Saturday, April 24, 1943

The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 24, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Oh, we know, we made a little boo-boo, yesterday. But today, whether 58 or 57 Junker 52's, what's the difference? Sixteen to twenty, more or less, dead Nazis here or there. It was all the same in the end, wasn't it now?

The front page reports that Americans under the command of General Patton had been shifted from southern Tunisia, where they had been guarding the area to the east of El Guettar and at Faid Pass, to the fighting arena in the north to assist the First Army in its movement toward Bizerte and Tunis. The transportation of the troops and equipment alone, in such short order, over dust encrusted roads turned from mud pies just a few weeks earlier, had drawn high praise from General Harold Alexander, commander of all Allied forces in Tunisia.

The Americans had advanced six files toward Mateur, to within 18 miles of Bizerte. Another American unit had made its way through densely overgrown terrain northeast of Beja, north of the road between Beja and Mateur.

The British, meanwhile, had taken the objective back from the Germans at Long Stop Hill and were thus 28 miles west of Tunis, as its armored columns moved forward six or seven miles in the area between Goubellat and Arada.

The entire western flank of the Axis was now at risk in the area. The French completed the concerted movement by pushing twelve miles east from their position at Cap Serrat, to within 23 miles of Bizerte.

It was reported, as rumored for weeks, no doubt to the consternation of both General Patton and General Montgomery, that Erwin Rommel was now out of North Africa and in Italy preparing the defenses there for the inevitable Allied invasion. The last certain evidence of his having physically been on the battlefront in Tunisia was in papers captured after the Battle at Kasserine Pass in mid to late February. Alternate speculation ran that Hitler had simply removed him from his list of favored commanders because of the imminent loss of North Africa, or that he might be seriously ill with malaria, as reports had also indicated several weeks before.

After losing 5,000 men and 200 aircraft during the course of less than a week, the Nazis, it was reported, appeared to be backing off that which had looked to be the beginnings of a new spring offensive in the Kuban River Valley in the Caucasus. Many of the frontline troops now being employed by the Germans were Rumanians, none too happy, said some of the prisoners, about their impressed duty at the boot-kick of the Nazi behind them.

In the Pacific, an 8,000-ton Japanese ship was sunk by air attack on the harbor at Kavieng, on New Ireland to the northeast of New Guinea, scene of heavy air attacks during the first week of April and the harbor from which had departed the 22-ship convoy sunk by the Allies in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea March 3 and 4.

Rubber rationing was loosened to enable motorists allowed under gas rationing to drive more than 240 miles per month by necessity of occupation to have the best tires, not just the recycled "Victory" tires which previously had been provided those rationed to between 240 and 560 miles per month, while only those above 560 got the premium tires. Production of the "Victory" tires meanwhile was stopped completely. Thus, it appeared that everyone allowed to drive no more than 240 miles per month were out of luck for the time being on getting any kind of rubber at all.

Presumably, that which prompted the change, though not indicated, was the prospect soon of synthetic rubber filling the void, as rubber czar William Jeffers had informed Congress in March.

In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a jury acquitted three men from Jones County for lynching of a black man, Howard Wash, at Laurel on October 17. They had been charged on Federal indictments of violating the manís civil rights and thus tried in Federal court.

The reason for the Federal prosecution, carrying a maximum of a ten-year sentence, was that the State of Mississippi would not bring charges for murder, a judge having disbanded the county grand jury without so much as a mention of the lynching of Mr. Wash, a convicted murderer who had been earlier spared the death penalty by a jury and then turned over to the lynch mob by a deputy sheriff, also originally named in the Federal indictment. It was only the third time in the South's history that a Federal grand jury had indicted for lynching. But the Federal petit jury in Hattiesburg would not convict.

Federal juries, of course, are drawn from the same pool as state juries. And when the pool is a bunch of white, backward hicks without sense God gave a goose, one would not expect the law to be applied. It was much too difficult for white trash hicks to read or even understand the law when it was read to them, much too complicated to understand that a black man was a man and not either a stock animal or a boy who, when even suspected of some minor step from the enforced line of white-trash orders, had to be, to instill in others the proper example, thrashed and then publicly killed, behind cowardly masks, like a dirty, little mongrel dog.

This white trash, low-life scum on the jury could not understand this simple concept from the Bible which they proclaimed very loudly to the nation to be the source of their religion; in fact, it was a religion with no more substance than the Totem Pole on which they actually based it, a pictographic Totem Pole, emblematic in its phallic conception of that which populated their heads in lieu of any ideas.

At Hattiesburg, that's just the way things went.

On the editorial page, Tom Jimison explores the story of the crucifixion and the resurrection on this eve of Easter, 1943. He looks at it through the prism of Peter, the hard-nosed, hard-drinking, cussing reprobate ruffian Peter, to whom the angels had directed that the message of Christ's resurrection be initially imparted by the women to whom the message was immediately provided. Mr. Jimison counsels that the message of Easter be given to the Peters of the world. For it was Peter, in his rough-hewn character, his hard-bitten, hard-drinking manly character, who nevertheless became the Preacher, the person who could speak the language of the people, the fiery messenger of the resurrection and the life. And so it was with Peter that the hope of the cynic, lost of all hope in the world, lay, with convincing Peter of the power of hope so that he might communicate that hope to other Peters in similar straits.

Never let it be said that Jesus did not have a sense of humor.

"First Heat" hits the nail on the head in piercing the veil to predict the winner of the 1944 North Carolina gubernatorial race, but, in "Best Seller", taking from the runaway success of Wendell Willkie's One World, misses badly in its forecast that the best-seller status of the book would translate into a mass movement to see Mr. Willkie again as the Republican nominee. Tom Dewey would get the nod. Mr. Willkie's health would fail and he would not actively seek the nomination, would be dead before election day, 1944.

"Midas, 1943" looks at the local buying habits exhibited by the workers and their wives, newly possessed of excess spending power in their pockets, ready to buy whatever bauble or gaudy thing they could find in the fanciest shops of the city, as long as the sigil was suitably expensive and suggested a cultivated taste remindful of their aristocratic overlords.

The piece might as well have spoken the cold silver truth: that these new Saharans of the Bozart were just poor white trash trying to be somebody they weren't.

Dick Young writes a letter to a soldier named Butch and then signs it, a little problematically, "Butch".

Between that and the Dorman Smith cartoon, had it not pre-dated the time by eight years, we might have thought that the wights who wrote this song had first seen this page. Maybe, it was the opposite, that Mr. Young had a fancy for Fats Waller.

Anyway, it was Easter, 1943. The sun did arise and then went down again as always and always.

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