Tuesday, August 17, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, August 17, 1943


Site Ed. Note: As anticipated, the big news of the day, reports the front page, was the taking of Messina by the American Seventh Army under General Patton, marching triumphantly into the city, largely cutting off further escape by the Axis forces, which had nevertheless continued egress in limited numbers by motor boats across the two-mile wide strait.

The campaign for Sicily had been won after just 38 days. Berlin radio admitted the complete surrender of Sicily to the Allies.

The Third Division had arrived on the outskirts of the city at 8:00 the previous night. Both that Division and the 45th Division shared in the glory of entering the city simultaneously. The divisions had fought together all along the northern coast from Palermo, taking San Stefano, San Fratello, and San Agata, leapfrogging over one another, falling back for rest and then continuing, as reported by Harold Boyle. The Third Division had landed at Fedala in Morocco in November; the 45th had seen its first action landing in the initial wave on Sicily July 10. A third American column had come from the southwest through mountainous terrain to reach Messina.

Not to be outdone, however, British commandoes had cleared the way for the British Eighth Army under General Montgomery to follow from along the eastern road into the city, not far behind the American forces.

Allied bombing and artillery fire was spread across the foot of Italy to Naples to try to drive Axis forces further north, presaging the Allied invasion to come on the mainland.

Nevertheless, talk abounded in Britain of a landing shortly to come in France or Norway or in the Balkans. To that expected end, British authorities began clearing non-residents from coastal areas of England. In Norway, the German occupiers declared a state of siege.

The RAF attacked Turin in Northern Italy from British bases, the fourth such raid on targets in the north in five nights.

American Wing Commander Brig.-General Frederick L. Anderson announced that, in a year of operation, the Eighth Air Force had dropped nearly 16,000 tons of bombs on Central Europe in 82 missions. It had lost 419 bombers but had destroyed 1,728 Axis planes while possibly destroying another 671 and damaging yet another 870. The first attack, exactly a year earlier, had been on the Rouen rail yards.

B-26 Marauders, first used in mid-May, had carried out eighteen successful missions with the loss of only two planes. The bombers had proved the effectiveness of high altitude daylight bombing, something greeted initially with skepticism by Allied commanders, especially the RAF, who still preferred low altitude nighttime raids.

From the Russian front it was reported that the drive to take Bryansk was moving apace, faster than any other drive being conducted by the Red Army. Forces had now moved to within fifteen miles of the city and were forming a pincer action to encircle it.

From the Pacific came the news that a surprise attack by American forces had captured Vella Lavella Island, 45 miles northwest of New Georgia in the Solomons. The attack, bypassing the Vila airbase on Kolombangara, the point at which the Japanese had anticipated incipient invasion, had been undertaken in such stealth that 350 Japanese were captured alive and unarmed, a first in Pacific warfare.

And it was disclosed that sixty thousand alarm clocks had arrived in Britain from the United States, a welcome relief for Britons who had complained of not enough parrots to wake them, the railroad engineers having vocally asserted their displeasure at the shortcoming sometime earlier.

Wakey-wakey. Drag that comb across your head, you lumberjack, you.

Maybe, on second thought, those were instead red, red roosters.

On the editorial page, "Negro YMCA" gives support to the drive by the organization to start a capital funds campaign for establishing further facilities after the war. To help ward off juvenile delinquency, says the piece, the community needed to afford facilities of the type for both races.

"The People's Way" finds the solution to the war manifested in the peace marches of the people of Milan through their rubble-strewn streets, demanding an end to the war, demanding peace. The editorial suggests that Hitler listen to their pleas. They were not cursing the skies full of American and British bombers. They were demanding that their leaders hear their plaintive voices for once.

"The Ghost" insists that the Atlantic Charter signed two years earlier by Britain and the United States, signed thereafter by Russia, promising establishment of the Four Freedoms abroad the world and disavowing all imperialistic aims from the war, was dead. Russia and Great Britain had found loopholes. For Great Britain, it was in the Orient, not to mention South Africa, and delayed independence for India. For Russia, it was in Poland, the Balkans, the Baltic States, and Finland. The great vision of FDR, like that of Woodrow Wilson for the aftermath of the First World War, predicts the piece, would not come to be as long as these powerful nations would not recognize the tenets to which they had agreed. The peace would be written by men of “hard hearts and open eyes.”

