Tuesday, July 20, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, July 20, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports further advances by both the American and British troops in Sicily. General Patton’s Seventh Army had proceeded to within a few miles of Enna, strategic center of Sicily, as well as branching out west of Agrigento. The American Army was within 60 miles of Palermo on the north coast, meeting little Italian resistance. The Italians, with Sicilians comprising half of the 35,000 prisoners thus far taken on the island by the Allies, were reported to be staging mutinies on a wholesale basis against their German commanders, in some cases shooting the commanders when they attempted to prevent surrender.

General Montgomery's Eighth Army continued its slower advance toward Catania, making grudging progress against stiffening resistance protecting the strategic point, fifty-five miles south of Messina, the key objective on Sicily.

The Chinese press in Chungking gave praise to the invasion of Sicily, seeing it as the prelude to invasion of Italy.

For the first time since early April, Hitler met with Mussolini on the previous day, somewhere in northern Italy, to discuss "military matters".

Il Duce had now but six days before his downfall, and thus likely the issue was, for him, where he would go in that event and whether Hitler would grant him safe haven.

The two and a half hour raid on Rome the previous day, in which it was now reported that 500 American planes participated, had caused much damage, destroying its prime targets, the Littorio rolling freight yards and the San Lorenzo railroad marshalling station. Also hit were the Tabonelli steel plant and a large chemical works. Only five planes failed to return, a loss ratio of but one percent.

The Italian press began exploiting claims, at least partially true, that the bombing raid of the day before on Rome had caused damage to eleven sacred buildings belonging to the Catholic Church or to University City, among them, San Lorenzo Basilica, Verano Cemetery, as well as part of the Polytechnic Institute. Pope Pius XII had reportedly met with the U.S. Charge d’Affaires, Harold Truman, to lodge a protest.

In the Pacific, American Liberators attacked the Japanese in Macassar Strait on Celibes, the second time such a raid had taken place since the Japanese occupied the area in January, 1942.

Elsewhere, in the Solomons, progress continued to be made from the west by ground troops closing in on the Japanese airbase at Munda.

A first raid of its kind had been conducted the previous week on Paramushiro Island, the northernmost of the Kurile chain running northeast from Japan, 1,200 miles from Tokyo, 860 miles from Amchitka in the Aleutians to the east. The Navy confirmed the raid, by American Liberators, operating off Amchitka. The raid was successful, benefiting from unusually clear weather over the island.

Admiral Frederick J. Horne, Assistant Chief of Staff of the Navy appeared at a press conference in Washington with Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and declared that the Navy was preparing for the war against Japan to last at least until 1949. The effort was to tamp down public optimism that the war was nearly won in both Europe and the Pacific. It wasn't, declared both men.

On the Russian front, the Russians continued to pound a counter-offensive against the Germans at Orel, now attacking the city on three sides.

The Germans claimed to have taken, since July 5, 48,000 prisoners from the Russians, destroying 4,000 tanks and over 7,000 guns.

On the editorial page, "Field Rations" tells of the loss of fighting will in Sicily by both the German and Italian soldiers, as confided to their captors. The Italians seemed only to want field rations and the Germans only desired to be out of the useless, hopeless fight.

"Emancipation" remarks on the decision by Harold Ickes, gasoline czar and Secretary of the Interior, to equalize gas rationing between all sections of the country, now that the new pipeline had started pumping oil to the East Coast. The citizenry of the Eastern Seaboard, the piece cautions, however, would likely give little credence to the enunciated reason and find that it was simply the reversal of an unfair policy ab initio, succumbing finally to public pressure--not that the use of rolling stock and tankers in the war effort had significantly depleted allocation of oil to the East during the previous eighteen months.

"Our Wimmen" finds the FBI to be out of line in trying to interdict Nazi spy transmissions re scandalous affairs being transacted by American women. The editorial opines that the charge was only true and that therefore there was no objection to letting the German people in on the thing, that it would scarcely improve morale amid the bombs falling regularly on their country. If anything, it might make them wish they were in America, to live the loose life.

