Friday, December 31, 1943

The Charlotte News

Friday, December 31, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page of this New Year's Eve of 1943 indicates that the Fifth Army had the previous day undertaken a leapfrog action, landing amphibious forces to the north of the Garigliano River on the west coast of Italy, seeking to jumpstart the stalled offensive in that area, seeking to obtain the road across the Pontine Marshes to Rome, known historically as the Appian Way. German radio had reported the action the day before; it was now confirmed by Allied Headquarters. The primary city to be sought by the Allies in the offensive would be Minturno, a few miles inland.

Elsewhere on the front, the Army captured the town of San Vittore, object of fighting for several days and the last major Nazi defense position on the road to Cassino.

American heavy bombers, supported by both American and RAF fighters, bombed targets in France, some of which were in the suburbs of Paris, last bombed September 15. This raid followed on combined raids totaling 3,000 planes during the previous 24 hours. The bombers also lashed against the "rocket-gun" coast of northern France, as on the previous day.

In Russia, General Nikolai Vatutin's First Ukrainian Army gained further ground against the retreating forces of Fritz von Mannstein, moving to within 43 miles of the old Polish border and to within thirty miles of the Bug River, and ninety miles of the Dneister River, forming the old boundary with Rumania. Other than the Odessa-Lwow rail link, only one line, running southeastward through the Ukraine, remained open to the Nazis to supply troops in the Dneiper bend west of Kiev. The Red Army was within twenty miles of this latter line.

Another part of the First Ukrainian Army continued to outflank Zhitomir.

In the Pacific, Lt.-General Walter Krueger, commanding the Sixth Army, announced that the Marines on Cape Gloucester on New Britain had the day before successfully captured the Japanese airstrip after only four days and four hours since the landing at 7:30 Sunday morning. The short campaign had been accomplished with few losses and provided the Allies with a relatively close base of operations for bombing Rabaul and Kavieng.

The Nazis were evacuating the French coast of French civilians and moving troops in to fully occupy the region in anticipation of an Allied landing. They stressed especially the towns of Calais, Boulogne, Montrevil, and Dieppe--the latter where the disastrous primarily Canadian commando raid had taken place in August, 1942.

Hitler addressed the German people, waxing in the guise of Hamlet, probably the most apropos of any dramatic mask among the many he had donned previously--assuming the proper interpretation of the thing which is the play is that Hamlet is quite insane, even if one must allow for other interpretations, in the case of the play, not Hitler--telling the Germans that they were "involved in a merciless struggle in which the question is to be, or not be, and therefore must and unfortunately will be countered by us in the same merciless manner."

It was, of course, only a corollary of the same old line he had adopted to provide supposed justification for invading Poland, for invading France, for bombing Britain, for invading Russia, and most of the other acquired territories in Europe since the Munich Pact.

We might have questioned of him: If the question is to be or not to be, then when will you decide whether it is or not the question, Herr Hitler?

The Richmond, California Kaiser shipyards announced another record-breaking year of building primarily Liberty ships, sending down the ways 280 of them plus an additional 25 other craft. Thus far since mid-August, 1941, when the four Bay Area Kaiser shipyards began producing ships, they had turned out 443 vessels. The newest Liberty ship was the George Luks, named for a painter of the Ashcan school who had died in 1933 and had covered the Spanish-American War as a correspondent.

Development of a new infrared radar device was announced via British radio, enabling the use of bomb sites in conditions of cloud-cover and fog--sometimes fog having been deliberately induced by Nazi smoke machines.

The fifteen non-operating unions of the railroads rejected terms of wage increases in a sliding scale put forth by President Roosevelt.

The President's cold, which was reported the day before to have kept him away from his office, had turned into the "grippe", the second time in sixty days he had so suffered. It had been reported October 26 that he had come down with the grippe.

Congressman Albert Gore, father of the future Vice-President and President, is pictured on the front page having his initial meal at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, with fellow inductees into the Army, after he had volunteered for same.

