Saturday, July 10, 1943

The Charlotte News

Saturday, July 10, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page and inside page are primarily devoted to the invasion of Sicily, taking place shortly after midnight and continuing through the early morning hours of this date.

At the time the news came in of the invasion, the President was having dinner with General Giraud, Secretary of State Hull, Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, the President's Chief of Staff, Admiral William Leahy, and Commander of the U.S. Fleet, Admiral Ernest King. FDR announced the fact to his guests while proposing a toast at around 10:00 p.m. The news was withheld from the press until midnight.

Taking from Winston Churchill's remark in November that the victory by the British in the Battle of Egypt was "the end of the beginning", the President termed the operation "the beginning of the end" of Hitlerís Germany. He also addressed General Giraud, saying that the liberation of France, including northern France and Paris, were prime objectives for the Battle of Europe, and would be accomplished in the near future.

Estimates were that some 400,000 Axis troops, primarily Italian, were stationed on Sicily at the time. No figures were provided on the number of Allied forces landing.

Seven divisions landed initially during the first day of the invasion, two American, four British, and one Canadian.

Berlin had estimated that of the 44 infantry divisions and fifteen to twenty armored divisions it calculated as being present in North Africa, the Allies would deploy half of those troops onto Sicily, meaning approximately 30 divisions in all, both infantry and armored. The Allied forces would never become that large, limited to about ten divisions.

The force was described by military sources as the largest amphibious landing in history.

General Eisenhower, as the invasion began, rubbed his five lucky old coins he carried around in his pocket, including his British 5-guinea gold piece, French franc, and a silver dollar. As he saw the planes off, he offered that D-Day had arrived. It, of course, would not be the last such D-Day.

Prior to the landings, U.S. Liberators struck at Axis headquarters near Messina at Taormina. The San Domenico Hotel, where the Axis headquarters operated, and the post office where its communications center existed were reduced to rubble.

British observers predicted that other invasions of Europe would soon follow.

On another inside page, a piece reports that the largest force of newsmen ever to accompany an expeditionary force made the landing with the soldiers. Fifty-four journalists from America, Britain, Australia, and Canada coursed the ninety miles across the Mediterranean to Sicily, twenty landing with the troops on the beaches and twenty-nine assigned to the Navy, while the remainder went with field commanders.

About a hundred newsmen and photographers had been briefed for fully a month prior to the invasion, having been assigned to various units in North Africa preparing for the deployment. Held to strict secrecy in the meantime, the target of invasion being identified only as "X-3", they were nevertheless allowed to interview the soldiers in anticipation of the invasion and write stories which were to be withheld until after D-Day.

Another piece recaps the timeline of principal events in the theater between the beginning of Operation Torch in North Africa on November 8 and the invasion of Sicily, July 10.

The reaction of the French and Arabs in North Africa was described as jubilant, the French sitting down to meals of macaroni in celebration of the new offensive. A French radio broadcast out of Algiers carried the news, the announcer reading from a communique the words of General Eisenhower providing the first statement on the invasion. The terse announcement was then followed by a playing of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, banned in France by the Nazis for its first measures bearing similarity to three dots and a dash, the Morse Code for "V"--as in, we suppose, "'Tis 3 o'clock," as set down by Keats in his "Ode on Magellan".

Such is what occurs when Nazis take over.

An overview of the population of Sicily was provided, describing in brief the history of the Mafia on the island, a band which had held sway there by corruption until the kingpins were rounded up and thrown in prison in 1932--the one thing positive in the abstract which Mussolini ever did. The piece suggests the remainder of the civilian population, some four million who had largely been evacuated to the mainland in anticipation of the invasion, as being largely rebellious to Italian Fascism. Those remaining, it was hoped, would be helpful to the Allies in negotiating the rough, mountainous terrain of the island and ferreting out Axis enclaves therein. They ranged from lemon and orange grove owners to peasants, children who danced the Tarantella as a panacea for the bite of the tarantula.

The piece impliedly compares the society to that of the Old South, with its ruffian overseers of the plantation era roughly equating to the Mafiosi hired by the absentee lemon grove owners to mind their plantation interests. The worst of the gumbas and the white trash overseers, in other words, were of a piece. That's why, we suppose, that the gumbas and the niggahs never got along in the old days.

