Tuesday, January 26, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 26, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Returning a moment to the debate of yesterday between Dorothy Thompson and Burke Davis regarding whether the Allies should be responsible while the war was ongoing for weeding out fascists and former collaborators from leadership roles of territory newly liberated from Axis control, we reprise Raymond Clapper's view of the matter expressed October 16, 1942, supporting Chinese Foreign Minister T. V. Soong’s advocacy that a United Nations executive council be created, ex proprio motu, to oversee, while the war was ongoing, the political structuring of the post-war world to insure sustained peace and democracy.

Was this proposed resolution a proper answer to the dilemma posed by Burke Davis, the undue saddling of military commanders with political questions?

By enabling a political council formed of diplomats and political leaders of the allied nations, proceeding under the banner since post-Pearl Harbor of "United Nations"--not to be confused per se with the United Nations General Assembly created post-war of which the wartime alliance was obviously the precursor--, which would determine by some agreed process the formation of new interim governments to be installed as the war progressed in liberated territory formerly under the aegis of either Germany, Italy, or Japan, a process of filling a power vacuum which would not tie the hands of the military commanders with political issues but which would fasten the responsibility only to the governing council, while insuring to the liberated peoples restoration of a semblance of democracy, however limited at the time it was by the exigencies of war?

Parenthetically, Nazi Germany was, effectively, the arsenal of fascism and militaristic feudalism, both militarily and politically, even if the form of its political machinations were manifested by anything but means susceptible properly to the rubric "politics", more at thuggery and piracy, with all the barbarically brutal tendencies of both. Thus, whatever rectification of the society was to be, it needed to address the consequent brainwashing coerced by violence, administered primarily to the person and secondarily via those witnessed, which characterized Nazi Germany, not, as was the case ongoing in French North Africa, perpetuation of the mindset by attempting to provide continuity of leadership, for the sake of expediency, placing at the reins of power, however merely symbolic those reins were, former collaborationist leaders.

The front page reports of a special commendation by Russian Premier Josef Stalin of the Red Army for its valiant two-month effort in pushing the Nazis 245 miles away from Stalingrad and capturing 200,000 prisoners, recapturing Voronezh, and moving steadily toward Rostov and Kharkov.

The British newspapers for the first time disclosed the Casablanca Conference obliquely, it having concluded Sunday, indicating uniformly across its press outlets that news soon was expected in the United States of a major Allied announcement from such a conference, probably, they speculated, revealing the formation of an Allied governing council, as well as who would become commander-in-chief of General Montgomery’s forces pushing into Tunisia, ready to join the combined Allied efforts there to bottle up Rommel.

Formerly, during the Eighth Army's drive from El Alamein to Tripoli, British General Alexander was the senior officer to General Montgomery.

President Roosevelt had flown from Casablanca to Belfast where he gave a speech to commemorate the first anniversary of the arrival of American troops to Northern Ireland. He pledged a commitment to forge ahead to an unconditional surrender by the Axis nations. Defense, he pledged, was no longer the concept under which the Allies were organized; rather, it was "determined, unrelenting, smashing attack".

From various sources, German, French, and Swiss, came a report that Vichy had declared a state of siege in Marseille after residents of the old port district of the city barricaded themselves in their homes and began sniping at German occupation troops ordered to leave the city. The German kept press, DNB, reported that 40,000 suspects had been rounded up; Vichy proclaimed that the usual suspects numbered only 6,000. The Swiss press informed of the summary execution by Nazis of 250 French citizens, 180 men and 70 women, a typical regimental display of Nazi punitive mass retaliation for violating the imposition of martial law.

In North Africa, General Jacques Leclerc announced that his Fighting French forces had reached Tripoli to join General Montgomery’s forces after the French had fought their way against Italians across 1,500 miles of southern desert since departing Lake Chad in mid-December.

Bad weather restricted action on the Tunisian front.

An eyewitness report from Tripoli describes the scene which the British found upon entry to the formerly Axis-held city. Residents reported that just before the abandonment by the Axis defenders, Jewish shopkeepers had been taken from their homes and beaten to death, a usual practice since the days of the Barbary pirates, they said. The city’s 16,000 Jews were described by the reporters as being compacted into a small Ghetto of houses and cellars "resembling a rabbit warren".

Seven British torpedo boats launched a commando raid on the coast of Norway; two were reported sunk by the Nazis. Details, however, were still censored.

Colonel Robert Scott, recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross for his work in combating the Japanese insurgents in China, reported to the press that the kill ratio of American pilots in China, under the command of Lt.-General Claire Chennault, was 12:1.

