Tuesday, May 4, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, May 4, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Reports the front page, two columns of American forces pressed the fight to the Nazis, one moving from Mateur northeast across the Tine River toward Ferryville, ten miles from Mateur and eight miles from Bizerte, as the other pushed to the south ten miles toward the line of the Tine, to within ten miles northwest of Tebourba, separated from the Americans by a ridge and watercourse. Allied guns rained fire on Ferryville, but the Americans led by General Patton encountered fierce new resistance in the approach to the way station along the road to Bizerte.

North of Lake Achkel, in the thickets of the highlands, the French and Moroccan Goumiers took the offensive fifteen miles west of Bizerte.

With visibility obstructed by clouds above 1,000 feet, American-piloted Flying Fortresses took off in the most perilous flying weather of the Tunisian campaign to deliver an urgent message to Hitler and General von Arnim: there was to be no evacuation of troops allowed from Tunisia, such that the Allies would have to fight them again on Italian soil. The contingent of bombers struck hard at Bizerte, destroying a hundred barges lined up at the quays, either to deliver supplies or evacuate troops amid the cloud cover.

Bizerte was fast falling into a vise between ground operations emanating from Mateur and the Allies' air superiority which could now focus on relentless bombing of both Bizerte and Tunis.

In the Kuban River Valley of the Caucasus, the Russians again undertook a major air offensive against the Luftwaffe, knocking out 64 planes while losing 21 of their own in a strike to the west of Krasnodar, meeting the German contingent attempting to bomb that city. It marked the third attempt by the Nazis at a spring counter-offensive in the Kuban Valley.

From the Pacific, it was reported that in February, after Guadalcanal had been secured in the first week of the month, the U. S. Navy also had occupied the Russell Islands, northwest of Guadalcanal and a hundred miles from Japanese points of operation.

War Production Board Chairman, Donald Nelson, indicated that, despite record production of armament during the first quarter of 1943, goals for the year could not be met without a 50% increase over the first quarter effort, as the product amounted still to only 18% of the target for the year.

The first-quarter output consisted of 18,000 artillery pieces, 7,000 anti-aircraft guns, 6,000 anti-tank guns, 235,000 machine guns, and more than a million sub-machine guns and rifles. With the completion of the 45,000-ton battleship, Iowa, and 134 merchant ships, naval output also set a record for the first quarter, almost reaching 2.5 million tons, nearly equal to the rate set as a goal for the year. Higher rates of ships moving down the ways, however, were already building, with 157 merchant ships completed in April. Likewise, in aircraft, record manufacturing rates included 6,200 planes, more than 500 per month of which were Flying Fortresses.

As miners returned to the job after the agreement the previous day by John L. Lewis to afford another 15 days in which to form a new contract, their new boss, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, in charge of the mines at least until a contract was signed and the companies set back on an even keel with the miners, ordered a six-day work week. The miners had been working a six-day week since the fall when Secretary Ickes had asked them voluntarily to do so with time-and-a-half pay for the sixth day.

The miners remained steadfast in their intention to hold out for the two-dollar per day increase in wages, to be the first increase for them in two years. They were, however, standing behind both of their bosses, the UMW's Lewis and the Government's Ickes, believing they would get a fair shake in the bargain from each.

On the editorial page, Dorothy Thompson fleshes out the stakes of the coal strike for the miner: their wages were currently averaging a dollar an hour and fifty dollars per week. The two-dollar per day increase would thus bring the average hourly wage up to $1.25.

When the six-day week went into effect in the fall, the operators agreed to the time-and-a-half pay provision on condition that ceilings on coal prices be raised by 13.5% to allow for increased costs of operation from the higher wages. Nevertheless, the miners complained, some companies were working shifts to keep the mines operating full-time for six days and thus reaping the benefit of higher prices while the miners were not being paid the time-and-a-half for being limited still to five days of work. The miners therefore wanted the elimination of the shifts and, in their stead, the full six days of work.

Another sticking point in negotiations for the coal companies was the time of transport to and from the point of work in the mines, some miners taking as much as an hour each way to descend and laterally track to the point where the previous day's pick last struck the walls. The issue was whether the miners should be paid for that time. Lewis wanted six-hour work days with the extra two hours of pay figured for maximum transport time, regardless of actual time of conveyance for each group of miners. The companies thus far had refused to agree to this provision.

Thus, in sum, in addition to the higher wage, the miners were after a six-day week, with overtime pay for the sixth day, based on 36 hours of actual work per week, for which they would be paid the equivalent of 52 hours.

Ms. Thompson suggests that John L. Lewis was being antagonistic by refusing to submit to the War Labor Board; the companies, on the other hand, sought mediation by the Board on the premise that they could apply then for another hike in the price ceiling to cover increased payment of wages under the new contract. Ms. Thompson states that the losers in the mix were the American people and the war effort, set to suffer badly should the nation's mines again be shut down by strike fifteen days hence when the truce expired. Nevertheless, she realizes that coal mining was both a highly skilled occupation and one full of substantial daily risks to both health and safety. Bemoaning the fact that the President had to take time out from prosecution of the war to tend the complexities of this wage and hour dispute in such a critical industry, she advocates the establishment of a standing commission to stabilize the coal industry for the duration.