The FBI had better things to do. The truth was the truth and as innocuous as it was in this instance, it ought be left to be transmitted to whomever these spies wanted to transmit it.

Raymond Clapper describes the nonchalant atmosphere accompanying General Eisenhower since a few days before the Sicilian operation began, the work and planning on his part having been accomplished weeks and months earlier, leaving to his subordinates the remainder of the effort. His primary duty during this period was to study operations and determine in what parts in the future they might be either copied successfully or improved.

Mr. Clapper had been granted two full hours with the general two weeks earlier and found him fully accommodating, not in the least harried or rushed on the eve of Operation Husky. The invasion appeared to have been planned to the last detail with precision accuracy such that all the general could do by that point was to sit back and let it occur.

Personally, he wore a regulation necktie while most of the other brass in North Africa left open their shirt collars. In war, he was neat, clean, not the least ruffled. Otherwise he appeared quite unassuming, a typical Kansan. He was not, says Mr. Clapper, the dust-covered man on the dust-covered horse, General Grant.

Drew Pearson describes the manifold problems of acceptance of General Charles De Gaulle as the leader of the Free French, problems revolving around his personal petulance and intransigence. He had, for instance, not long after the fall of France in June, 1940, written both the American and British governments, complaining of Allied strategy, "No one man is beating the drum, but a host of beetles are bouncing up and down on it, and they think they are beating it."

Churchill had encountered his arrogance in North Africa in June, 1942 when De Gaulle demanded that he be allowed to lead the forces against the Germans.

By the time of January, 1943 and the Casablanca Conference, De Gaulle had provoked the ire of FDR with his various posturing. Since, the President had been heard by close associates to mock the French leader’s supercilious air and undeviating demeanor.

Nevertheless, even with the President’s and the State Department's lack of approval of De Gaulle, the British recognized his importance as a symbol to the French people, even if that symbol was largely the result of the French imagination rather than real achievements.

But in June, Churchill had decided to fire De Gaulle upon his trip to North Africa. Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, however, prevailed, arguing that he was too important as a symbol to the Free French; De Gaulle remained. Churchill came home perturbed, giving the press an earful re De Gaulle’s politics, calling him a latent fascist.

Mr. Pearson warns that the same divided political situation could easily become a reality following the Allies into Italy and thus equally complicate the choosing of a new leader for the Italians.

Mother Superior jump the gun.

And Tom Jimison, in Lumberton now for unknown reasons, reports on the state of matters there on the Lumber River down east, that the Scotch Presbyterians predominating in the area were, contrary to the calumnious opinions purveyed about, fun-loving people and liberal, even if not caring for the New Deal’s spending policies.

Mr. Jimison had been admitted to the local club which met regularly under the cedar in the park next to City Hall. The club, he informs, discussed everything, even the theory of relativity.

Cutlar Moore, a principal member of the organization, told Mr. Jimison: “You'll hear a lot of big lies here under the cedar, but none of them will be malicious. People just tell about the big fish they caught, the big snakes they saw, and the mighty deeds which they have performed. They don’t hurt nobody.”

Mr. Jimison proceeded to tell of the two catamounts in the mountains which got into a fight in a tree and fought until neither could be seen anymore. The fur and blood fell from the sky for three full days. No one believed him, but it was true.

Well, we don’t know about the cedar tree in Lumberton, but, as we have remarked occasionally, we spent some time there many decades ago. And it was in a time when we lived next to the swamp, causing us to have to learn to wrestle gators in our spare time. (You’ve never tasted good rattlesnake until you’ve had some good gator.)

Once, we caught a 73-foot copperhead, five feet in circumference it was, big as your head, not but a stone’s throw from the Lumber, still a record for those parts they say and by upwards of more than a foot. The local sheriff gave us a special commendation as the snake had been said to have eaten several small children in the area for years in the past. Tanned us up a right smart looking pair of boots from its hide. We were but three at the time.

Then, there was the day that the shark crawled out of the river right into our sandbox, just three days and four hours before Hurricane Hazel passed through.

Right about then was where we had the dream, where the big Goofy dog appeared, big as half the house, liking to have scared us half to death.

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