That compared to the air force kill ratio of 7:1 in the Solomons provided by Marine Maj.-General A. A. Vandergrift, reported a day earlier.

In New York, 5,000 dressmakers of the I.L.G.W.U. walked off work for failure of negotiations on wage adjustments. No general work stoppage of the garment workers union had transpired since 1933, but fear abounded that the walk-out might spread through the 80,000-member union.

This controversy could have been resolved easily enough by simply ordering all ladies to wear pants, as rapidly was becoming the case anyway.

And, rubber czar, William Jeffers, contended that Army and Navy "loafers" had interfered with rubber production in the country, but for which the country could be kept on rubber. Congress was looking into the charges.

The simple solution, we glean, was to switch the Army and Navy from loafers to Hush Puppies. We are surprised no one thought of it.

South Dakota Republican Senator Chandler Gurney of the Senate Military Affairs Committee, chaired by Bob Reynolds, proposed a plan for curing the farm labor exodus to the city: mandate 56-hour work weeks, such as that in Great Britain, without extending overtime pay, and thereby free up 6,000,000 laborers in war industry for the farm, made unnecessary by the longer hours per worker.

The problem of the genius plan was twofold: morale of the workers, for which no provision was accounted within the statistical abstract offered by Senator Gurney; and, second, studies had already shown, as common intuition would suggest, that efficiency decreased and the likelihood of industrial accidents increased, at least after new workers had gone through training, with longer work hours per week. If his plan had been altered to allow overtime pay, then, obviously, inflation, the worst enemy to war production efforts, would have been the result.

In Fort Riley, Kansas, an Irish setter belonging to an Army captain ate all of his gas rationing coupons, leaving him only the cover of the booklet.

Simple solution there was to put the dog in the gas tank of the Jeep and go to war.

On the editorial page, "New Warfare" welcomes the optimism expressed by General MacArthur, as reported on the previous day's front page, forecasting the end in sight for the Pacific war, after the sound defeat of the Japanese on the Papuan Peninsula in the course of five months had shown the way for further such operations, through combined air and naval support of infantry.

The editorial predicts that this pattern would repeat forthwith throughout the Pacific in an island-hopping pattern which would eventuate in victory, possibly in 1943.

It would do so, albeit in considerably slower time, and only, in the end, with the deployment of the atomic bomb to force the surrender of the Emperor's and Empress's religiously zealous fighting men, giving their all for Shinto’s divine creation, the little horseman and the little poetess bent on maintenance of godlike feudalism.

Dorothy Thompson throws some cold water on her initial praise of the brilliant campaign of General Bernard Montgomery and his British Eighth Army's three month drive to capture Tripoli and push Rommel into Tunisia, with the realization that Rommel had nevertheless been successful in obtaining refuge behind the Mareth Line with a large part of his panzer divisions still intact, joining with the German defenders under General von Arnim holding the supply bases at Tunis and Bizerte.

She accurately predicts that the war in North Africa was still far from won. Appeasement, she offers, of either General Franco to avoid his use of Spanish troops garrisoned in Spanish Morocco--requiring Patton's forces to remain as a guard against them, while also threatening western Tunisia--or of former fascist collaborators in Algeria, was a fool's game. The strategy which she counsels was to hit decisively and hard at the Mareth Line, eradicate the German U-boat menace in the Mediterranean, or to neutralize or eliminate the Franco fear factor, mere bluff for its lack of ability to supply the Spanish troops, one if not all of these three requisites. She was right.

It would indeed take the unmitigated approach to war of General Patton, entering the scene in Tunisia, to accomplish the victory three months hence, following the disaster in late February at Kasserine Pass, where Rommel's seasoned troops proved too much for the green Allies.

She cautions that Vichy collaborators, turned suddenly for their own skins to the Allied cause, were suspected as the source of leaks to the Germans. Was it so? Did it enable Rommel finally to slip the British net and obtain safety behind the Mareth Line?

If so, it shoots a hole a mile wide into Burke Davis's notion that matters of leadership personnel in newly liberated territory were strictly political in nature, of no relevance to military affairs, and should be left to a time after the war.

Raymond Clapper urges continued criticism of government policy in conducting the war as vital to a vibrant democracy. He cites at the end of his piece the example that some had sought to tamp down criticism of the appointment of M. Peyrouton, the Petain lieutenant, former Minister of Interior to France and Vichy-appointed Ambassador to Argentina, to become Governor of Algiers, by the simple expedient of underscoring that, after all, since General Eisenhower had favored the appointment, its wisdom was beyond reproach. Mr. Clapper finds no particularly cogent argument under that logic to restrain his criticism.

