The Charlotte News

Saturday, January 23, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Albeit with Japanese bases still operational at Lae and Salamaua to the north on Huon Gulf, the Papuan Peninsula was, according to the front page, now cleared of Japanese resistance, with the last of the remnants of the forces once numbering 15,000 having been cleared from the last holdout in the marshes at Sanananda.

Lt.-Col. Chesty Puller, home on leave with his Marines from the battlefront on Guadalcanal, stated that of the 15,000 Japanese originally on Guadalcanal in August, the force had been reduced to 4,000, a fourth to half of whom he classified as "stragglers", leaving mainly mopping-up operations to be accomplished on the island, vitally strategic for continued protection of the Hawaii to Australia supply and personnel route.

Not unexpectedly, given the week's previous news, Tripoli fell to the British Eighth Army amid only light Axis resistance. The neo-Roman Empire of Mussolini once envisioned for Libya, Somaliland and Ethiopia, was now consigned, as with its paradigm of 1,900 years before, to the dustbins of history, having fallen like a spent shell casing before a spearhead during a mere three months since October 23 when the British launched their last offensive from El Alamein, Operation Lightfoot, out of the back and forth shell game played in Libya and Egypt for control of the Mediterranean rim and the ultimate prize, the Suez Canal, during the previous two years.

The British, rightfully and pridefully, claimed primary credit for the victory, acknowledging American support. Together with the Battle of Egypt, of which Churchill had hearkened on November 10 as "the end of the beginning", the British Eighth Army had performed without hesitation as a well-tempered tuning fork for the previous ninety days of grinding desert warfare, during which should the enemy not get them, the desert might.

Of course, the truth was that the combined British and American Allied landings November 8 in Morocco and Algeria, with the steady advances into Tunisia threatening Bizerte and Tunis since mid-November, had forced the hand of Rommel to retreat to join Nehring's forces in Tunisia to defend the beleaguered port cities and attempt to prevent a complete Axis ouster from the southern rim of the Mediterranean opening its vital sea lanes once again to the Allies and affording a base from which to cross the 100 miles of sea to attack and subdue Sicily and gain the necessary toehold on the boot of Italy to begin the steady erosion of the Axis wheel, foisted on the world for the previous three and a half years, begun in North Africa in late 1935 with the bombs of the "Order of the Rose", the dauntless, compassionate fliers of the Italian air force, pelting below the helpless peasants populating Ethiopia, possessed of only spears.

The report estimated that Rommel had remaining only about 63,000 men, roughly four divisions.

Tripoli's port facilities were left fire-bombed by the Nazis to render the facilities for the time being useless by the Allies. The British reported, however, that repairs could be effected quickly.

The map shows the strategic importance of the base for launching strikes by air against Tunis and Bizerte, a platform already afforded by the steady RAF bombing operations effected from Malta and by American Flying Fortress raids conducted from Algeria.

Whether any more Italians, as had been the case in one episode a few weeks earlier, deliberately cut-off from German supply lines in the fast-beat retreat of Rommel to Tunisia, left for dead or capture by the Allies in the desert, had turned to aid the Allies by accidentally cranking their machine-guns 180 degrees to do battle with their one-time Nazi pals, was not reported.

--We so very sorry, mein herr. O sole mio. The helmets and caps you wear, boys, so much familiar do they look to that the others wear, in the glare offered by the sun-drenched sands.

And, domestically, the terms for which the anthracite coal miners in Pennsylvania had been holding out during their three-week strike--now ended under threat of the President's ultimatum otherwise to employ military troops to occupy the mines--were provided: a two-buck a day cost of living adjustment to their wages, plus elimination of a fifty-cent per month increase in union dues.

While the war had operated to increase cost of living substantially between 1939 and 1941, the standard had been largely checked during 1942 to avoid the killer inflation which had adversely impacted morale and the economy during World War I. The institution of price and wage controls, in combination with the voluntary pledge of CIO and AFL made in February, 1942 to suspend member strikes for the duration and submit all collective bargaining disputes for resolution by the War Labor Board, were the vehicles by which cost of living was maintained largely at parity with that of 1941.

Not yet reported, the Casablanca Conference between FDR, Churchill, De Gaulle and Giraud wound down, ending Sunday. Its resulting report to the people, issued February 12, is below.

On the editorial page, Dick Young denounces the City Council's refusal to amend the Sunday amusement ordinance--passed in June, 1941 to allow Sunday baseball and movies after years of steady bemusement by The News at the Blue Law's absurdity--to mandate moving the time for Sunday movies up to allow the bussing population to catch earlier buses home and not have to crowd doubly the already crowded last run on Sunday night.

