Tuesday, February 9, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 9, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page and inside page provided big news for readers, allaying skepticism on whether there would come soon from the Navy some bad news on major U. S. sea losses, as being suggested by intercepted Japanese radio broadcasts the previous week. Instead, the bold headlines announced that the Japanese had evacuated Guadalcanal. The several pieces on the page concerning the story impart a fair summary of the six months of fighting since August 7, when the Allied force of Marines landed on Guadalcanal and the small island to the north, Tulagi, next to Florida Island.

The successful strategy had been to intercede before the Japanese airbase on Guadalcanal, nearly operational, became available to the enemy forces to conduct bombing raids and sea operations against Allied shipping to Australia from the United States, thereby to starve out MacArthurís forces being organized in Australia for operations on Papua New Guinea to the north. Taking Henderson Field, as the Americans renamed the base, became the lynchpin, therefore, for not only removing this capability but also taking the offensive in the Solomons, preventing further Japanese expansion to the south in the Santa Cruz Islands, conducting bombing raids, now regularly ongoing, against the Japanese air and naval bases at Munda on New Georgia, Buin on Bougainville, and Rabaul on New Britain.

This victory combined with the success of MacArthurís forces on New Guinea to work the predicted turning point in the Pacific. There would be no further Japanese expansion, even if the way for the island-hopping removal of the enemy forces from the islands they had taken in the fierce, unbroken offensive during the first five months after Pearl Harbor, would still be a long and bloody street.

Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox called for a post-war plan to have a series of militarized island possessions in the Pacific to insure against future expansionism by Japan. The advent of the atomic bomb in July, 1945, of course, would supersede the need for these concerns. Nevertheless, worries of Red Chinese and Soviet imperialism following the same World War II Japanese pattern, stitched boldly with the emblematic threat of Soviet nuclear capability, followed, in 1964, by that of Maoís government as well, would supplant any threat from the democratized, westernized, and newly capitalized Japan of the late 1940ís and 1950ís. By the latter fifties, Japan had become known popularly not for war, but rather for supplying the youth with cheap transistor radios, little cars, and motorcycles, the Samurai warrior swords by then long relegated from cinéma vérité, taken outside into the realm of reality, back into stagecraft, the Thane of Cawdor riding to and fro in the fog lifting before Kumonosu-jō below Mt. Fuji.

Each side, the Americans and the Japanese, had their separate and quite distinct version of the losses suffered in the campaign. The Japanese claimed that they had killed over 25,000 Americans and shot down 230 airplanes in both the Guadalcanal and New Guinea operations, while suffering losses of their own totaling 16,739 and 139 planes. The broadcast further claimed that the bulk of their forces had been evacuated to other positions in the Solomons because their duties in New Guinea and Guadalcanal had been accomplished.

The American figures, as yet estimates, suggested losses to the Japanese as high as 50,000 just on Guadalcanal, including the reported sinking of two troop carriers carrying 30,000 Japanese relief personnel during the mid-November Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The number of losses on the transports, however, was never confirmed. Of the remaining 20,000, an estimated 9,000 were killed in ground fighting and the rest in ship sinkings. A total of 797 Japanese planes were reported shot down during the campaign. Twenty-eight ships, including the carriers Wasp and Hornet, were lost by the American Navy while the Japanese suffered the loss of 57 ships.

In New Guinea, losses were estimated to be about 15,000 killed or captured, the entire Japanese complement of troops there, while the Americans endured, according to General MacArthur's own estimates provided the press the week before, about half those losses.

Final official figures showed about 31,000 Japanese killed and another thousand captured in the Guadalcanal campaign while the Allies suffered 7,100 killed, most of the concentrated losses having come in the naval battle of November 12-15, accounting for over 1,700 of the dead, a third of which resulted from the sinking of the Juneau, and at the disastrous early Battle of Savo Island, on the night of August 9, where a thousand lost their lives.

In New Guinea, in the Buna-Gona part of the campaign, conducted between mid-November and mid-January, 2,300 American and Australian soldiers were killed against over 6,000 Japanese. During the July through November operations, which had stopped dead in their tracks the Japanese offensive within 32 miles of Port Moresby and forced it back across the Owen Stanley Mountains to the sea at the Buna-Gona-Sanananda coastal corridor, 6,500 Japanese were killed against the loss of 625 Allied soldiers. The Battle of Milne Bay, occurring during late August and early September, stopping the attempted Japanese landing of infantry attempting an end-around action toward Port Moresby, designed to combine with the Owen Stanley offensive to wrap Port Moresby in Japanese pincers, had cost the Allies 170 men and the Japanese 625. Thus, the total figures supplied by General MacArthur had been quite accurate.

From the Russian front, more good news came for the Allies with the taking of Kursk.

