The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 5, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of air strikes by the United States Army air corps in Tunisia at Kairouan and at Cherichera, near Fondouk. One Boston bomber was lost, along with one fighter.

From that theater also came the report that American soldiers were holed up in caves in Tunisia, near Medjez-El-Bab, to avoid the wet wintry weather sweeping across the desert sands of North Africa. An unnamed colonel from Gainesville, Florida indicated that morale was nevertheless still good, even if one soldier was quoted as stating that the weather "damn near makes this a navy job".

Another delayed report from the area, datelined January 2, indicated hand to hand combat in code duello fashion, utilizing bayonets against the Nazis to avoid crossfire against Allied troops surrounding them. The men reported having thusly killed 25 of 60 Nazis attacking their position.

The landscape, said the report, had little natural cover, resemblant of the Colorado Rocky foothills. A soldier inveighed that waiting for the mud to turn to sandy soil again was dangerous and unduly dilatory, that the call of utility should stress the trench fighting warriors of World War I, the doughboys, more stout infantrymen to storm the Nazi lines and thereby give chase to Heine back to Germany. The waiting, however, was the agonizing gig ordered by the commanders in Gibraltar, with eyes on the prize. But the troops were anxious to fight, born to rebel.

From London came an intercepted report that the Nazi High Command, with Herr Goebbels still smoking his hookah, no doubt, had ordered the little Nazis defending in the Caucasus to hold their position to the last man, even in the event Rostov were cut off by the advancing Russian army. Rostov, the communique had reported, would be supplied by the Nazis via the Black Sea--presumably from the Black ships of Odysseus, smoking his hookah in Berlin.

We also have a bridge we would like to sell you. You know where it is, too.

From London came another report that H.M.S. Scylla, a 5,000 ton cruiser, had sunk a German transport vessel somewhere in the Atlantic, trying to convoy supplies to Germany, probably one bringing coal or other raw materials from Norway.

The report did not indicate where the Charybdis might be.

From Australia came a report that the largest Japanese armada yet formed in the Southwest Pacific was gathering for an apparent renewed operation against Guadalcanal.

On the domestic front, some in the new Congress implored the President to set aside his new proposed revision of Social Security. It was believed that the larger mass of Republicans in both houses would seek to block any domestic legislation, in favor of war measures.

Amid rainbows, came the beautiful flying birds of the Japanese air force off Formosa to bomb Manila on December 10, 1941, reported Lieutenant John Bulkeley to William L. White, as set forth in the second installment of They Were Expendable. They did little damage to Manila, but then swung as buzzards over Cavite, which gave harbor to Lieutenant Bulkeley's squadron of swift PT-boats. Captain Ray, chief of staff, sent a message to Lieutenant Bulkeley, that his squadron may have extended the bounds of riders on the storm beyond the pale of physical probabilities by using them to chase Japanese fliers over the Mariveles Mountains.

Apparently, this operation was not dissimilar to that of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, of an earlier day, operating in Peruvian jungles.

Casualties of American and Filipino fighters were high. Caracao Hospital, treating the wounded, possessed a floor spread so thick with blood that the men carrying the gurneys could hardly maintain their footing; as oil it was, this blood, reported Bulkeley, the aprons of the medical staff so coated with crimson that they appeared as butchers.

The dead, reported Ensign Cox, were being buried in quickly dug mass graves--in pieces.

Yet, the Japanese planes kept coming in their formations, bombing relentlessly. The while, no American air cover came to ward them off. Corregidorís anti-aircraft guns had not the range to reach the Japanese bombers and fighters. The whole scene was one of bloody impotence.

You read the comics section; we, as we have said, still have trouble with them.

In the last installment of "Our Forgotten Children", Dorothy Knox tells of visiting the Caswell Training School at Kinston, where she spoke to its director, Dr. Parrott, and Miss Brown, its psychologist. She clears up a common misperception of the time that Caswell turned away children possessed of both a physical and mental handicap; instead, assured Dr. Parrott, they were accepted to the school. But, the major handicap of the school was inadequate facilities to house those on the waiting list, some one thousand children. She could not obtain a commitment from Dr. Parrott on the issue of accepting the offered donation of the Mecklenburg home of John Coe for the placement and care of these waiting children. She beseeches her readers to write the Legislature to obtain the necessary funding, about $20,000, to convert this home to a proper care facility.