Dance the Tarantella and the Twist together or something. It goes like thisÖ

Meanwhile, fierce fighting, as in the previous six days, continued along the 200-mile bulge between German-held Orel in the north and Belgorod in the south, seeking to take Russian-held Kursk in the center, all three points on a rail line leading south from Moscow toward the Ukraine.

Russians were routinely trapping German panzer divisions by the "fire bag" method, that is ambushing the tanks from their flanks and laying siege to them with fire after they had entered the "bag" area.

And Madame Chiang told of being nearly captured by the Japanese on her return flight from Canada to China after spending eight months abroad. The pilot of her plane on the last leg from India flew off course and nearly fell for the allure of a Japanese airfield light inside Burma. On a hunch, he redirected their course toward Chungking.

On the editorial page, "Sicily" applauds the long-awaited invasion of the Continent and hails it, as had the President, as the beginning of the end for Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy. It predicts that within weeks, with Italy but two miles across the Messina Strait, Allied air superiority in combination with ground troops would bring Italy to surrender, assessing that the Italian Navy, except for harassment occasionally by E-boats, would present but a small factor in the fight ahead. With the exception of northern Italy, it would be so.

The piece also cautions again, however, that the insurgence of ground troops would mean the beginning of high casualty counts for the Allies. That, too, would prove tragically accurate. The Allies would suffer 25,000 battle casualties in 48 days, including 2,572 Americans killed, 6,000 wounded and another 1,000 captured. The British would incur 2,721 killed and 10,000 wounded or captured. The Canadian forces had 2,400 casualties, of whom 562 were killed. The Axis forces, mostly Italian, would suffer 29,000 killed or wounded, 10,000 of whom were German, plus 129,000 captured.

Raymond Clapper, again reporting from North Africa, writes, as he had the previous day, of the terrible and futile waste of warfare, that the thrust out of this war had to be to associate the principal Allies, the U.S., Britain, Russia, and China, into a lasting peace organization designed to avoid any repeat performance.

He relates of the British having prepared a Fourth of July celebration for the Yanks in North Africa, a touching scene signal of the cooperation between the Allies.

Russia, he foresees, would recognize its stake in preserving world peace after the war and, in the meantime, after the war with Germany in the East was over, would likely open its western bases to Allied bombing raids on Japan.

No one could imagine, however, until the very end of the war in the Pacific, how high the stakes would become in the worldwide aversion therapy to be practiced in the future or how complicating of preservation of the World War II alliances would the advent of nuclear weaponry on the potential warring scene.

"Man Wanted" comments on the abstract printed on the page the day before from the Congressional Record setting forth remarks on the Senate floor by Robert Rice Reynolds, in continuing defense of his isolationism. It forecasts the signs of a defeat of Senator Reynolds in 1944, but nevertheless finds trouble in Democratic waters being stirred by anti-Hoey sentiment, Clyde R. Hoey of Shelby being his principal rival for the seat after former Governor O. Max Gardner, also of Shelby, had refused to run for reasons of health.

It quotes a statement by an unnamed politician favoring someone such as Kerr Scott as a third man for the nomination.

Former Governor Hoey would win the race and serve in the Senate until his death in 1954, succeeded by Sam J. Ervin. Kerr Scott, after serving as Governor from 1949 to 1953, would succeed to the Senate on the death of Alton Lennon in 1954 and serve out most of Senator Lennon's remaining term for four years, until his own death in 1958, succeeded by B. Everett Jordan, in a seat which was occupied by four other Senators between the death of Josiah W. Bailey in 1946 and the succession of Lennon to the office in 1953 after the death of the elected Willis Smith, whose campaign had been managed by Jesse Helms. The other three interim Senators were William B. Umstead, J. Melville Broughton, and Frank Porter Graham. Kerr Scott's son, Bob Scott, would become Governor in 1969 for one term.

"A New Broom" advocates the ouster of Dr. J. R. Saunders from the State Hospital at Morganton for his being part of the old guard which oversaw the deplorable conditions exposed by the series of articles authored the previous year by Tom Jimison.

Samuel Grafton finds the Republican Party too reluctant in its present face to accept the post-war environment being stressed, the active participation of the United States in a United Nations organization devoted to keeping the peace and providing an international police force to insure its maintenance. Thomas Dewey and John Bricker were simply too tepid in their support of such a post-war policy.

There was need for strong opposition to contest some of the wilder notions of the Administration, such as the State Department's light treatment of Spain's Fascist Francisco Franco and the creation of what Mr. Grafton terms the Giraud "L" in North Africa. The Administration could not carry the ball successfully into the post-war planning phase, he offers, without such a strong opposition. Mr. Grafton believes that Wendell Willkie was the only candidate yet to surface who could so carry the GOP banner the following year.