Hal Boyle reports from Bari, Italy, the harbor of which had recently suffered heavy merchant shipping losses from a German raid. He tells of the youthful buccaneers at large in the port city, aged two through ten, who descended as locusts on any soldier brave enough to walk the streets. They formed packs and staked out territory, jealously guarded by each rival gang. Their quest for booty consisted of candy, cigarettes, chewing gum, and, if all else failed, a single lire, equal to an American penny.

Yet, should the hapless soldier finally acquiesce to the determinedly stubborn requests of the pirates and provide one lire, he would suddenly find himself besieged from all sides by a the host of locusts, each seeking their own separate lire, which the soldier then had to oblige in order to effect safe escape.

Finally, reports Soldier Boyle, he gave in by simply throwing the cash lire he had in his pocket into the air and letting the locusts scramble for it while he beat a fast retreat back to the base, realizing he had insufficient lire at hand to satisfy all of the locusts gathered at his boot heels.

On the editorial page, "Two Wars" examines the polar opposite opinions of the home front, that on the one hand Americans were callously indifferent to the war, went about their business pretty much as usual, or, on the other, that the home front response was nigh on perfect.

Neither was accurate, says the editorial, citing four randomly chosen facts on one side or the other: 1) that Manpower Commission chair Paul McNutt felt compelled to ask war workers to retire early on New Year's Eve so as not to interrupt production on the following days; 2) that theater performances in New York were sold out, despite high ticket prices; 3) that there had been a large number of strikes during the previous two months, resulting in a loss of 2,825,000 man-days of work; and 4) that a report from Algiers had it that two B-25 Mitchell bomber pilots had refused to retire after their required 50 missions, had now completed 65, yet still refused to accept an offered rest stateside.

The spirit of winning the war and the apparent indifference evidenced in other aspects of American life would continue, says the piece, as in all lands and in all wars. People were people.

We note that this sort of commentary pervaded the news and editorials, both local and nationally syndicated, throughout the time from about March or April, 1942, onward. The great period of unity we often hear about in learning of World War II is simply a myth. There was unity short-lived in the country for two or three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. But that quickly gave way to disunity and disharmony over not winning the war, and then, as quickly, great impatience, when the first positive signs began to come from the Battle of the Coral Sea and from Midway in the Pacific in May and June, 1942, and then from Guadalcanal in August, 1942 through January, 1943, followed by the up and down and finally up struggle in North Africa between November, 1942 and May, 1943.

But the truth is that there was more than a little disunity and downright disgruntled inveighing abroad the land by the end of 1943. Many people, especially in the South, had come to despair of the domestic policies of the Government, especially as they saw too much big government intruding in their lives from Washington.

The generation of Vietnam has no shame upon it for its protests of an unpopular war, even if the protests of a war being fought abroad during World War II which, after Pearl Harbor, most agreed had to be fought, therefore took a different turn than translating itself into open street protests. But protests in the form of strikes for better wages nevertheless were substantial grassroots anti-war, anti-Administration protests at their heart, at least in some respects, even if not consciously so intended by the workers who struck.

Remember it next time you wish to lash out at that young hippie generation of the 1960's for all its vagaries and supposed absence of loyalty to the country, Liddy-head; the World War II generation, for all its many sacrifices, was by no means, in truth, much different.

No one of sane mind likes war. As President Roosevelt had said in running for his third term in 1940, he hated war. But this war left the country no choice. For this one threatened democracy and freedom worldwide.

"Suggestions" contrasts the views of the war and the post-war, as voiced by Senator Walter George of Georgia and isolationist Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana. Senator George saw the war realistically, supported the plan to take out Germany first so as to weaken Japan's resolve to continue the fight, and then plan for reconversion of business to peacetime production, stressing small business.