Samuel Grafton offered Russia as example of a new definition of what sacrifice meant. By being willing to fight unrestrained warfare in winter when Hitler's troops were accustomed in their previous experience, prior to late 1941, to lassitude during the winter months, by taking the offensive to Hitler, by planning, by being willing to engage in scorched earth to prevent Hitler from capturing stores of food and supplies and factories to produce armament, by moving factories from their industrial base inland to the east of Moscow, all demonstrated visibly the new form of sacrifice necessary to achieve victory. This sacrifice was not accomplished by self-flagellation but by offensive action.

And, indeed, the march by Patton's Third Army through France into Germany in the winter and spring of 1945 would prove that such a strategy was the necessary means of defeating the Nazi will. Patton borrowed a leaf from Stalin, just as MacArthur unreservedly had provided praise to Stalin, the Russian military, and the people a year earlier in February on the success of the first winter counter-offensive.

"No Change" reports of the claims of a nurse and discharged patient from Morganton complaining that, despite better nutrition at the mental hospital, trained staff, especially nursing and medical personnel depleted by the war, remained woefully deficient, outdoor exercise still disallowed, the continued entrenchment of an atmosphere inhibiting complaint, all combining to maintain that which Tom Jimison had summarized as the environs characteristic of a prison rather than a hospital.

In Chapter 20 of They Were Expendable, Lieutenant Kelly makes good his escape from pursuing enemy destroyers after dispatching the Kuma-class cruiser in the vicinity of Negros Island.

His single purpose now was to speed as quickly as the pitch black of a moonless night would allow him, to obtain first aid for his wounded cook and port gunner, Reynolds, hit in the throat and shoulder. Kelly, however, had to be mindful in the process of doing so without running aground, stranding his crew and boat as easy prey for Japanese airmen on the prowl at dawn. He was running without navigation, by dead reckoning, hopeful of finding the sandy shore, not coral reefs.

Suddenly, a searchlight interrupted the darkness. A Japanese ship lay dead ahead, began firing after Kelly increased speed and passed its position at a relative speed of sixty knots. He zig-zagged PT-34 to avoid the ensuing fire and searchlight, managing finally to elude the beam by 1:30 a.m., an hour and a half after the attack on the cruiser.

By 4:00 a.m., they arrived in the area where the shoreline of Cebu ought to have been; he navigated slowly, but to no avail. The crew suddenly heard a harsh noise. Kelly's worst fear had been realized. The boat had become lodged immovably on a coral pinnacle in twenty feet of water, amid an undersea cathedral of coral spires, many of which protruded to within the space of the five-foot draft of the plywood hull.

They were stranded some ten miles up the coast from the harbor and so Kelly sent Ensign Richardson in a rowboat to summon a doctor for the wounded Reynolds.

Meanwhile, the crew rocked the boat loose from the coral, while giving the engines gas as they did so. Once free at 5:00 a.m., they discovered the boat was once again partially disabled, one of the engine propellers being badly mangled, leaving two engines operable.

Rather than risk another bout with the coral by trying to find the navigable channel into the port without charts in the dark, Kelly decided to await dawn, even at risk of being spotted by Japanese aircraft. He reasoned that with air superiority to be provided now by the twelve Flying Fortresses and P-35's up from Australia, they would have no fears of enemy aircraft in any event.

At 7:30, the fog cleared sufficiently to begin moving again; by 8:00 they had found the channel entrance, free from the coral field.

Kelly suddenly heard overhead airplanes which he took as the Allied cover. He realized his mistake, however, when a bomb dropped only a short distance from the boat and from out of the fog appeared the big orange ball of the Rising Sun. Bombs came insistently all around them, some within twenty feet, as he steered the boat wildly in an evasive course, both back and forth, slowing, speeding, zig-zagging, avoiding the bombs by literally timing their release and coordinating the boat's speed and course against their path.

The crew fired their anti-aircraft guns at the four seaplanes attacking them, the seaplanes spotted on a cruiser by air reconnaissance a few days earlier and which turned out apparently not to be from the cruiser they had sunk the night before.

Eventually, after a half hour, the planes ran out of bombs and began strafing the boat and crew with machine-gun fire in repeated and successive passes from an altitude just above the masthead. The first pass killed starboard gunner and torpedoman Harris, catching him in the throat. As another crewmen grabbed his gun, a fusillade from one of the planes knocked it out.

