Wednesday, April 21, 1943

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, April 21, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The Eighth Army, reports the front page and a second page, was on the move again after several days of replenishment for the final drive to Tunis. Enfidaville, a rugged mountain area which overlooked the road to the south, before which the Army had been camped for the several days of lull in the fighting, had now been successfully captured.

Montgomery's forces had moved on ten miles to the west, encountering fierce resistance now from Rommel's determined last stand, capturing a height at Djebel Darki, threatening Djebel Garci, ten miles west of Enfidaville. The Germans had counter-attacked at Takrouna, a mountain fortress, five miles inland from Enfidaville, as the Eighth Army sought to encircle the position and storm it.

Ridge by ridge, Rommel's forces had now to be dislodged from these mountainous areas in order for Montgomery to proceed further north to the final objective at Tunis.

Likewise, the First Army under K.A.N. Anderson made some limited progress from Medjez-El-Bab against equally fierce resistance. The fighting in this region, too, now closer than ever to Montgomery’s forces, was to be slow and costly, wadi by wadi.

For the first time in a year, the RAF bombed the Heinkel Works at Rostock in Germany. For the first time since September, 1941, they hit Berlin's port at Stettin. Plywood Mosquito bombers meanwhile struck Berlin. In all, from the raids, thirty-three of the bombers had not returned, indicative of another large flying contingent.

The Nazis, per the usual course, contended that these were "terror attacks", hitting residential dwellings, quiet villages populated by simple, homespun, genteel, peaceful, nice little Nazis.

On the Russian front, it was still considered too early to tell whether the Germans were undertaking a new spring offensive as fierce fighting by the Russians beat back several thrusts by the Germans in the Kuban River Valley. For the first time during the winter campaign of 1942-43, dispatches also reported fighting on the water in either the Black Sea or the Sea of Azov, indicative of an increasingly perilous position for the Nazis.

General MacArthur, on a visit to Washington, again warned that Japanese air power had grown to menacing proportions in the southwest Pacific, threatening Australia, that more air resistance and offensive capability was thus necessary to withstand the renewed Japanese attempt to wage that which the War Department had defined the previous week as the new Japanese policy, "aggressive defense".

A report on the Doolittle Raid of a year earlier on April 18 disclosed for the first time details of the mission, that its "Shangri-La" point of origin, as denominated by FDR to the press at the time, had been in fact the carrier Hornet, lost subsequently in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, October 26. Its location when the planes left the deck was disclosed as 800 miles at sea from Tokyo, lengthened because of bad weather from the intended point of launch, 400 miles further proximal to the central target.

This public revelation obviously intended to reach the Japanese with a chilling message that they were not the only nation capable of launching a long-range surprise attack, even if the 16 B-25's of Doolittle were a scant force when compared with the six carriers and 350 bombers sent to Pearl Harbor in November and December, 1941.

In the first official visit by a sitting American President deep into Mexico and the first meeting of any kind between the two functionaries since President Taft shook hands with Porfirio Dias across the border between El Paso and Juarez in 1909, a year before the Mexican Revolution began, FDR visited Mexican President Avila Camacho at Monterrey. President Camacho then came across the border in symbolic reciprocation to meet the President at an undisclosed location.

The Good Neighbor Policy of the previous decade, stimulated by former Ambassador Josephus Daniels, appeared to have paid off in mutually convivial relations. Amid colorful displays, bands playing, confetti parades, and an elaborate seven-course dinner at a casino at a military base in the city, both leaders assured that days of tense past relations--from the Pershing punitive expedition in search of Pancho Villa in 1916 to the more recent past, the expropriation without compensation in March, 1938 of the American and British oil interests by Mexico under Camacho’s predecessor--all were behind them.

Both leaders renounced any form of exploitation of foreign interests either by entry to a foreign country with such goals in mind or against foreign interests within their own boundaries.

Incidentally, though the name may make it sound charming when thinking of its California namesake and nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea well to the north, having in 1973 spent a night in Monterrey, we can inform you that, at least thirty years after FDR's visit, it wasn’t much about which to write home. Pot-holed streets, depressed, rude slums, poor children running about with dirty faces, openly solicitous prostitutes, old smokers barely creeping along, probably retrieved from an American junkyard, even the Ramada Inn where we stayed having been surrounded by shacks and shanties, and nearly costing a set of tires to wander through bad streets to reach it, yet all somehow possessed of a kind of simple rural charm even among urban surroundings, chickens running the streets for instance, probably soon to become part of a cockfight ring--these are the things we recall from our brief stay there lasting all of eight hours, beginning at 4:00 a.m. one August night, as we drove into town in our little blue roadster, having traveled from Dallas during the previous day, through some of the hardest country, after crossing the border, as did FDR on his visit, at Nuevo Laredo, that we have ever, before or since, had the alternate pleasure and sensation of imminently expectant death in driving.

In any event, we didn't get eaten. Neither did Presidents Roosevelt and Camacho eat each other. Some, in the past, have not necessarily fared so well.

At an undisclosed location in Pacific fighting, a telephone lineman was busy stringing wire when a lone Japanese fighter flew overhead, strafing his crew. Lieutenant S. G. Saltzman of Wilmington, Delaware, a deer hunter in his spare time, grabbed his Springfield rifle and pumped one round at the pilot, striking him squarely in the temple, causing the plane then to crash.