Senator Wheeler opposed the planned heavy U.S. troop commitment to the invasion of the Continent, appeared therefore to want to prolong the war so that he could have excuse to revert to his isolationist rhetoric following the war.

"A Leader" marks the 83d birthday of Henrietta Szold, founder in 1912 of Hadassah, the Jewish organization which had been responsible for resettling 10,000 Jewish boys and girls thus far in Palestine, as refugees from the fate of death camps in Europe.

The Charlotte chapter of Hadassah had performed its part, says the piece, in contributing to the half-million dollar drive to support this resettlement movement. The editorial urges readers to contribute to this worthy cause.

The communal agricultural enclaves to which the children were sent, as indicated by the piece, are called collectively kibbutzim, each one being a kibbutz.

"Danger Sign" applauds a Senate speech by Senator McCarran of Utah, warning of a move afoot to limit production of natural resources in the country. The speech was specifically aimed at limiting use of energy which would restrict or shut down two magnesium plants, one in Utah and one in Las Vegas, which supplied the bulk of the nationís magnesium, a crucial element at the time in aircraft manufacture, rivaling aluminum. (Drew Pearson had recently pointed out that Ford's Willow Run plant, dubbed by some in the press as "Will-It Run", claimed to be behind schedule in airplane production for want of procurement of sufficient magnesium.)

The editorial foresees the possibility that greed of competitive industries, in this case aluminum, could become pervasive so as to run rampant in the country, limiting production of certain resources in favor of others on trumped-up excuses, such as utilization of too much fuel.

Senator Wheeler was chair of the Interstate Commerce Committee which had, according to Senator McCarran, deferred adoption of a report which set forth the facts with regard to the magnesium issue.

Drew Pearson relates of a character named James Morrison, Congressman of Louisiana, running for governor of that state. Having once shot himself in the arm and poured catsup over the wound to feign an assassination attempt so as to place himself primus inter pares with the late, lamented Huey Long in Louisiana, Representative Morrison had been investigated and cleared by the Post Office regarding charges that he had misused his Congressional franking privilege by sending out thousands of campaign fliers at taxpayer expense. He was cleared by the fact that he had included in the flier a speech regarding the war effort delivered before Congress: "Our War Heroes Deserve the Best".

Whether he also slipped a full Hunt's Catsup bottle, along with a personally autographed copy of The Red Badge of Courage, in with each franked flier is not indicated.

Exuding the confidence placed by the Administration in the predictions that the war with Germany would end in 1944, Donald Nelson of the War Production Board was already beginning the effort at planning for reconversion of American industry from wartime production to that of peacetime. The effort was stimulated by a desire of Mr. Nelson, says Mr. Pearson, to beat out Bernard Baruch in initiating the reconversion process, so that Mr. Nelson could continue in his position as WPB chairman.

Samuel Grafton finds the anti-complacency rhetoric abounding in the country to be contrary to morale, not bolstering of it. What was instead needed, he opines, was more reaffirmation of the war effort on the home front, taking some of the workers abroad to witness the fruits of their labors firsthand, for instance.

If, he argues, it deterred morale to be supremely confident in victory, the Germans should have lost in France, and, by the reverse token, the French, having been thoroughly defeatist in their attitude, should have conquered the invading Germans.

Raymond Clapper looks to the year ahead--one which would be tragically truncated for his own life, fast running out, as he would die in a plane crash while covering the Battle for the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, within less than five weeks.

He offers that the challenge in the year ahead for reporters and columnists would be great, a struggle to face unflinchingly several controversial questions in the society: the first election year during wartime since the Civil War; issues of race tension evidenced by the riots in Detroit, Harlem, and Watts of the previous May and June; the winning of the war promised during 1944, but which would inevitably result in high casualties for the United States and the Allies generally; special interest lobbying groups pressuring Congress as never before in history, most often pressuring them to legislate or refrain from legislating in ways which were inflationary and thus contrary to the war effort; the continued hampering of that effort by threatened strikes, such as the as yet unresolved rail dispute following on the coal mine strikes during the spring, summer, and fall, and the short-lived steel strike of the previous Friday through Monday. All of these issues would need be tackled sensitively and reasonably by the press in the coming year, says Mr. Clapper.