Missing from the piece, unfortunately, was any conveyance of feeling, however, for the handicapped children which Ms. Knox did in fact observe at the institution. The omission suggests a drawback to public understanding of the issue and why it was important for these children to be given the proper care. But, again, we do not fault Ms. Knox's effort; we only suggest that it might have been presented in a more virile fashion, to effect the desired result. Men are moved most certainly by stories with vivid depictions of blood, tears, toil, and sweat, and men comprised the Legislature.

We shall see what, if anything, came of her proposals.

On the editorial page, only one of four state legislators from the Mecklenburg area mentions his favor for more funding for Caswell, while all four mention Morganton.

"Suspicion" discusses the apparent preparations ongoing for launching a second frontal assault on the Axis, speculating whether it would come against the French coast, across the Mediterranean to Sicily or Crete, into the Balkans, or through Syria and Turkey into the southern Caucasus, or against the more northerly Pacific Japanese strongholds, at Truk, for instance, supplementing Saturday's large-scale bombing attack on Wake Island.

The soldiers' restive anticipation, anxious as always to get on with the fighting, would nevertheless have to take its counsel of patience to avoid more bloody hospital floors than were necessary to halt finally the rotation of the vicious wheel established by the Axis during the previous five years when, during four of those bloody cycles, isolationists had forced the hand of the United States to stand down, to regard the fight as only "over there", a necessary new world order to allow "you and them" to fight it out, the Nazis and Fascists in a head to head confrontation with the dratted Communists, in the hope that the totalitarian fires ignited across the world would somehow thereby blow themselves out--a fine concept for fighting local forest fires, if one were in the C.C.C. in those years, but not so applicable to large armored systems engaged in worldwide warfare across multifarious, variegated borders of language and culture.

"The Lesson" again plumps for the death penalty for treason in cases such as the ongoing prosecution of fraud in fulfilling government contracts, as charged against Anaconda Wire & Cable, similar to that counseled by the column in "Traitors", indited December 26. As we said, despite it perhaps working in China, as the piece suggests the U.S. ought emulate, it would be deemed cruel and unusual punishment, no doubt, in the United States, pursuant to the Eight Amendmentís prohibition against disproportionate punishment for a crime and the facts of mere fraud, no matter how egregious the indirectly effected results, not properly falling within the purview of treason. Heavy prison sentences, however, were not precluded when such fraud produced death abroad of Allied soldiers for want of proper copper cable by which to ascertain ship to shore coordinates for artillery strikes with sufficient certitude to make them count and thereby shorten the war.

Raymond Clapper looks to the advertisements in Time to find a different post-war outlook, one more consonant with the "new frontier" suggested at Arlington on Memorial Day 1942 by Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, or in the speech early that month by Henry Wallace, more consonant, that is, than that of those naysayers, nattering nabobs of negativism, exampled by NAM's Witherow who stumped the Big Lie that Vice-President Wallace literally wanted a quart of milk for every Hottentot and a TVA on the Danube--where dams would soon be bombed.

Samuel Grafton presents further evidence culled from This Is the Enemy, by Frederick Oeschner, that Hitler's Germania was on its last legs. He cites the factum that Hitler let the railroads run down and relied too heavily on the autobahn for inter-front transit of troops and supplies, now lying without so much traffic for the German oil shortage resulting from the failed Russian offensive--promised to Hitler by his generals to be likely of bearing fruit within four to six weeks of June 22, 1941. The Swiss were refusing passage of German freight cars because they lacked grease in their boxes to keep the wheels of commerce rolling along the tracks, causing their likely breakdown in the tunnels with hell to pay for no light at the end of it.