This recalcitrance in combination with the Council's refusal for months, for want of adequate insurance and assurance of street paving and beautification after the dig, to cooperate with the Federal government's request for leave to remove the old buried street car rails in Charlotte for use as scrap steel for the war effort, suggested that the Council was either filled with members dumb as pitch or perhaps sympathetic with Herr Hitler and General Tojo. More than likely the former--as all too often such bodies as bodies are.

Either that, or they were drinking the moonshine which their anti-liquor ordinance had spawned pervasively in Mecklenburg.

Doubly, doubly, toily troubly.

He also informs that the metal washers, otherwise hard to obtain during the war, which illicit parkers had used to plug the meters downtown, had their ample utilitarian purpose for the city and were therefore considered valuable.

Bring on the washers, pirates. From illegal parks, they might cushion a nut or two for the sweet, pretty things to tighten down, of course, provided that Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel by the police department dispatcher's window didn't pluck them first to bolt down their nest well for winter weather worries against churchyard dogs treeing them such that stings to their footsies could not be accomplished by Mercutio who might offer them a funky sunny duel in defense of Romeo's honor, starting the whole Capulet-Montague mess all over again in Squirreldom.

Anyway, Woodrow bought his wife a washer and a coffee percolator.

Or, did he? Only the absent print knows for sure.

In a somewhat truncated piece, Samuel Grafton discusses the inherent problem of setting Pierre Laval, the self-serving sell-out shyster of France, as bellwether for determining the opposition within France. He cites the appointment of Marcel Peyrouton, Petain's Minister of the Interior, and lately Vichy's Ambassador to Argentina, as civil administrator in North Africa, that is Governor of Algiers, as prime example of the corruption of democratic principle and morale consequent of a State Department policy which appeared to favor targeting certain fascists while favoring others, on the ultimate notion that the enemy of our enemy is our friend, with Laval as the designated referent by which inimicality would be universally determined--an unfortunate United States policy too often followed in the history since World War II and with invariable untoward results.

Witness Afghanistan and Iraq for the prime contemporary exemplars of that very policy, support given Saddam Hussein in the war with Iran from 1980 to 1987 and Osama Bin Laden's training and support by the CIA in Afghanistan beginning in the early 1980's, to train Afghan rebels in the war against the Soviets. What were the results but hell to pay down the road?

Mr. Grafton makes a fundamental mistake in his primary assumption that the touchstone of American foreign policy is democracy. Instead, as often as not, the touchstone of American foreign policy appears as Touchstone.

It is very much akin at times to the Charlotte City Council of the 1930's and early 1940's.

Anyway, De Gaulle, not Laval, became the post-war French leader.

Raymond Clapper discusses the same topic, citing a friend's suggestion that for the Allies to deal with these former traitors, as Peyrouton, was akin to George Washington taking back Benedict Arnold as a general because his rag-tag army of volunteer Patriots needed good generals.

"Fast Work" provides high praise to the pair of Mecklenburg state legislators who were in the process of guiding legislation through the General Assembly to obtain relief, either by an expanded Caswell School under the direction of Dr. Parrott or by construction of a new facility in the western part of the state, to care for the uneducable children not susceptible to placement in the public schools. Dorothy Knox's series of articles for The News on the Caswell facility in late December and early January was already having its impact.

Chapter 18 of They Were Expendable begins with a description by Lieutenant Kelly of Lieutenant Bulkeley’s wild-goose chase in search of Lieutenant Schumacher and PT-32, which had to be left behind for loose rudders and want of adequate fuel at the start of the second night's journey with General MacArthur, now over a week past. Bulkeley conducted the search via a Beechcraft civilian plane, one impressed into service in December by the Army to complement the other two clunky planes which formed the entirety of the southern Philippines Allied air defense. Bulkeley did not yet know that Schumacher had to burn the boat and had caught a plane for Australia, sending his crew back to Corregidor.

Meanwhile, Bulkeley had managed to effect a tow of PT-35 from Negros Island to Mindanao for repairs. Lieutenant Akers had been forced to beach the stricken vessel after its ripped side nearly caused it to sink while on patrol duty outside the harbor awaiting the pick-up of President Quezon.

Thus, with Kelly's PT-34 still in need of further repair at some machine shop other than the one up the coast amid the bamboo, more like one at Cebu, that left only Bulkeley's PT-41 still in service among the squadron's original six boats, two having been lost during the first four months of the war while on duty off Bataan.

Determined to get another boat in service, Bulkeley decided that he would accompany Kelly with a crew of twelve to Cebu in PT-34, even jitterbugging the way at 12 knots tops. There, the two met the old man of the sea, 71-year old "Dad" Cleland, a Minnesotan who had been in the Philippines since the outbreak of World War I. "Dad" feted the both of them with crab cocktail, lobster Newburg, and roast duck. He told them, when asked what he would do if the Japanese attacked Cebu as expected, that he would stay and fight it out to the last.

