Saturday, April 17, 1943

The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 17, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports little advance on the Tunisian front, with the First Army holding its position on the heights at Djebel Ang and the French forces continuing to press Rommel's flank along the Enfidaville line in the north, while the Eighth Army continued to engage primarily in patrols as it re-supplied itself for the final fifty-mile thrust to the north toward Tunis from Enfidaville.

General Eisenhower announced that the Second Corps of the Army had thus far suffered 5,372 killed, wounded, or missing during the Tunisian campaign. They had taken 4,380 enemy prisoners.

The RAF conducted the largest raid of the year the previous night, using more than 600 bombers to hit Ludwigshaven and Mannheim, Germany, across the river from one another on the Rhine, while also striking the Skoda munitions works at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia. The force also suffered record losses for one raid, 55 planes, approaching ten percent attrition. The previous largest number of lost bombers had been 52 in the thousand-plane raid on Essen the previous June 25. By comparison, only 44 had been lost in the thousand-plane raid on Cologne May 30 and 35 in the similarly large raid of Essen June 1.

From Martinique came the reply to questions posed by an Associated Press reporter to Admiral Georges Robert, Commissioner of the French possession in the Caribbean. The Admiral indicated that to join the Allies he would need assurance of sovereignty for the French, separate from control by the Americans and British, that he saw the present treatment of the French in North Africa as indicative of how he would be treated should he join the Allied cause. Apparently, though not expressed, he had in mind Admiral Darlan and his assassination on Christmas Eve. Yet, many of the other ex-Vichyites had been treated very well by General Giraud, even placed in governing positions in Algiers in the case of Maurice Peyrouton.

In recent days, however, General Giraud had announced that he was undertaking a purge in the ranks of the military to remove former Axis sympathizers. So, perhaps M. Robert would not fare so fine a fate as some his fellow Vichy sympathizers should he surrender his mantle of Axis collaboration to the Allies. Time would tell.

And, missing since April 8, when his plane crashed in the jungles of South America, former Michigan football All-American, Lt. Tom Harmon, in the Air Corps since the previous year, had been found safe on April 14.

On the editorial page, "Ghost Towns" recoils before the stories of more Lidices being left emptied of humanity by the Nazis throughout the conquered and occupied lands of Europe, recent reports centering on decimated villages in Serbia and Croatia in Yugoslav territory.

On Monday would begin the final purge of the Warsaw Ghetto, which during the previous three months, amid armed resistance erupting January 18, had been gradually emptied of its last inhabitants, either by machine-gunning those unfit for the camps or sending them onto the trains, some for impressed labor, others for the gas chambers, most ultimately for the gas chambers as the Final Solution was now hard at work in the attempt to eliminate Judaism from the face of Central Europe.

The Nazis would storm the Ghetto in force on Monday and begin killing its remaining inhabitants indiscriminately while blowing up and setting aflame its buildings. By Friday, the armed Jewish resistance of three months was over; most were dead. Nothing, indeed, but a ghost town, as pictured below, remained when the Russians entered Warsaw in 1945.

Dorothy Thompson writes of the transfer by Hitler's generals--as she suggests Hitler to be no longer in control of the grand strategy of the war--of the best German troops and fighting equipment from the Russian front to the defense of Central Europe. Reports had it that the Nazis were busy enforcing the youth of captured lands, primarily Russian, to fight in the German army. Ms. Thompson speculates on how such a fighting force would fare, especially if given the opportunity to escape to "enemy" lines or surrender to the Americans or British. Not very likely would they care, even at the point of a rifle, to take up arms in earnest for the enemy which had destroyed their homes.

She explores in the second part of the piece the current war bond drive, exhorting Americans to stay behind it to raise the money to keep the war "over there". She cautions that it takes little imagination to gather forces and money to fight a war when it hits home, but to keep it away from American shores meant the more difficult task of maintaining the realization of the good fortune which Americans daily enjoyed by not having war at their doorsteps--as had been the case in Great Britain, still suffering sporadic, albeit small, German bombing raids, as of course still was the case in force in Russia.

Raymond Clapper examines evidence presented by the National Maritime Union to the War Shipping Administration that, despite the dependence of the United Nations on shipments of American raw materials and manufactured goods to England, Russia, China, and the Pacific, the merchant ships were operating too often with woeful inefficiency, having nothing to do with enemy interference, simply poor management of their routes and schedules, poorly skilled seamen and longshoremen not properly securing loads onboard the ships and the like, causing days on days of lost time from the critical task of insuring that the fronts received the ammo and equipment and food and clothing to subsist and continue the fight.

Samuel Grafton wistfully takes note of the anecdotes coming home anent the girls of Sfax, reportedly strewing flowers in the paths of the victorious British Eighth Army soldiers as they entered the Tunisian port city the previous week to liberate it from its German and Italian occupiers who had already fled before them. He compares the cheerful display with the cold shoulders and outright hatred manifested throughout most of the war zones, even as between Americans in some quarters and their ally, Russia, indeed, even as between Americans.

Dick Young urges citizens of Charlotte to show their democratic spirit in defiance of the world's dictators and to register and vote in the upcoming municipal primary election.

First, of course, they had to figure out just how to fill out that complicated ballot he described the previous Saturday, requiring the counter-intuitive marking of only eleven candidates, not the more obvious 22, for the city's eleven wards, while insuring only a vote for two from their home ward, all to select two primary candidates from each ward for the general election.

Candidly, Mr. Young's articulate exhortations notwithstanding, we think we might have stayed home on that one. Too remindful of things down the road 57 years, but yet to be on a larger scale.

"War Baseball" finds the spring pastime continuing, even amid a lull in Japanese bombing raids in China, as Air Corps General Claire Chennault, pitcher in his spare time, gave up thirteen hits in a slugfest between bombers, 17-13, Reds beating Blues maybe, or vice-versa.

The piece concludes that there are some things the enemy could not kill--even in springtime with rendezvous with death lying in wait for too many of the game's participants, at some disputed barricade.

Now, reported the front page, for the first time, Chinese pilots, trained by their American counterparts, were taking an active role in the air war in China against the Japanese invaders of their country.

The Bible quote of the day, no doubt, struck chords with all of those either already deployed overseas receiving The News, probably several weeks post publication, or about to be or already drafted and in training stateside. The "valley of the shadow of death" was increasingly encroaching on the world, as the Nazis and Japanese became the more desperate, as their doom, febrile in haste, consigned them without mercy to the inexorable Fates and the unshakable Muses, all beyond the feeble control of the purblind who never learned to appreciate the simple gifts.

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