Tuesday, April 20, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, April 20, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Twenty-four more Axis planes were shot down the previous day on their way to Sicily, including twelve more transports, reports the front page. The total bag for the previous two days was therefore 112, 70 of which were 20-troop transports.

The Fuehrer received a nice birthday gift from the Allies, 1,400 little Nazi heads, nicely boxed and gift-wrapped.

Too bad, instead of all being Junker-52ís, there werenít some Junker-88ís to underscore the point.

Fighting on the ground and in the air in Tunisia itself the day before was hampered by rain and overcast skies.

From Switzerland, it was reported that the attack the previous Friday on the Skoda Works in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia had proved devastating, wiping out 50 acres of territory and killing 800 persons, rendering the works unfit for production, according to German experts, for at least another three to five months.

Along the Kuban River Valley front in Russia, a line extending from its extreme northern and southern flanks 46 miles, but meandering a course of 90, fighting continued to be waged fiercely by the Russians seeking to drive the Germans into the Sea of Azov, all taking place in a river of mud.

As he had the previous fall, accused at the time of a political trip before the congressional elections in November, President Roosevelt toured the military facilities in several locations in the South, including Parris Island, S. C., Maxwell Field, Ala., and Fort Benning, Ga. He reported that he was pleased with the troops he had seen and trusted that they would fight well in Europe.

In the medieval town of Shepton Mallet, England, an Army private, African-American, became the first American soldier to be executed in England thus far in the war, hung for the killing of an Army lieutenant just the previous December 27. One could not fault the Army for failing of swift and decisive punishment for capital crime. It gave "speedy trial" a whole new meaning.

To suggest that things were beginning to get back to normal in Britain, after three successive years of war on its home turf, Prime Minister Churchill publicly proclaimed a repeal of the anti-peal laws, allowing the bells of Easter to ring out an end to any fear for the nonce of Nazi marauders invading their shores by the bells.

We have, actually, a bit of confusion as to the origin of this ban. Blackouts are one thing. But pealing of bells?

Maybe the chimes of freedom in the night flashing?

Or, perhaps, the fear was that churches might in some way be commandeered by Nazis for the purpose of signaling to ground invaders some all-clear? as had their American cousins made the steeple a signal device against their own coming upon Boston on another occasion.

Someone broke into a broadcast in Berlin, celebratory of Der Fuehrer's birthday, announcing that it was time to kill Der Fuehrer, for the good of Germany.

Happy Birthday, Der Fuehrer. Take one in the temple for us.

The Nazis were said to be unable to stifle the interrupting voice. Perhaps, whoever it was, had read the Superman strip appearing in U. S. newspapers during January and decided to reverse the ploy.

Or, perhaps it was the Nazi broadcasters themselves inviting the end to German decay from within.

And, we suggest, in that which was a particularly harsh and Draconian decision, a San Francisco judge banned a 66-year old man for life from Golden Gate Park--over near Haight and Ashbury.

The offense?

Picking rare flowers.

We hope that the gentleman to the higher court appealed his sentence, which also included a $50 fine and 30 days in jail. He might have asserted the defense that he was 24 years ahead of his time, involved thus in time-space travel.

Else, perhaps of another mind, he could have simply dubbed it the Stark defense and suggested himself 25 years ahead of his time.

He would have probably been given 90 days under evaluation but, in time, you see, all in timeÖ

Anyhow, time limits us right now.

--Ain't that a hell of a note, Delores? Says here over in Moscow they get two pounds of ham. Our ham. And we don't even have bacon. Just this baby food. And they're Commies. Why don't they just grow their own pigs on them collective farms if they're so good?

--Oh, Freddy, how you do go on. And I have a nice surprise for you that Midge sent over. She got these in a can from her cousin in Florida. They say it's a popular new delicacy. What's more, it's not on the rationing chart at all. Doesnít cost us a single point. Just look. Aren't they cute, all curled up like that? They say it tastes just like chicken. And we can use the rattles for the baby's crib.

