Thursday, June 24, 1943

The Charlotte News

Thursday, June 24, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Army and Navy had released casualty numbers for the war thus far: 87,304, 15,132 of which were deaths. The Army casualties numbered 63,958 and the Navy, including Marine and Coast Guard, totaled 23,346, including 7,604 dead.

By comparison, therefore, the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard had suffered a disproportionately high number of deaths, at a 3 to 1 ratio of casualties to deaths, while the Army suffered deaths at the significantly lower ratio of 8.5 to 1. About 23,000 of the Army casualties were listed as missing while half that number were missing among the Navy casualties.

A report from London indicated that Italian troops were being withdrawn from Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and an outlying island of the Dodecanese, just off the southern coast of Turkey, to establish a tighter defensive line between Naples and Taranto on the mainland of Italy.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson announced that the Germans had moved from ten to twelve divisions of men into France, and several more into Italy, in preparation of defenses against Allied invasion. It was unclear whether the troops came from the Russian front or from Germany's reserves.

Meanwhile, the ground fighting on the Russian front continued largely in lull, the only significant action having occurred again in the vicinity of German-held Belgorod.

A new shuttle technique of bombing was initiated by the RAF on Sunday night. The first leg entailed the bombing of Friedrichshafen, 500 miles from Britain. The bombers then escaped south 750 miles to North Africa. After refueling and service, they went out again on a 500-mile bombing mission to hit La Spezia in Italy, then turned back for England, 700 miles away. The roundtrip was accomplished without a loss, as the Luftwaffe was unable to intercept the bombers in the ordinary pattern while they flew a predictable return route to England, the usual part of the mission, after German fighters were scrambled, when the flak started flying.

Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall assured that day and night Allied bombing raids would continue unabated despite losses in recent weeks. The losses were deemed relatively small compared to the results achieved in the raids. The primary objective was not to force Germany’s surrender by air power alone, as that was not deemed practical. Rather it was to divert planes and pilots from Russia and the Mediterranean to the defense of Germany.

It was also indicated that if Hitler planned any summer offensive in Russia, it would, to be effective, need start within days. The late beginning of the original invasion on June 22, 1941 had proved costly to the Wehrmacht when it became mired in the mud before Moscow in the early winter weather of October. The summer offensive in the Ukraine, Stalingrad, and the Caucasus in 1942 had begun in May.

During the previous month of May, 1943, fully 15,000 tons of bombs had been dropped by the Allies on Germany. Two-thirds of that tonnage had been dropped on the crucial industrial center of the country, the Ruhr Valley, hitting Dortmund, Essen, Wupertal, Bochum, Oberhausen, Krefeld, Recklinghausen, and Muelheim.

The vital importance of the region had been provided by Herr Doktor Goebbels, himself, who had described the destiny of the Ruhr as "the destiny of Germany itself".

Platoon Sgt. John Basilone of the Marines was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his having held a machine-gun emplacement against a regiment of Japanese for three successive days during fighting in the Lunga area of Guadalcanal the previous October. He had single-handedly dispatched 38 Japanese troops while maintaining his crucial position.

Despite orders from the UMW to coal miners to return to work, still fewer than half of the miners had obeyed the directive.

And, coffee rationing was loosened from one pound every four weeks to one pound every three weeks. Now, that summertime heat was upon the nation, everyone could drink their hot coffee every morning nearly to their heart's content, in unheedful, joyful suspiration.

In Chapter 22 of They Call It Pacific, Clark Lee tells of Captain Arthur Wermuth and his partner, Corporal Jock Yacob, leaders of a battalion of Filipino Scouts. Both, especially Captain Wermuth, had performed legendary heroic feats by February, 1942 when Mr. Lee came upon them just after each had been shot, Captain Wermuth critically, through the chest, just missing his lung, exiting through his back. Mr. Lee tells of their various daring missions. Wermuth expressed his desire never to be captured alive; as Bataan fell, however, he was caught among the thousands forced to endure the Bataan Death March north to the Japanese prison camp. Whether he had made it was not yet known.

