The Charlotte News

Friday, January 22, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of a mass funeral held in London for 51 children and six teachers killed in the retaliatory bombing raid of Wednesday, the largest German raid on London since the Blitz.

The British Eighth Army was reported inside Tripoli's suburbs, with the fall of the city imminent. The contingent of Fighting French under the command of General Leclerc, meanwhile, was, as expected, bypassing Tripoli to the southwest, advancing 25 miles into Tunisian territory in an effort to cut off Rommel's retreat to join the Nazi forces of General Walter Nehring fighting inside Tunisia in protection of the remaining vital supply depots at Bizerte and Tunis.

In Stalingrad, the Red Army had successfully encircled the tattered remains of 22 German divisions, already decimated from its original size of about 220,000 down to 50,000. The German High Command acknowledged that the Stalingrad offensive was in desperate straits.

On the Voronezh front, the Russians had bottled up another contingent of Nazi troops between the Don River and the Moscow to Rostov railway.

Increasingly, the end for the Axis in North Africa, in Russia, appeared near. Yet, they would find a way to fight on in each theater for awhile longer.

For the only way home now for any of these Reich puppets of the Will was through death, either in some vainglorious notion of heroic exemption from the laws of man to find Valhalla at the hands of the enemy, or to end ignominiously branded a societal reject at the hands of their own enforcers, a macabre play made all too familiar to their senses during the early days of the Nazi Party's rise. Theirs was to fight and die. It was the Nazi way.

There would be no triumph of the will, enabling the people, once rid of the Jew to whom they had been enchanted to believe was ascribed the root of all of their manifold ills of the previous twenty years, to participate equally and freely in the new Germania to be governed by Aryan brothers in purity, all singing nightly at the village Beer Hall, arm in arm, "Tomorrow Belongs to Us", shedding appropriate tears over the death of young, spirited Horst Wessel. All of that was now become a cruel joke of the past. The only way back home from the Russian front was death. Most had already accepted the fate and chosen their means of accomplishing it. The bodies were piling higher in the streets of Stalingrad, in the Don Bend, and on the Donets River, running red with the blood of Nazis, lost of their wolf cry.

On the editorial page, Dorothy Thompson writes in praise of the Russians and of Josef Stalin's leadership, distinguishing his continuing support of his generals, even in apparent defeat during the dark days of each of the previous two summers and falls, from the continuing rotation and displacement of military leadership by Hitler, those who did not meet with untimely accidents or heart attacks before returning to the front.

She describes the over-confidence of the German generals who had promised, for instance, A.P. Berlin correspondent Louis Lochner entry to Leningrad within ten days to two weeks after his departure from Berlin. But that was in mid-July, 1941. Now, eighteen months later--during which time Shostakovich had written his Leningrad Symphony, completed in December, 1941, premiered in the isolated city August 9, 1942--the siege of Leningrad, having caused in the interim starvation and death of an estimated 650,000 to over a million people, was, for the most part, cracked.

Likewise, in Stalingrad, the dark days of the fall siege were behind, and the remaining Nazis holed up inside the city’s walls were quickly being driven back and killed.

As Kaiser Wilhelm had warned, learning from Napoleon: never invade Russia.

Ms. Thompson concludes that the 25 years of darkness following the Communist Revolution, during which Russia was held incommunicado with the West, had ended. Henceforth, she suggests, the West must learn to work with Russia's leadership, not accepting its way of government, but becoming politically responsive to it.

After the war, Soviet-Western relations would quickly deteriorate to the a status as bad or worse than the pre-war state. A grudging world environment would not receive Russia into the brotherhood of nations, altogether a result inconsonant with Ms. Thompson's vision as shared by Vice-President Wallace and Wendell Willkie in 1943.

But, the single factor which no one at the time could predict was the coming to the world stage of the doomsday device which would change the entire world picture in the space of four days in August 1945.

