Tuesday, May 25, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, May 25, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of a concentrated air attack on Sardinia by the Allies, utilizing 300 planes, the most sent in one raid thus far against the embattled island. Pantellaria was also again bombarded. Another twelve Axis planes were destroyed during the raid.

In the Caucasus, a lull had begun in the ground fighting while the air war continued. Both sides appeared to be shoring up supply lines.

In Norway, in preparation for a potential Allied landing, the Nazis were busy building fortifications along the coast and evacuating coastal residents inland.

In Italy, thousands of Italian residents of Sicily and southern Italy were fleeing north to safer ground, away from the Allied bombing campaign.

A delayed pair of reports by Eugene Burns anent the American forces landing on Attu between May 11 and May 14 explained that dense fog, comparable to that of the "good old days" of ferry transportation before the two bridges linked Alameda and Marin Counties with San Francisco, had both hampered and aided the landings on Attu, necessitating the use of destroyers and other vessels to guide barges filled with troops and supplies through the pea soup to shore. The substantial benefit from the fog enshrouded coastline, however, manifested itself in preventing the Japanese from taking advantage of a network of shore batteries and machine-gun nests to deter the landings.

The photograph shows the resurrection of the badly damaged U.S.S. Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. The capsizing of the ship claimed 408 of its officers and crew, representing the penultimate loss of life aboard any single vessel during the attack at Pearl Harbor, the Arizona claiming the most, 1,177 men. Together, the two ships accounted for over two-thirds of the total loss of military personnel in the attack, 2,341.

The Oklahoma's most poignant story was told subsequent to its being brought to the surface and inspected. Dates and initials were found indicating that men had remained alive for several weeks after the attack. Welders responsible for trying to cut holes in the hull where they had heard tapping signals were frustrated in their desire to fire their equipment below the water line because of the danger of explosion from the oil surrounding the crippled ship.

The Oklahoma was decommissioned on September 1, 1944 and eventually sank in a storm in 1947 while being towed from Hawaii to San Francisco to be dismantled for scrap. The ship had been among the escort vessels of the George Washington carrying President Woodrow Wilson to and from France for the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, at which he sought to implement his Fourteen Points, including establishment of the League of Nations, as integral to what became the Versailles Treaty. Unfortunately, Warren Harding ran on a platform in 1920 of insuring that America did not wish foreign entanglements and so nixed membership in the League of Nations, eviscerating thereby its concerted effectiveness.

Don't blame Wilson, limbeck; blame Harding.

Eleven thousand more workers walked off the job at Goodyear in Akron, despite the War Labor Board's directive that the initial strikers of Monday return to work.

Coal, rubber, and even tank and airplane engine production was now threatened by increscent strike activity. With the Labor Fever catching, a transportation strike hit Utica, New York as well.

And, Edsel Ford, at age 49, was reported critically ill in Detroit from undulant fever, a disease passed to humans from cattle, usually via contaminated milk or meat. He had been president of the company for 24 years.

He would die the next day, giving birth to a legendary name in Americana, unfortunately blessed with less than auspicious connotations with the advent of the Edsel automobile in fall, 1957, its disastrously dégagé look for its time and consequent lack of sales causing the new division to fold in 1960. (Actually, it looked no worse and even better than some of its contemporary finned jobs, a sort of forerunner to and genetically cross-bred variant of the 1958 and 1959 Pontiacs, with a 1934 Tudor hot-rod grille thrown in between the new dual headlamps for atavistic continuity, combined in turn, sort of, with the front clip of the 1960 Buick, even if the latter more resembled the 1960 Mercury Monterey, the rear analogous to a 1959 Chevy trimmed of its fins, as the 1958 Ford, more at a 1960 Comet--but those cars, too, were not exactly representative of the quintessential chef d'oeuvre in contemporary automotive design.)

Mr. Ford, himself, however, was responsible for considerably greater success of the company than his first name might otherwise imply. He oversaw the coachwork design for the Model A, established the Mercury division, and was the primary force behind creation of the Lincoln Zephyr and Continental.

On the editorial page, "Live-at-Home" summarizes the history of the Comintern as created by Vladimir Lenin in 1919, after the Revolution of 1917. Its passing from the world stage after being dissolved by Stalin, the piece suggests, bode well for the receipt of Russia into the brotherhood of nations and as well dispelled the fear prevalent for the previous 24 years from Communist influence abroad, spread under the winged auspices of the Comintern.