Continuing on the inside page, Mr. Lee tells of another "one-man army" like Wermuth, Lieutenant Roland Saulnier, leader of a battalion of Filipino soldiers.

And of the story he wrote on New Mexico's 200th, a piece which drew praise from the newspaper in Carlsbad, the town from which many of the men had hailed; and of the nurses who bravely pursued their duties while bombs literally fell on the makeshift open-air hospital in which they struggled to care for the wounded; and of President Quezon; and of the Filipino Scout, Hilario Francisco, who had been machine-gunned to death, whose face looked familiar, eventually recognized by Mr. Lee as a soldier on duty at the Manila Hotel, the same who had been slapped by an American woman before the Japanese attack. She had said to him, "You Filipinos are dirt." Now, Mr. Lee wished that she could be present to observe his burial in the filed of battle.

On the editorial page, "The Negro Park" expresses regret that the issue of Charlotte's first park dedicated to the use of African-Americans, in a city with otherwise segregated public facilities, was headed for court. The issue, insists the editorial, should have been resolved amicably, with due recognition by the residents of the area surrounding the land to be used for the proposed park that the benefits of such a facility far outweighed any detriment to the neighborhood.

Yet, prejudices being what they were in this time, off to court the matter went for resolution.

The editorial was not hopeful of a salutary or equitable outcome.

A letter to the editor explains the prime need for such a park, that black children had nowhere to play other than in the dangerous city streets where the likelihood of being struck by a car was ever present.

"Red Herring", while reluctant to venture too strict an opinion on the causes of the Detroit race riot, nevertheless ventures that it was not the result of Fifth Column activity, rather more likely native-grown Fascism.

That view was consistent with the warning expressed two weeks before the riot by UAW president, R. J. Thomas, that Ku Klux Klansmen had been stirring the pot of racial dissension in the city.

The editorial finds little surprise in the riot, given that Detroit played host to such strident and seditious voices as that of Father Coughlin and the Silver Shirts, plus several radical movements among Labor. It finds the ultimate source of the disturbance most probably to have been a lack of understanding between new white and black co-workers in the war plants.

The piece concludes that all could and should learn a lesson from the destruction and death wrought from the Detroit riot, that good interracial relations were vital to the times of war for preservation of national unity.

It adds parenthetically, with Southern pride showing, that for all the racial problems besetting the South historically, it at least had not been thus far the locus of any full-scale race riot in recent times.

Given further time, less than two decades, however, as African-Americans began peacefully demonstrating and boycotting for their equal rights and opportunities-- the right to vote, to attend integrated schools, colleges and universities, the right to equal job opportunities, to sit anywhere they wanted on a bus, to stay in any motel or hotel of their choice, to sit anywhere in a public dining room they wished and to eat in any restaurant, to sit anywhere they desired in a public theater, to drink from the same water fountain as a white person--the reactionary South, especially the Deep South states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, would catch up quickly in riotous behavior with the North. The riots in every case were stimulated by white people, with baseball bats and clubs, and, in the case of the police in Birmingham, dogs and fire hoses.

"The Question" looks askance at China's sudden insistence that Russia enter the war against Japan as quid pro quo for the West’s Lend-Lease assistance and the opening of a second front in North Africa. The piece finds the demand premature, that Russia still had its hands full in the East with Germany and until Germany's defeat and elimination from the war, there was no reasonable hope that Russia might be so inclined, nor any reasonable suggestion ventured that it should, without running the risk of reducing its ability to be effective in fighting Russia in the East, a sine qua non for Allied victory in the war in Europe.

But, if and when Germany's defeat came, continues the piece, the price for Russia's cooperation in the effort to defeat Japan might well be to demand the Western Allies’ help in neutralizing the threat to Russia historically posed by Finland.

