The Charlotte News

Thursday, January 14, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of continued bombing raids on Axis airdromes and positions in Libya along Rommels's path of retreat and in Tunisia. French troops, aided by the Lafayette Escadrille, a squadron of American pilots flying for the French, originally formed during World War I to cover the fighting at Verdun, now flying P-40's, took two strategic heights, Jebel Haoub and Jebel Bou Davouss, fifteen miles northwest of Kairouan.

The first contact was reported between General Giraud and General Jacques Leclerc, the leader of the Free French forces fighting north through the Fezzan Desert in central Libya from Lake Chad, in the direction of Tripoli.

The photograph shows a hoop-equipped British Wellington bomber--whether piloted by the Duke and Duchess being highly doubtful, albeit for their benefit, no doubt--so fashioned to enable detection and explosion of magnetic mines from the air. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Relentless RAF bombing of German industry continued with the third of three consecutive night raids hitting the Krupp Works at Essen, the eighth attack on the central pinion of the Axis in eleven nights.

Flying Fortresses, in the meantime, followed nighttime RAF raids on Holland and France, a part of the felly of the Axis, with daytime raids on those occupied lands.

The bombing campaign, plus the North African offensive and the Russian front, had so debilitated Germany that it was now scavenging the entire wheel for available manpower, even scooping up the dregs, previously deemed unfit mentally and physically, to take over garrison duty and desk jobs, freeing the more fit for the front lines. Fully 700,000 Russians had been impressed from the Ukraine to work as slave labor on German farms. In the fall it had been reported reliably that only twenty percent of the German industrial base was being utilized any longer for production of civilian goods. Life had become increasingly hard within Der Ring des Nibelungen. Even the Nazi flag factory was now, quite allegorically, turned to production of camouflage material. Dodging was their better craft anyway.

Communiques from the Russian front showed continuing progress of the Russian tank-led offensive against the main lines of the Axis in the Caucasus along the salient between the key Caspian oil port of Baku and Rostov, the key supply depot for the Nazis near the Sea of Azov leading to the Black Sea. The Soviet vanguard had spread out its offensive 50 miles north of the recaptured town of Mineralnye Vody, site of hot springs, past Kumagorsky and Zhuravskoye, also recapturing Novo Bladgodarnoye, twenty miles to the west of Mineralnye Vody.

The inglorious basterds, on all fronts, were starting to have their way with the bloody moronic Nazis, both from within and from without.

The War Labor Board had wired John L. Lewis of the U.M.W. to appear and show cause why the anthracite coal miners had been on strike for two weeks in violation of the no-strike accord reached with labor nearly a year earlier. The strike had thus far cost the country an estimated half a million tons of coal, so crucial during the winter months, especially in light of the reduced supply of gasoline.

That supply shortage, however, said petroleum administrator Harold Ickes, was becoming increasingly refilled. Yet, he had to touch wood and carry a little friend from Ohio State with him for good luck on the matter.

Putting together the two fillers from Salt Lake City and Denver, we conclude that the thief in Utah had a stroke of conscience by the time he reached the Rockies, thus turning himself in for the stolen pair of pants. In explanation for the ten pounds of hoarded coffee found in his backseat, for which he was finally arrested at the end of his crime spree, he had the potential excuse of needing to stay awake during the drive in order to obey all traffic laws assiduously. But then, how did he get the gas and rubber to make the long drive? You couldn't win in those days. Best just to give the car, coffee, and pants to the government. Bound for the Army, anyhow.

Not yet reported was the beginning this date in Casablanca of the major war conference between FDR and Churchill, attended also by Generals De Gaulle and Giraud. Josef Stalin was invited to the conference, but declined for the need to tend his duties of oversight to the ongoing fighting in and around Stalingrad and in the Caucasus. The conference would last until January 24.

On the editorial page, "A Day" in the life of Mrs. Roosevelt is recounted in the column, presumably from a conning of her "My Day" diary published in syndication daily, except Sundays, though not carried by The News. Yet, we have been unable to locate any but one of the columns to which Mr. Davis referred, apparently opting for an amalgam of several days' offerings. The one we did find among his references was from January 11, re the concert she attended before realizing next morning that there was a ban in place on pleasure driving to or from areas of entertainment. Mrs. R., we assume, insisted on the voluntary surrender of her driver's ration book.

Perhaps, you will have better success at tracking down the remainder of the columns from which came the snippets to which he makes reference. The tour is always worthwhile.

This day, coincidentally, found her telling of yesterday, back in the mine country of West Virginia, at Arthurdale, where she had been in late November, 1937 when The News shadowed her tour of the mining town with Doris Duke in tow. On this visit to West Virginia, she also toured the area of the mine disaster which had killed thirteen miners, as reported January 8 and 9. She had made pilgrimage to the village, largely removed to Arthurdale, in 1937 as well.

The letter to the editor from Mr. Ward, suggesting that America in the future must consider itself its brother's keeper if it is to promote world peace, reminds of the ongoing effort to do so, in light of the recent disastrous earthquake in Haiti and the commitment of the United States to aid those injured and rendered homeless.

