Thursday, December 9, 1943

The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 9, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Germany and Turkey had stationed troops on opposing sides of the Turkish borders with Greece and Bulgaria. The Nazis, anticipating a possible Allied offensive into the Balkans via Turkey in the wake of the second Cairo Conference, had positioned fully two divisions on the Bulgarian border, the need for which was exacerbated by evidences of revolt from within the Bulgarian military, as many soldiers defected to the Yugoslav Partisans or the Greek guerilla forces. Demonstrations and unrest, precipitating hundreds of arrests by the Gestapo, also continued to prevail within Sofia.

British troops of the Fifth Army in Italy had taken the summit of Mount Croce, two and a half miles from already captured Mount Camino, and were moving toward the Garigliano River a mile further north. American troops to the northeast of this location took more enemy positions west of Venafro. After changing hands several times in recent days, Calabritto, on the southern slopes of Mount Camino, was now said to be firmly in Allied possession.

The Eighth Army had effected another crossing of the Moro River and, by capturing Ortona, had moved to within eight miles of Pescara, location of the trans-peninsula road to Rome.

In an attack on the Marshall Islands, a U.S. carrier task force sank in Saturday night's moonlight two Japanese light cruisers, one oil tanker, and three cargo transport ships, while also downing 72 planes. The task force repelled a seven and a half hour Japanese counter-attack as it sailed away, suffering only slight damage.

In Russia, the Red Army captured Sharovka, fifteen miles to the south of Znamenka, enabling it to outflank the city while severing the Znamenka-Nikolaev rail line, threatening the encirclement of tens of thousands of Nazis on the west bank of the lower Dneiper River. The Nazis were left with only one means of rail escape from Znamenka, along the line to Kirovograd.

General Nikolai Vatutinís First Ukrainian Army, however, was falling back for the second time in two days, before a thrust of two thousand German tanks in the area of the Kiev bulge north of Chernyakhov. In the offensive, the Germans, nevertheless, had lost 2,000 men and 84 tanks the previous day. But Vatutinís main defense lines were holding, as the Russians apparently sought to exhaust the enemyís reserves.

Heading off the drive to the Hunan provincial capital of Changsha, the Chinese, aided by American air cover, re-captured Changteh, taken by the Japanese December 3. The city had been an important prize for the Japanese for it had meant control of the Chinese "rice bowl" and the Hunan-Szechwan supply line, one of the Chinese Army's most important means of provision.

Recent Allied air attacks on Croatia had convinced the Nazis that an attack on the Dalmatian Coast of Yugoslavia might be imminent. A meeting was held in Berlin with Nazi-friendly Croatian and Serbian leaders to discuss the matter.

Japanese Ambassador to Berlin, Hiroshi Oshima, held a press conference in Berlin on December 7. The little piece suggests that there was an irony in the conference in that it was held in quarters which had been scarred by Allied bombs in the recent raids on the German capital.

There was, indeed, more irony than that, sub rosa as it was by any other name; but no one then understood it.

Hal Boyle reports of the usual, and some of the unusual, Christmas gifts being sent to the soldiers fighting in Italy. More gifts arrived for the single men than the married men, consisted most usually of fruit cakes, candy, cigarettes, sewing kits, handkerchiefs, underwear, socks, and mystery novels.

Along with this usual fare, however, came some more unique gifts, fish hooks and flies, canned chicken, anchovies and "hors d'oeuves" (whatever they was--probably from a hors d'oeuver). Many received, suggestive of superannuated adolescence, pen and pencil sets, along with chewing gum. A WAC received a set of poker chips.

At least, she didn't get the hors d'oeuves.

In Oakland, high winds had swept fire through the hills, roughly in the same area decimated by the fire of October, 1991, an area but sparsely populated in 1943, resulting in a pervasive odor of burning eucalyptus trees rather than houses--or, nearly, the Cyclotron. The high winds, reaching 65 mph, also destroyed numerous fishing boats, worth $750,000, at Monterey to the south, and whipped brush fires to the north near Napa.

And, Frankie (The Voice) Sinatra was deemed a 4-F'er and thus rejected from military service by the Army. Reasons were, as he revealed, himself, that he had a hole in his left eardrum and that he needed more rest.

Having hoped to join the Marines, Mr. Sinatra expressed disappointment at the result outside the Newark induction station.

The piece informs, assiduously, that he had arrived at his home in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., at 8:00 a.m., greeted his wife and three-year old daughter, no doubt wearing the booties of the family, and reported to the draft board in Jersey City at 9:00. His arrival had been maintained a secret to prevent throngs of young girls showing up to see Blues Eyes back in town.