Raymond Clapper sends his first column from Sweden, finding the country determinedly democratic and neutral in the war, trying to remain free from the occupation besetting neighboring Norway since spring, 1940. Sweden's version of neutrality, however, was to be contrasted as a polar opposite to that of Spain, which, while maintaining nominal neutrality, actually embraced fascism, not the democratic freedom promoted in Sweden.

Mr. Clapper observes that the most popular drama in the country was that of John Steinbeck's The Moon Is Down, his 1940 novella set in an unnamed country resemblant to, but not a precise replica of, Nazi Germany, setting forth the corrosive effects on a culture and its freedom to think and speak its mind when deterministically led by the forces of fascist totalitarianism.

Indeed, Swedes had been regularly smuggling copies of the book into Norway since the outset of the Nazi occupation, as Norwegians even staged the work in secret playhouses.

The only concession in Sweden to the Nazis was one made in an effort to remain out of the war, allowing the Germans to use Swedish rails and roads to move troops and supplies into and out of Norway. The press and students of Sweden had been openly critical of the policy, again demonstrating the vibrancy of the vox populi, opposed to anything smacking of abetment to Nazis.

And, anyone among the number of latter-day Republican saints who proclaim sarcastically that Democrats in contemporary times sing "Kumbaya" to the masses while raising taxes and hailing Big Government with Big Government spending, ought probably read Samuel Grafton’s piece of this date, finding the Republicans of 1943, as led at the time by would-be 1944 presidential candidate and eventual vice-presidential nominee, Governor John Bricker of Ohio, to be the party singing a "sentimental ballad", seeking a return to a lost age of the "village green", that being the composite representative of states' rights and control of the people via local government, small, decentralized dominion--a kind of return to the state of the country under the Articles of Confederation, a retreat to the Greek city-state ideal, which proved, of course, quite successful in the end.

He finds the notion unrealistically atavistic in a world torn apart by war, establishes his proof for the assertion from the fact that Republicans had recently voted unanimously in the House Ways and Means Committee against renewal of the reciprocal international trade agreements set to expire June 30, placing the Republicans in Congress even to the right of the ordinarily conservative U. S. Chamber of Commerce which had actively taken a stand to preserve the agreements as essential to assuring post-war peace.

He contrasts the captious Republican ideal for the post-war world, as one being shrunk rather than expanded in its federalism, with plans being discussed by political thinkers in South Africa advocating the establishment, post-war, of a United States of Africa--something, of course, which would not occur, much to the continuing dismay of many countries on that continent torn since the war by internecine conflicts, a continent beset by Western imperialism even to 1990, now beset in many places by the imperialism of gun runners and oil runners feeding demagogues with sheikish luxury at the expense of the people left to starve and die in ruinous abject poverty, a series of societies built on models combining Corleone-esque methods of bargaining and governance cum Totemic religion, city-states, in other words.

"Sam the Sage", in the editorial column, gives high praise to Mr. Grafton’s work, quoting at length another of his pieces not previously included on the page, continuing the same lines of argument as the piece of this date. In it, he offers another example of the small-government, isolationist tide sweeping the Republican Party and seeping through the cracks to fortify with a decisively distinctive issue its quest for a return to the country's favor by awakening in the people sentimental longing for the past, replete with its forms of governance miserably failed, but now cloaked in new designer-labeled fancy: a partisan vote in the Senate of 37 Democrats to 19 Republicans in favor of divesting United States ownership of real estate, water and sewage systems in Panama on the ground that renunciation of ownership of facilities and land by one sovereign nation within the territory of another was consistent with the goals of the Good Neighbor Policy and the maintenance of trust in the enunciated tenets of the Atlantic Charter of 1941, declaring itself against any form of post-war imperialism.

The editorial on Mr. Grafton concludes that, while some Pecksniffian sorts considered him lightweight for his humorous asides and jabs, such flights of occasional fancy infused his pieces with charming nuances of wit as he made his points nevertheless systematically, founded on fact, and that he should continue to jab away at such obscurantist and short-sighted notions as those being championed by the Republicans (not to mention many Democrats) led by Governor Bricker.

So, for all of the isolationist, small-government, local-rule, states' rightist, Tea Partying, Globalonious malcontents, usually Republican, (who, despite these sentimental attributes, seem always keen on preserving the interests of Big Oil and Big Business), we offer this timeless song for your continued enjoyment on, or at, the Village Green.

Oh, so sorry. Wrong one. This one was the one which we had in mind, actually.

Incidentally, we forgot to mention that in our etymological tracing of the word shrubtigrog from the ancient Russian dialect into the modern English "subterfuge", we also came across the intermediate glottal stop in the Indo-European process of transvocabularization: "subrogate". To provide contextual usage of the word for those not familiar with its meaning, we offer the well-known expression, coined in 1735 in England by Sir Lord Fanciful Tranciful of Flanksfordshire, who was a well-reputed agent of Lloyd's of London, sporadically employed as their chief barrister at the Inns: "When one has by chance misfortune to have chopped off through another's malice or, misfeasance, or negligence, the "-er", then is the time for all wise and true their claims to allow me to subrogate as party beneficiary for the betterment of me and mine."

Sir Fanciful quickly added, at least it is to him imputed, even if somewhat disputatiously and anecdotally, by the undocumented lore of the time, "Just don't expect me also to get more for you and your little buggers than the amount which we paid out on your bloody claim."

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