The Charlotte News
Saturday, July 24, 1943
Site Ed. Note: As thousands cheered the triumphant Seventh Army in Palermo, reports the front page, throwing, according to General Patton, along the way of the victorious liberating soldiers flowers, lemons, and even watermelons, the part of the Army moving west captured Marsala, suffering in the process only two casualties.
Another part of the Seventh Army was reported now to be moving east to support the British Eighth Army, struggling still before Catania.
General Patton described the furious onslaught which took Palermo with the speed of a bullet, as the "greatest blitz in history." The reference was probably more to football than to the "lightning war" connotation attached to “blitz” by the Nazis. for General Patton reportedly had received a message in advance of the blitz, inquiring: “Can we make a touchdown on our own initiative. Rush reply.” General Patton rushed the reply: “You have the ball. Call a touchdown play.”
Axis prisoners taken on Sicily now numbered 60,000, 40,000 of whom were rounded up by the Americans, with another 50,000 expected to be taken by the Seventh Army in its clean-up operations in and around Palermo and Marsala. Thus far, only three percent of the prisoners were German.
Major H. P. Tucker of Winston-Salem, N.C. had set up an artillery battery in the rear of Marsala and began demanding surrender. Directly, the Italians came forth waving white flags, and in such massive numbers that they began jamming the roads.
A large contingent of RAF and Greek planes bombed Crete in what appeared to be a softening up campaign in advance of an invasion of the island, held by the Nazis since May, 1941.
On the Russian front, the Red Army continued to plow forward toward Orel, making inroads of between two and four miles in the twelfth day of the battle. The Red Star, official organ of the Red Army, declared that the battle for Orel was causing Hitler not only to lose ground in Russia but also was impacting his ability to fight in Sicily as well.
On the editorial page, "Patton's Drive" describes the celerity with which the Seventh Army took Palermo, driving half the distance from Agrigento 60 miles away, through mountainous terrain, heavily defended by 100,000 Axis troops, in a mere 58 hours. So fast was the thrust that when news came of the capture of Palermo, Army intelligence officers, familiar with the geographical barriers presented in central Sicily, refused to believe the news.
Against three armored and two coastal divisions, Patton had sent his five divisions comprised of one armored, two National Guard, one regular Army, and one paratroop division. The paratroops landed first in the Central Valley, as the main part of the Seventh Army slugged through the mountain passes. They joined quickly with the paratroops and proceeded to moved as a combined force through the remaining mountain range to engage a brief battle outside Palermo before the enemy knew what had hit them. The capital fell and the massive surrender began.
The piece hails Patton as the rough and ready quintessential American general, shining even more in Sicily than he had in Tunisia. With commanders as Patton, the editorial concludes, the outcome of the war was scarcely in doubt.
"Nazi Retreat" describes a story from Germany by way of Switzerland that the Nazis were preparing to abandon their outlying defenses in Europe, in the Balkans, along the French Coast, and in the Lowlands, and withdraw to an inner core of Germany, Rumania, Hungary, and Denmark.
If true, says the piece, the war was nearly over; Germany was as much as admitting defeat. Now was the time to invade at other points on the Continent while the Nazi was turning tail.
The report of course was not accurate, but rather likely Nazi propaganda to try to draw the Allies into a duel along the French coast where their defenses were more prepared than in Italy and Sicily, thus tempting dilution of Allied forces committed to Sicily and Italy, while also tempting the Russians to again take up the cry for opening another new front on the Continent.
The piece asserted, as it would prove true, that the fixed fortifications built by the Nazis in Europe would ultimately prove futile to a well-trained and well-equipped landing force with proper air and sea cover.
"Bob's Stand" quotes from Senator Robert Rice Reynolds's own letter in reply to The Rockingham Post-Dispatch, which had printed an editorial offering that the relatives of the wounded and killed thus far in battle from North Carolina were not disposed to agree with the Senator when he had said that he would be vindicated in his pre-war stances when the casualty lists started arriving home.
The Senator replied that he had voted not to repeal the Neutrality Act, had voted against Lend-Lease, and against lifting the Arms Embargo, all to keep America out of the war.
Such stands, the editorial suggests, would ring in the ears of North Carolinians come election day 1944, not in spite of the casualty lists, but because of them, and the Senator's isolationist stands having helped to bring on the war and prolong it by encouraging delay in response to the early warfare of both Japan and Germany.
Drew Pearson begins his column with a preview of a speech to be delivered soon in Detroit by Vice-President Wallace, one set to coax revival of the liberal social ideals of the New Deal which the Vice-President believed had been left to winnow beside the road during the war. The President had approved the speech, even added quips.
Its timing had been planned for weeks, having nothing to do with Mr. Wallace's being raked over the coals in the dispute with Secretary of Commerce Jesse Jones over who was the more inefficient at procurement of war materials.
Mr. Pearson next returns to the topic of Congressman Goober Cox, subject of a Justice Department investigation recommended by the FCC after it was discovered that he received a $2,500 lobbying fee, this time stressing his six relatives on the Federal payroll in various capacities, raking in the loot off the taxpayer.
Samuel Grafton examines the morality of the bombing raid on Rome and finds that the Allies demonstrated a superior morality in the manner in which the raid was carried forth, given that the Rome rail yards were properly militarily significant targets for their central role in shipping men and supplies to Sicily.
The fact of the raid having been flown in daylight under clear weather conditions, deliberately to enable spotting of targets and avoidance of historical and religious shrines in the Eternal City, showed the superior capability of the Allies and their vastly superior moral rectitude over the indiscriminate night raids carried out previously by the Axis in London and Coventry, Brussels, Warsaw, and other Axis targets during 1939-41.
Raymond Clapper, back from accompanying the raid on Rome on Monday, finds the Axis complaints over bombing of churches and historical buildings to be ill-founded, that his own personal observations proved that bombs fell only on the targeted rail yards, three or four miles from religious and cultural iconic edifices.
Moreover, the complaint, even if true, would have been quite hypocritical, he says, as his own recent tour of London betrayed the various government and historical buildings bombed in 1940-41, some now perforce razed, as well churches and hospitals.
Yet, he offers that indiscriminate bombing is a part of war and one could not turn war into a cricket match. But neither could the Axis with any clean hands make complaint of the Allied bombing raids, in this case made in a precision manner with little if any collateral damage to non-targeted structures.
He points out that Allied bombing had become so accurate that on Pantellaria the bombs were dropped only a thousand yards from the Allied troops. In Rome, the cultural and religious artifacts of the city were safely within a perimeter further away than that.
The Reverend Herbert Spaugh quotes from a piece by correspondent H. R. Knickerbocker, appearing July 15 in The News, recounting his firsthand impressions of the landing on Sicily which he accompanied. The Reverend stresses the part of the piece describing the storm which blew up, typical of Mediterranean weather that time of year, but which then as quickly receded, allowing the landing to take place under clear skies and a full moon.
Reverend Spaugh finds the matter indicative of God being on the side of the Allies.
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