Saturday, April 10, 1943

The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 10, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page imparts the news that Rommel had abandoned Sfax as General Montgomery's Eighth Army moved in to take the valuable port city, 150 miles from Tunis. Rommel appeared heading northward to Enfidaville, 40 miles south of Tunis. Montgomery, within the course of a day, had moved his men 40 miles to take Mahares before the occupation of Sfax, 22 miles northeast of Mahares.

The First Army, under General K. A. N. Anderson, had advanced another ten miles in the previous four days from Medjez-El-Bab, an additional five to six miles from that reported on Thursday, placing them about 21 miles east of Tunis in the northern sector.

General Patton's northern column, along with a French battalion, secured Pichon, north of Fondouk, threatening Rommel's rear, 80 miles northwest of Sfax.

In a message to the Eighth Army, General Montgomery indicated that three goals established on March 20 had been accomplished: to break the Mareth Line, done between March 21 and 28; to breach the Gabes Gap, unflinchingly accommodated on April 6; and to move against Sfax, then in process on the date of the announcement, April 8, now also obtained. The overall goal, said the short note, was to wreak havoc with the enemy as the enemy had with the British at Dunkerque in late May and early June, 1940, to drive them onto the beaches at Tunis and then for a desperate swim for their lives back across the Mediterranean.

The Navy reported from Guadalcanal that the air attack of two days earlier by 98 Japanese planes, resulting in the shooting down of 34 of them by the air corps--apparently amended from the 37 indicated Thursday--, also cost the U. S. Navy four ships, a destroyer, a corvette, a tanker, and a fuel boat. The air corps lost seven planes. The losses increased the Allied shipping destruction to 39 vessels sunk in the operations in the Solomons since the landing on Guadalcanal and Tulagi August 7.

As there were men aboard these four ships who may have lost their lives, though not so reported, we refrain from any incidental pun between the loss of a corvette being reported the same day that Montgomery took Mahares from the Axis--that after the 66-mile offensive by Rommel from Faid Pass through Kasserine Pass during the third week of February. But it is interesting, at least, to sew together those somewhat disparate facts colliding nevertheless in time.

Somewhere off the coast of Key West, the first U-boat attack was recorded in several months in the vicinity of the east coast of the United States, when a merchant ship was struck and sunk by two German torpedoes, killing 40, including the captain and apparently all of the officers and nine enlisted Navy men keeping guard of the ship. Captain James Harrel of Houston, limping from a leg injury, had, in the few minutes between the first explosion and the ship's sinking, directed bravely the evacuation, before finally ordering everyone to jump as the vessel ducked under the waves. As the ship plummeted, the Captain simply turned and headed for the door to his cabin, then disappeared into the depths.

A report from London suggested that the meeting, thought to be occurring somewhere in the Brenner Pass, between Hitler and Mussolini was producing angst as plans were being laid to transfer the Italian puppet government from Rome to the north central portion of Italy, insulated from potential Allied landing points, possibly Bologna or Florence.

Bologna was the more fitting.

But, in fact, the government would be transposed in September even further north, to the town of Salo, after Mussolini was rescued from jail by Hitler's troops, following his arrest at the direction of King Victor Emmanuel in late July.

Farm leaders expressed loud objection to FDR's plan for wage and price controls, placing ceilings on food, which the farm leaders felt benefited Labor at the expense of the farmers.

From Colorado came a report that 275 trusties of the state prison had been deployed to assist farmers in the region and, thus far, had successfully conducted themselves without an escape.

Apparently, the Rockies were being used as their footstool, or at least to support two legs of it, those of the wage and price controls. Whether rationing and taxation were involved was questionable, but, certainly, savings was likely in play to assist in the third leg's construction.

The United Nations food conference, announced the previous week by the White House, had been postponed for a month until May 18. The location was announced as Hot Springs, Virginia.

A photograph shows an Austrian prince on KP duty at Fort McClellan, Alabama, after he had joined the Army as a private.

W. C. Fields, it was announced, had suffered an adverse verdict in the suit against him for $20,000 for breaching a contract in which it was alleged that he promised to pay the plaintiff for a snake story and some jokes which apparently made their way, without fulfillment of his end of the bargain, into the movie, "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man". Mr. Fields was taxed by the verdict for $8,000 in damages, apparently the share of the profits of the film which the jury determined to be the just portion for the plaintiff.

Candidly, after watching some of this movie, we think that the title speaks for itself and, perhaps, the jury was simply annoyed by having to sit through its alleged jokes. We posit that it was Mr. Fields, if he did steal some of these "jokes", who possibly got robbed. Or, perhaps the jury simply became confused between the character, Larson E. Whipsnade, and the actual person before them as defendant in a lawsuit.

But, you never know. Sometimes, his humor has a way of creeping up on you later, when you least expect it, such as with the kitty cat who happened into our basement last weekend without our becoming aware of it until Monday night during halftime.

Whether, incidentally, after the verdict, Mr. Fields partook, or induced others to do likewise, of his snake medicine which he had brought with him to court in a small rubber jug, was not indicated. He may have simply jumped aboard a plane for Alabama to see the Austrian prince in private, perhaps to see if he might induce him, by the powers of humor, to make a small loan of $8,000 in exchange for collateral share of a few jokes and interest in an upcoming film.

In any event, thirty years later the Senate Select Committee on Watergate was holding its initial hearings after the gavel had been banged by its Chairman, Senator Sam Ervin, to convene the proceedings on March 28, although not televised until May 17.