Word came that a force of twelve Flying Fortresses and a support group of several P-35's were headed up from Australia to Cebu to lead seven inter-island steamers, packed with food and provisions, up to Bataan and smack hell of the enemy in the process, to enable Bataan to hold out against the horde of Japanese slowly creeping down the Bataan peninsula to within earshot of General Wainwright's indefatigable trench fighters. The crew had already worked frantically to load two submarines full of food and supplies, bound for Bataan and Corregidor, packed even to the empty torpedo tubes, with the subs' torpedoes donated to the PT-boat squadron. The second of the subs departed Cebu on April 5, just before the fall of Bataan on the 9th.

But then came word that a small armada of Japanese ships, a couple of destroyers and a cruiser with four seaplanes aboard, was headed for Cebu. Thought was that they had heard through the grapevine of the planned defense of Bataan being arranged on Cebu and were intending either a blockade or attempted destruction of the effort.

And, as Leo gets a taste of the pastoral cawnfield to calm his wah-wah, the Man of Tomorrow is trapped as the unindictable co-conspirator of The Voice--probably mostly an accurate intuitive assessment of the situation by the astute gentleman, that is judging by what happened as a direct result of it all in 2001--, Curly and Lolita, having rejected at gunpoint Little Beaver's entreaty to help Red Ryder who got stung--and was likely about to get stung again by Lolita, if not by Curl, co-conspire, and caterwauling Pug perhaps gets to keep her guinea piggies for the shop being closed for the duration, unless they might be shipped back to New Guinea or to Devil's Island, the glider crew prepares to sail into Germany on a secret mission while being instructed on how to bomb PT-boats, sounding a bit as an hyperbolized allegory for the American policy of promotion of anti-fascist fascists in North Africa in aid of the anti-fascist campaign.

As we said, it is all quite unfathomable.

But, query: did the O.S.S., formed June 13, 1942, have anything to do with Admiral Darlan's Christmas Eve demise?

--Louis, it looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Robert Browning's quote of the day is from Bishop Blougram's Apology.

The February 12 report on the Casablanca Conference, ending January 24, follows:

The decisions reached and the actual plans made at Casablanca were not confined to any one theater of war or to any one continent or ocean or sea. Before this year is out, it will be made known to the world--in actions rather than words--that the Casablanca Conference produced plenty of news; and it will be bad news for the Germans and Italians--and the Japanese.

We have lately concluded a long, hard battle in the Southwest Pacific and we have made notable gains. That battle started in the Solomons and New Guinea last summer. It has demonstrated our superior power in planes and, most importantly, in the fighting qualities of our individual soldiers and sailors.

American armed forces in the Southwest Pacific are receiving powerful aid from Australia and New Zealand and also directly from the British themselves.

We do not expect to spend the time it would take to bring Japan to final defeat merely by inching our way forward from island to island across the vast expanse of the Pacific.

Great and decisive actions against the Japanese will be taken to drive the invader from the soil of China. Important actions will be taken in the skies over China--and over Japan itself.

The discussions at Casablanca have been continued in Chungking with the Generalissimo by General Arnold and have resulted in definite plans for offensive operations.

There are many roads which lead right to Tokyo. We shall neglect none of them.

In an attempt to ward off the inevitable disaster, the Axis propagandists are trying all of their old tricks in order to divide the United Nations. They seek to create the idea that if we win this war, Russia, England, China, and the United States are going to get into a cat-and-dog fight.

This is their final effort to turn one nation against another, in the vain hope that they may settle with one or two at a time--that any of us may be so gullible and so forgetful as to be duped into making "deals" at the expense of our Allies.

To these panicky attempts to escape the consequences of their crimes we say--all the United Nations say--that the only terms on which we shall deal with an Axis government or any Axis factions are the terms proclaimed at Casablanca: "Unconditional Surrender." In our uncompromising policy we mean no harm to the common people of the Axis nations. But we do mean to impose punishment and retribution in full upon their guilty, barbaric leaders...

In the years of the American and French revolutions the fundamental principle guiding our democracies was established. The cornerstone of our whole democratic edifice was the principle that from the people and the people alone flows the authority of government.

It is one of our war aims, as expressed in the Atlantic Charter that the conquered populations of today be again the masters of their destiny. There must be no doubt anywhere that it is the unalterable purpose of the United Nations to restore to conquered peoples their sacred rights.

O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book; as you have
books for good manners: I will name you the degrees.
The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the
Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the
fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the
Countercheque Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with
Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct. All
these you may avoid but the Lie Direct; and you may
avoid that too, with an If. I knew when seven
justices could not take up a quarrel, but when the
parties were met themselves, one of them thought but
of an If, as, 'If you said so, then I said so;' and
they shook hands and swore brothers. Your If is the
only peacemaker; much virtue in If.

Any you who would deny it are there but dancing knaves, clowns, and jangling motleys, as a Touchstone.

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