A report appears also on the devastation within Stalingrad after the five-month siege which had just ended the previous week. Little now was left of the once proud city except its spirit which had fought stubbornly from the trenches, back to the Volga, refusing nevertheless to surrender before the Nazi onslaught, knowing that General Winter would finally come to their aid as it would in mid-November, in turn infused with pertinacity by the concomitant and astutely timed Operation Torch in North Africa, forcing Hitlerís hand to remove his best troops and pilots to protect southern Europe against anticipated invasion.

The grand strategy was working well, even if still more grudgingly and slowly than the Allied constituencies supplying the troops would have desired.

From Tunisia came a report of friendly competition between American and British infantry contingents seeking to capture a German patrol on the Goubellat plain. The British track vehicle leading the cadre of Tommys hit a mine and was disabled; the Yanks therefore won the race and bagged the Fritz patrol. It would become a friendly competition which would last the rest of the war, instilling morale at each step of the way among the principal Western Allies, right into Paris and Berlin.

On the editorial page, Samuel Grafton speculated on the form of Hitlerís next major offensive, whether it was to be military or political, to try to achieve, if the latter, a negotiated peace, or complete abdication from his position as dictator--to seek, if so, presumably, some form of Dutch asylum, as had the Kaiser Wilhelm at the end of World War I.

Hitler, however, as former Ambassador to Russia, Joseph Davies, had suggested the week before, was already dead. He just had refused yet to recognize his parlous straits in such state, already well abroad the River Styx, yet without a paddle or a ferry paddler, nor dimes enough to provide to Charon the passage anyway. He had, perhaps, in opting for the Final Solution, sealed his straited fate even if, in the process, having fulfilled partially his destiny which, he believed, was pre-ordained by the Teutonic gods of war, that being the elimination of Judaism from Germany, though failing to accomplish his goal to rid all Jewish blood from the world. That part flowing putatively in his own veins, however, he did manage well finally to secede from the living.

Both Dorothy Thompson, absent an inadvertently omitted by-line, and Raymond Clapper discuss the proposed bill of Democratic Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa to turn the principles of the August, 1941 Atlantic Charter, co-signed by the British and subsequently adopted by the Russians, into a treaty to be ratified by the Senate. The attempt was to provide an enduring signal of a cohesive congressional foreign policy for both conduct of the war and, moreover, post-war intents of the Allies, especially to dissuade any international belief among either the Axis nations or the neutral nations, or those, such as India, which had sought unsuccessfully immediate sovereign independence from Great Britain before committing fully to the Allied cause, that the war was being fought for the purpose of Western imperialism, specifically denounced as a goal by the Atlantic Charter.

Senator Gillette's proposal never caught fire per se in the Senate, though the terms of the Charter would form the basis ultimately for the United Nations organization, post-war. The Senator, incidentally, was defeated for re-election in 1944, but would successfully seek the other Iowa Senate seat in 1948 and serve one more term.

"War Aims of the People" suggests that the cries coming from the British press to forge on with the Continental invasion while the situation was ripe for the taking, with Hitler badly losing in Russia and having to concentrate forces in Tunisia to try to maintain, for as long as possible, his now tenuous foothold in North Africa, were not criticism of more cautious Allied strategy but welled from patriotic zeal and determination to win at any cost and forthwith. It reasons that to take the offensive would be to force Hitler to redeploy troops from North Africa and thus enable the final victory there.

Would such a plan have worked if attempted, or would it have led to another Dunkerque? History will never know. The Allied joint command would take no such risky chance, a risk which, if failed, could have prolonged the war indefinitely and martialed the courage and commitment all over again of the waning Nazi Witch-Bitchy Will--still sometimes prevalent in the world, despite Hitler's long demise at coordinating it to his own devise.

Someone should have taken the little bastard out behind the woodshed when he was about six and socked him a good one right in the groin. That would have cured him. If not, then the long knife.

"Rationing Gets Underfoot" finds shoe rationing to be both the natural and the acceptable consequence of the national policy to prevent shortages of necessary military materials before they occurred. It predicts clothing would be next on the list of rationed articles. It finds the rationing of spiked heels a welcome relief.

We trust that the latter advocacy had not derived from the fact of any disgruntled feminine--or male--patron of the newspaper having taken such umbrage at the editorial remarks of Mr. Davis since taking over the reigns of The News that she--or he--took it out on him in assaultive spikes of piqued patent leather.

As to Billy Arthur's always interesting rambles from Onslow County, we apologize for inadvertently slighting some of his punch lines, but such is life. You can fairly fill in your own.

Mr. Arthur, former U.N.C. head cheerleader during his student days at the University, was a very tall man who told short stories very largely, but always to everyoneís enjoyment.