He further invites muse out of a datum gleaned from The Nazi State by William Edelstein: the death penalty was now being exacted in Nazi Germany for some unspecified crime, labeled "automobile traps". Sounds like death for speeding on the autobahn, where no speed limit prevailed. Probably had something to do with violations of gas rationing, just as they shot housewives for hoarding food.

America, by contrast, while insisting of necessity on rationing of food and gas, had invoked thus far no penalty for any but the most serious offenses of bootlegging by operators of business concerns. And the penalty was not death.

This then, as said that young man back there in June, 1939, is the Nazi state: the Fuehrer has no lumber. And the jackboot had no jack, the brown box, no grease.

The Nazi Superman, as culled in some simple-minded light from Frederich Nietzsche, suggests Mr. Grafton, was not what its advertising had promoted.

Meanwhile, Superman was busy triggering the photoelectric cell at the door to Nazi headquarters, the Wolf Cries' Lair, preparing to encounter His Master's Voice behind the curtain, the one veiling Oz.

Young Annie Lee Gurley's protests to the contrary notwithstanding, Old Superman was still plying his violent trade.

Burke Davis's by-lined piece, simply quoting four local state representatives, provides snapshots of their plans for appropriation for the State, sometimes in less than dry terms. Mr. Tonissen's advice is worth a read. He was an original rapper, anyway. Weíre not quite sure though what he was smoking. Shoot those birds at Morganton? Ship the doctors from Africa? Cut the pay of teachers and funding for male colleges while increasing funding for female colleges? Sounds fine. He must not have liked the cans.

Three lean to favor the recommendations of the Governor's Blue Ribbon panel anent the mental hospital at Morganton, while one expresses a wait-see attitude. One of the proponents of increased funding, however, adds the reservation that someone other than Mr. Jimison ought be doing those investigations, that Mr. Jimison ought have himself a pension. More for the dumb and blind, also, he says. We donít think he quite understands. But he was rich.

"The Curse" tells, poetically, of the stubborn uprooting of the street car rails of Charlotte for provision of badly needed steel in war production. The City Fathers refused to endorse the project, as Burke Davis had reported August 5 and Dick Young had clarified on August 8. The hedge originally grew for want of a nine-foot strip to supplant the rail digs and funding assured for adequate street repair, amid claims also that the City did not carry adequate insurance to cover the task in case someone fell in the hole, that latter concern having been resolved by the Government's willingness to underwrite the project against curiosity seekers not following Learned Hand's formula with enough precision. Moreover, the man from WPB was rude, and had implied, apparently, at least to the percipients, that Charlotte was some sort of rural backwater unwilling to let go of its buried past to enable war to preserve the future.

Well, concludes Burke Davis in the piece of this day, the fault was not in the City Fathers refusing to endorse, nor in the rude Government man seeking the rails, but rather in the ghosts imploring the rails to remain buried.

It all reminds of the controversy in 1937 and onward over the City Fathersí like refusal to endorse the placement of benches and a chalet de necessité in the Foundersí Cemetery so that the pastoral straggler of the day, such as W. J. Cash, could sit down and observe a woman feeding squirrels on the snows of January, 1940.

We have a notion that Mr. Davis had something else in mind by his title.

As to "How to Make the Impression", we suggest to suitors that they not take it too literally. Not everything is meant to be taken too literally. Of course, someone could, instead, have decided that what The News was doing, by printing such outrageous suggestions, likely to be taken by children and the mentally infirm to be invitations to attractive nuisance, violative of the Learned Hand formula, was aiding and abetting felonies and thus its editors and writers should all have been locked up and the key thrown away, with a press in its place run by obscurantists. But then, we would have likely lost the war and been saluting lumberless Nazis with empty grease buckets for some years afterward, at least until the Revolution came and their bodies were thus piled on pyres in the streets of Gettysburg.

In any event, find yourself a quiet park bench and be contemplative, embracing this Twelfth Day of Christmas and its Twelfth Night on this, the Eve of the Epiphany. Twelve drummers drumming.

While more suited to drumming, probably, we only wished, for its brass bell and trunk and all those little pearly buttons, to play the alto sax. But we never learned to do so very well for we never could stand to practice too much. So, now we tap the drum.

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