Saturday, June 12, 1943

The Charlotte News

Saturday, June 12, 1943


Site Ed. Note: A day after the surrender of Pantellaria, the front page reports, the smaller island of Lampedusa was struck with a similar aerial bombardment and entreaties to surrender. Even Rome was reported under no delusion that Lampedusa, with a much smaller garrison than had guarded Pantellaria, ultimately would not fall to the Allies.

Meanwhile, some 10,000 Italian prisoners from Pantellaria were being transported to Africa to sit out the remainder of the war.

In the entire seventeen days and nights of bombing missions against Pantellaria during a 24-day period, the Allies lost only forty airmen and no ground casualties in taking the island. In 3,000 sorties, only twenty aircraft failed to return.

On the final day of the bombing runs, fully 1,650 tons of bombs were deposited on the island fortress, 150 tons more than dropped in the then record-setting thousand-plane raid on Cologne a year earlier, only recently eclipsed by the 2,000-ton drop on Dortmund on May 22 and a similar drop on Dusseldorf three days later.

Apparently, the latter record, however, had just been broken by another large bombing raid of undisclosed number and tonnage the night before on Dusseldorf and other targets in the Ruhr and Rhineland valleys.

A 700-plane attack by the Russians on German airfields along the Russian front was the largest raid yet of the war by the Russian air force, eclipsing the previous record of 520 planes launched against Orel a few days earlier.

In Elizabeth, N.J., police reported that six lions had escaped from the Gilbert Brothers Circus and, after four of them were quickly re-captured, the other two took refuge in a residential neighborhood, one hiding under a porch. An officer, wondering what a lion would do from underneath a porch, glared at the animal. It then leaped over his back onto another neighboring porch. The Elizabeth police had also had trouble a few days earlier with balking elephants.

Whether the animals didn't like Elizabeth, N.J., the Gilbert Brothers, or the Elizabeth police, was left unclear.

In Washington, it was announced that Fala, misspelled with an extra "l" in the caption accompanying the hazy photograph, had a new friend, Whiskers, a wire-haired terrier belonging to James Byrnes, newly appointed Director of the Office of War Mobilization. Whether Whiskers was a registered Republican or, as his master, Democrat, was not yet reported. With the name Whiskers, the answer to the question remained a bit hazy.

And, OPA announced that a new shoe rationing stamp, No. 18 in the coffee-sugar rationing book, would shortly go into effect through October, replacing No. 17, set to expire on Tuesday. So many people lined up outside shoe stores to cash in the last of the No. 17 stamps that stores had to close their doors. Whether the shoes to be purchased with the new No. 18's were made of sugar and coffee beans and therefore could be licked intermittently during long walks to obtain instant energy boosts, was not revealed.

No report yet had come in this Saturday on sealing wax or, per se, pigs with wings. The Luftwaffe, however, was reported to be still flying air raids against Gorky.

That left sealing wax.

On the editorial page, Dorothy Thompson writes of the extreme vulnerability of Italy, now that its protective moat, the Mediterranean, was no longer Mare Nostrum to Italy, but rather to the Allies. Now, its boot was its vulnerable point of attack, its north-south rail lines easily subject to being severed into slices by several east-west attacks across the Italian peninsula. The Italian military apparatus had scarcely caused an eyebrow to be raised during the war thus far and for the Germans to defend the peninsula meant committing large numbers of troops into an area not easily defended and from which escape would be difficult. She offers that the fall of Libya and Tunisia had spelled the end for Italy; the fall of Italy would spell the end for Festung Europa, as its southern lines depended heavily on Italy as bulwark.

Although she does not say it, all indications were that the war in Europe was about to end, perhaps by the end of the year.

"Changed Tune" similarly voices optimism with respect to the defeat of Japan, citing the new confidence emanating from Prime Minister John Curtin of Australia that Australia was safe from enemy attack. That came after two meetings with General MacArthur. The piece concludes, together with the similar voice of confidence from Admiral Nimitz, after his recent meeting stateside with Admiral Ernest King, that a new and dramatic offensive was planned to begin shortly against the Japanese in the Pacific.

Unfortunately, just as with the optimism over the apparent prospect of Italy's imminent demise, it was likewise premature to believe that the Japanese were soon to be vanquished.

"The Boast" correctly assesses the movement again of the German forces in Russia toward Rostov as merely a feint to instill confidence in the German people that their armies were not licked, and that it would not amount, could not amount, to the kind of sustained drive reminiscent of the previous two summers, that the Wehrmacht was now spread too thin across Europe in defense of potential Allied blows from the north, south, and west to be so concerned as before with Russia.

"Look Again" seeks to quell the rumors promulgated by The New York Daily News that the WAAC's had become a breeding ground for all manner of immorality as a secret procurement of contraceptive devices for them had been uncovered. The report, assured Secretary of War Stimson, was false. The editorial echoes the Secretary's concern in finding it not only yellow journalism on the part of The Daily News to spread such an ill-founded rumor, but labels it as help to the enemy and diminishing of Allied morale.

"The Irate King" examines the hypocrisy of John L. Lewis in denouncing as "brutal economic sanctions" the imposition of dollar-a-day fines by Secretary Ickes on UMW striking coal miners in the period June 1-5, when juxtaposed to Mr. Lewis's having led the miners into the strike mode, a form of economic sanction to the continued vitality of war production.

Raymond Clapper suggests that it bode well for future good relations between the United States and Great Britain that two stable, strong, friendly, and experienced leaders currently occupied the positions of Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, the latter position held by Anthony Eden.

Samuel Grafton explores the Republican attempt in the House to use minority influence over the Appropriations Committee to legislate out of existence certain official posts or disfavored New Deal programs by special rider added to bills, simply de-funding the positions or the programs. He cites as example the attempt to dismantle piecemeal by that method the Farm Security Administration. Finally, the House as a whole seemed to have wised up to the tactic and now sought an end to it.

The complete "War Prayer" by Mark Twain, written in 1904-05, as originally published posthumously in 1923 in Europe and Elsewhere, an anthology of short prose edited by Albert Bigelow Paine, re-printed in part on the page from The New York World-Telegram, goes:

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came--next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams--visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory--

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside--which the startled minister did--and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne--bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import--that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of--except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two--one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this--keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer--the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it--that part which the pastor--and also you in your hearts--fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle--be Thou near them! With them--in spirit--we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved fire sides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it--for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

[After a pause.] "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak!--The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Because the piece contains the nameless character of the "stranger", it is sometimes confused with the novella, The Mysterious Stranger, also published posthumously, in 1916, the Stranger therein being a quite different character. Or was he?

You falla?

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