On the editorial page, "Black Name" discusses a touchy problem.

"Easter" then tells everyone to go to church and worship in prayer.

After reading "Black Name", we feel certain that Charlotte's populace was put quite in the mood to wear their gay Easter bonnets and set right off for the churches to pray for the soldiers--and their dates for the evening. As well, their own households.

"Casualties" laments the loss of the 16 Flying Fortresses with 10-man crews suffered in the bombing raid on Bremen Saturday, the largest single loss yet of Fortresses in the European theater. The editorial suggests that it might be indicative of a trend to come, that perhaps the Nazis had figured out some Achilles heel of the B-17's and B-24's. If so, then it had to be remedied forthwith. Even though the bag on the mission included not only bombing the Focke-Wulf plant but also 50 planes, they were nevertheless each manned only by a single pilot and far less costly per plane than the $450,000 per Fortress, a combined total of 7.5 million dollars worth of aircraft lying in pieces over Germany.

"The Eighth" finds the Italian kept press nevertheless providing the highest respect for the British Eighth Army.

Perhaps, the handwriting being on the wall, they felt it was time to become cozy with the hands of their shortly to be incipient new masters, indeed, probably to become a welcome relief after Nazi occupation had rendered Italy little more than a German satrapy, every bit that of France, since the invasion of North Africa in November had triggered the displacement of troops from Russia to guard the southern Mediterranean coast. Motivation for the sudden expression of respect might also have been engendered by the fact that Nazis had thrown the Italians in North Africa as lambs to the slaughter, leaving them behind to surrender to the British, who, in turn, did not treat them badly.

Raymond Clapper was headed to monitor the neutral listening post in Sweden, leaving behind a few editorials to cover his time in passage.

This date's entry revisited the conference of the previous month between FDR and Sir Anthony Eden, and the British Foreign Minister's report to Commons on return to Britain.

Mr. Clapper suggests, via anecdotal evidence offered him by a friend just back from a visit in Britain, that the average Briton's attitude toward America at the time suggested a deterioration of U.S.-British relations, resultant of the favorable treatment accorded former Vichyites in North Africa by the Americans, leaving De Gaulle, leader of the French favored by the British, on the outside in waiting for the invasion of the Continent and the Liberation.

But, Mr. Eden had sought to clear up the matter by assuring Commons that the American position was merely to garner support in North Africa to assure a unified French force for the coming invasion of the Continent, not because of any amorous feelings for Vichy.

He had also reported that the question of how to deal with Germany post-war, to prevent a recurrence, had been tabled for the time being for want of participation in the conference by Russia, staked, by its geography and heavy sacrifices endured in the previous 22 months to defeat Germany, of significant position in determining Allied policy toward the wayward land after the war.

Mr. Clapper adds that the decision appeared fairly made that Germany had to be partitioned, but just what form that would take had yet to be decided. The only thing clear in that regard was that Nazism had not only to be eradicated but checked in such manner that it could never raise its ugly head again, to spawn another movement among the depressed herrenvolk after this war, encouraging them to reminisce in bitter nationalistic tears of hindsight for their losses and sacrifices at the hands of the cruel Communists and weak girly-man British and Americans.

Dorothy Thompson, as had Mr. Clapper the previous week, takes a look at the secrecy to be invoked by the Administration at the May 17 food conference in Hot Springs, Virginia, that the reason provided by officials for the closed session was the prospect of international disagreements being aired in the press, having then the tendency to exacerbate the differences and potentially bring the confreres to loggerheads instead of a mutual understanding to effect positively United Nations affinity for contemplated future conferences to be held on other subjects.

Contrary to the lamentations offered by Mr. Clapper on the subject, Ms. Thompson expresses, while recognizing press responsibility for the most part in the restraint thus far exercised on too revelatory reportage on the war, the need for highlighting matters which were positive to the outcome of the war, as that which was discouraging should be given less stress. She cites her experience of picking up an unnamed Chicago newspaper, likely the isolationist Tribune, and finding on the front page the only war news to be the sinking of the four American ships off Guadalcanal, reported the previous week, while that which proliferated in the space was news of domestic hardship regarding food rationing and the like. Added to that was the fact that news of Allied success in Tunisia had been relegated to the inside of the newspaper, far from the madding crowd.

