Friday, April 16, 1943

The Charlotte News

Friday, April 16, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Reports the front page, the First Army moved to within fifteen miles of Tebourba in fierce fighting in northern Tunisia the previous day.

In the hills east of Medjez-El-Bab, the First Army struck to within 25 and 30 miles of Tunis. The fighting progressed against fierce counter-attacks by the Nazis to take back two of the heights taken by the British in the previous two days. While Djebel Ang and one other height were temporarily recaptured by the Nazis, the British had successfully fought to achieve them again by day's end, even pushing on from Ang to gain further ground.

The Eighth Army meanwhile was limited to patrol activity as General Montgomery was busy re-supplying his troops for the final push northward along the Enfidaville line established by Rommel in the inland hills, 40 miles west of Enfidaville and running northward to the coast in protection of Tunis and Bizerte.

From Russia came news of increasing numbers of Russian air raids, in the southern fighting in the Donets River basin and in the north on German airdromes around Leningrad. A raid by the Russians on Koenigsberg earlier in the week was confirmed and added the report of a raid on the Polish port at Danzig--the demand for which by Hitler, along with its Corridor to East Prussia, in summer 1939 had started the war. It was the first raid of the year on Danzig and the third on Koenigsberg. A report a few days earlier had remarked that American-built planes were now being utilized regularly in raids by the Russians.

From New Guinea, it was reported that Wewak, 385 miles northwest of Lae, was now being used as supply station for the Japanese stronghold. Direct supply of Lae and Salamaua by water had proved too costly to the Japanese in the wake of the Battle of the Bismarck Sea which had cost them the entirety of a 22-ship convoy. American Flying Fortresses had attacked Wewak in waves the day before, sinking one ship, causing another to list, and a third to be beached.

General MacArthur released updated casualty figures incurred during the New Guinea campaign begun in January, 1942. The total American and Australian casualties were 10,500, 4,200 of whom were American. Of the total, 4,500 were killed or missing and 6,000 were wounded. Americans numbered 2,100 killed or missing and 2,100 wounded.

Il Duce was reported evacuating several of the cities in harm’s way from an Allied landing, while also cleaning out subversives among the police on Sardinia.

General Giraud gave a speech in Algiers in which he pledged to lead a 300,000-man French force to take back France from the Nazis. He appeared to conflict with General De Gaulle's plan to appoint a Free French provisional government to oversee the French Empire, favoring instead an overseas governing council until France could be restored and the people of France could choose their own government. He pledged not to have a dictatorship and, so, for the present, his military rule over French forces in North Africa had to suffice. He claimed to know nothing of politics and would not therefore play politics with the future of the French people.

Que sera sera.

The FBI arrested eight men and charged them with sabotage for deliberately faulty welding on Liberty ships and a tanker in the Baltimore area shipyards.

The arrests tended to confirm speculation by Dorothy Thompson and others the previous March that the welding fire which destroyed the Normandie, while in New York Harbor being refitted in February 1942, might actually have been the work of Fifth Columnists.

But all men, even Nazi sympathizers, are entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Then, the little Nazi welders could be hung.

Blame the sorry technical school which trained them without also providing adjunct American history courses, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, but spare the necks of these eight fine men who are but poor craftsmen.

Bad welding technique: too many air pockets.

Did we ever tell you about the time we had welded up a towbar for transport of our Kombi back across country behind our little blue roadster in December, 1980 and, during the latter leg of the cross-country journey, the linchpin fell out of one leg of the towbar just at the exit ramp, going east, for Jellico, Tennessee, opposite to the ramp on the other side of the freeway, where, two and a half years earlier, the engine of the same Kombi had thrown a rod, forcing us to effect repairs at a friend's residence in Lexington, Kentucky?

Our welding job had fallen apart within five miles of our start of the journey in December, 1980, and we had to resort to professional welders, who did a very fine job, with a little alteration to our initial design which had extended a Bug hitch about two feet via fabricated steel extensions, emulating the design of the ends of the towbar with flat steel, cut apart and welded together, a beautiful contraption, precisely measured to specifications if ever there was, to effect fitment instead to the Kombi front axle, two feet further back on the chassis than that of the Bug.