Unfortunately, the optimism signaled by the event proved unwarranted as, after the war, with the descent of the "Iron Curtain" over Eastern Europe consequent of the Soviet scrambling to shore up satellite states as buffer zones to any attempted re-emergence of German hegemony, twice showing its ugly imperialistic face over Europe in the previous 30 years, the old paranoiac stirrings in the Americas raised up again the specter of anti-Red sentiment, picking up where Martin Dies of Texas had left off before Pearl Harbor, fueled by young Congressman Richard Nixon and H.U.A.C. in the late forties, and finally fanned in the early to mid-1950's to firestorm extremes, invasive of the private lives and associations of decent Americans, sowing the seeds of mutual distrust in America itself, doing the work of the Comintern itself, hidden in plain view, finally giving anti-Communism a bad name under the aegis of Joseph McCarthy, so much so that even President Eisenhower distanced himself from McCarthyism and considered the man little more than a lunatic attempting to achieve political power by smearing publicly the reputations of good citizens.

That's right: Nixon and McCarthy were, themselves, unwittingly or no, operatives bent on resurrecting the defunct Comintern. Think about it.

"Dead Ducks" looks favorably at the ongoing air war over Italy and in Russia, figuring that with over 600 planes banished from use by the Axis during the previous week on an 8 to 1 kill ratio, should that rate, as it appeared likely, only increase as the gap in air superiority of the Allies widened, the war ought be won in Europe in relatively short order.

"Annihilation" continues the theme, finding the raid on Dortmund, with its record-setting 2,000-lb. payload of bombs dropped, the ringer of the death knell for Nazi Germany.

It reminds, nevertheless, that the loss of 38 RAF planes in the raid was substantial and that therefore such raids, despite their devastating disruption of Nazi manufacturing and adverse impact on civilian morale generally, could not occur with daily regularity. Each British Lancaster lost meant seven men also lost, each Flying Fortress, ten, each Liberator, seven to ten, each B-25, six; and in the cruel, cold terms of war, the necessity then arose somewhere down the line to train and deploy ten or seven or six more men as crew for a four-motor, plus manufacturing and outfitting the replacement bomber for use in the air war. It was a costly business, but yet not so costly in men and materiel as an invasion by infantry to the heavily fortified, Nazified confines of the Continent.

Raymond Clapper looks at the Baltic States, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, and their experience in the war as emblematic of what had taken place throughout Nazi-occupied Europe. The Baltic States had despised their Russian overseers who had confiscated private property and displaced the native populations of these three small countries. Then, when the Nazis first arrived in June, 1941 and chased away the Soviets, the people cheered them as liberators. But, within a short time, the liberators became as bad or worse than those from whom the liberation had been achieved. The Nazis managed quickly to turn public opinion against them by not only not returning the confiscated property, on the theory that now it belonged to the state and the Nazis now controlled the state, but also by mistreating the native populations, especially Jews, worse than did the Soviets.

It was, says Mr. Clapper, the same story which had transpired under Nazi occupation in Norway and Holland, even in Denmark where, relatively, the people were treated with greater deference to their independence, nevertheless evidencing strong antipathy toward anything Nazi. Only the leadership in Finland appeared content as a willing satrapy of the Reich at this stage, betting on Germany to conquer Russia, their historical nemesis who had warred against them in late 1939 through March, 1940, even if the Finnish people and the minority Labor Party were pro-American and believed that Germany was fated to lose the war.

Samuel Grafton again deconstructs the illogic in obscurantist circumlocution found promoted at various points in recent time among the former isolationists: the determination in the fall by members of Congress who were now the tepid interventionists--by any other name, still isolationists--that the popular call for opening a second front should be left to military expertise, not Congress, now championing with tenderness, at a time when the opening of the second front was incipient, the cause of the vox populi as the ultimate arbiter of when and where a second front ought be opened; issuing the caveat in the fall that it would take too much shipping to supply and transport an invasionary force against the Continent, now that such an invasionary force was in place in North Africa, finding it better to outfit and transport a larger force against the Japanese in the Pacific, an obviously significantly less proximal task than the transport of men and materiel to Europe; insisting in the fall on the other caveat which they claimed militated against immediate invasion of the Continent, that Germany was too strong of the moment, thus better to wait, yet now that Hitler was weakened, finding him so weak that it no longer mattered, that he could be ignored for the nonce while Japan had delivered to it first the knockout blow.

All circumlocution, contends Mr. Grafton, to avoid the ultimate point: that the former isolationists still regarded Russia as the primal Beast of Europe bent on devouring Western democracy, and that Nazi Germany was the best defender against that prospect.

One Captain Gerald Crosson, stateside from duty in the Southwest Pacific, explains in a succinct quote on the page why the Americans no longer bothered to take the Japanese as prisoners: it had become common experience that the Japanese would raise their arms in surrender only to release the pins from hand grenades, blowing their captors to kingdom come along with them.

The treachery and counter-treachery of war continued apace abroad the globe. No concerted League of Nations had ever been brought to bear to avert it. Yet, it was now being planned, to avoid repetition of the same fatal mistake twice. The second such mistake, as no one yet could imagine, would indubitably, as it still would, prove the prophecy of the already oft-repeated final chapters of the Holy Writ.

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