Wednesday, August 18, 1943

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, August 18, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The main thrust of the news on the front page this date was the Allied air war, off Sicily onto the toe of Italy, in Southern France, in Germany, and in New Guinea.

Allied bombers struck numerous targets in Southern Italy, softening the enemy in preparation for landing.

American Flying Fortresses struck north of Marseilles, hitting Southern France for the first time.

The RAF sent heavy bombers over the Peenemunde facility 60 miles northwest of Stettin in Germany, site of research and development of Hitler's secret weapons, the V-1 rocket bomb and the jet aircraft. It was the first raid conducted against Peenemunde. RAF Mosquitoes also bombed Berlin for the third time in four nights.

Other RAF raids struck targets in France and the Low Countries.

These raids followed daylight raids the previous day by American Flying Fortresses, hitting targets at Schweinfurt and Regensberg in Germany, raids which initiated shuttle bombing from Britain to Africa, that is taking off in Britain and landing in North Africa.

In Wewak on New Guinea, the Japanese were caught flat-footed with 225 planes on the ground. The raid resulted in 120 planes destroyed and fifty more seriously damaged. An estimated 1,500 Japanese were killed.

Talks got underway between FDR and Churchill at the Quebec Conference, the two conferring until 1:00 a.m. and resuming again at 9:00 a.m.

Conflicting Swiss reports indicated either that fifteen divisions of Germans were stationed in northern Italy, with more ready to cross the Brenner Pass if needed, or that few signs of preparation of defenses were visible in Northern Italy. Take your pick.

Radio Rome reported that the bombing of Milan two days earlier had resulted in the destruction of La Scala. The report was partially true. The opera house was severely damaged but by no means destroyed. It reopened May 11, 1946 with a performance conducted by Arturo Toscanini--as the Milanese had demanded some two weeks earlier in 1943, that he be allowed to return to open the opera season amid peace.

General Eisenhower released casualty figures which showed that up until the final week of the Sicily Campaign, the Axis had suffered 167,000 killed, wounded, and missing, at least 32,000 of whom had been killed. The Allies had suffered 25,000 casualties, but no breakdown of the figure was provided.

Domestically, President Roosevelt implemented new tough sanctions against both Labor and management for failing to adhere to the recent Smith-Connally anti-strike legislation, which provided the President that executive authority. Sanctions included withholding of dues from the union as well as suspension of labor contracts of the offending union until they complied with directions of the War Labor Board. Recalcitrant employers were likewise subject to severe penalties, which included withholding of priorities and war contracts.

On the editorial page, "Fearful Warning" mocks Radio Rome for its minimizing the effect of the Allied victory in Sicily and predicting that it would take the Allies two years to conquer the Italian peninsula.

While the editorial had good reason to feel optimistically sarcastic in greeting the broadcast's continued gusto in the face of sure defeat imminent, it would indeed take nearly two years for the Allies to conquer Northern Italy, even if the rest of the country would soon surrender.

"The Denial" reports of Churchill's contention that he was misquoted as saying the war would likely end in Europe within six months. The editorial wonders why he bothered to deny the rumor when its psychological effect on the Allied populations would have proved salutary. That the war would end by Christmas was a thought on which the average citizen and soldier alike could go to bed at night with thoughts of sugarplums dancing in their heads. Some would persist in the belief despite the denial; others might assume that Churchill had an ace up his sleeve, believing in fact that the war would end sooner than in six months.

Regardless, the denial was in keeping not only with caution but the Prime Ministerís penchant for recognizing reality. The war would not be won in 1943.

"Football Game" renews the column's criticism of FDR coddling Labor, this time charging that he was cheaply doing so to appeal for Labor's vote as a bloc in the 1944 election. And to lend credence to its argument, it cites the criticism of the President's kid-glove handling of Labor leveled at him by ardent New Deal supporters and War Labor Board members, Wayne Morse of Oregon and William H. Davis.

The editorial was obviously written before the front page news of the President's new tough sanctions on Labor and management had been announced.

Drew Pearson looks variously at the irresistible profits to be enjoyed by the bootlegger, the sudden glut of ham in markets, the sudden glut of synthetic rubber, almost twice that of a normal year's natural rubber consumption, and Washington observers' suggestions that Pietro Badoglio had come to power in Italy on July 26 wishing peace with the Allies but effectively being blocked by his Nazi puppeteers who would have ousted him and taken control had he sought peace directly.

Raymond Clapper accuses the Italian Government of hiding behind the Vatican by declaring Rome an open city in the forlorn and futile hope that the Allies might then spare it from further bombing raids. Mr. Clapper finds the notion ridiculous, that the Allies were not going to spare the seat of government and its vital transportation facilities for the conduct of troops and materiel to Southern Italy simply because of an Italian declaration or simply because the Vatican happened to be on the other side of the Tiber, out of harm's way of bombing of the railway facilties being targeted. He compares the idea to London having declared itself an open city in 1940 and asks rhetorically whether such a declaration would have caused Hitler to stop the Blitz.

Nor, he continues, would it be acceptable for Italy to take a side door exit from the war into neutrality, that such a position would deprive the Allies of use of Italian airfields from which to bomb Germany at closer range, a major collateral reason for the bombing of Italy and invasion to come.

The only terms to be accepted, he assures, would be unconditional surrender. There would be no neutrality; there would be no recognition of Rome as an open city.

Samuel Grafton returns to the topic of the critics of the Office of War Information, some contending that O.W.I. was full of Communist sympathizers. Yet, he indicates, these same Red hunters proclaimed that, naturally, the United States must get along with its Ally, Russia. It was only when others, liberals, sought to get along with Russia that suddenly they were worthy of suspicion as Communists or sympathizers with Communism. He postulates that such talk against O.W.I. only hurt the cause of war and friendship with Russia. For Russians read the American press and had to wonder just how this friendship would play out in the post-war world with such continued branding in the United States as Communists any disfavored person or organization--liberals.

And, as to the Dorman Smith of the day, speaking of giraffes...

A week ago this Saturday night in 2010, incidentally, we slept under the stars down by the sea, within the shadow of Hatteras Light. We shall, in due course, tell you of our intriguing journey to and fro the Outer Banks, including attendance Monday night last of a performance of The Lost Colony--replete now with a brief recorded introduction by a former cast member, Andy Griffith--our first such attendance since the fateful night of August 8, 1974.

We noted that those in wheelchairs and with strollers had to leave their chairs and strollers outside the seating area of the theater because of fire regulations. We were tempted, upon seeing this scene demonstrated a couple of times prior to the start of the performance, to ask how President Roosevelt had been seated during his attendance of one of the maiden performances, August 18, 1937, the 350th birthday of Virginia Dare. Then, at intermission, the production's trivia question of the night, naturally, asked what American President had attended a performance of the pageant play. The answer, of course, was the same, including the explanation that FDR had watched the performance from outside the Waterfront Theater while seated in his car, drive-in style.

Think up a silly question for silly reasons while awaiting a play to start and obtain the answer by intermission as if by magic without bothering to ask. It all happens that way on the Outer Banks.

In any event, no President resigned while we were there this time--though one night, there was blood on the moon, rendering its crescent orange.

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