Samuel Grafton finds the irony in the Senate's concern over the checkered past of Ed Flynn, as the body examined now his receipt of paving at his home from Democratic Party funds, contrasted with the Senate’s apparent lack of similar focus on the problematic American diplomacy evidenced in North Africa during the previous month and a half, tolerant of former Vichy collaborators to the consternation of the Free French, resulting in the assassination on Christmas Eve of Admiral Jean Darlan.

Mr. Flynn, incidentally, as the front page story indicates, had denied knowledge of the source of the funding, just as he had denied knowledge of the identity of Dutch Schultz when he hired him as a ward heeler in New York, and just as he had denied any conflict of interest in purchasing securities, while Chamberlain of New York City, from a mortgage company which had loaned money to a business in which he had a substantial interest.

But, as Raymond Clapper points out, it was the first time in fifty years that a diplomatic appointment had drawn more than passing scrutiny in the Senate.

The appearance was that the newly increased Republican minority, acting in combination with anti-New Deal Democrats, were out to sandbag the President, especially as evidenced, suggests Mr. Grafton, by the effort to reduce the 109 billion dollar war budget presented by the President in his State of the Union address two weeks earlier. Congress appeared, nearly desperately, to be trying to re-assert itself after a year taking a backseat to the executive branch.

Truth, Mr. Grafton concludes, proves a fickle, churlish lass, given to tricks and dips before revealing her purpose to mere mortals stuck in the unrelentingly mordant grind of daily existence, unmindful of her wit or wisdom which surely must become evident at some near juncture, drifting with the flotsam into shore, from out the transitory, briny depths of bathybius, stirring incessantly its swaling consumption in apparent lack of care for all but its own survival against the lot of us.

Raymond Clapper, however, has a somewhat different take on the controversy, while also contrasting the fact of apparent lack of concern regarding the recent appointment of the former Vichy Ambassador to Argentina to become governor of Algiers. He believes that the President made the mistake of appointing a person not just lacking qualifications for the job, not just sounding out of political patronage, hallmarks of several successful appointments in the past, but moreover, one ripe with excuses for controversy, the aforementioned baggage accompanying Mr. Flynn on his intended trip to Australia after a stop first to get his ticket punched in the Senate.

Mr. Clapper expands the problem beyond the Flynn matter, expressing the belief that the President was in danger of losing the country's support, with the farm bloc already turned against him over failed price supports and the egress of farm labor to the city, while labor had become increasingly erratic in its dependability under a regime of enforced self-flagellation, witness the coal mine strike in Pennsylvania. Mr. Clapper recommends that the President concentrate on the urgency of establishing a post-war United Nations governing council and the ideals by which it should govern, to unify the country against future warfare.

He concludes by quoting Peter Pan's creator, James M. Barrie, that you don't have to eat all of an egg to know that it’s rotten.

But, if you’re a pirate operating along the Barbary Coast off Algeria, once keen to support Vichy and its Axis puppeteer, now strongly ready to join the Allies at the first sign of a successful Allied offensive, you probably tend to like really bad eggs anyway.

And, as Samuel Grafton had said a couple of days before, you can make good omelets from broken eggs, hurled at the State Department over its tenderness to sons of Vichy.

"Fate of Rome", in the column, counsels Great Britain not to bomb Rome, whose fate was at stake in the court of world opinion at the behest of British leadership councils. The editorial’s argument appears a sound one, that with Italian public opinion in favor of fascism already on the decline and their opinion even less favorable to Nazi occupation, it would be contrary to the desirable ends of a potentially surrendering Italy to centrifuge the populace with bombs, aggregating the survivors to pound the air with fists against an attack by the RAF without military objective. Moreover, it cautions, the anger to be spread in the Catholic world would be palpable. The Holy City should be left pristine as it had thus far endured the war.

"No Gas Pains", in contrast to recent reports of death before a firing squad in Germany for hoarders, including machine-gun nests set at the side of the autobahn to administer forthwith instant retribution in the "auto-trap", explains how Charlotte's punitive crackdown on gas ration violators softly meted justice: cases were either dismissed or violators required to surrender one rationing coupon.

