Wednesday, June 30, 1943

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, June 30, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Shifting the emphasis suddenly from the previous seven weeks of speculation over when the next move onto the Continent would be undertaken by the Allies, the front page announces a new offensive in the central Solomons, one freighted with much fate for the future of the United States, the invasion of the appropriately named Rendova Island.

The island, a part of the New Georgia group, was but five miles south of the Japanese airfield at Munda, a repeated target of Allied air raids since the fall.

Speculation ran that the purpose of the mission appeared to be to take the Munda airfield to serve as a launching pad for air attacks on Rabaul on New Britain or on Bougainville to the north of Munda in the Solomons. Alternative theories were that the mission was either to screen other movements of the Allied forces, or to test the resolve of the Japanese to defend their positions.

Another basis for the attack, the most important, was not advanced by the piece, that being to use the harbor at Rendova as a base of operations for Motor Torpedo Boats to patrol just to the north into Blackett Strait and other areas between New Georgia and Bougainville. The omission, of course, may have been deliberate, to confuse the enemy.

Regardless, it would be there, in Blackett Strait, that one of these PT-boats, just 33 days away, on the night of August 2, would meet the fate of this date's invasion of Rendova and take flight into the new frontier of the future.

The piece speculates that large opposition had been met in the landing. In fact, only about 120 Japanese, half of whom were killed, held the island. The landing force was comprised of approximately 6,000 men.

It was the second major Pacific offensive undertaken since the Guadalcanal landing August 7, 1942 had seized the initiative for the first time in the theater, the other having been the taking without opposition of the Russell Islands, north of Guadalcanal, on February 9.

The map on the front page shows the location of Rendova. The picture below shows a scene from the landing this date.

American Flying Fortresses were reported to have attacked Le Mans, France the previous evening without loss, the first American attack on the Channel Coast since May 4.

Whether it was signal of an endurance run was not indicated.

Prime Minister Churchill spoke to a gathering at the Lord Mayor's Luncheon at Guildhall in London, indicating that before autumn leaves would begin to fall, there would be heavy fighting in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Once the German cities were conquered from the air, he warned Hitler, the bombs would begin dropping on the industrialized smaller towns.

The recent American air raids on Salonika and Athens had so heartened Greek patriots that rioting had begun in both cities, in rebellion against the occupying Axis forces. Hundreds of the rioters had been immediately arrested or shot. Among the arrested, most were headed to the firing squads. The rioting had spread meanwhile to Volos and Larisa.

In Italy, 65,000 workers had struck at 25 plants in Turin in protest of arrested Fiat workers who previously had launched a strike.

As to those two matters, however, between the Detroit riot of the previous week and the coal mining crisis plaguing the nation's steel output since March, the Axis appeared to have little more to worry about than the United States, except the methods utilized in reaction to quell the crises.

War Mobilization Office Director James Byrnes called Vice-President Henry Wallace and the Secretary of Commerce, Jesse Jones, into his office for a meeting over their public quarrel as to which was the more inefficient, the Wallace-led Board of Economic Warfare or the Jones-led Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

Just what was discussed between the director of OWM and those of BEW and RFC at 4:00 p.m. EWT, was not yet known, just as whether their differences had been thus mediated by Mr. Byrnes. Whatever the case, it was indicative of his power as "assistant President" that he could ask the Vice-President and the Secretary of Commerce, both ostensibly more powerful positions than his recently created one, to meet with him in his office, regardless of its alphabetic title.

And, for the first time, because of the war, employers would begin July 1 to withhold as taxes 20% of the amount in excess of exemptions, $50 per month for single persons and $100 for married persons, plus $25 per month per little dividend, out of all salaries and wages, as part of the new pay-as-you-go plan just enacted by Congress.

In Chapter 27 of They Call It Pacific, Clark Lee reports of the Japanese using women troops in the Philippines as well as in China. On one occasion, a soldier told him, his tank crew had been firing into a group of Japanese soldiers and slicing them to pieces, only to have them emerge, throw down their rifles, rip open their blouses to reveal their breast-plates. The soldier passed out in his tank.

Often the enemy sought to inveigle the Allies by such means as using firecrackers to confuse and make it appear that their forces were stronger than they were, or to create the illusion of enemy fire in one area while a hidden machine gun lay in wait in another, where the baited trap could be closed.

On the editorial page, Raymond Clapper discusses the dramatic change he had witnessed during his month in Britain compared to two years earlier in August, 1941. The climate now was infinitely more secure and confident. There was no longer talk of invasion by Germany, but rather only talk of invasion of the Continent. There was no more concern for the occurrence of a second blitz, as had been the routine expectation voiced regularly among the populace two years earlier.

Food, gasoline, and clothing were scarce. Yet everyone had more money than typically they had possessed in their lives, the average worker in war industry earning the equivalent of 150 American dollars per week, an extraordinary sum for labor prior to the war.

Mr. Clapper's primary observation was that the British, with over two more years of experience at it, were more adept than Americans at taking the war in stride.

For whatever mercurial reason, a piece appears from "Ships" recounting the history of Robert Fulton's efforts to entice the Government through a letter addressed to Secretary of War James Monroe, November 4, 1814, to purchase from his company four steamships for use on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to transport troops to and from the western regions of Tennessee and Kentucky to Louisiana, where he believed the British would attack. The Government did not bite, even though Monroe also thought the prospect of such an invasion likely.