The other starboard gunner, Ross, bagged one of the planes with 30-caiber machine-gun fire, but then caught a bullet in his leg as one of the planes destroyed his gun as well. That left the boat with no guns, laboring down the narrowly confined channel on only two engines, the while beginning to take on water in the bullet-pocked engine room. Evasive action now became their only salvation against sure death exacted from above.

Kelly determined to beach PT-34 on nearby Kawit Island which had 1,200 yards of shallow surf over a coral field interspersed with sand.

Hunter, the chief machinist's mate had been struck in the elbow with a bullet which passed through and exited his forearm with a three-inch exit wound. Despite it, he continued to man the engines.

Kelly ordered the ship abandoned, as the planes relentlessly sought to strafe them.

The determined skipper and the only other three of the crew who were without wounds, the radioman, the machinist's mate, and Martino--of the quick thinking, life-saving toilet tissue stop of the stuck torpedo off Bataan--, mistakenly took off their shoes, grinding their feet on the coral as they moved the wounded from the boat to shore.

When Kelly approached Reynolds to take him to safety, the faithful cook and port gunner protested and insisted that he was done for, urged his rescuers to get out of harm's way under the sheltering palms of the island. For, to add to his neck and shoulder wounds incurred the night before, he had taken a hit in the belly during the strafing when he went below deck and climbed into a bunk.

"To hell with that," said Kelly. Reynolds was going ashore.

They even grabbed the corpse of Harris to afford him a decent burial.

For the moment, they were safe on Kawit Island off Cebu, April 9, 1942.

They didn't know it yet, but by day's end, Bataan, and its defenders not yet evacuated to Corregidor, would fall into the hands of the Japanese.

And, whether Major Hoople got the idea to feed Leo the pork gravy from reading the piece out of The Baltimore Sun, re-printed in the previous day's News, a recipe which apparently had knocked poor Leo into the cocked stovepipe hat of a coma, we don’t know.

The Man of Tomorrow effects his escape from Montgomery Ward's temporary imprisonment by speeding past faster than a speeding bullet, though perhaps not as fast as Friendship 7. Those anxious to see Superman in chains for his alleged conspiracy with the Voice were rendered incredulous by the empty room, leaving egg on Mr. Montgomery's face when the door was opened.

Perhaps, this type of thing explains why Montgomery Ward went out of business, advertising one item, delivering nothing.

Red continues as easy prey for Lolita and her conspiring pal. Still, nevertheless, until his vision returns, he has the Defense of having been stung, an entrapment if ever there was.

Easy is out on his glider mission to Germany to bomb Mosquito Boats and so not available for the young lady’s apology for misjudging his character.

Pug's father receives a load of alfalfa ordered by Pug to feed her quickly growing brood of guinea piggies, free from return to captivity for the duration, while the pet shop remained closed, obviously succumbing to wartime competition from government contracts for trained animals, the way having been shown, no doubt, by the Chinese in 1938 using the trained orangutans to blow up Japanese and trip their mines.

They also eventually laid the groundwork for Friendship 7. The Russians used a dog.

And, Ellie returns to the scene, still in the basement wishing to be with the rats rather than the hoomin-kind up above, the dratted Scraggs. But, her time appears limited in the condition of nearly splendid solitude as the lady of the house, who may or may not be Caramee Back, agrees with Mr. Droopingham to allow his frightful, Curse-wielding monster, of whom everyone is afeared, to go to the basement to live with Ellie and the rats.

Still no sign of Chuck and Ab, last seen chasing poor Ellie. Probably off in search of the Man of Tomorrow, streaking away from Mr. Ward & Co.

Query: Why would Superman be afraid of being arrested by Montgomery Ward? Were they going to cart him out in a chair? Put a picture of him in Life?

Well, Tomorrow, we may have answers to these and many other questions.

In any event, somewhere between Burke Davis's assertion that General MacArthur had caught the optimistic air of Admiral Halsey in predicting Pacific victory within grasp in 1943 and the squib abstracted from Coronet on the editorial page concerning the advertising executive with a flare for the dramatic, manifesting it by pouring water on his desk over which he extended to the British visitor his shake as he expressed, "Hands across the water," we can say only, as we have before, that the stutter couldn't spelt and po we sut it the fed frog's eye.

Whether the executive had anything to do later with attempting to effect repair of the reputations of either Hooker Chemical anent their dumping of chemicals at Love Canal, or Cryovac, Inc., in Woburn, Mass., we don't know.

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