"Not Yet" informs that reports out of North Carolina’s mental facilities in the eastern part of the state demonstrated that, despite the ameliorative spotlight cast on Morganton by Tom Jimison's courageous reporting of a year earlier and its cathartic impact on life at the Morganton facility, it had not yet spread to the other institutions where life remained intolerably miserable, without adequately prepared food, properly trained and paid staff, or a sufficient physical plant to support humane existence.

And among the entries of "Silly Season", now even impacting the winter months, ordinarily free from the giddily spinning vagaries due as clockwork on the planet's portion of its orbit back from the far reaches of space to meet with the mysterious rites of spring and summer as it whirled in its swirling, holy peek-a-boo cotton raiment closer to old Apollo since departure from the outer reaches of the planetary universe on December 21st, was the report from England that locomotive engineers struck because no "wakers-up" or alarm clocks were available to summon them to their daily task.

A good knock on the noggin would fix that right quick. Just set up a water trough below a tank emptying over the course of eight hours, and when the tank was finally empty, the delicate balance struck would turn the scales the other way so that the hammer would drop. They'd wake up and fall right out of bed, get a smoke, catch the bus, and be at the train station before you could yell, "Wakey-wakey."

That is, if they were able to last the night in the tub by the fire, for she worked in the morning and started to laugh.

Wait, that may have been the Winston-Salem lady invaded by the football player out of his cups.

The original complement of six boats within Lieutenant Bulkeley's PT-boat squadron becomes reduced to two by dint of a raft ripping a gash in the side of PT-35, during the course of Chapter 17 of They Were Expendable.

Lieutenant Robert Kelly, after his crew and hired natives dug and exploded enough of the coral reef on which PT-34 appeared immutably aground, managed to obtain the necessary five feet of draft for the boat to float after two tugboats running at full power extricated the stranded vessel from its parlous state.

Once free, however, the mangled propellers and rudders had to be repaired before the boat could participate in any further patrol duty. Lieutenant Bulkeley informed Kelly that he had heard of a machine shop up the coast at Anaken. So, it was off to Anaken for Kelly and his crew where they found the machine shop amid the bamboo, finding an owner generally cooperative but in a quandary over their presence, worried that Japanese planes might happen into the neighborhood, spot the boat, discover the crew’s purpose, and decide then to strafe the Samaritan's machine shop to bamboo shreds. Nevertheless, work proceeded to completion.

Once fixed, the boat performed shakily on its trial run, with vibrations on the rudders, able to reach a maximum speed of but 12 knots. We find out the resolution of this dilemma tomorrow.

While Kelly was having his rudder and props repaired, Lieutenant Bulkeley had commended to his attention a mission for delivering Philippines President Quezon, residing in exile from Manila on Negros Island, to Mindanao to enable his departure from the islands by plane to Australia. There were seven Japanese destroyers in the area of Negros, making the mission extremely hazardous. Lieutenant Bulkeley was not ordered to undertake the mission, but understood a suggestion replete with all the urgency except an order, and so determined to do his duty.

PT-41 and Lieutenant Akers's PT-35 therefore set out for Negros, 125 miles away, at 7:00 p.m., just as it got dark. Off Apo Island, they spotted an enemy destroyer but managed to glide by without being noticed. They arrived at Dumaguete at 1:00 a.m. They were picked up by a presidential aide and delivered to President Quezon's home about 25 miles inland. The aide informed Bulkeley that General Jonathan Wainwright, old "Skinny", holding down the Allied command on Bataan, had informed the President that the journey out of Negros was too well-guarded by the Japanese to risk, ordering him not to attempt it.

When the President, however, met an august-looking John Bulkeley, replete with a long beard, he was at once emboldened to entrust his safekeeping to this Ancient Mariner.