But the issue with highest priority was how not only to win the war but also to preserve the peace in the aftermath by keeping Germany and Japan disarmed to insure the peace for at least, he says, two generations with respect to these historically bellicose nations.

Seventh Day of Christmas--seven dons o' Fleming and seven cons a-dimming.

We have, incidentally, not by purpose, but by dint of happenstance, left out along the way three dates this year, two last week, December 22 and 23, simply to catch up with Christmas Eve, and July 26, the day Mussolini fell and the day Mick Jagger was born. That latter omission was the result of our being harried at the time by some quite unrighteous, dishonest people, plaguers of us since nearly the day this website went online in 1998; but such is life at times. We shall endeavor very soon to get those three dates up and running for you.

HORSE-COURSER. I beseech your worship, accept of these forty dollars.

FAUSTUS. Friend, thou canst not buy so good a horse for so small a price. I have no great need to sell him: but, if thou likest him for ten dollars more, take him, because I see thou hast a good mind to him.

HORSE-COURSER. I beseech you, sir, accept of this: I am a very poor man, and have lost very much of late by horse-flesh, and this bargain will set me up again.

FAUSTUS. Well, I will not stand with thee: give me the money [HORSE-COURSER gives FAUSTUS the money]. Now, sirrah, I must tell you that you may ride him o'er hedge and ditch, and spare him not; but, do you hear? in any case, ride him not into the water.

HORSE-COURSER. How, sir! not into the water! why, will he not drink of all waters?

FAUSTUS. Yes, he will drink of all waters; but ride him not into the water: o'er hedge and ditch, or where thou wilt, but not into the water. Go, bid the hostler deliver him unto you, and remember what I say.

HORSE-COURSER. I warrant you, sir!--O, joyful day! now am I a made man for ever. I'll not leave my horse for forty. If he had but the quality of hey, ding, ding, hey ding, ding, I'd make a brave living on him; he has a buttock as slick as an eel. [To FAUSTUS.] Well, goodbye, sir. Your boy will deliver him me? But hark ye, sir: if my horse is sick or ill at ease, if I bring his water to you, you'll tell me what it is?

FAUSTUS. Away, you villain! What, dost think I am a horse-doctor? [Exit HORSE-COURSER.]

What art thou, Faustus, but a man condemn'd to die? Thy fatal time draws to a final end; Despair doth drive distrust into my thoughts: Confound these passions with a quiet sleep: Tush, Christ did call the thief upon the Cross; Then rest thee, Faustus, quiet in conceit. [He sits to sleep.]

Re-enter the HORSE-COURSER, wet.

HORSE-COURSER. O, what a cozening doctor was this! I, riding my horse into the water, thinking some hidden mystery had been in the horse, I had nothing under me but a little straw, and had much ado to escape drowning. Well, I'll go rouse him, and make him give me my forty dollars again.--Ho, sirrah Doctor, you cozening scab! Master Doctor, awake, and rise, and give me my money again, for your horse is turned to a bottle of hay, Master Doctor! [He pulls off FAUSTUS' leg]. Alas, I am undone! what shall I do? I have pulled off his leg.

FAUSTUS. O, help, help! the villain hath murdered me.

HORSE-COURSER. Murder or not murder, now he has but one leg, I'll outrun him, and cast this leg into some ditch or other. [Aside, and then runs out.]

FAUSTUS. Stop him, stop him, stop him!--Ha, ha, ha! Faustus hath his leg again, and the Horse-courser a bundle of hay for his forty dollars.


How now, Wagner! what news with thee?