“The Reluctant” predicts few comers for the 1944 Republican presidential nomination to contest the probable run of Wendell Willkie, whose stock was running high in mid-1943 from his recent best-seller, Our World, and for his general favor with the American moderates.

The piece finds the stolid Republican landscape otherwise bleak and truculently opposed to the New Deal, wedded to revivification of past Republican ideals, isolationism, protective tariffs on trade, and laissez-faire economic policies, hardly a fit tread to be laid on the bridge from the war to the post-war world to come.

But, how quickly fickle times and political fortunes may and would be, as Willkie's health would keep him from the race in 1944, enabling young New York Governor and former organized-crime buster Thomas Dewey to grab the nomination.

Raymond Clapper finds the Labor Party favoring a form of post-war treatment of Germany equally as repressive and strict as that favored by the Tories. The trend indicated that Vansittartism was well-entrenched in Britain and any effort to neutralize it would need come from the United States at war’s end, even if by that time, he ventures, tempers would be sufficiently cooled to enable a more realistic assessment of the problem, probably enabling blame to be delimited to the Nazi Party hierarchy where it belonged, leaving the better part of the German population to rebuild their country.

Dorothy Thompson examines the comment by Republican Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire that the Office of War Information should have its funding curtailed because its Director, Elmer Davis, had established it as the nation's first propaganda office, every bit the equal of that of the "dictator countries", that is Fascist Italy and its government-controlled stooge press, Il Populo d'Italia, and Nazi Germany, with its Propaganda Ministry controlled by Herr Doktor Goebbels.

Ms. Thompson rises to the defense of Mr. Davis, even though she had admittedly differed many times in print with his methods in the two years since the office had been established. She believes that, as a coordinator of information among government agencies, his role was vital and well performed. He was, she argues, certainly no Goebbels. The contrast was immediate and stark: there were no government strictures on what the press could criticize in government policy, under penalty of forfeiture of the right to print, or even death, as in Germany.

Ms. Thompson knew whereof she spoke: she had been a correspondent in Germany when Hitler first came to power in 1933 and was personally ordered by Hitler to leave the country in 1934 for her critical editorials anent Reich policy.

She speaks of the Office of War Information in the past tense, as if it were a fait accompli that the curtailment of funding would end its operation, as Mr. Davis, himself, had predicted. In fact, however, OWI, while becoming far more limited in its sphere of activities in 1944 because of the cutbacks, would remain viable for the duration of the war.

Samuel Grafton also looks at the de-funding by the House of OWI, as well as the 20 percent cut in funding to the Office of Price Administration, finds both the result of Republican partisan attacks on the New Deal, looking for an axe to grind somewhere, finding it in paring down the effectiveness of these two agencies.

He suggests that cooler heads prevail among the moderate Republicans, such as Senator Robert Taft. The need was for a new Henry Clay to emerge in the Congress to lead the members back to a reasonable approach, based on the concept of the loyal opposition during wartime--such as the position which the Labor Party had faithfully maintained in Great Britain.

W. T. Bost of The Greensboro Daily News finds Senator "Our Bob" Reynolds stealthily moving from isolationism to some lukewarm version of forget-me-not interventionism as he prepared to run for a third Senate term from North Carolina.

He was no longer the darling of the isolationist Hearst newspaper syndicate, and had distanced himself from his former pal, Adolf Hitler. Now, he was playing the game as a stolid supporter of Churchill and Stalin.

But, he had reminded friends in close company, that, when the war casualty statistics started rolling in, the people would remember his firm anti-war stands prior to Pearl Harbor and come to his side.

The piece finds, however, that the lists of casualties only engraved more deeply the regret of the people of North Carolina that they had ever elected Bob in the first instance, such that at such a critical juncture in history as mid-1941, he became, by virtue of cut-and-dry rules of seniority, the Chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee.

Within a year from this time, Senator "Our Bob" would be a lame duck, serving his last six months in public office.

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