Wednesday, October 27, 1943

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, October 27, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Red Army was close to capturing Krovoi Rog, key to blocking the evacuation route of German troops from the Dneiper bend into the Crimea.

The German press admitted that the Wehrmacht was taking a beating from Melitopol north to Smolensk and was in process of evacuating the Dneiper bend.

A panzer counter-attack, some parts of it being newly transferred from the front in Italy, others coming France and Germany, had done little to stem the Russian tide.

Other Russian forces were moving from Melitopol into the Ukrainian steppes north of the Crimea.

Thousands of dead Nazis littered the fields of battle.

The Wehrmacht had now retreated to the left bank of the Trigno River to set up defensive positions. The Eighth Army had moved to within seven miles of the Trigno. The only heavy fighting the previous day on the Italian front was by the Eighth Army in taking Campomarano and Acquaviva Cellecroce.

The Fifth Army shored up positions on "Mad Dog Hill" near Raviscanina, the Mad Dog, taken the day before--probably not related to Crickett, the Chihuahua of the Fords of Mississippi--and on another ridge near Francolise--likely having nothing to do with Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

It was confirmed by the Berlin press that Erwin Rommel had replaced Albert Kesselring as commander of the German forces in Italy.

Speculation among Allied military observers was that the Germans would not indefinitely hole up in positions along the Massico Ridge but would instead use it as a staging ground for a new counter-offensive. They based the belief on the need to bolster fast fading home morale and the innate desire of Erwin Rommel to re-establish his reputation as a superior general after the debacle in North Africa. The approach of winter on the Russian front and the pretermission by the Allies of the prospect of victories in the air or at sea meant that Italy presented the most likely locus for German success in the near future.

Hal Boyle chronicles the coming of winter in Italy, with its buckets of rain falling, splintered by the wind into individual drops hitting the face as grains of sand, painful as BB shot. The mercurial weather could then change in an instant back to the sunshine which had given no sign originally of the storm to afford opportunity to take from it shelter.

You didnít need a weatherman to know which way the wind blew.

Some Allied soldiers suggested that a place with a more friendly clime, such as a tropical country, would have been a better choice for invasion during winter.

Hitler and Mussolini probably agreed.

Says Mr. Boyle, the winter weather had made the Volturno River unfordable and, for a time, enabled the Nazis to maintain their defensive positions there. But the chilly winds had blown fiercely in the wake of the rains and, though cutting through the shivering soldiers, dried the mud and made the river once again subject to crossing.

Warm clothing and cots were at a premium. Once the cot ripped, as had, beneath the weight of four soldiers, Mr. Boyle's carefully preserved bedding requisitioned in Tunisia the previous spring, there was no more to be had. It was beddy-bye in the mud and rain.

From the Pacific came the report that three Japanese airfields in the northern Solomons, two, Kahili and Kara, in southern Bougainville, intended to protect the base at Rabaul on New Britain, had been bombed into complete disuse.

On the domestic front, the President sent a proposal to Congress to fund a billion-dollar educational program for returning men and women in service.

The War Labor Boardís approval of a $1.12.5 per day wage increase for the wildcat bituminous coal miners on strike did not meet sufficiently the minersí demands as they remained on strike in several states. The Board rejected a $1.50 per day wage increase. John L. Lewis had originally sought a $2 per day increase during the spring strike when the Government took over the mines. A second government seizure now appeared imminent should the impasse not be resolved forthwith.

The Office of Defense Transportation had urged the nationís colleges and prep schools to pre-empt their first semester to allow Christmas holidays to begin no later than December 15 and end no earlier than January 11 to relieve holiday overcrowding on buses and trains.

Wayne Lonergan, Royal Canadian Air Force Cadet, was under questioning in the murder of his 22-year old heiress wife, Patricia, found brutally slain in the bedroom of the couple's home in the Beckman Hill section of Manhattan, apparently beaten to death with an antique brass candlestick, found bloodied. The Assistant District Attorney carried stained towels obtained from the apartment of John Harjes, where Cadet Lonergan said he had stayed Saturday night. Missing was the cadet's uniform which he claimed was stolen from the apartment by an American soldier whom he had befriended after all three strangers had missed the train because there were no available seats.

The Harjes butler, Emil Peters, was also being questioned by police as to the goings and comings of the Lonergans.

No charges had yet been filed, but the authorities might also have checked up on the father of Mr. Harjes, to insure that his health was well.

They might have wished, too, to look in on Barney Quill.

Ye Fala?

On the editorial page, "Two Strikes" compares the putative treason of the wildcat coal miners on strike while coal production suffered to the strike of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the resolution to authorize U.S. participation in a post-war international organization to assure the peace and prevent aggression. The Committee, says the piece, had equally committed treason by adopting the vacuous, milquetoast resolution favored by Chairman Tom Connally to accommodate such rabid pre-war isolationists as Gerald Nye.

