The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 12, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of the first full Flying Fortress raid into Tripolitania, seeking to block Rommelís retreat to the west to join Axis forces defending Tunisia. The raid hit a fort at Ghadames, 450 miles south of Tunis. French ground forces meanwhile struck at Boudubous, northwest of Kairouan, as well as at Pont du Fahs, 30 miles southwest of Tunis, and again at Medjez El Bab.

From the Russian front came the news that the ever tough Cossack horsemen led a vanguard of Soviets against the beleaguered Nazis, pushing them back across the steppes into the Kuban River region, an area taken by the Nazis during the summer.

Moral: Donít mess with men in high standing black fur hats on horseback, wielding swords and rifles, during the thick of winter in Russia.

Run away.

A spat was reported brewing between General Walter Nehring and Erwin Rommel to settle who would command the combined Afrika Korps of Rommel and the Tunisian forces under the command of Nehring. Nehring was the senior officer and refused to serve as junior to Rommel; Rommel, however, refused to serve as a subordinate to Nehring. Rommel certainly had his case, given his glorified status among Hitlerís ailing generals, earned by his previous record of accomplishment between mid-1940 and mid-1942 in North Africa, even if considerably blemished since the retreat began from El Alamein on October 23.

This report followed by two weeks the indication surfacing December 29 that Field Marshal Albert Kesselring had been removed from command of the Luftwaffe in North Africa, pursuant to Rommel's laying of blame for his recent failures in that theater on lack of adequate air cover. Kesselring was assigned to the Russian front.

Perhaps, Rommel simply of late had become disaffected with Der Ring des Nibelungen.

From a delayed Navy report, the public was informed for the first time by name of the sinking October 26 of the aircraft carrier Hornet in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, reported generally on October 27. It was the carrier, labeled "Shangri-La" by President Roosevelt to the press the previous spring, which carried Jimmy Doolittle and his raiders within barely sufficient range of Tokyo to begin their bombing mission of April 18.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Governor Broughton asked the Legislature, in a record budget request, to appropriate for sustenance of the mental hospital at Morganton $464,000 additional funding over the prospective two years, pursuant to his Blue Ribbon panelís recommendations for improvement of the facility, made in response to Tom Jimisonís exposé of the institution printed in The News and picked up by other newspapers around the state the previous late January and early February.

Never let it be said that one individual cannot effect vast change in a major institution, even from the position of a former patient at a mental hospital.

On the editorial page, "Gas Gestapo" runs out the lowdown on the manner of apprehending desperadoes guilty of breaching the ban on pleasure driving, accomplished in Charlotte via the local police and five OPA agents.

One reprobate claimed to have been going to church, an excepted practice from the pleasure-driving proscription, as no one would deem church "pleasure", unless, that is, they were bound for the Devil, for instance, attending only to see the long ladies in their cool dresses, whether fashioned in black, white or gray.

Unfortunately for the miscreant overstepping the gas rationing bounds, he could not remember the sermon and thus lost his ration book for the month.

"Huh? Who the hell could recall a sermon, what with all the ladies in their cotton-print dresses distractin' my otherwise rapt attention? It's them there, their fault, officer, for me not rememberin' the words of the good preacher. It was a might powerful sermon, though, somethin' maybe 'bout the wages and the shoes."

Granted, however, that it was a little more problematic that he could not remember the name of the church or where it was located.

Based on the snippet from The New York Times re the perils of unduly complex bureaucratic statements of policy and its quoted example, we might consider further such a colloquy on rationing violation:

"But, officer, my aunt lives here and all the nice ladies up there are just her household help, and they don the dress in which they are appareled because of the many labors of their work causing them need to be thus lightly clad while occupying themselves with their busy daily routines of which you could surely benefit and for which I have a free pass in which I will gladly give you to share, provided I might continue with my allotted gas for the month, should you be so predisposed."

