Tuesday, December 21, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 21, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Fifth Army in Italy had plunged forward through a snowstorm two and a half miles from recently captured Lagone to take the snow-covered 2,600-foot high Mt. Spinucio. The remainder of the Fifth Army front saw only patrol activity.

On the central portion of the Eighth Army front, headway was accomplished amid heavy fighting toward Tollo.

In the largest raid yet on Frankfurt, an estimated 800 RAF bombers dropped 2,000 long tons of bombs on the city. Twenty-four bombers were lost in the raid.

Other RAF bombers attacked Mannheim and Ludwigshafen, site of the largest chemical works in the world run by I. G. Farbenindustrie, while Mosquitoes hit targets in Western Germany.

The raid placed Frankfurt in the top five among German cities for most tonnage of bombs dropped, joining Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, and Kassel. Forty-one previous raids on Frankfurt had already caused the bulk of the non-manufacturing civilian population to evacuate the city, as with other major cities of Germany. Less than an eighth the size of Berlin, Frankfurt no doubt was especially moved by the enormity of the load, approaching the largest tonnage yet dropped on any single target during the war, the more than 2,300 tons dropped on Berlin on November 22 having broken the record of 2,300 tons dropped on Hamburg in latter July.

American bombers struck Bremen, losing 33 bombers, while Mediterranean-based bombers struck Sofia, Bulgaria for the fifth time in recent weeks, as well as Elevsis airfield near Athens, costing eleven bombers.

American and British bombers also attacked targets in Northern France while the RAF attacked Belgium. In all, 92 Allied planes were lost in the previous day of bombing.

The Nazis had lost 71 planes in the previous two days attempting to defend against the raids.

More daylight raids by American bombers were headed to France this day, thought to be targeting Nazi rocket-gun installations.

Object lesson: Do not mess with the British or the Americans. Bad policy.

A combined RAF and American night raid out of the newly formed Eastern Asia Air Command was reported to have taken place on December 19 on docks and arsenals at Bangkok, Thailand.

On New Britain, the Allies had captured the Japanese airstrip on the Arawe Peninsula, purging the area of Japanese air activity in the process, while capturing a position from which the Allies could launch air assaults on the island. Having severed the supply route to and from New Guinea with the Arawe Peninsula in the south of New Britain, bombers made further attacks on Cape Gloucester, which controlled the supply route to and from Rabaul with the intent of severing that route in the northeastern part of the island.

Across the Vitiaz Strait, on New Guinea, Australian troops, at bayonet point, had cleared the Japanese from the area south of the Masawang River, fifteen miles north of already Australian-occupied Finschhafen on the Huon Peninsula, formerly completely held by the Japanese. The Australians had then forded the Masawang with tanks and artillery in tow.

On the northern Russian front, the Red Army of the Baltic area had penetrated down the eastern section of the Nevel-Vitebsk railway to within twenty miles of Vitebsk, a fifteen-mile advance for the forces commanded by General Ivan Bagramian. The advance had caused the Nazis to draw off troops from the Korosten and Zhitomir areas west of Kiev to reinforce their northern defensive lines in the Nevel area.

A German military spokesman, speaking through a Stockholm newspaper, stated that in the south, Field Marshal Fritz von Mannstein had withdrawn his troops in the Kiev bulge, moving them south to defend threatened Kirovograd where fighting was heavy, suggesting that he had abandoned his counter-offensive drive on Kiev.

During the previous day alone, fully 59 tanks were captured and 1,200 Germans killed by the Russians in the area of Kirovograd.

Marshal Tito's Partisans in Yugoslavia had advanced into the Croatian capital of Zagreb and were there involved in a major battle with the Nazi and Chetnik opposition forces. The Nazis were reported to have six divisions in all in Croatia, two on the Dalmatian coast and four in the area of Mostar. In the Banya and Kordun sectors, the Nazis were on the run after suffering heavy losses in fighting there. The Nazis were also suffering heavy losses in Bosnia. In Slovenia, the help of Allied supplies had enabled an increase in offensive activity on the part of the Partisans.

Partisan leaders had met with Allied military leaders and had agreed upon a cooperative strategy. The provisional President, Ivan Ribar, had indicated that the Yugoslav government-in-exile, that of King Peter, had to be deprived of all rights.

The first potential repercussions of the Nationalist military junta in Bolivia, resulting in the overthrow of the Allied-friendly government and supplanting it with one which typically had railed against the United States, appeared as soldiers were sent by the new Government to protect the tin ore mines which supplied a significant amount of tin for Allied steel production--tin ore which had replaced the loss of tin production from the East Indies when the Japanese took control of that area in early 1942.

Nevertheless, the new government in Bolivia pledged its continued support of the Atlantic Charter and previously made commitments to the Allies, including a continuing supply of tin.

Advices out of Chile, however, indicated that the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement, out of which the new leaders had come, had long campaigned against foreign ownership of the tin mines and thus predicted the coup would impact tin production.

Two of the new flattops in the Navy's Fleet, both of the Essex-class, are pictured on the page heading out to the Pacific for duty.

Talks continued between the five operating unions of the Brotherhood of Railway Workers and the President, trying to settle wage disputes to avert a scheduled December 30 strike. The President had proposed a four-cents per hour grant of overtime pay to supplement a four-cents per hour wage increase already approved by the Government, the railroads, and the unions. The unions had not yet agreed on the President's proposal and indicated the possibility that they would also seek vacation pay.

Hal Boyle reports anecdotally of the predictions for the end of the war as postulated by five different soldiers stationed in Italy. None got it right, ranging from February, 1944 to May 10, 1946 for the war in Europe, and anywhere from about a year to December 21, 1947 for the war against Japan.

