Saturday, May 15, 1943

The Charlotte News

Saturday, May 15, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of more bombing attacks by the Allies on Sardinia, Sicily, and the mainland of Italy. A raid struck closer than ever to Rome, hitting Civitavechhia, 37 miles northwest of the capital. The Axis airbase on the island of Pantellaria between Cap Bon and Sicily was already bombed into dysfunction.

Rome radio reported that the Italian Navy could not withstand an Allied invasion when it came.

The Germans launched an attack on Leningrad, but were thrown back by the Russians.

No news came from Attu in the Aleutians except that the invasion by the Allies launched three days earlier had been successful and was continuing.

William King of the A.P. reports that the British First Army under General K.A.N. Anderson had done a splendid job not only in finally taking Tunis but in originally penetrating to the outskirts of Bizerte and Tunis within a short time after the landings of the Allies in Algeria in November. Far from any failure to take the positions when it had the ostensible opportunity, it was a success of scouting for only two brigades and a small armored unit. Companies were trying to do the work which properly was the job of a battalion or even a full brigade, says Mr. King.

The miracle was in the organization undertaken to get so far so fast as they did in such small numbers and so spread apart from their source of supplies. That they could not capitalize on the opportunity of a sparsely defended Tunis and Bizerte at the time was not for any failure of command but rather the combined result simply of logistics and the speed with which the advance was made. There existed no possibility for supplies to catch up in sufficient volume to support the full complement of men to undertake the large-scale offensive necessary to take the cities at that time.

Paul Lee reports that, in a distinctly different scene from that of Dunkerque, Royal Navy ships had been picking up German and Italian survivors, exhausted, wet, and frightened, from sunk transport vessels in the Mediterranean.

And, Berlin radio reported that in occupied Copenhagen a mirage of Gibraltar had been seen clearly outlined on the horizon for some two hours until the Nordic sunset at 11:30 p.m. The illusion was attributed to a heat wave.

Perhaps, instead, the Fata Morgana was simply the result of a collision between sunshine and moonshine. Whatever the cause, it was a large Morgana.

Later, Berlin radio reported that Berlin residents had seen the Eiffel Tower in the middle of Unter der Linden, thought displaced there by the French Underground, until other residents saw behind it the Washington Monument doing cartwheels across Piccadilly Circus.

The entire matter was under investigation by Herr Doktor Goebbels.

On the editorial page, "Thirty Years" examines a speech given earlier in the month by Henri Giraud in Algiers predicting that within the month victory in Tunisia would occur and that by the end of 1944 there would be victory in the "Thirty Years War" between 1914 and 1944. The piece finds General Giraud correct in his assertion of a continuous war with Germany rather than two separate wars, that the real enemy was not the Nazi but the German and his insistent reliance through time on manifesting old Prussian militarism to form empire, that the goals of the Franco-Prussian War had been the same as those of World War I under the Kaiser and those of World War II under Hitler. The remedy would therefore lie in extirpating from the German mind this old Prussian graven imago of the Teutonic warrior-gods.

"New Mastery" analyzes the positive impact on Allied shipping to be advanced by the Tunisian victory enabling the opening of the Mediterranean to unmolested passage from east to west, once the Sicilian Straits were cleared and occupied. The Allies had control of the western Mediterranean from the time of the Operation Torch landings in November; they also had control of the eastern Mediterranean from Alexandria across to the ports of North Africa as General Montgomery drove Rommel out of each successive one during the interim from the El Alamein offensive begun in late October. But the meeting of the twain still required the clearing of the Sicilian Straits.

Once cleared, 5,000 miles around the Cape of Good Hope would be eliminated in shipping distance traversed by 300 ships annually, making only two or three trips per year, to supply the Middle East through the Suez Canal into the eastern Mediterranean. Soon, therefore, not only would that distance be eliminated, along with its associated risks of U-boat attack, but the large number of ships devoted to that route could be freed for carrying supplies to Britain in preparation for an Allied invasion of the Continent from across the Channel, as well as providing passage of supplies in the Mediterranean itself for the imminent invasion of southern Europe.