Lieutenant Bulkeley parenthetically relates to William White that when Quezon later met a shaved Bulkeley in Australia, he had to clutch himself with the post-op advice that he would never have given himself into the care of such a young pup had he known Bulkeley to be a man of only thirty and not the seasoned old man of the sea ostensibly evidenced by his formerly more hirsute appearance.

Perception engendering confidence instilled confidence, however, and probably saved President Quezon from the fate of a Japanese executioner.

While Bulkeley was fetching the President, Lieutenant Akers patrolled with his crew aboard PT-35, to afford the mouth of the harbor approach prophylaxis against enemy ships. While cruising back and forth, the boat struck in the darkness what the crew believed was a raft with some sort of protruding metallic portion ripping a twenty-foot strip out of the plywood hull. The boat began taking on water but Lieutenant Akers determined that they could stay afloat long enough for the return of Bulkeley and so continued to patrol. When Bulkeley arrived with the President, Akers beached his boat, already nearly sunk, to await salvage by the Army.

PT-41 then set sail with President Quezon at 3:00 a.m. on a rough night at sea, one of the roughest ever endured by Lieutenant Bulkeley at the time of narration, with only four hours before dawn to get to their destination in Mindanao, 125 miles away. The journey had taken six hours inbound, albeit with the necessity of slow running on the final approach to keep watch for the reported seven destroyers. The return therefore had to be performed at maximum available speed, accentuating an already roiling sea.

At 4:00 a.m., they were hit so hard by white-caps that two of the boat's torpedoes were knocked loose inside their tubes, starting their propellers, running out the pre-determined clock for their detonation. Bulkeley informed the President that all of the resulting activity onboard was for the purpose of firing the torpedoes at an enemy ship they had spotted; he did not inform that, without alacrity, they would all within a couple of minutes be blown to kingdom come in the foreordained course of fate governed by a whirling motor gone dumbly awry against them. The crew went into action to set a powder charge to blow the torpedoes out of the tubes. This time, they did not have access to the propellers to stick a well-positioned wad of toilet tissue to stop the prop, as with the earlier one stuck at the end of the tube.

Eventually, with the motor end of each of the torpedoes glowing pink with threatened rage, they were blown free.

Subsequently, after being informed in port by Bulkeley of what had actually taken place, President Quezon awarded the two torpedomen, Houlihan and Light, who jumped onto the torpedoes and sought to free them, a Distinguished Conduct Star.

PT-41, as it had General MacArthur a few days earlier, delivered President Quezon safely to his waiting ride at Oroquieta on Mindanao, which took him to an Army transport for the final leg of his journey to Melbourne, from which he conducted his government in exile until the Philippines were recaptured in 1945.

And, while Pug cries wah-wah over her guinea piggies run amuck through the house, and Lolita, probably just seventeen, offers a helping hand to Red Ryder and Little Beaver, the Man of Tomorrow, in a flash which took, what? three or four days to complete, fixes the stuck elevator and returns to the car just as it starts, just as the elevator operator and Lois turn around to see none other than Clark Kent, there in living black and white.

This sort of discordant array, thoroughly irrational in conception and execution and presentation, is why we do not care for the comics. For, how does one explain Clark Kent being out on the street yesterday, or was it the day before? saying to Lois that he needed to go into the building to cure his headache, encountering yesterday, or was it the day before? The Voice, all while three days ago he went charging into the Fifth Dimension, to get at The Voice in the highrise, probably eight miles high, and then, today, we are supposed to suspend all of that in disbelief and accept that it happened in an instant and that now he is back before either of the two in the elevator turned around to see that no one any longer was there? You can't explain it. Neither can we.

And where did Ellie get to? And Chuck? Why, suddenly, are we confronted with this Droopingham "Curse"? Who is he? And what happened to Caramee Back and Cesspool’s intent to engage her? It makes no sense.

But, nevertheless, is it all not living, for Tomorrow never knows?

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