And the little piece on the stamp confusion in Shreveport, Louisiana gives rise to the notion that the postmaster probably went home and partook of that which this observes.

On the editorial page, "Bari Tragedy" refuses to join the debate ongoing in the country's newspapers as to what Allied reconnaissance failure permitted low-flying Luftwaffe pilots to make their way into Bari Harbor in Italy and wreak havoc, destroying numerous Allied merchant ships and killing approximately a thousand sailors, including 37 Navy enlisted men. Whether RAF or American protective nets were more at fault, says the piece, was beyond its scope of understanding.

There would be, it warns, other limited counter-offensives of the type and Americans had to prepare themselves for that eventuality, that losses would begin to pile up rapidly with the initiation of the offensive in Europe.

It carps, however, at the delay by the United States military in releasing the story until after it had been printed in a Washington newspaper.

"The Vote" gives praise to Senator Josiah W. Bailey of North Carolina for calling for a special session of the Legislature to enact legislation to enable easy absentee voting by soldiers in both Federal and State elections. The Congress, it suggests, was so dragging its feet in determining one way or the other its own stance on the issue that by the time the bill to provide the vote made its way through the House and then to conference for reconciliation, the 1944 election would be history.

"Profiteers" expresses surprise to find Democratic Senator Walter George of Georgia, as further explicated by Drew Pearson, taking a position, despite his expertise in taxation, against renegotiation of military contracts with private industry, the process of elimination of excessive wartime profits by forcing disgorgement of them back to the Government, based on pre-war profits of a given company.

The Republicans and big business were in favor of maintaining renegotiation because of the unseemly appearance otherwise of Big Business should it emerge from the war overly fat with wartime profits.

Drew Pearson tells of receiving a subpoena to appear before the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator George, to testify regarding claims made by Mr. Pearson that Senator George was friendly with a tax lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce, one who had plumped for ending renegotiation of Army and Navy contracts. Mr. Pearson proceeds to explain that Senator George had inserted in the tax bill pending before the Senate a rider which eliminated all renegotiation on contracts involving standard commercial products, the subject of the bulk of military contracts with private industry.

Thus, whether the Senator was cozy with the Chamber of Commerce lobbyist advocating the position was something, contends Mr. Pearson, which the American public had a legitimate interest in knowing. He had heard nothing further from Senator George, who he respected, since publicly agreeing to honor the subpoena despite the Committee’s lack of power to issue it.

Dorothy Thompson sends a get-well card to Churchill, praising him as not only the ablest world leader of his generation but possessing the quality which was sine qua non for such effective leadership in time of war, that of the spirit of the poet. She is moved to quote from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass describing such a national poet.

Ms. Thompson offers that no other conservative would have expressed that which Churchill had of Communists in his country: "They are Englishmen, and I fear no Englishman."

She may have omitted, however, the subtext, which probably went, "Fe, fi, fo, fum."

Raymond Clapper urges FDR to provide full disclosure of the results of the Tehran and Cairo conferences as soon as possible to quell the development of already circulating rumors.

One such rumor, which appeared true, was that General Eisenhower, instead of General Marshall, would be placed in charge of leading the cross-channel invasion of the Continent. Another rumor, however, had followed it, that General Marshall was crushed by the change, one precipitated by Churchill’s expression of displeasure with General Marshall in that position. But that rumor was the reverse of prior rumors, when General Marshall was first appointed Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe, that he preferred his position as Army Chief of Staff, and wished to remain in the United States.

Mr. Clapper concludes that the President's Christmas Eve address and his early January annual address to the Congress would put an end to such idle speculation, both as to military leadership and the precise nature of the conferences' agreements, insofar as they could be revealed without unduly compromising strategy.

Samuel Grafton opines that to achieve and preserve unity in occupied countries such as Italy, the Allies had implemented policies and supported the leadership of King Victor Emanuel and Pietro Badoglio in spite of the contrary desires of the people, thus effectively promoting disunity as a necessary evil to quell and chill any form of popular dissent while permitting the opposition, Count Sforza and Benedetto Croce, anti-Fascist leaders preferred by the majority of Italians, some limited inveighing voice within the confines of Il Risorgimento, the only newspaper in Naples. Just as had been the case in North Africa in late 1942 with respect to the Free French, the six anti-Fascist parties forming the Italian Committee of National Liberation had been excluded from the governing council formed by Marshal Badoglio.

Thus, concludes Mr. Grafton, "unity" had come to mean no more with respect to Italy than "boojum". There was need to effect true unity.

Returning to the editorial column, "Filibuster" asks the question: Who do you love?

It then proceeds to lay out some of the thousands of words put forth on the Senate floor by Republican Senator Langer of North Dakota, laying to on the Administration for its poor performance in prosecuting the war while maintaining undue restrictions at home. In the segment of the Congressional Record provided by the piece, Senator Langer lays to on Harry Hopkins for indulgences which the ordinary person was not permitted by government regulation to accomplish, in this instance the remodeling of a Georgetown house to which he and his family were soon to move from the White House. He also finds problematic the excessive comforts provided visiting royalty, such as Queen Wilhelmina of Holland.

Blah, blah, blah, blah.

Well, who do you love?

--Michele, ma belleamie, Ralph. Sunday's on the phone to Monday. Tuesday teles across the sea, oh yeah.

Who loves ye, baby?

Want a Puck?

Whether, incidentally, Mr. Hopkins's new digs there in Georgetown were made of rattlesnake hide, with a chimney fashioned from a human skull, maybe Senator Langer's, was not indicated by Burke Davis--one of the putative inspirations for the founding of rock 'n' roll, just as Cash gave roots to the folk movement.

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