WAGNER. If it please you, the Duke of Vanholt doth earnestly entreat your company, and hath sent some of his men to attend you, with provision fit for your journey.

FAUSTUS. The Duke of Vanholt's an honourable gentleman, and one to whom I must be no niggard of my cunning. Come, away! [Exeunt.]


CARTER. Come, my masters, I'll bring you to the best beer in Europe.--What, ho, hostess! where be these whores?


HOSTESS. How now! what lack you? What, my old guests! welcome.

ROBIN. Sirrah Dick, dost thou know why I stand so mute?

DICK. No, Robin: why is't?

ROBIN. I am eighteen-pence on the score. But say nothing; see if she have forgotten me.

HOSTESS. Who's this that stands so solemnly by himself? What, my old guest!

ROBIN. O, hostess, how do you? I hope my score stands still.

HOSTESS. Ay, there's no doubt of that; for methinks you make no haste to wipe it out.

DICK. Why, hostess, I say, fetch us some beer.

HOSTESS. You shall presently.--Look up into the hall there, ho! [Exit.--Drink is presently brought in.]

DICK. Come, sirs, what shall we do now till mine hostess comes?

CARTER. Marry, sir, I'll tell you the bravest tale how a conjurer served me. You know Doctor Faustus?

HORSE-COURSER. Ay, a plague take him! here's some on's have cause to know him. Did he conjure thee too?

CARTER. I'll tell you how he served me. As I was going to Wittenberg, t'other day, with a load of hay, he met me, and asked me what he should give me for as much hay as he could eat. Now, sir, I thinking that a little would serve his turn, bad him take as much as he would for three farthings: so he presently gave me my money and fell to eating; and, as I am a cursen man, he never left eating till he had eat up all my load of hay.

ALL. O, monstrous! eat a whole load of hay!

ROBIN. Yes, yes, that may be; for I have heard of one that has eat a load of logs.

HORSE-COURSER. Now, sirs, you shall hear how villanously he served me. I went to him yesterday to buy a horse of him, and he would by no means sell him under forty dollars. So, sir, because I knew him to be such a horse as would run over hedge and ditch and never tire, I gave him his money. So, when I had my horse, Doctor Faustus bad me ride him night and day, and spare him no time; but, quoth he, in any case, ride him not into the water. Now, sir, I thinking the horse had had some quality that he would not have me know of, what did I but rid him into a great river? and when I came just in the midst, my horse vanished away, and I sate straddling upon a bottle of hay.

ALL. O, brave doctor!

HORSE-COURSER. But you shall hear how bravely I served him for it. I went me home to his house, and there I found him asleep. I kept a hallooing and whooping in his ears; but all could not wake him. I, seeing that, took him by the leg, and never rested pulling till I had pulled me his leg quite off; and now 'tis at home in mine hostry.

ROBIN. And has the doctor but one leg, then? that's excellent; for one of his devils turned me into the likeness of an ape's face.

CARTER. Some more drink, hostess!

ROBIN. Hark you, we'll into another room and drink a while, and then we'll go seek out the doctor. [Exeunt.]

Happy New Year to thee and thine, whether you have any earthly notion of that which we have tried to impart for the past annual cycle or no. If not, pay better attention in the coming twelve months, please.

For the ice is still melting apace. And the spirits be angry. But please don't blame the messenger. We do this for free. What do you do?

We know what some of you do: Oh, look, mommy, they said a bad word. Oh.

And then you seek, on that trumped-up excuse, to take all we have, including our life-blood. You--you Neanderthal lummox, go wash out your brain, and you take a Time Out, you liars and Pharisees. Either way, you will not deter us from continuing.

To those who have paid attention, thank you. You are as responsible for the herein as we. For it is done with a little help from our friends, the just and the wise, and regardless of race, creed, color, nationality, religion, or political belief, or how or for whom you may vote, as long as you proceed honestly and without physical violence while realizing that we are all swimming in this life together with a responsibility for stewardship.

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