So, in keeping, in a manner of thought, with those latter three themes, here, another clip we found last night, from August 1966.

He could not tell who these people were, said he, what the race of these people were, he said, for the collomeration underneath their moptops and what-not, so he stated, threatening the while commonism from Britain, was what he thought.

Anyway, we thank the Memphis police captain for the offer. We would appreciate those earplugs ourselves, in order to shut out this individual giving us quite a headache, even if in 1966 quite a bit closer to contemporary times than 1948. Yet, in terms of its squareness, as opposed to its being well-rounded, one must compensate for its emanation from the South, flat as it is, especially the Deep South, and, in the particular example referenced, perhaps a lot Deeper than even the Deepest South from which we are ordinarily accustomed to absorption via osmoticization.

A girl from Birmingham, perhaps England, perhaps Alabama, as it doesn't elucidate, in part number two says that many buildings have been built in the name of Jesus Christ.

We think that we have heard of one of those. It is in Monroe.

Anyway, itís all a little wacky. Donít you agree?

It could have been worse, should that cover near that of Sgt. Barry Sadler's recording on the wonderwall there have been the butcher-block version, in which case there would have been howls of "Satan" and "Baby Lon, the 'arlot, 'as arrived," perhaps.

One thing stands out though from all of it: there was only one King, and that was Elvis.

You want to fight about it or somethiní?

Here, another, also possessed of controversial content for its time, though one not leading fortunately to the violent reaction precipitant from the other.

You can cuss a little, though we donít like it, but best not knock our religion, fella, or adhere too closely to any other in competition with it. Or, youíll regret it, and in the name of Christ. Amen.

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