Friday, July 16, 1943

The Charlotte News

Friday, July 16, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Reports the front page, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill jointly issued an ultimatum that Italy must surrender or be blasted from the war by the combined air and sea power of the United States and Great Britain.

The open declaration would have its quick effect.

Naples, the source of supply and reinforcements for Sicily, was said to be in ruins after twenty-four hours of relentless bombing, with the American Flying Fortresses and Liberators flying by day and the RAF Wellingtons covering the night.

The British Eighth Army had advanced to within fifteen miles of the east coast port of Catania on Sicily, while defeating the Herman Goering Division and 15th German Armored Division.

General Patton's Seventh Army had taken 16,000 prisoners along the western flank of the arc moving northward.

Don Whitehead tells of an American infantry force battling a hundred tanks and bringing them to a standstill on Monday as they sought to recapture Gela from the American landing forces who took it on Saturday.

Planes from an unnamed small carrier had sunk at least two and probably ten U-boats in protecting two convoys crossing the Atlantic, the largest bag in such short order in the history of anti-submarine warfare.

On New Guinea, General MacArthur's forces, trying to push back the Japanese to the Salamaua-Lae sector, successfully took Mubo, gateway to Salamaua, once again employing the tactics of the Japanese in early 1942 on the Malay Peninsula and entrapping from the rear the enemy fronting the sea. The tactic had been used successfully within the previous two weeks in the approach to Munda on New Georgia.

The Russians, continuing to wage a counter-offensive in the area of Orel, claimed to have destroyed fully 3,052 enemy tanks, 1,686 planes, and killed or captured 54,000 German soldiers during the first twelve days of the Nazi summer offensive drive along the Orel to Belgorod salient.

And General Henri Giraud visited Camp Mackall, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg, to review American Airborne Division forces.

Meanwhile, the RAF bombed the Peugeot factory at Montbeliard in northern France where two-ton trucks were being produced apace for the Axis. The Allies a few months earlier had successfully bombed the Renault plant, principal truck producer of France.

On the editorial page, Raymond Clapper tells of the odyssey of the "Coughlin Coffin", a B-26 Marauder which began its life inauspiciously as a designated lemon, performing so badly in training that one Private J. Regan scribbled on its nose, "God bless the crew of this plane. I'll say a prayer for your safe return."

The Coffin lived up to its reputation in one sense, losing its left engine three times over Tunisia before finally not only once again losing its left engine, this time on a mission over Sicily, but also one of its landing gears, coming in more or less literally on a wing and a prayer. Nevertheless, it made a safe landing, with its original pilot aboard--either its 49th or 50th mission, the crew having lost count. As it came to a halt, however, the right wing dipped to the ground and broke from the plane, ending the career of the proud but terribly flawed and consequently scarred bird.

Such were the hazards of these flying death wagons, put together with such alacrity, often by only recently skilled hands, that they flew only at a wonder and landed only on a miracle.

Samuel Grafton finds it egocentric of America to send several Senators abroad on a fact-finding mission to examine the state of airfields which the U.S. had built in foreign territory. The goal of the mission was to determine whether these fields should pass to America at the end of the war or be internationalized, with the inexorable consequence of an international police force for their protection. Mr. Grafton thinks the mission to be one filled with egocentrism, chest-beating for America. An humble demeanor, he offers, seeking instead the perceptions of America held by the citizens of foreign nations, was more in order.

Drew Pearson returns to the Jesse Jones versus Henry Wallace fight over who was more incompetent at procurement of raw materials for the war effort. The focus this time is on Mr. Jones and his desire to have the whole matter exposed to the light of day by investigation. His aides, however, quickly countered that were it so, some jangling skeletal remains might be unearthed with unforeseen consequences.

For instance, he had criticized Vice-President Wallace for not renewing a trade agreement with Peru. But, it turned out that Mr. Jones's own Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Will Clayton, had recommended to Mr. Wallace that the agreement not be renewed.

Mr. Jones, Mr. Pearson concludes, had so many fingers in so many pies that he could scarcely keep track of them and would be better advised simply to cut to the chase and become an efficient Secretary of Commerce, in the manner of Herbert Hoover.

"Heart Change" finds Italian stooge editor of Popolo d'Italia and Popolo di Roma, Virginio Gayda, in less than the relaxed fettle he had either feigned or fearlessly maintained for so long in his editorials. Now, he felt the rumble of the earth beneath him as he wrote, could smell the putrid stench of the fires burning from the bombs hitting the Italian mainland within miles of Rome itself. No longer was there the bluster of bombast and brashness in his print; the bombs had turned him to writing instead the obituary for Italian Fascism.

And, indeed, it had only nine days left to live in full flower, with the deposition of Il Duce imminent, his toppling to come July 25.

"Ruthlessness" wonders if America shouldn't follow the example set in Russia where the atrocities of Krasnodar were under investigation with the death penalty in the offing for anyone found guilty, including Russians, including whole regiments of German troops. The allegation was participation in the blind slaughter of innocents, including patients in hospitals, thousands of people burned and gassed.

By the conclusion of the four day trial on July 17, thirteen persons were convicted of war crimes, eight sentenced to death, the first war crimes trial of World War II. The convicted had been part of Einsatzgruppe D, a killing unit of the Nazi SS which operated in all occupied lands with orders to exterminate all deemed unfit to live among the good little Nazis. Their modus operandi having been to execute with a pistol or rifle at close range in public view, often with a smile, it is estimated that their total carnage wreaked throughout occupied Europe numbered 1.3 million. Krasnodar had been held by the Nazis between August 12, 1942 and February 12, 1943.

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