Pertinax explores the results of the recent United Nations Food Conference at Hot Springs, Va. and its implications for the future, finds that it was the first step in providing post-war relief for distraught and war-torn populations. The four primary signatories of the draft treaty arising out of the conference would ultimately be the U.S., Britain, Russia, and China, once the wording of the treaty had been approved by each country. The basic agreement reached thus far indicated that there would be an executive committee, with former New York Governor Herbert Lehman as its chair, and then a general council, with Governor Lehman likewise as director general, comprised of all the United Nations. The executive committee would be in more or less permanent session and the general council would meet only sporadically two or three times per year. The director general would supervise the administration of aid.

The tendency thus far was to favor payments for the food to the producing country supplying it, in order to preserve full independent sovereignty among the recipient nations.

Another question yet to be resolved was whether enemy states during the war would be allowed into the council.

In a letter to the editor, some soldiers took issue with the newspaper having referred on some recent occasion to their farewells to loved ones as "shows", believing it to suggest pejoratively that their goodbyes were "entertainment" for them.

Well, a show of affection is not exactly connotative of a theatrical presentation, but have it your way, boys. We all have to be upset about something when heading off to war.

Maybe, taking along a book or two on the voyage would not have been a bad idea for these fellows, such as, maybe, a dictionary.

And, a father writes to complain over the presence in the newspaper of some unstated four-letter word appearing apparently in the reprint of the serialized novel, Action in the North Atlantic by Guy Gilpatric. The unstated four-letter word had been noticed by his nine-year old son and called to his attention as a wordy-dirty the newspaper had printed.

Well, we have not provided the abstracts of that novel for you, not because of any desire to censor anything, but because we just donít care for war novels, and its excerpts do not appear on the front page other than twice during the previous week, on Monday and Tuesday. Thus, we only have that limited store from which to draw to try to discern the objectionable faux pas. And from those two brief segments, we see no likely candidates.

Maybe, the nine-year old was referencing the word, "Fm-f-f!", as quoted from Captain Elder in Monday's excerpt, and thought it some sort of expletive; we don't know. We see no possibilities in Tuesdayís offering at all. So, we just cannot tell what the offending print might have been.

We do know that Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox had been quoted on the front page Wednesday saying that the victory by the American Navy in the Battle of Kula Gulf was "another damned good licking" for the Japanese. That one, however, does not seem to have been the source of irritation of the boy or his father.

In any event, we suggest that the father had his head somewhere other than in the newspaper and should have simply counseled his son that such words are a part of life and that their appearance in war novels was inevitably going to be fairly commonplace, just as in real life, whether in warfare or not, and that he had better therefore damned well get used to the idea.

We don't, and should not, print things and communicate matter for the sole sake of the sensibilities of the average nine-year old, lest we all become of the equivalent mentality. Not that there is anything wrong or mentally aberrant necessarily with being nine. We were nine once. And, we heard all kinds of four-letter words, mostly from other nine-year olds. Those words didn't slay us.

If you do not want your son or daughter reading or hearing or viewing things which might contain an occasional bit of off-color language, we suggest, first, that they are quite probably going to grow up dumb as fence posts and probably not well acclimated to the world in general in which they will live as adults. Indeed, they might well become murderers.

But, be that as it may, should you wish their minds to remain pristine and sterile of the world around, just simply do not allow them to read the newspaper or the average magazine or other periodical or any novels at all written after about 1920. Confine them instead to dry journals devoted exclusively either to particular trades or to academic matter, even if they will likely not read those very assiduously or attentively for very long at a sitting. Becoming subject to ennui, they can then switch to the other more exciting fare for their age which the dedicated parent might provide, comic books--which most usually show them plentiful violence, but all expressed in good, clean parlance.

There's nothing better than a good rock-'em, sock-'em war novel, now, is there, with exclusively polite parlor language in it?

--Would you some tea?

--No sir, I would as soon kill you.

--Well, that would not be a pleasant happenstance, now, would it?

--But Iíve a hankering to kill you, with me broadsword, sir.

--Please do not. Have a spot of tea, now, and let's discuss our bloody plans for the escape from this bloody concentration camp in which Mr. Hitler has us imprisoned.

--Right. Bloody right. I'd still like as not to kill you though.

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