Samuel Grafton suggests that an Allied policy be implemented to encourage Germans who wanted revolution and overthrow of the Nazis, one in which actions and decisions of the German people presently mattered in determining their future treatment by the Allies after the war. A hard approach, favoring punitive sanctions against Germany, served no purpose to effect such an end; likewise, a soft approach, favoring no sanctions to the German people, failed to encourage revolutionary movements.

Dorothy Thompson examines the upcoming Quebec Conference between FDR and Churchill, with an eye looking back to the January Casablanca Conference and the changed circumstances in the war since, especially regarding the then supposed Russian situation.

The Russians had surprised everyone by pushing the Nazis back out of Stalingrad and the Don Bend region, nearly out of the Caucasus and forcing them into retreat in the Ukraine and central areas of the front. They had not stopped in the springtime when Hitler’s forces were usually strongest. There had been no potent German spring offensive this time around. His forces were now spread too thin, either by direct attrition in Russia or by transfer to protect the southern and western walls of Festung Europa, now breached and shown ineffective by the successful quick taking of Sicily with far fewer Allied casualties than anticipated.

Thus, now, she suggests, the decision to demand unconditional surrender from the Axis nations no longer had viable meaning in the war, as it was intended to shore up Russian morale to the end of fostering their understanding that the Western Allies would not stop short of complete dismemberment of the Axis military forces. The fact that the pledge was made without Russia’s imprimatur made it dubious from the start, its uniform application impracticable in any event.

She believes, based more on wishful observation than fact, that the Quebec Conference would address this change of circumstance and adjust policy accordingly, away from intractable insistence on unconditional surrender.

Drew Pearson examines synthetic rubber production for use in military and civilian applications, warns that the average motorist would find its use less than satisfactory for cruising down roads at speeds greater than 35. For the synthetic rubber was given to tearing when not mixed with substantial portions of natural rubber. And the new synthetic tires to be put into civilian use would have no more than 5% rubber, enough only to insure binding.

He cites the German experience, demanding that for heavy duty military applications 100% natural rubber be used, for other military applications, a mixture of no less than 60-40, synthetic to natural. The Germans had heretofore, however, been able to afford such a luxurious amalgam from their unending supply of natural rubber shipped from the Japanese-occupied East Indies via the French Fleet, until its recent surrender to the Allies, a rubber supply formerly controlled by the British and Dutch, cut off to the Allies since January, 1942, now cut off to Germany as well.

The American formula for military usage would likely be only 70-30. But the American engineers were insisting that they had developed better synthetic rubber than Germany.

Time would tell.

He also assesses the talk of an early end to the war in Europe, reminding that just 22 days before the Armistice in 1918, Field Marshal Haig told British Prime Minister Lloyd George that it would be well into 1919 before peace could be anticipated.

Military minds, however, were not so optimistic regarding this war.

All depended on three factors: that Italy be taken out of the war, requiring Germany to replace twenty Italian divisions to defend the Balkans; the continued relentless bombing of Germany; and how long the German civilian front could hold out before morale collapsed under the weight of the persistent bombing. When the factories ceased producing, the military could no longer fight.

Many observers believed that these factors would combine to toll the final death knell to Germany during the winter of 1944, with or without Hitler still in power, an inconsequential matter to the German military.

He also reports that Victor Mature was performing dutifully in the Coast Guard, serving aboard a cutter as a bosun's mate. He had hit it off with the men, telling them as he came aboard that they could simply refer to him as "Manure".

Whether they did or not is not reported.

In any event, in one of his latter roles, he played the Big Victor in the 1968 movie "Head", starring the Monkees. Catch it sometime. It is surprisingly quite good, quite existential, McLuhanesque in its message.

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