Tuesday, June 15, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, June 15, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reported that much of the urban German civilian population, save male workers in war factories, were being moved to rural towns and villages to escape the relentless bombing by the Allies. Dusseldorf, site of recent heavy raids, was among the cities most thoroughly being emptied of inhabitants. Rural dwellers were being asked to take in the evacuees for the good of the country.

--Mein herr, mein frau, gut day to you. And, should you not be so disposed to accommodate our little project willingly, with humility, we can bring to bear upon your recalcitrance our friends in the SS, who then might teach to you gut German billingsgate, with civility.

Meanwhile, the omnipresent bombing continued, the RAF striking Oberhausen, steel and coal center near Essen.

Another RAF contingent of Wellingtons struck hard at Messina on Sicily Sunday night. Yet again, however, for the second day in a row, the Northwest African Air Forces remained idle, save for patrols.

The fourth and last of the Italian islands in the Sicilian Strait, tiny Lampione, was seized by the Allies.

Rome radio continued to broadcast reports of the readiness of the Italian defenses and the massing of Allied warships in the Strait, warning that the invasion was likely to be within a week--having previously been predicted by the German kept press for June 22.

German radio meanwhile offered pleasant entertainment to its listeners, claiming heavy bomber attacks on Bone in Algeria and on Allied ships gathering at Bizerte in Tunisia. Rome radio added to the lusty fare the claim that a three-day attack by Axis planes on Allied shipping in the area between Malta, Bizerte, and Sicily was engaging in a continuing slugfest, with heavy losses to the Allies.

The resultant cheering no doubt ringing through the Bistros or rural Hof Braus could be enjoyed but for a little while by the willing listeners, until the ale warmed and went dead before their parched lips. The reports were all quite false.

In Chapter 14 of They Call It Pacific, Clark Lee relates of his continuing stalled attempt to return to Manila during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. Having learned that the main road to the city was cut off by fighting, with bridges blown, he and his companion took to foot, providing the Army, upon written promise to return it after the war, the 1928 Ford they had been driving.

Just as the American major was examining the document, however, three Japanese Navy 96's flew overhead, sending everyone diving for ditches, Mr. Lee winding up clutching for dear life a solid rock, the tree limb having afforded no stop to his descent down a ledge. No matter. The three planes flew on.

On the editorial page, Dorothy Thompson suggests that the new appointment of Bernard Baruch to act as the assistant to Director of War Mobilization, James Byrnes, placed a "radical" as assistant in charge of coordinating and administering the war effort, in complement to the radical Winston Churchill over the Pond.

By the use of the term, she explains, she means it to reacquire its traditional assumptions, that is in description of a person, not as a subversive, but one who had the determination to get to the roots of a matter, radically insistent, in other words.

She presents the analogy of gardening to demonstrate her chance to stray, that liberals too often were concerned only with the surface dirt, while leaving the rocky soil beneath undisturbed, left to provide fertile ground for the growth of weeds shortly into the flowering season. The radical instead plowed deeply into the soil with his spade and made sure the ground was pure before the planting.

Both men, Churchill and Baruch, she continues, had warned early of Hitler's plans, Churchill counseling in 1934 to stop the German rearmament program lest it result in another war, Baruch publicly stating in 1936 that the raw materials necessary for making armaments, diamonds for gun boring, chrome for hardening steel for aircraft and tank engines, magnesium and other such materials, be purchased on the international market by the United States to keep them out of German hands. The response had been cold to the notion, that oceans protected the United States, that it would be too expensive, even if a pittance compared to the cost of a another world war out of Europe.

She blames liberals for the lack of a plan to avert the war and, thus far, for the absence of any cohesive plans for winning it. She ventures, however, that Byrnes and Baruch would likely come up with such an articulated plan.

Well, was she correct in blaming liberals? Let us see what Samuel Grafton has to offer.

He looks at the voices of dissension with the ongoing war effort, the recent cries arising from Senator Happy Chandler of Kentucky, to tear away men and planes from the European theater and divert them to the Pacific to "defeat Japan first", as well the policy change advanced publicly by Herbert Hoover, that the Administration solve the farm labor shortage by drafting men from war industries into the armed services, then reassigning them after training to the farm, serving the dual purpose of having men ready to fight but also, while awaiting sufficient ships to be built to transport them to the front, supplying the missing farm labor force to insure adequate domestic production of food for the home front.

Mr. Grafton suggests that the recent remarks of Australia's Prime Minister John Curtin, that he no longer had question of the security of Australia against Japanese attack, as he had voiced just three months earlier in March, had taken the wind from the sails of Senator Chandler. The Senator had thought that he was describing reality, says Mr. Grafton, but in fact "was only describing an onion, or an ostrich egg".

He concludes both men to be echoes from the past, appearing to try assiduously to wrest sloth, even defeat, from the Allied jaws hearkening new celerity and, with it, victory. They would, nevertheless, Mr. Grafton assures, remain well behind the advancing phalanx of war.

Was it the liberals of the 1930's or the Harding-Coolidge-Hoovers of the 1920's who had instilled in the American consciousness the notion of isolationist doctrine, crippling thereby any hope of stultifying at its beginnings the rearmament of Germany, the imperial pan-Pacific destiny sought by Japan?

