Wednesday, June 16, 1943

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, June 16, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of a combined American and RAF attack on five Sicilian airdromes, Sciacca, Boca Di Falco, Castelvertrano, Borizzo, and Milo, following a two-day lull in bombing operations out of Northwest Africa.

"Unofficial military commentators" indicated their observation that the Allied forces might attempt operations to seize simultaneously both Sicily and Crete, the latter from Allied bases in the Middle East. The source of speculation regarding Sicily is obvious. That anent Crete derived from the fact that Syria had closed its border with Turkey, as disclosed the day before, suggesting that there was afoot surreptitious movement of troops in the area in preparation for such an amphibious assault on Crete.

It was reported that the Allies had shot down 1,337 Japanese planes in the Pacific since the previous July 31, prior to the beginning on August 7 of the Guadalcanal Campaign.

That compared to the claimed bag by the Russians of 3,300 Luftwaffe planes in just the previous 45 days.

Of course, the theaters and distances between targets were entirely different and we do not suggest any unfavorable comparison to the Pacific, only offering the vast disparity in numbers to underscore the variation in target density between the two fronts and hence the disparate ratio of efficiency in bombing operations--affording some of the insight into why it was that the Allies chose first to defeat Germany, then Japan.

King George VI was visiting North Africa to congratulate the British First and Eighth Armies on their job well done in taking Tunisia. He also met with General Eisenhower and pinned on him the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, also recently awarded to General MacArthur. Likewise, he reviewed the other Allied forces, both American and French. This was the King’s second visit to an active theater of war, the first having been in early 1940 in France as the British prepared alongside their French compatriots at the time for defense of the Maginot Line.

In Chapter 15 of They Call It Pacific, Clark Lee reports of having made it finally back via boxcar to Manila on Christmas Eve, 1941, after a harrowing venture trying to get out of northern Luzon. He finds Clark Field ablaze, is informed by the Army that they deliberately set it to avoid its falling into enemy hands, that there were no more planes and thus no use for the airfield. He likewise finds the Navy bombarding shore installations and ammunition stores near the harbor. All hell had broken loose in the Philippines by Christmas. Manila was but a few hours from being declared an open city by General MacArthur.

Rumania was said to be making peace feelers with the Allies, offering to get out of the war provided it could claim parts of Bessarabia and Bukovina, currently held by the Russians. Rumania also hoped to have assurance of retaining Transylvania.

And a false report surfaced out of a Nazi-owned newspaper in Sweden, indicating that peace talks, supposedly having transpired between Russia and Germany, had failed after the Russians refused to acquiesce to the demands of Germany to have the Ukraine, the Baltic States, and all of Poland in exchange for withdrawing otherwise from Russian territory. The report was thought to have been circulated with the intent to create dissension between the United Nations.

With false reports now occurring almost daily out of the Axis as it prepared with the Big Lie its defense and morale against the Allied invasion, we should point out one story, thought for 47 years to be another Big Lie of the Nazis, which in fact turned out instead to be the truth. The Nazi account of 8,000 to 12,000 corpses of Polish officers which they claimed to have discovered buried in a mass grave in Katyn Forest near Smolensk in April, 1943 and then, based on claims related by local residents, attributed publicly to the Soviets as having occurred in 1940, was in fact accurate.

The story had first surfaced in the United States press April 23 as the Polish government-in-exile in London severed diplomatic relations with Russia over the incident. The German Propaganda Ministry had anounced the discovery in a Berlin radio broadcast of April 13. It continued as a subject of debate in the press through early May, eventually pushed out of the discourse of the au courant by the fast occurring events in Tunisia.

Notwithstanding cogent arguments having been advanced by all of the reputable columnists of the day, led by Dorothy Thompson, that the Nazi claims of finding stab wounds on the corpses consistent with the bayonets used by the Soviet Army were logically inconsistent with the three years of decay which would have necessarily ensued the 1940 date pinned to the massacre and that the rate of decay described was more consistent with the murders having occurred after the German invasion of June 22, 1941, that the Nazi claims of three-year old trees growing over the burial site offered no conclusive proof of Soviet responsibility because trees could be transplanted, the fact turned out to be that the Soviets did conduct the massacre in April, 1940, and did so with the imprimatur of Josef Stalin.

The incident was admitted by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 as part of the new government openness practiced during Glasnost. Released Soviet documents from 1940 confirmed the murders by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, an organization generally responsible for carrying out political purges during the Stalinist era. The murdered totaled about 22,000 Polish prisoners of the Soviets, including officers, politicians, and civilian intellectuals.

For the Nazi track record during the war, and given the ongoing effort of the Propaganda Ministry in Germany to sow seeds of dissension to separate out Russia from the Western Allies, no one could fault the press of the time for placing the blame for the atrocity on the Nazi accusers. The only reason that the Nazis were anywhere near Smolensk, after all, was their plunge into Russian territory in June, 1941, backstabbing their own passive former ally in an attempt to gain approbation from the appeasers and anti-Communists in Great Britain and isolationists and anti-Communists in the United States, thereby to effect an armistice, as well, moreover, on the more practical geopolitical ground that in order to win the war in Europe, Germany had to have the bread of the Ukraine and the oil of the Caucasus.

On April 10, 2010, the President of Poland for the previous five years, Lech Kaczynski, his wife, several members of the Polish Parliament, and other public officials and prominent civilians of Poland, died in a fog-enshrouded plane crash, attempting to land near Smolensk while on their way to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre. President Kaczynski had been a former adviser to Lech Walesa during the Solidarity Movement in Poland during the 1980's.

Among the 96 persons onboard were two men, one a sculptor living in Chicago, the other a retired Polish civil engineer, each of whom had lost his father in the massacre. A woman passenger, the curator of a university library in Krakow, had lost her grandfather in the grisly episode.

World War II, on occasion, though 65 years in the past, continues to affect matters, and even claim additional victims in the process, right into the present.

On the editorial page, "Heavy Price" warns of the likelihood of increasing four-motor heavy bomber losses to the Allies as the resistance by the Luftwaffe to the raids on the Continent began to increase. Just during the previous three days, fully 103 American four-motors, accounting for approximately a thousand airmen, had been lost. Such casualty rates, the piece grimly predicts, would increasingly become the rule.

Raymond Clapper, still "Somewhere in England", reports of conversations with young American crewmen of the four-motors, flying the missions unaccompanied by long-range fighters, relying on tight formations and high altitude to ward off the Luftwaffe pursuit. The fliers suggested that having P-38 Lightnings accompany them on the raids would relieve the casualty rates. They were sitting ducks after dropping the bombs as they turned the broad arc and headed home.

It was understood, however, that most of these long-range fighter planes were preoccupied with missions out of North Africa to soften the underbelly of southern Europe in Italy and Sicily, in preparation for the planned invasion.

Samuel Grafton again, as on December 21 in one of his first columns appearing in The News, asks "What Is Truth?" He begins by wondering rhetorically whether truth was, as several commentators, including The News, had asserted, that the war might be won by air power alone, having cited as Exhibit A Friday's historic surrender of Pantellaria, consequent entirely of air assault. Mr. Grafton believes--quite correctly--otherwise.

The editors offer a brief history of the many ruling orders in Sicily through time, as well as its being known during the previous 50 years or so not only for its positive link to America, most Italian-Americans having come from the isle, but also for its dark association with such notorious outfits as the Black Hand and the Mafia, albeit now said to be defunct organizations in Italy.

The Fascisti and Nazis had made them an offer they simply could not refuse.

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