But, as indicated, the flat-steel fabricated extensions promptly pulled apart from their nicely welded moorings during the first five miles of our journey down the freeway. Fortunately, we had safety chains attached between the vehicles and had proceeded slowly enough initially with the whole rig to efficaciously test it, perspicaciously avoiding any untoward result from the rig pulling asunder, to enable suffusion of disk power when we applied our foot gently to the brake pedal of the little blue roadster, without mishap to either vehicle or others in our wake, bringing both vehicles gently to a halt on the side of the freeway.

The welding shop had a much better and far more efficient idea than our own, which took them all of an hour to design and effect, replacing our lovely, but terribly flawed design, which, to complete, had taken us the entire night prior to the plane fight across country to initiate our journey to pick up our Kombi, left behind in an earlier journey. We had welded our hitch-rig, as it would be, all through the night of December 8, 1980. In consequence, we did not hear the late news that night.

The welding shop applied a simple technique, which caused us to scratch our heads and ask why we had not thought of it ourselves. They simply cut the opposing towbar struts in half, ran a piece of pipe into each hollow end of the thusly cut pair of longitudinally running tubes, added a couple of pieces of angle-iron for bracing strength, and voila!

The rig made it all the way across the breadth of the country, at least until, through no fault of the welders, a small one-dollar linchpin on one of the keepers, embracing the axle of the Kombi, somehow dislodged itself and fell out onto the roadway, thereby disconnecting one of the two longitudinally projecting tubes embracing at their ends the Kombi's front axle, causing one side of the hitch-rig to drag on the pavement amid, lighting up the frosty December nighttime air, a flurry of sparks--which was, incidentally, precisely where, outside Reno, we had achieved the welding shop's newly designed rigging to the towbar--right there at the Jellico exit, whereupon...

Oh, that's right. We did mention some of that before.

Object lesson: when in doubt of your welding skills, use a wire-welder, not an arc welder, nor an oxyacetylene job. But we did not know that then.

And the last of the four escapees from Alcatraz, one of whom had washed up dead, was caught camping out in a cave on the island, shivering and hungry. "Southwest desperado" Floyd Hamilton went back to his home on the Rock.

On the editorial page, "Liquor Joke" responds to a lawyer's reported statement in oral argument to the Supreme Court of North Carolina that Mecklenburg bootleg ring leader Carl Lippard, sentenced a year earlier to a suspended sentence of a year and a day on the roads, should not have his conviction stand for engaging in illicit liquor trade for the very good reason that Mecklenburgers had supplied the trade to the tune of $10,000 per day in the first instance. It was, said the piece, a lawyer's glib joke, but one speaking only the truth, that laxity of public weal to enforce the laws had led to tolerance by law enforcement of bootlegging operations throughout the county.

Not to mention the laxity induced by some well-placed payola.

Incidentally, in that earlier transcription of the piece from June 18, 1938, the original print likely stated the word correctly as "recognizance". When we used to use the Dragon to dictate the pieces from the photocopies of editorials appearing during Cash's stint as associate editor, and before we had the ability to acquire the computerized version of the print, the Dragon made routine errors which Mr. Ed had constantly to strain eyes to see and, consequently, a few slipped through the nets. "Reconnaissance" was likely one, albeit, in the particular application of the malapropism, probably by the software, one which was probably fitting to the reconnoiterer.

"Unacceptable" takes no solace from the attempt to allay fears of Big Government uttered in a speech at Chapel Hill by Dr. Clarence Dykstra of Selective Service. Dr. Dykstra had offered that since the days of Jefferson, the country's interconnectedness had grown so that no longer did it need fear the spread of Federal bureaucracy in Washington for, besides delegating its bureaucratic chores to local governments immediately responsive to the people, the public could go to Washington and see for themselves their government in operation.

Sounds good to us. Tomorrow morning, we shall ask to be conducted on a personal tour of CIA headquarters at Langley--all the way back to the office of Higgins. Then through the local office, as well. We demand oversight of these agencies.

"Unconverted" finds Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana, former isolationist, still, for all his protestations to the contrary, not converted to the war effort. He was now advocating continued deferral from the draft of married men until all single men were drafted, trained, and deployed, a program, if followed, which, as the military leaders had indicated, would be disastrous to the war effort in need of 10.5 million men in service by the end of 1943. Senator Wheeler, concluded the piece, was neither to be trusted nor heard.