A piece from The Foreign Policy Bulletin also assesses the theme of advantage obtained from the victory in Tunisia, the ability now to take the Sicilian Straits and thereby shorten supply lines, enabling, as principal supply, oil to be transported by barge from the Near and Middle East rather than having to bring the precious war commodity through the perilous U-boat infested Atlantic from the United States.

The analysis suggests the sudden defeat at Tunis and Bizerte as one of the most complete collapses of the German armed forces in its history. It had come from stretching German supply lines too thin and also having positioned German forces on hills and crags which, while having the ostensible coign-of-vantage, actually exposed the artillery nests to Allied fire. Those factors in the face of insistent Allied infantry and artillery barrage, combined with finally overwhelming air superiority, spelled the quick end for the Axis in Tunisia.

The piece also speaks to the repercussions which the victory was having in strengthening cooperation with the Allies in expectation of their victory throughout Europe into Turkey and the Arab world as well.

Dorothy Thompson examines the ongoing Washington Conference planning the next step of the Allied strategy, and finds the two leaders, Churchill and FDR, to be surely two men whom the history books would record as great men. She was correct in her contemporaneous assessment, of course, even if Churchill had replied sardonically to her having once suggested the fact to him that it would depend on who would write the history.

She finds the inclusion in the conference of two realists, Lord Beaverbrook of Britain and Edouard Benes, former Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia, to be hopeful signs that problems which had arisen between the Soviet Union and the Poles of late could be ironed out with realistic solutions.

Raymond Clapper, still in Sweden, reports that the Swedish affinity for the Allied cause and concomitant anti-Nazi sentiment arose primarily from the fact that the Swedes regularly received reports of Nazi atrocities from the occupied countries, principally from their neighbors in Norway and across the Baltic in Poland.

From Poland had come news that underground newspapers were thriving, that front pages were printed with pro-Axis news while the inside was full of reportage from Allied sources. The prints were distributed under the noses of the Gestapo. Recently, such a newspaper had been discovered; the Gestapo immediately went to its offices, shot everyone on the premises, including the owner of the house, the widow of the former Polish ambassador to Britain.

Other reports had come from Poland indicating the ongoing liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, down to 35,000 residents from its original occupancy of 400,000, its residents being routinely machine-gunned to death on offer of any slight resistance to transportation away from the Ghetto to the camps, proceeding at the rate of 3,000 persons per day.

The reports had indicated that Poles were concerned that the Ghetto was being cleared of Jews so that non-Jewish Poles could be herded into the walled area to make room for Germans in the rest of the city.

Such reports did not encourage Swedes to wish to don swastikas and then join the parade of victims in time.

Samuel Grafton again charges that the Congress was guilty of double-talk and obscurantism by seeking to do away with the Farm Security Administration, instrumental in providing small farmers low-interest loans on which they had become self-sufficient and operated efficiently to keep food prices low, not funding the Office of Price Administration sufficiently to enable inspectors to go into the field to check on the prices the Office was charged with regulating, and then, when the coal miners had struck for better wages to keep pace with higher prices, passing a no-strike bill. Mr. Grafton analogizes the situation to prodding an animal until it foams at the mouth and then passing a law to ban its foaming.

"The Outcry", to the contrary, praises the no-strike legislation to control John Lewis. While praising Phillip Murray and the CIO for thus far keeping its no-strike pledge, in contrast to Lewis and the UMW, the piece also finds Mr. Murray's statements condemning the no-strike bill to evidence hypocrisy and wonders where the CIO might be planning to strike during the war.

Once again, we note the absence of Dick Young from the page, now two of the last three Saturdays.

Perhaps, he had been dispatched to Hemp on the urgent need to determine whether the name change contemplated for the town was going to take effect soon or late.

In any event, it was reported from Hemp that an image of Berlin had appeared on the horizon for fifteen minutes just before dusk the previous evening, with the Reichstag plainly discernible in the dashed red outlines of the fading sun's rays, just before it all suddenly crumbled and sank unceremoniously into the Sea of Verrazano.

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