--Look here, Delores. Now, we can afford some good solid soup, frozen fruit, and baked beans. They've cut the points. I don't want any more of that whatever it was we had last night. What was that anyway? I had some dreams--powerful dreams. A giant snake appeared in one of 'em. Anyhow, how about some cow peas or blackeyed peas tonight, maybe blackeyed Susan? On second thought, how about a BC Powder, right between the cheek and gum?

On the editorial page, "Community Challenge" might best be summed: Ladies, old pros and amateurs of the better sections alike, including those in the churches, put down your arms.

"Breakdown" finds good portent in the reports of the downing in recent days by the Allied airmen of Luftwaffe transports and convoying fighters in and around the Sicilian Straits, signaling the exodus of Rommel from North Africa and the end of the campaign nearing.

Though yet some hard fighting lay ahead to attain Tunis and Bizerte, the end indeed was now fast approaching in that theater after three years of back and forth battle across the northern strip of the continent, alternately, the Eighth Army giving ground to the Germans, then the Germans to the Eighth Army. Now, Rommel and von Arnim were in the bottleneck of "Coffin Corner" in Tunisia, with nowhere to go but Italy or the coffin.

A piece to the right of the page offers a quick insight to the debacle of Dunkirk in May-June, 1940 and the German thrust through Belgium into France at Amiens which immediately led to it, comparing its successful, if bloody, evacuation of 90% of the 350,000 troops then seeking its shelter from the storm across 50 miles of the English Channel, with air superiority to guard the passage, to that which Rommel and von Arnim now faced in trying to evacuate some 200,000 German troops the 90 to 125 miles north to either Sicily or Sardinia across the Mediterranean from Tunis and Bizerte.

Samuel Grafton looks at the coming international post-war United Nations food conference of May 17 and its scheduled meeting behind closed doors, finds the secrecy signal of the State Department's fear that reporters from isolationist newspapers, such as the Chicago Tribune, would seek deliberately to sabotage the effort conducive to post-war global harmony, those who of late had taken to calling the Welles-Willkie-Wallace advocacy for such in the post-war world so much idealistic "globaloney", not possible of realization in an historically suspicious, nationalistic, and mutually ambitious collection of gestalts populated by imperialistic paranoiacs.

He finds the fear of the State Department therefore well-grounded, seeing that as soon as Patton's headlines began to give way to Montgomery's, as Patton was relegated to the subordinate role of protecting the Eighth Army's flank while it achieved the applesauce of glory by marching northward toward Tunis, the skeptics and critics came forth assailing American policy as bungling, giving into foreign interests, giving our best to enable the foreigner to achieve the plaudits.

Similarly, accompanying General MacArthur's warnings of the need for more air superiority in the Pacific to combat the new Japanese storm threat forming north of Australia, the same snipers had howled of letting the Pacific theater atrophy as too much armament had been committed to the European and North African theaters.

Disharmony and discord, in other words, appeared to be the limitless store of those who viewed concord as a mistaken concept of the puling, conducive to pusillanimity and emasculatory effeminacy contrary the necessity of regular preparation for war--in a word, isolationism.

Mr. Grafton, though an ardent and regular self-confessed critic of the State Department, concludes that, in this one, the decision for secrecy was at least readily understandable, given that the food conference, though insignificant in itself, was nevertheless the point of inception for other such future conferences to pave the way for the future world, full of globaloney or not, and so…

A piece culled from the Notre Dame student newspaper seeks to shame the stateside complainants re hardship from the war by marshaling forth the ubiquitous patriot, "Bill Jones", sacrificing life and limb to preserve democracy abroad.

Bill Jones, while serving as an allegorical thread to piece together the story, was, of course, in reality, quite actual in his heroism in this war, repeated many thousands of times, and not, of course, just limited to American soldiers, but among all of those who fought and died for the cause of the Allies.

Raymond Clapper, on his way to Sweden, provides an unusual column for the day, consisting primarily of a letter from a young soldier who had once tended garden and lawn for the Clappers, was studying to enter college to become a scientist at the time Pearl Harbor interrupted his study to call forth his patriotic duty. Now he was in the Army, fighting in North Africa.

He writes poignantly and poetically of that which he views daily across the plains and from the djebels of Tunisia.

Mr. Clapper suggests, prophetically, that the babies of 1943 were the cannon fodder for the next war. He, to become a victim of the war himself in 1944 while covering a bombing mission in the Pacific, asks that the world take a moment to consider it and then to try to allow those infants, unlike those born during World War I, just to live.

"Bar None" tells of the continued saga of Georgia, even as the torch had been passed from the tawdry Gene Talmadge to the New Deal of Ellis Arnall.

Yet, within the prison system, it was reported that one man, awaiting his third trial on a murder charge, complained of having removed from his cell a telephone with which he had to conduct his jukebox business.

In another cell at Reidsville, a man was running a bootleg operation from behind the bars.

Not reported, they said that in yet another dim corner of one of the Georgia jails, there was some kid with a guitar and a funny haircut choreographing the prisoners within the walls behind a song for a musical score he was conjuring for Broadway, he said. It was a work in progress.

The title song went: "Warden threw a party in the county lock-up, then we had the juke going and got all rocked-up. When the jailbirds are swingin’ in the canary cage, you sure can see the daylight behind the obituary page."

Some of the prisoners had complained though about its slow rhythm and depressing lyrics. The young lad, a juvenile offender, was said to be working on it.

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