Thirteen years later, we have heard, Mr. Sinatra purchased a Gunmetal Grey '57 T-Bird. A few years ago, we, ourselves, purchased, in Roanoke, a (somewhat obnubilated) Gunmetal Grey '57 T-Bird, originally purchased, in December, 1956, in New York. After sandblasting its entire body, however, not to mention its frame, down to the base metal, we painted ours, naturally enough, Starmist Blue.

On the editorial page, "Wastrels" reports of the findings by an A & P expert that Charlotte was wasting enough food each year to feed 10,400 soldiers, that serving smaller helpings, preserving leftovers, and making more selective purchases could effect the beneficial consequence of more food for soldiers abroad. The editorial is careful not to trifle with or ruffle the feathers of Charlotte homemakers and therefore duly compliments their efforts at preparation of haute cuisine--even if their efforts were rifled through and through with gluttony and undue fat.

"Mutiny" treats as poppycock a threat by North Carolina Senator Josiah W. Bailey, uttered to Pennsylvania Senator Joe Guffey, to bolt, along with other Southern Democrats, the Democratic Party and form their own. They were tired, said Senator Bailey, of being segregated as Southern-Americans from their party and often ignored in party pow-wows setting policy agenda.

Yet, it would not be so easily dismissed out of hand. Fueled by the introduction of the first civil rights plank into the 1948 Democratic platform, introduced by Hubert Humphrey, then Mayor of Minneapolis running for the Senate, Strom Thurmond led a walkout of the convention and formed the Dixiecrats--whose political weight, in terms of formulating and leading policy of the country, would be at best negligible, that is, until most of their number and ilk joined the Republican Party beginning in the mid-1960's. Their weight, however, from the stump, vis à vis the lesser lights and those seeking to continue to manipulate for political and economic advantage the lesser lights, in terms of stimulating violence and unruly rebellion in the society, even including murder and assassination, was considerable.

An argument, a good argument, may be made that their progeny make up a fair segment of today's Tea Party, albeit not so confined regionally to the South, but extending even so far away as Alaska--from which Siberia is said to be observable.

"Guess Who?" takes considerable issue with the statement of a Superior Court judge in the county who proclaimed the Mecklenburg court system to be one of the most efficiently run in the country. The editorial reminds of the woeful track of Solicitor John Carpenter and his many nolle prosequis and poor conviction record while exhibiting sloth in bringing cases to the bench, and suggests that such did not corroborate the judge's estimate of the local court system.

"Turkey" divines from the second Cairo Conference, in which President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill met with President Inonu of Turkey, that a new offensive through the Balkans might soon be in the offing. Turkey, it indicates, was the ideal launching platform for such an objective and the Balkans promised easier penetration for invasion of Central Europe than any of the other possibilities, either via southern or western France or Norway. The wooing of Turkey and its apparent acceptance of the invitation to join the Allied cause underscored the likelihood of such a move, perhaps one which would place German soil in grave danger by spring, now just a bit over three months away.

"Haw-Haw" equates, sub silentio, the former Nazi propagandist, who went by the radio legend, with Republican Senator Gerald Nye of North Dakota who had thrown cold water on the Tehran Conference by cynically stating that Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill had shaped a "beautiful world" at Tehran and that he hoped their words would be backed up by "a sincerity of purpose and determination that can stand up and endure when peace comes".

Of course, in truth, it didn't altogether stand up when peace came. But admitting that truth does not lend credence to the overall stance of Senator Nye and his isolationist, pro-German, anti-British, anti-Communist pals. Rather, it suggests that the Cold War, in many respects, was brought on as a self-fulfilling prophecy by just those very former isolationists up to their old tricks after the war, finding a Communist behind every tree branch and wall, including within the often concomitantly despised Civil Rights Movement.

Dorothy Thompson expresses consternation at the poor use of propaganda by the Allies in the war to date, especially since Hitler had learned the basics of the art from watching how the Americans had performed it during World War I. She suggests that the primary American contribution to the earlier war was the use of ideas to defeat the enemy, especially Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points.

But, in the present war, the use of ideas had been pretermitted, as exampled by the recent delay in release of the Tehran Declaration while both the Axis and Allies waited and speculated as to its contents and implications. Then, when finally released on Monday, it was no more than an anti-climax, when, in lieu of weighty matter supplemental to the Cairo Declaration regarding Japan, there was little of substance to eclipse the more exciting prior guesses. The primary news was that Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill all had got on swell, the Prime Minister receiving a birthday cake and George VI presenting Stalin with a Stalingrad Sword--which later he would stick into the back of the West with relish.