We must also, of course, simultaneously regard the principle that charity begins at home and insure that our own homeless, strapped for shelter, have provision, and, where possible, not just shelter, but the opportunity to pursue the right to resume a meaningful living from which, on some untoward set of circumstances, sometimes not the least fault, viewed objectively, of the individual so beset, they were terminated and ground down to the point where there was little hope of re-association and assimilation in the normal course. Each has a story; we had better listen, sometimes a far more beneficial thing than providing spare change to soothe our collective conscience. A job of work is a far more salutary benefit to those willing and able.

As if picking up the topic, Raymond Clapper addresses again, as the day before, the issue of Lend-Lease and its intangible return benefits to the country.

The Christian Science Monitor expresses the value of free expression, as cultivated in a democracy, for ultimately winning the war, citing as first example the no-name American G. I. Lone Ranger exploding into the Italian-held Tunisian village with the cry, "Hi Ho, Silver!" The Italians became so disoriented by the display that they started shooting without purpose as they quickly departed the scene before Tonto showed with heap big Tomahawk.

That would mean that the second example, probably, would be the Bad, and the third, the downright Ugly, that is the gaudy American Christmas tree stuck by the Marines in the jungle mud of Guadalcanal.

Samuel Grafton adopts the song of the Clown concluding Twelfth Night as a running theme for his elucidation of the French North African picture, starting with the statement by Jacques Lemaigre-Dubreuil, chief civilian adviser to General Giraud, and an active member of the Resistance, that the death of Admiral Darlan was the result of a determined effort on the part of the Free French to be rid of Nazi collaborationists, that flying in the face of rumors that the assassin was a fascist sympathizer bent on revenge for Darlan's cooperation with the Allies. Mr. Grafton finds the sentiment indicative of inherent popular discord with any such collaboration, as surely as it would be in Hoboken. He extends the notion to probable like disenchantment with the incompetence displayed by King Victor Emmanuel in Italy and the likely widespread distaste among the Italians for his continued royal rule which allowed ultimately Mussolini to achieve power in 1922. He suggests treatment of the North African French and the Italians with the same deference to which anyone should be entitled, the presumption of hatred for collaboration with fascists and Nazis.

Heigh-ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

M. Lemaigre-Dubreuil, incidentally, was, himself, assassinated in June, 1955 in Casablanca.

Chapter 10 of They Were Expendable finds Lieutenant Kelly explaining the increasingly desperate plight of Corregidor and Bataan as February began and the Japanese artillery moved closer to the Allied positions. Submarines began arriving from Australia to transport government personnel and gold retrieved from Manila to various safe havens, Philippine President Manuel Quezon having been evacuated via sub to Cebu.

Out of six PT-boats in the squadron, two had been lost by this point, and a third seriously damaged and nearly lost.

On a mission with Lieutenant DeLong, Lieutenant Bulkeley described the approach toward a 7,000-ton Japanese cruiser which, after PT-32 released both torpedoes, gave chase. The ship had them spotted down in its searchlight and was gaining fast, the torpedo boat having been cut to two engines by prior sabotage. But then one of the two torpedoes struck and the ship slowed, eventually disappearing beyond the horizon. The crew later determined that the cruiser had been landing men and supplies on Bataan, near the village of Moron. The ship was apparently rendered completely useless and consigned to scrap.

Lieutenant Kelly provides a snapshot of daily life in port aboard the PT-boats, with victuals consisting of hot cakes for breakfast, sugar-water syrup only, canned salmon and rice for dinner, all cooked on a single hotplate on board the plywood yacht. No variation in the menu available.

Eventually, said Lieutenant Bulkeley, the diet was so monotonous after two months that one of the crew shot a tomcat hanging around the boat. They boiled it and dined, for haute cuisine, on its dark meat, tasting, said the lieutenant, a bit like duck.

Only thing lacking, no doubt, was the fortune cookie. We trust, for their sake, it was no black tom, only gray.

Their treat came from an old abandoned submarine tender which had a supply of powdered ice cream and a freezer to convert its powder to creamy goodness. The men were given free run on the mix and so nearly everyday in port the skipper grabbed some powder for the crew, to cease their screams.

Finally, in mid-February, a blockade runner brought to Corregidor fresh fruit, eggs, and meat. Most of it went to the men on the island, but through Peggy, Lieutenant Kelly was able to obtain enough meat to feed the PT squadron two steak dinners that week. The Waldorf had arrived.

Kelly worried about the inevitable day of doom for everyone on Corregidor, that their only way out, when the Japanese finally moved in, would be via the PT-boats. Yet, the squadron was scheduled to make the run to China, hitting transports bound for Hong Kong and then up to Swatow Province. Gas was running low by mid-February, with barely enough to get to China. Moreover, only enough torpedoes remained for one encounter with the Japanese before making that final dash fully armed, as it had to be.

It suddenly hit Lieutenant Kelly: all on the Rock were expendable.

As to the "bloody big chap" from Montana who drove around reporter William Boni, described in the front page piece, during his tour of the short battle front at Sanananda, the location of the last Japanese hold-outs on the Papuan Peninsula of New Guinea, we at first thought maybe that his having been a cat skinner meant that he was the fellow in the PT-boat squadron who prepared the tom. Instead, he just drove a tractor.

Sail away, sail away...

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