On the editorial page, Samuel Grafton, following the adage of both Hamlet and W. C. Fields, that one sometimes has to be cruel to be kind, puts forth his version by suggesting that the enunciated intention post-war toward Germans not to punish but to educate them, was itself injurious to the proud German people. The better approach, he offers, was to provide the ultimatum that until they took responsibility for their own state and eliminated the Nazi leadership, they would be held equally responsible with it. He would, he said, teach them Mein Kampf, not sterilized textbooks, on the premise that they would despise their foreign teacher in any event: thus to teach them the Fuehrer's lesson book would forever provide negative association with the message--a form of proposed systematic desensitization to Nazi indoctrination, we suppose.

Of course, the message here is one conveyed during the war, and must be viewed in that context, as Mr. Grafton had been of late writing his editorials on occasion directly to the German people. Whether, post-war, he continued to adhere to such counsel, we don't yet know.

Raymond Clapper again offers contrast between the British and American plans for post-war economic stabilization in Europe, that the essential difference was that the British plan was founded on trade and the American, based on reinstitution and regulation of the gold standard. The British plan of John Maynard Keynes would provide trading credits to nations based on their percentage of world trade, would not involve the actual deposit by member nations of gold. The American plan would base needs of member nations subscribing to the International Stabilization Fund on the country's assets as measured by many factors, including its gold and foreign exchange, its national income, and changes in its balance of payments in trade--the latter referring to the differential between imports and exports combined with the net income or deficit from foreign investments.

Dorothy Thompson again looks at the alleged failure of education in the country, in light of the recent New York Times survey which found deficiencies in the merit of college students, especially their base of historical acumen and ability to distinguish and use ordinary English vocabulary. Too much emphasis, she says, had been placed on chemistry and physics in the building of the nation's defenses and not enough on mathematics and history, the latter to instruct the potential draftee, not how to fight the war, but why they were going to be fighting it.

She finds the movies, the standard fare of facile reading by many students, coupled with radio, all to be part of a cultural vacuum, not only not providing stimulus to learn, but offering the temptation of easy distraction from the concentration necessary properly to achieve it, in the process the quick gag artist and the slick trickster making intellectuals appear silly and dumbfounded while the framed characterization of the trickster got the better of them every time, making the quipster the whipsnake of the piece, to everyone's delight--save the jury.

Among those she cites as being important to understand as personages out of American history is Alexander Hamilton. But, last we heard, about a decade ago, the Blonde thought he had been President.

Ms. Thompson also thinks it important to know about the history of Cuba and the Spanish-American War, especially as it impacted the United States territorial acquisition of the Philippines and thus instructed the reasons for both the fight to reacquire them from the Japanese and their strategic importance to maintenance of outlying defenses in the Pacific generally.

We suspect, therefore, that Ms. Thompson would be quite non-plussed and not consider it too funny a joke to find today that a former White House official of the last Administration thought it a genuine side-splitter that she knew virtually nothing of the Cuban Missile Crisis--indeed, appearing nearly proud to proclaim same later on National Public Radio, without the least hint of chagrin, as if to say that the Crisis was such an arcane subject as to be understood as ignorable to the average student of U. S. history.

Has much, or at least enough, changed since 1943 with respect to the cultural vacuum of which Ms. Thompson writes?

Save, perhaps, that now, it is solid state.

Dick Young looks at the convoluted process of electing Charlotte's City Council, the candidates spread among eleven wards, two primary candidates to be selected from each. The voters could vote for eleven candidates, not twenty-two, as some thought, rendering their ballots, when so marked, uncountable. Yet, also, further to confuse the matter, they were limited to voting for only two candidates from their own ward. We shall let you peruse it as you wish for your discernment as to why this circuitous system existed in the local politics of Charlotte. But, we conclude that they may have needed, to sort it all out, a warden, game or otherwise.

"The Burden" speaks to the apparent, though undeclared, intention of former Governor O. Max Gardner of Shelby to enter the primary race for the Democratic nomination for the Senate against Robert Rice Reynolds in 1944. His platform appeared to be the populist appeal to the high taxation imposed on the average person by the necessities of war, posed against stagnant wages and higher costs of living, making it difficult for the average family to make ends meet.

Of course, there was not much meat left on the butcher counters for ends to be made from it anyway. Only baby food.

In fact, former Governor Clyde R. Hoey, also of Shelby, would run for the seat and win. Senator Hoey would die in office in 1954 and Justice Sam J. Ervin would be appointed from the North Carolina Supreme Court to complete the term. Senator Hoey, as we have before pointed out, is buried thirteen feet from the grave of W. J. Cash in Sunset Cemetery in Shelby. Senator Hoey's home was immediately behind the new residence of John and Nannie Cash, which they built in 1942 on Sumter Street in Shelby.

"The Joiners" tells of the winnowing out of air raid wardens who were taking their duties too lightly on the belief that Allied progress in the war in Europe and the Pacific had diminished the likelihood of any air raid by the Germans or Japanese. To the contrary, suggests the piece, as the Axis became more desperate, the chances of an air attack increased. Thus, good riddance, it concludes, to the joiners.

"Low Speed" praises Governor Broughton's lowering of the speed limit from 60 to 40, even if still five miles per hour above the 35 limit suggested, though not mandated, by O.P.A. a year earlier to alleviate stress on rubber and gas supplies.

"The Pincers" examines the Farm Bloc's contentions against Labor and Labor's contrary beefs against the Farm Bloc. The farmers thought Labor was obtaining too high wages against the profits endured by labor-starved farmers while Labor wanted to keep food prices down to keep down their cost of living and thus were seeking to depress that which sustained the farmer, not to mention enticing the farmers' labor base to the city with high wages--all a vicious merry-go-round.

Provides a filler, culled from The Textile Bulletin of reactionary Dave Clark, there were only ten lawyers employed in British price control, while OPA employed 2,700 at high salaries. One of those, now moved on to the Navy, was a future President--who Dave probably liked enormously for his solid anti-Communist swings.

"...Saw him disappear near a tree by a lake..."

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