"The Liberals" takes a shot across the bow of the President, opining that party fealty got the better of him in the appointment of Democratic National Committee Chairman Ed Flynn, formerly Boss of the Bronx who once had Dutch Schultz as a ward-heeling lieutenant, to be Minister to Australia. The decision was announced by Mr. Flynn, himself, to great howls of disapproval both from Republicans and Australians. His apparent lack of knowledge concerning matters of importance appears to have reinforced the banality of his single qualification, his being a powerful Democrat.

Mr. Flynn apparently could not even see Australia from his window.

Commander John Bulkeley begins the narrative in Chapter 8 of William L. White's They Were Expendable, concerning the mission to Subic Bay to take out a troublesome cruiser with six-inch guns which had been delivering fire repeatedly on the Allied 155-milimeter batteries on Bataan.

He recounts the perilous entry to the Bay by each of two PT-boats, his own, number 34, and that of Lieutenant DeLong, substituting as skipper for Lieutenant Kelly aboard number 31.

Lieutenant Kelly remained in sickbay on the Rock, still anxious to get permission to return to battle despite his self-described "sore finger", actually, according to the doctors, an arm in danger of being lost from gangrene.

Several times spotted by Japanese patrols and signaled to identify themselves, and occasionally fired upon, lighting the shoreline from the pitch blackness, Lieutenant's Bulkeleyís boat eventually found its prey and, without ceremony, fired two torpedoes dead-on, one hitting home.

The other, however, did not clear the tube, becoming lodged at its end, set any minute to complete its propeller run, governed by a certain number of revolutions, the completion of which armed the torpedo. Thereafter, the force of a mere eight-pound impact would detonate it. Only a moderately strong wave slapping the bow of the boat, therefore, could render the boat and crew no more.

What to do?

Out of the Nine Sisters Musing, the miraculous utilitarian powers of toilet tissue, in the face of slim pickin's otherwise, in combination with the survival instinct pushing the mind to find the way to will sustenance of life with time ticking away, suddenly showed themselves to torpedoman Martino, saving the crew to fight another day, via a well-placed little wad to stop the prop.

From whence came his splendid idea, only he probably fully understood. But we suspect that he read plenty of John, The Revelator afterwards, if not in the Philippines, surely in Newport.

As the boat reached its slated rendezvous point at the head of the Allied mine field to await dawn for passage, to avoid being blown up by friendly fire, the DeLong crew aboard PT-31 were nowhere to be found.

The rest of the story recounts what happened to them.

And Chuck McCarthy insists on Ellie-Jayne-Marilyn-Lana earning her steady $25 per hour before the spotlights. The thrashing he gave her made her fit for the headache commercial.

Head 'em up, move 'em out.

The "Visitin' Around" piece from Palmerville suggests that Ernest T. will rock you when you're trying to go home, will rock you on your porch all alone. But you need not feel so all-fired mocked, 'cause everybody must get rocked.

A question, however, inevitably is posed by a reading of the little squib with especially refined acuity: whether it is better to suffer the dings and air-throws off-hurled from the hand inflicted by some rock other than flint, maybe that of a nice garnet or crystal, a good chunk of marble, ne'er balking with bauxite, as proxy for provision of the contumely, the stead of which thrill only rocking may bring.

As a bonus, we offer an inside page we plucked for other reasons, but which fully elucidates, in addition to its other content, the length to which war rationing had finally extended, cutting even the volume of tea-balls packaged per pound from the range of 125 to 300 all the way down to 200 to 250. Now, that's the last strain to be endured. And just when the Dormouse was advocating tea over coffee to reduce consumption.

The quote of the day, incidentally, is from Aurora Leigh, Book II, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

The fuller quote is:

...Yes, a fine young man
Is Romney Leigh; although the sun of youth
Has shone too straight upon his brain, I know,
And fevered him with dreams of doing good
To good-for-nothing people. But a wife
Will put all right, and stroke his temples cool
With healthy touches...

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