Samuel Grafton views the Tehran Declaration to mean that agreements had been reached on military strategy for fighting the war but political questions had been reserved for later consideration. Nevertheless, he finds the conference to have been historic for its agreement finally reached as to the timing and scope of a second front, an issue debated with the Russians for most of the prior two years. Now, at least, that problem had been resolved.

Mr. Grafton asserts that an unhappy fringe, who had assailed the Big Three for presuming to settle political issues on behalf of the rest of the world, would now likely attack them for not doing so and consigning those issues to future parleys.

Raymond Clapper, again chafing under the poor treatment perceived to have been accorded the press by the Big Four at Tehran and Cairo, operating under a veil of "Oriental secrecy", views the matter nevertheless philosophically, finding it to be probably a necessary paradox of a war to preserve democracy that the people had, for practicality, relinquished to the four primary heads of state among the Allies virtual dictatorial powers in making decisions on war strategy, decisions, once made and implemented, which, for their inevitable systemic impact in terms of men and materiel, became irrevocable.

Mr. Clapper whimsically wonders whether Wendell Willkie might have performed better than FDR at these conferences had he been elected in 1940, whether someone else might perform as well or better after 1944 should the war endure that long.

Merely "being there", he suggests, performs a large role in determining greatness, as much as the substance and wisdom of the decisions which are actually made.

Time would tell the story on the importance of the Tehran and Cairo conferences, he concludes. But still and all, he finds disturbing the failure to accord full freedom of the press to record in the present such weighty discussions, formulating the immediate course of a war to determine the fate of world democracy.

Drew Pearson relates of the scrutiny by the House Appropriations Committee of the Navy's transparency and promptness in reporting war news. Criticism was leveled at Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox for delays in war news, some by as much as six months, and inadequate news from the Pacific front. The best way to counter enemy propaganda, suggested members of the Committee, was by telling the facts as they occurred.

Secretary Knox agreed without hesitation, indicating that he had argued with the Navy brass until he was blue in the face to obtain better cooperation in releasing promptly to the press news of the war, especially from the Pacific theater. He stated, as example of his displeasure at withheld news, that Admiral Halsey had been brilliant in his performance in the Pacific war but was scarcely mentioned in the dispatches released by General MacArthurís headquarters.

Mr. Pearson finds this latter remark to imply that General MacArthur was attempting to hog the credit for success in the Pacific.

He next turns to the drive launched by L.W. McCormick to elicit and stimulate interest in a MacArthur-Lodge ticket for the presidency in 1944. Of some 500 responses from 5,000 letters sent out as feelers to Republicans across the country, the trend was favorable to MacArthur at the top of the ticket, but less accepting of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., finding him too akin to his grandfather, Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., who had upset President Wilson's plans for peace after World War I.

Meanwhile, colleagues of Senator Lodge were wondering whether the Senator and General MacArthur had worked out a political arrangement when the Senator met with him in Australia, returning with the announcement that the General had informed him that a million American lives might be saved should Russia permit use by the United States of its Siberian bases from which to bomb Japan. Word had it that General Marshall had reviewed the speech of Senator Lodge before he gave it and asked him not to bring up the issue of the Siberian bases. For one reason, the bases could not be held for more than two weeks, General Marshall had insisted, precisely because of their proximity to Japan, and thus such a statement would only unnecessarily aggravate the Russians. Regardless, Senator Lodge gave the speech as written.

In any event, the Republican ticket for 1944 would not be MacArthur-Lodge, but rather Dewey-Bricker.

Perhaps, we have mentioned hereinbefore the fact that during the late spring and through the summer of 1974, we were building a screened porch, necessitating the laying of a four-foot high brick foundation wall, still quite extant, and with nary a single crack having developed in the interim. What we probably neglected to inform was that we often performed the quietly proceeding brickwork in the wee hours preceding dawn, as it was considerably cooler during those hours. Whether that made us honorary dewy brickers, to counter-balance the Due Clause of the Duke Laws standing on half-seen dew claws, we don't know.

But, regardless, we laid down the last of the brick patio pavers, and thus concluded the masonry portion of the project, in late July, 1974. Then, we went fishing at the Outer Banks and saw "The Lost Colony"--albeit not in our little blue roadster which remained at home that trip.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i>--</i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.