Raymond Clapper, "Somewhere in England", tells of being led on a tour of an Army Supply Depot, finding the opinion he sampled to insist that victory in Europe was nowhere in sight by the end of 1943, as had been the recently expressed hope at home. The officers favored the last quarter of 1944 as bringing the best opportunity for victory. So, too, did the press corps. No illusions abounded among these men who saw the war up close and understood the mighty effort ahead necessary to wrest Europe from the jowls of its bloody overseers.

"Better Paid" quotes the Morris Code, the Army newspaper published at the base at Charlotte's Morris Field, as happily celebrating the enviable pay of the average foot soldier, which, including all perquisites, came not just to the $500 in cash received each year, but rather to a whopping billfold full, equivalent to $1,700, even more when such incidentals as free entertainment and movies were factored into Uncle Sam's generous bargain.

Of course, the piece in the Morris Code, for obvious reasons, did not reckon with the movie awaiting many of these men once shipped to the theater of battle along the front lines, where there would be, for too many of them, the Devil to pay, and in instant recompense for the luxuriant life of Riley spent stateside in the Army.

"Japan's Shocks" predicts a coming "earthquake" of Allied offensive operations against Japan which would not need a seismograph to determine its force, that the Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942 would soon become a journey repeated with the regularity of the daily raids now proceeding over Europe, as the raids which had brought Tunisia's Axis troops to halter, which had just forced Pantellaria into quick surrender.

"[T]he whole of the island empire would reel and rock under the bombs of war which will boomerang on the warlords of Japan."

It would ultimately be so, and, anent the force of that earthquake, far beyond that susceptible of imagination for anyone outside a close circle of scientists working in the shadows of secrecy out amid the blowing sagebrush and the painted purple cattle skulls in the New Mexico desert.

"New Air Tactics" offers that General Eisenhower's decision to operate the RAF and American Air Forces jointly under a single umbrella had paid off with immediate dividends in Tunisia and would similarly achieve results in breaking Festung Europa when the expeditionary force began moving onto European shores at some still unknown location, clearing the way in advance and insuring the way as they progressed across the beaches and into the countryside, just as they had in Morocco and Algeria, on their way to Tunisia.

Of course, what sounded good on paper and had worked as greased lightning in the relatively open country of Tunisia would find a harder gambit to break when the Nazis and Fascists began to defend their own home turf, familiar to their sights, the places where they trained as flyers, as infantry soldiers.

It would take longer than anyone yet believed to break their will, both in Europe, and in the Pacific.

And Louis Graves of The Chapel Hill Weekly briefly reminds his readers of the effortlessly restive energy bequeathed of right to youth, by inverse ratio, taken from the aging through each progressing year.

A new employee had just returned from Durham after a 25-mile roundtrip to visit the doctor for an eye ailment--via bicycle. The youthful subject had indicated his trip took but 53 minutes going and 45 minutes on return.

Why did Mr. Graves have to remind us?

We can still make the 25 miles without such great difficulty, but certainly not in 98 minutes. And we have better equipment at our disposal than the youth had in Chapel Hill, indeed, than we, ourselves, once had in Chapel Hill.

Middle-aged wiseacres, with their 48-speed road bikes, built on carbon frames weighing three ounces, decked out with $5,000 ruby-encrusted derailleurs, gyroscopically balanced wheels made of platinum and titanium alloy, fused by means of the pure electricity from a dead eel skin, the skin's inhabitant caught at great expense off the coast of Alaska, costing multiple human lives in the process, shaped naturally in turn by the pressure exerted from the jaws of 23 captive great white sharks acting in concert, all in combination producing a coast uphill at 45 miles per hour with but a feather's exertion of force to impel the pedals, and costing $90,000 for the whole she-bang, hold your peace.

In 1943, this young fellow undoubtedly was riding at best an English three-speed, maybe just a single-sprocket Roadmaster, probably with a basket hanging off the front and pedals alone which weighed more than the whole Italian racing job you are piloting around with your little finger barely poised on the handlebars today. And so to average 15 mph trundling over hill and dale, along secondary roads, not 15-501, between Chapel Hill and Durham, was a genuine feat to have been achieved in less than an hour each way on such inferior equipment.

If you refuse it, Chapel Hillian or Durhamite, go find yourself an old clunker from the era, maybe borrowing one momentarily from the possession of a screaming Girl Scout, and give it a whirl. Test your pedaling fortitude and skills, not your slick equipment, if you dare, and determine your wherewithal to beat the youth of 1943.

But watch the traffic and don't claim that we put you up to it.

It is no fair, by the way, to remove the heavy steel fenders. Remember to blow the airhorn before crossing railroad tracks. And, to keep the contest equitable, don't forget to have the doctor put some belladonna in your eyes to insure faster pace on the return trip.

The quote of the day comes from Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy, which had been mentioned twice by Cash, once in a 1936 book-page piece on The Anatomy of Frustration by H. G. Wells, and in an editorial of August 7, 1938, "The American Way".

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