Thursday, November 25, 1943

The Charlotte News

Thursday, November 25, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in an offensive during the past few days the Eighth Army, encountering heavy enemy resistance, had crossed the Sangro River in force and established a bridgehead five miles wide and over a mile deep. The area gained, however, was on flat ground overlooked by hills still occupied by the Nazis, thus promising continued heavy resistance. It was the first crossing in force of the Sangro, the last major water barrier to Rome.

The Eighth Army was reported now to have forces against the river or across it along its entire 45-mile length from the Adriatic, inland. The crossing had been accomplished against the backdrop of muddy ground resultant of a week of rains, during which time the Nazis had been able to fortify their positions behind the winter line along the Sangro, deepening their forces to the north.

The War Department reported that the Fifth Army, since the landing at Salerno September 9, had suffered 10,659 American casualties, including 1,613 killed, 6,361 wounded, and 2,685 missing. Casualties among the British in the Fifth Army were slightly less, said the report of Secretary Stimson.

The Secretary also indicated that the responsibility for disciplining General Patton regarding the August slapping incident in Sicily would be the sole responsibility of General Eisenhower. Both the War Department and General Eisenhower had denied the report issued by Allied Headquarters that General Patton had been formally reprimanded for the incident. It was clarified that he was instead rebuked.

For the third straight night, the RAF bombed Berlin, this time in a lighter raid of Mosquito bombers, primarily aimed at confusing and delaying the efforts to extinguish the flames of the previous two raids. Only one Mosquito failed to return from the mission.

Eyewitnesses, arriving in Stockholm still wearing singed clothing, described the devastation in Berlin as pervasive, with some areas of the capital virtually obliterated, especially in the government district along Wilhelmstrasse to Unter der Linden, with the exception of the Reich Chancellery.

A British military observer provided the story that on October 7, in the town of Bellona, Italy, 54 men and boys were massacred in retaliation for the killing of a single German soldier and the wounding of another, occurring when the soldiers were attempting to carry off a 21-year old Italian girl.

American Liberators were reported to have bombed targets at Sofia in Bulgaria and, for the first time in the war, the French port at Toulon. It was at Toulon a year earlier that the French fleet had been scuttled by the anti-Axis French naval commanders to avoid capture by the occupying Germans fortifying the South of France against possible attack by the Allies, just landed November 8-9 along the North African coast at Morocco and Algeria.

In the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific, the Allies captured Betio, largest of the Tarawa atolls, and its strategic airfield, to complement the capture of Makin, Abemama, and the rest of Tarawa. The bases would permit bombing of the more heavily defended Marshall Islands to the north, Nauru to the southwest, or even the crucial Japanese supply depot at Truk, 1,600 miles to the west. The Japanese had sought to concentrate much of their defensive air power in the area on Betio.

A map on the inside page shows the strategic significance of the new gains in the Gilberts.

Hal Boyle discusses the feats of the Army engineers during the war. It was their task to keep the supply lines intact, re-opening bombed-out roads and re-establishing bridges, while clearing mines and insuring provision of water to the Army. Many of the soldiers said that it was the engineers' war.

The engineers' only fun thus far in the Battle for Italy had come during the crossing of the Volturno when they were charged with the responsibility of building a bridge. The Germans initially shelled the position too heavily to allow men to enter. But the engineers resolved the problem by fogging a position during the night, causing it to take a concentration of enemy fire. The engineers, however, were building their bridge at another location and by 7:00 a.m. trucks were moving across it without interference.

And elephants and bears were reported to have been hunted down by the Nazis and shot after first being freed from the Berlin Zoo during the bombing raids of Monday night.

Whether Raja, the man-eating tiger, was among them, was not expressed; however, it was reported that, when last seen, Raja was headed for the White Cliffs of Dover, something about wishing to participate in the tiger curling match held against the dogs of Britain for the benefit of stray tigers and dogs, transpiring annually, sponsored by the Ladies' Auxiliary Lately of Lancashire.

On the editorial page, "An Issue" reviews the reactions of Congress to the revelation of General Patton's slapping of the private in Sicily. It finds it partisan in its division, Democrats generally willing to leave the decision on discipline to General Eisenhower, Republicans insisting on further independent investigation.

Cotton Ed Smith, traditional post-bellum Democrat from South Carolina, had been among the voices calling for removal of the General, because, to him, the unofficial rebuke by General Eisenhower sounded as "New Deal business".

"Do you see?" inquires the editorial, borrowing a leaf from W. J. Cash's style manual. Cotton Ed didn't give a "whoop" about the slapping of a private or about General Patton's ability thereafter to lead troops, only rather wished an opportunity to attack the New Deal.

The editorial found the statement to sum the character of Senator Smith and suggested it ought be preserved for posterity as such an index.