She warns that Herr Doktor Goebbels had agents who read assiduously American newspapers and that, therefore, discretion in reporting stories and placement of stories with appropriate stress on the success of American efforts, frustrating of propaganda schemes to bolster German morale off evidence of flagging American spirit and support for the war, should be self-imposed positive directions for every journalist to follow.

Was she correct? Or was Mr. Clapper, perhaps 25 years ahead of his time in journalistic thinking, favoring a more open approach, having the better of this one? Or, were they really that diametrically opposed in view?

Mr. Clapper had, after all, recognized the need for substantial secrecy and restraint in the actual reporting of war news and commentary thereon. But, he saw no need for such factors to interpose themselves to prevent free access by the press to the food conference, that, instead, indeed, closing it to the prying eyes of journalists symbolically ran contrary to one of the professed Four Freedoms which were, according to the assurances set forth in the Atlantic Charter signed by Britain, the U.S., and Russia, to characterize the United Nations concept of the post-war, freedom of speech--including a free press.

By the time of the Vietnam War and its body counts from guerilla-inspired jungle movements toward elimination of the Redcoats and the French from their country, redundantly informing the public daily of a losing effort, slowly increscent in its depressing impact on public support for American involvement in that civil war from the latter half of 1966 onward through 1968 and beyond, the view expressed by Ms. Thompson would be considered outmoded, one simply positing the press as little more than cheerleaders shaking poms-poms on the sidelines.

But, by 2003 and the beginning of the Iraq War, the press, for the most part, stood by not only as a cheerleader, but moreover as a stupid puppet show worthy of Mussolini's Italian press, even if not quite perhaps that of Goebbels's propaganda machine.

Perhaps, in the next war, should we be so unfortunate as to become involved in one, we might pick out some middle territory at least and have more than a few hecklers on the sidelines, to provide a fair and balanced approach to the war news, informing the public of the issues before we go to war so that the public might reasonably decide what the most wise course should be, short of a true emergency. Far less troublesome to our democracy in the long-run.

Samuel Grafton suggests that Thomas Jefferson would not be inclined to agree with those who vacillated on the issues of favoring democratic interests abroad, finding it expedient occasionally to support a Franco or a Peyrouton or a Darlan, while telling De Gaulle to sit on his hands and wait for the right moment. Thomas Jefferson, says Mr. Grafton, took sides in the French Revolution, just as he and his compadres had risked their own necks to wage the American Revolution. These were not gentlemen farmers who believed in diplomatically walking on eggs around those with whom they had profound disagreement. Mr. Grafton wishes to see more of the Jeffersonian spirit and much less of the watered-down version of a call to arms and revolution among the captives of Europe by only appealing to revolt against the dictators while soft-soaping the underlying fascists who enabled the dictators to come to power in the first instance.

Tom Jimison again writes of hosses, this time of the purty ones, who he finds equally purtier than each other.

He tells of riding into town on a dappled bay back in the day when he was a Methodist minister and, as the hoss reared up in showy aristocratian pose, scared all the passersby into their shadow places by a nose. He says some of the people felt he should not have been so ostentatious as to ride such a purty and fine horse, rather should have been consigned to tough it out on the preacher's mule.

Perhaps, that's why he was defrocked.

In any event, he offers that the Lord loves a fine hoss "with five gaits and a high head" and that there was a hoss Heaven somewhere out beyond the stars.

Well, remember, by his own confession in spring, 1940, when he voluntarily committed to Morganton for a year, this feller was as crazy as a bedbug.

Everybody knows there ainít no hoss heaven. Whirlaway told us so personally out there at Calumet in Kentucky one time in mid-August, 1967.

--Anything on the Belmont?

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