Last night, as it goes, we were watching the November 19, 1963 episode of our favorite tv series of the 1960's, the one about the doctor running from the lieutenant, the most incompetent policeman who ever lived, even if well-spoken in his part, better so in fact than the doctor at times, having apparently learned his craft in Shakespeare, not in some run-of-the-mine detective series. As indicated, we do not recall seeing these early episodes at the time for it being past our bedtime, and, to our best recollection, had never even seen in re-runs this particular one, called "Fatso"--certainly never with any knowledge as to its original air date.

It is quite interesting because it is set primarily on a Kentucky horse farm, in a fictional town named Ellsmore.

There is an Elsmere in the northernmost tip of Kentucky, but that leaves out an "l" and substitutes "e" for "o" vis-a-vis the fictional equivalent. That forms "Lo". And since it aired on the centennial of the delivery of the Gettysburg Address, we have to give some weight to the notion that in some mind or minds percipient to the plot might have arisen Lewis "Lothario" Armistead, the North Carolina-raised Confederate commander who, as the most fatefully enduring part of Pickett's Charge on the climactic third desperate day of the battle, advanced to the "high water mark" of the Confederacy, the Stone Wall at the little copse of trees, where today, since 1938, rests the California Memorial.

Moreover, when Lieutenant Gerard gets wind that his quarry might well be in Kentucky and takes a leave from Indiana again to try to catch him, he does come upon the horse ranch where the good doctor happens to be, having befriended in a county lock-up--after drawing suspicion from the sheriff by seeking to sneak away from a minor traffic imbroglio occurring after he reluctantly had taken the wheel of a 1963 Ford, first hitching a ride with a sleepy driver--, a chubby fellow whom everyone apparently disliked for his drunken, slovenly ways, hence "Fatso".

Fatso was afraid of horses, until, that is, the good doctor, seeking to cure him of his drinking and fear, which he diagnosed as being the source of both that malady and his corpulence, made him confront the source of trepidation and seek out the horse in the new barn, his having been blamed by his family for burning down the old one deliberately, leading him to wander the country a drunk.

Lt. Gerard questions Fatso about the friend with whom he escaped the county lock-up, after the sheriff had opened the door for Fatso to be released from Otis-time, enabling, while the door remained ajar, the good doctor to slug the sheriff, slip out, and make his way out of Dodge--Fatso, though, the while insisting on remaining his company, taking him to the family ranch where Fatso's estranged brother and parents still lived. Upon this inquiry, Fatso, insisting that the good doctor had departed for Louisville, believing him to have gone in fact the other way, tells the lieutenant, already having had it confided to him by the doctor his true identity and why he was running, that he, himself, Fatso, had killed the doctor's wife; that being despite his two good arms, the right one of which he had hidden in his shirt, Napoleonically, thus giving the appearance in the dark of a one-armed Johnson.

The lieutenant, being always shrewd, of course, realizes the ruse and springs the carrot-pull of his trap by saying that Fatso had, of course, then been on the 6th floor of the apartment building where the doctor and his wife resided.

Fatso, oblivious to the cony-catch 22, (with witchily funny cellos playing in the background), quickly affirms that, indeed, it had been on the 6th floor where he committed the murder.

Whereupon, the trap is sprung, as the lieutenant informs Fatso that the good doctor and his spouse lived in a house. (Point, to avoid suspicion with Lt. Gerard: pretend you don't know what the scene of the crime was like, while otherwise confessing to the corpus.)

The final scene is that of Fatso riding a horse, hoss-style, to the family mailbox wherein he finds a letter with no return address, not addressed, however, "Fatso", but rather to the gentleman by his proper name, which escapes us, at the farm in "Ellsmore, Ky." (Whether the contents simply inquired, "Hey Fats, have you lost the weight yet, you dumb, spineless drip? Your pal, Dick," we don't know. The contents are not revealed. The leaves may have been, even worse, blank, or written in Greek.)

Elsmere, Ky., in reality, was once the home of a Fisher Body plant which assembled the coachwork for both Chevys and Pontiacs, albeit one which was closed by General Motors in 1986, nevertheless still extant in 1963. It was also once the home of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.

The episode was directed by Ida Lupino of Lone Pine fame.

We don't know whether this little piece of the puzzle means much or anything, but we thought we would at least impart it. It becomes quite interesting to us in light of our actual experience, as related, of being chauffeured to Lexington and Louisville, and also to Cincinnati, during the very week preceding the first of the last two episodes of the program in August, 1967. And, indeed, we did purchase specially the TV Guide of August 19, just to read about the upcoming conclusion, and then did read the article just as we said, immediately prior to touring Calumet Farm.

Ah, it's a strange life sometimes. Don't blame us. We only provide the facts as they occurred.

Whirlaway, by the way, as we walked away from his grave there at Calumet, said, "Bye, good to see you again." We then stopped momentarily, turned around cautiously, as he furrowed his left brow and asked, "Got any lines on the Preakness?"

We just kept walking.

Next up on the journey is the episode of November 26, 1963, which we have yet to watch. It is titled, "Nightmare at Northoak".

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