Raymond Clapper warns of falling into the complaisant attitude that when the war was won in Europe, all that would need follow in the Pacific was a brief mopping up operation of a few months duration, that instead the way ahead to Tokyo would be a long and bloody one.

He was, of course, correct, even if he could not foresee, after his own death in 1944, the coming of the weapon which would indeed bring the end of the Pacific war within a few months of the European war, even if, in the meantime, the Pacific war would rage on, not merely playing sideshow to the war in Europe.

He mentions, incidentally, the Battle of Kavieng within the previous few days, being demonstrative of General Kenney's Allied air power in the Pacific and its effect on Japanese planes and shipping, every bit the equal of the German U-boat in the Atlantic, as proven conclusively in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. Though not per se reported on the front page, the Battle of Kavieng consisted of a series of air strikes during the first ten days of April by Flying Fortresses on Kavieng airfield and harbor facilities located on the Bismarck Archipelago at the northernmost tip of New Ireland, to the northeast of the Papuan Peninsula.

In support of the ongoing 13 billion dollar bond drive to support the war effort, Samuel Grafton offers a chew on some betel nuts, recommended by some as a sure way to win the war, and offers contrast of the opposing formulae abounding in every parlor throughout the land for the perfect anodyne for winning the war.


"The soldiers are going to finish off these globaloney planners when they come back. The soldiers are going to demand that a future be planned for them when they come back. Have a nut?"

"Keep La Guardia out of Washington: we don't want politicians as generals. Let MacArthur run for President, we want generals as politicians. Wheeeee! How about a nut?"

"Less name-calling will win the war. And not only that, but Washington is a lunatic asylum run by its inmates. Sacrifice will win the war. Good food will win the war. Wouldn't you like a nut?"

Well, Mr. Grafton, besides obviously keeping a large number of betel nuts beside his typewriter on this day, also appeared to have come by a large quantity of whole-bean coffee from some source.

Maybe, Carl Lippard had paid a visit from the roads around Raleigh to Washington, or somehow, via the mails, maybe out of Central Prison, had taken up a new trade less likely to run afoul of the law, purveying betel nuts. Or, maybe the source was Juan Valdez. Wouldn’t you care for a nut?

In any event, maybe by the 1960's, betel nuts, indeed, did aid in prevention of another world war, one sure enough to end them all.

We should note parenthetically that it has been determined that chewing betel nuts contributes to various forms of cancer. Best just to listen to the betel nuts. Want a nut?

A fellow from New York writes with an ingenious plan to cure absenteeism: have each company put up as much as $10,000 per week to be provided a person with a perfect employment record, after drawing names from a hat until such a worker was found. There is only one flaw: by the end of a year, a smaller company might very well be broke, despite a perfect record of absenteeism and the best efficiency in the country--awarded by the New Deal with the prestigious "E", standing in the instanced hypothetical for "Emasculated".

And, the little squib, re the current bird's nest fashion in millinery, adds, somehow, to those apparently disparate reports at the beginning of the week on the sinking of the American corvette in the Solomons and the capture of Mahares, after Patton had the previous month secured all of the area east of El Guettar and taken back the beginning point of Rommel's 66-mile delaying maneuver undertaken to Kasserine Pass in the latter half of February.

Charley Foley of Richmond, California was reported, among the little vignettes collected and recorded by The New York Times, to have stuck out his hand to make a left turn whereupon a thief made off with his wrist watch. He was lucky the brigand didn’t also grip his keys as well.

A store in Johnstown, Pennsylvania came by a stock of 250 alarm clocks, scarce in the country, and as soon as it advertised them, a rush of customers appeared, buying up the entire supply within the spanner of 18 minutes.

Six of those minutes, it wasn't said, were spent listening to the strange new sound they heard wafting from the last track before the Inner Groove on the album spinning on the new-fangled phonograph at the store, one which revolved at speeds substantially slower than the accustomed 78 per minute, rounding the full peripheral circumference of the table more slowly than its progenitor, yet delivering the music to their increasingly sped up lives and ears at everly accustomed celerious rates. (Which, come to think of it, leads us to speculate whether it is the outer groove, the inner groove, or the middle groove, which revolves at the designated speed.)

In any event, the story lends credence to the kindred story, appearing in January, regarding the British locomotive engineers complaining that their failure to report to work was the result of inadequate "wakers-up".

They should've had a nut.

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