"Keerect!" finds ironic the decision by the courts in a test case to determine the legality of football parlay sheets. The bookies contended the sheets constituted gambling devices, but the court decided otherwise, upholding their legality. That, despite the improbable odds of winning and the financial risks induced from people all across the country each weekend who were often desperate to make a buck.

"Eric, No Red" finds the statement of Eric Johnston, president of the National Chamber of Commerce, apropos in declaiming attempts to question the efficacy and necessity of Big Business to the American way. He contended that the only alternative to Big Business ever offered by its critics was Big Government, which, in turn, would lead necessarily to a collectivist state.

Not really.

Witness the current fact that G.M., with its new hybrid vehicle, is now profitable and on solid footing after nearly two years with the Government as its principal stockholder. Before that, it was bankrupt. Without the government's help, both G.M. now and Chrysler in 1979 would have been history.

Collectivist state? Bilgewater.

Ditto for such wild-eyed complaints anent "socialized medicine" anytime the government makes any advance in the area of insuring health care to those without.

Unregulated "free enterprise", where the big fish always eat the small, is anathema to any true democracy. It becomes in short order Fascism, as surely as did the corporate syndicalism promoted and implemented in Italy by Mussolini provide the definition for modern fascism.

"Thanksgiving" compares eclectically some aspects of the world of a year earlier to that of 1943. Six million Americans were fighting abroad or in training a year earlier; now it was eleven million. Of those, 2.75 million were now overseas, whereas, a year earlier, 1.5 million were in the war zones. The number of casualties also had risen, from 50,000 a year earlier to 130,000. The draft of 18-19-year old young men had not yet begun a year earlier and men over 38 were still being conscripted. Mussolini was still in power.

Samuel Grafton wonders at the origin of the sudden change of Marshal Petain to favor the ratification of a new constitution in France and restoration of the French Republic. He determines that the probable impetus was simply to avoid a civil war by calling it off, to attempt to beat the forces of De Gaulle and the French underground by setting up to establish a new democratic regime to gainsay their efforts at it, the while intent on maintaining the old order of right-wing militarists and "hooded men". Expedient to the end for self-preservation, this segment of France, explains Mr. Grafton, was willing to accede to the Nazis for its continued sustenance and, likewise, would give up Hitlerís concessions to Vichy to survive yet again in the time of the fait accompli when Hitler would fall.

On Thanksgiving, Dorothy Thompson provides thanks for the brotherhood of man, both domestically and among the Allies, which had enabled the fighting of the war successfully during the previous year, in North Africa, in Sicily, in Italy, in Russia, in the bombing campaign of Europe, and in the "holding war" of the South Pacific.

Raymond Clapper suggests that the smaller nations should be thankful, as all should, to the larger nations, the U.S., Great Britain, China, and Russia, for being willing to fight against the might of the German Wehrmacht and the Japanese warlords, that without that fight, the world would have been in chains on the Thanksgiving of 1943. He also praises the foresight of these four nations to come together at Moscow and plan for the future peace in a cooperative atmosphere.

Drew Pearson compares the Thanksgiving of 1943 to that experienced in 1777 by General Washington, conferring at Valley Forge with General Lafayette in an unhappy time of the Revolution. President Roosevelt, it was reported, was now conferring with Churchill and Stalin somewhere abroad.

In fact, the President, since Monday, had been conferring in Cairo with Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek. Churchill and FDR would meet with Stalin in Tehran beginning Sunday, November 28. Stalin preferred not to meet with Chiang because of its implications to the Russo-Japanese mutual non-aggression pact and the appearance of lending support to the Chinese. The concern, however, had not stopped the Chinese from having their ambassador to Moscow at the foreign ministers conference and acting as signatory on certain of the agreements. Nevertheless, two separate historic meetings of the four heads of state were arranged.

Mr. Pearson goes on to explore the history of Thanksgiving, that when President Washington sought first to declare such a national day of thanks in 1789, it was met with hostility for lending too much centrality to the Federal Government.

Not until 1845 did the merchants along the Potomac realize the economic advantage to be enjoyed by declaring such a day and began advertising imported wine and champagne, plus New York cider, to go along with the day's festivities.

He does not mention that the first declared Thanksgiving was by President Lincoln in 1863, set for the last Thursday in November, a week after he had delivered to little notice or immediate remembrance his short dedication address for the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, honoring the fallen of the Union during the first three fateful days of the previous July.

Mr. Pearson concludes with an unintentionally ominous note, that the Thanksgiving of 1944 would be a much happier one for President Roosevelt than in 1943, and would be his last in the White House. Or, would it? he stops short to ask of the latter prediction.

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving of 1944 would prove no easier, probably harder, for the Chief Executive than in 1943, his eleventh Thanksgiving in the Executive Mansion. But his twelfth, true to Mr. Pearson's hesitant prediction, would be his last, and not just his last in the White House.

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