And, without the steamships or the 4,000 troops they could quickly move down river in 35 to 40 days, the Battle of New Orleans in January, 1815, after the war had officially ended, went into the history books along with its hero, General Andrew Jackson.

"Paper, Paper". Goats might suffice.

"Which Year?" echoes the piece on Monday by Samuel Grafton, critical of contrary statements being issued by government and military officials regarding the war. It recounts the statement before Congress by General Joseph McNarney that victory in the war over Japan was rapidly coming into view, then, when cornered by a Senator who suggested he might mislead Americans into undue confidence with the statement, retracting his use of the word "rapidly" as hyperbolic.

The editorial then proceeds to contrast the statement of General McNarney with that of General Hap Arnold, assessing that by the following year, Allied air power would be superior to that of the Luftwaffe. Inquires the piece, which year was it, then, when Hitler was to fall: 1943 or 1944?

But, in fairness to General McNarney, his appraisal was relative to the Pacific theater, while General Arnold had referenced Europe.

"Paper, Paper". So might Hitler.

Samuel Grafton carps at the dual standard being employed with respect to tolerance of anti-New Dealers who were regularly engaged in taking pot-shots at the domestic programs of the Administration, while the President and his Cabinet were expected to remain mum in reply, lest they be charged with playing politics amid an ongoing war, and within seventeen months of the next presidential election.

He points specifically to Representative Clare Boothe Luce, Senator Harry Byrd, Representative A. Leonard Allen of Louisiana, and Representative Joe Starnes of Alabama--the latter of whom had in 1938 asserted the belief that Kit Marlowe was a contemporary, a Red, and on relief--as falling within the group of the immune who could lambaste the executive branch without the imputed charge thereby of playing politics.

Yet, the President was supposed to remain stoic and concentrate on fighting the war, not respond to these sniping critics.

Indeed, the task of chief executive spokesperson, by fall 1944, would have to be left finally to Fala.

Not being the first time that The News editorial page had pointed to Representative Starnes's gift for gaff by seeking to haul this reprobate Marlowe before the Dies Committee, "Representative Starnes" takes up the cudgels against the Congressman, suggesting that if he didn't know of Marlowe, he likely could not be trusted to have been very accurate in his account of the Office of War Information, that its Director, Elmer Davis, former CBS radio news anchor who gave up a salary of $50,000 per annum to go to work for the government for a fifth of that amount, was little more than America's Goebbels.

If Marlowe was a Red on relief, it pretty much followed, by the same mode of logic and degree of information, that Davis was the doppelganger of Goebbels.

Quips the piece, in reference to a book by Carl Carmer from 1934, as well the mystics' adopted harbinger of the Civil War a century earlier, "Starnes fell on Alabama."

We add: Fala fell on the anti-New Dealers.

You will see what we mean.

The matter had a double aspect. On the one hand, this bawdy outburst struck straight against Southern Puritanism and sentimentality--particularly the cult of Southern Womanhood--and so served to add to the sum total of fears on its own account. And not only among those who were themselves untouched by it. What I have said with regard to the South being in some fashion afraid of itself is particularly applicable here. For in the bottom of the minds of even the most flauntingly "emancipated" of these youths, the old sentimentality and Puritanism bred in their bones from birth still lurked, and often started up to torture the young woman with longing for the old role of vestal virgin, the young man with longing for the old gesturing worship of a more than mortal creature--to make them continually restless with the subconscious will to escape into being more nearly whole again. And one result of this was that they usually kept right on giving lip service to the ancient tradition and forms.

There is a passage in Carl Carmer's Stars Fell on Alabama which admirably illustrates the point:

"One of the rituals of the university [of Alabama] dances is that of a fraternity of young blades entitled the Key-Ice. During an intermission the lights are turned out and these young men march in carrying flaming brands. At the end of the procession four acolytes attend a long cake of ice. . . . Then the leader, mounted on a table in the center of the big gymnasium, lifts a glass cup of water and begins a toast that runs: 'To Woman, lovely woman of the Southland, as pure and chaste as this sparkling water, as cold as this gleaming ice, we lift this cup, and we pledge our hearts and our lives to the protection of her virtue and chastity.'

"Frequently the young man is slightly inebriated and the probability is that he and his cohorts are among the better known seducers of the campus, but no one sees any incongruity in this."

But if the new looseness served to engender fear on its own account and to further widen the old curious split between profession and practice, it also served, as I have said, as an immensely valuable exhibit for the opponents of the modern mind in Dixie--an exhibit admirably calculated, because of its coincidence with that mind in the colleges and universities, to convince simple minds that the whole natural fruit of that mind was decay and madness and ruin and would eventually be Communism.

In the name of religion, of morality, of patriotism, of the purity of Southern Womanhood, and of the will to avert the Red Peril, then, the accepted leaders of the South proclaimed their fear and hatred of the new spirit which had wormed its way in--in their name called up the fear and hatred of the masses against it. And now, as in all times past, it was quite impossible to say where calculation ended and genuine religious conviction, sentimentality, moral notions, and patriotism began. You could say with fair confidence that calculation was greater than at any time before. You could be reasonably convinced that calculation played the major role in the hot zeal of such journals as the Textile Bulletin for returning the schools to the status of pure stamping mills for the old pattern. But beyond that--

--The Mind of the South, Book III, Chapter II, "Of Returning Tensions--and the Years the Cuckoo Claimed", Section 24, pp. 331-332, 1941 ed.

Past is prologue: the reason to be constantly vigilant of history.

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