"New Veterans" hails the return from the war fronts already of several young Charlotte veterans. They had already joined the American Legion and would become its future leaders. The piece predicts, with approval, that the Legion, with this infusion of youthful membership, would become a powerful political force in the country in years to come.

"Home-Made" reports that the Navy had told the workers at the U.S. Rubber Co. ordnance plant in Charlotte that they had directly been responsible for many enemy planes and ships, both in the South Pacific and in the Mediterranean, being sent to the bottom of the sea.

"Secret Sources" wonders sardonically at the lamentations for Japan's plight in the war being propounded by Emperor Hirohito while General Tojo professed that there was no doubt that Japan would ultimately reign victorious in battle. Who had the better information?

And, says the squib at the bottom of the column, "A post-war dreamer believes our great-grandchildren will fly by rocket to Ö"

The dreamer had less time to wait than dreamed.

Raymond Clapper, looking ahead several decades, says that one good reason for joining a post-war organization of nations to prevent future war and aggression was the case of oil, a commodity of which the United States might run out within thirty years--coincidentally the year, and quite nearly the day, October 16, when the OPEC crisis of 1973 began.

Remember the lines around the block?

Remember the lines of Mr. Clapper.

Mr. Clapper asserts that the U.S. possessed 10% of the world's oil; other estimates had it at 25%. He states that the U.S. was furnishing 70% of the oil for the war; others had recently indicated 75%. Regardless, the point was made: U.S. oil reserves would eventually run out. And whether the U.S. had oil would determine whether it was a first class or third class power, says Mr. Clapper.

The oil companies had, by the motive of profit, sought out oil in more places than the Government. American companies held 25% of the oil in Iraq; half of the oil in Kuwait; all of the oil in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the latter owned by Texaco and Standard of California. Indeed, there was more American-owned oil in the Middle East than in the ground in the United States. The oil companies, in consequence, were paying large royalties to the local rulers within those countries.

Mr. Clapper points out that discussions were ongoing to develop a mutually cooperative Government and private enterprise partnership in developing Middle Eastern oil. But conflicts in the region roiled and threatened the stability of the arrangement, with the head of Saudi Arabia seeking to form a Pan-Arab league with a mission to push Jews out of Palestine.

Oil was vital to America's security. But using American military forces to protect privately owned oil interests in the Middle East would be as inappropriate politically as it had been deemed in the Western Hemisphere--as, for example, when the Mexican expropriation of British and American oil interests occurred in March, 1938, without military intervention from either country, only parleys to obtain remuneration for the expropriated oil and equipment, and that only partially successful.

But, suggests Mr. Clapper, an international police force could, without the political repercussions attendant with unilateral intervention by the United States, enter one of these countries in the Middle East and protect the resources owned by private companies--in Kuwait, in Iraq, for instance.

Drew Pearson examines the tension exerted on the White House by the twin labor snafus posed by both the coal miners and the railroad workers. If the coal miners received their demanded wage increase, then the railway workers would strike unless they also received theirs. But if the miners did not get the increase, then they would assuredly call a general strike, beyond the current wildcat strike.

George Harrison, of the Railway Clerks, and other railway labor leaders had asserted that the Administration had better get onboard with a wage increase if it wanted another term.

Samuel Grafton says "[Sorry,] Wrong Number" when it came to the proposal for the international police force. It was a plan rife with the concept of subjugation of peoples, to keep them from making too much of a fuss, rather than enabling the feeding of the hungry and improving of the world's standard of living.

He asserts that the United Nations could not prevent explosions from happening, any more than the concept of disarmament had done after World War I. The plan of the international police force, he says, was to build the year around Christmas. ("It's Christmas.")

War, he offers, was not always a bad thing. The American Revolution was a good thing. Any international peace-keeping force which might have been extant to put it down would have been on the side of evil, after all.

The concept of the world police force was well-intentioned, proposed by people of the sort with whom Mr. Grafton says he was affable. But these well-intentioned advocates were also comfortable. And the wars of the world were spawned historically by the millions who lived in discomfort.

Anything was reactionary which kept the Allies from consideration of the primary issues at hand, working out a suitable arrangement with the Russians in which both they and the West could co-exist peacefully post-war, feeding the Italian peasant and insuring that he could cultivate ground to feed himself in the future, ending the reign of Fascism in Europe: these were the problems immediately to be solved, not the impracticable task of insuring via an international police force that the world would be pacified after the war.

At one time, so simple an act as playing the violin, he concludes, was an act which was reactionary. So, too, was the well-meaning attempt to establish the international police force while the war continued to rage.

Stay tuned, puling 1943 baby. This affects you.

In any event, for some reason, we are reminded of this.

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