Friday, August 20, 1943

The Charlotte News

Friday, August 20, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the American Navy had captured Stromboli and Lipari, two islands of the Aeolian group to the northeast of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It left the seven Aeolian Islands entirely in Allied possession. The islands had on them no airfields but had served as potential observation points for the Axis and also would serve the Allies as stepping stones to the mainland.

Air and sea forces of the Allies were ripping large gaps in Italy's rail system on the mainland, hitting in concentrated U.S. and British joint day and night bombing operations at Foggia, a hundred miles southeast of Rome, and teaming with the British navy in attacking rail operations at Scalea, across the peninsula from Naples, and at Sapri, Salerno, and Catanzaro in the south of Italy.

In a radio address to Sicily, King Vittorio Emanuele of Italy promised Sicilians that their separation from the rest of Italy would not last long. He did not elaborate on the implications of his statement, whether it suggested soon a peace with the Allies or was boasting of an intended Italian-German counter-offensive.

It would turn out to be the former.

British Mosquito bombers again attacked Berlin.

From the Russian front, Soviet sources reported that the Red Army was experiencing difficulty in swampy terrain on the approach to Bryansk.

The drive on Kharkov, 240 miles to the south of Bryansk, also was slowing as the Soviets met increasingly fierce resistance from the Nazis in hills surrounding the city, forming its natural barrier to the approach of the Red Army.

Around New Georgia in the Solomons, the Japanese were still fighting tenaciously from islets west of Munda airfield, even shelling the field at times, and as well at Baroko Harbor to the north.

On New Guinea, Australians and Americans had consolidated their forces and moved within three miles of the airstrip at Salamaua, the prime objective of that area.

Barges full of Japanese reinforcements had been bombed and destroyed en route to both Salamaua and in the vicinity of New Georgia, seeking in the latter operation to reinforce the troops holding Baroko Harbor.

Hints came from the British Minister of Information attending the Quebec Conference that the ongoing planning of the Conference would embrace not only the European theater but also large new operations to be initiated against the Japanese in the Pacific.

And from the Burlington, N.C. Liar's Club came a strange story by second-hand from an American pilot flying out of the Middle East with the RAF. He told of being knocked out of the air by a whale when his only remaining engine, the other three having been shot out by enemy fire, was spouted by the whale after the plane dove low over the water to shoot at what the crew thought was an enemy submarine. It turned out to be the annoyed whale. Apparently, said the member of the Liar's Club, the story was true.

On the editorial page, "On the Ready" regards the radio broadcasts from Algiers and London to the French to be prepared to assist an Allied invasion as nothing special, that such advices had been made before. But regardless of where the next offensive move would be made, predicts the piece, it would come soon and would be pressed with force. By spring, it further forecasts, Hitler’s forces would be “met, tested, and broken.”

It would, of course, because of the necessity to gather more forces first in England to support the invasion of the Continent from the west, not proceed quite so quickly. But by fall, 1944, it would prove true; by spring, 1945, a fait accompli.

"Jap Downhill" predicts that, while the war with Japan would stretch for quite sometime after the defeat of Hitler and Germany, it was nevertheless being prosecuted with great efficiency, as evidenced by the recent bombing of some 200 Japanese planes caught on the ground at Wewak on New Guinea. With the fall of New Guinea imminent, the piece further offers, the way would open for further strikes to the north, on Truk and other supply dumps of the Japanese.

It concludes that if progress were to continue with the alacrity with which it had been made in recent days, the way to Japan's cities would be opened sooner than the end of the war with Hitler.

"Boomerang" again asserts that the climbing rate of juvenile delinquency germinated from absent parents abrogating their parental obligations, pursuing employment in war industries or off in the service of their country in the military. The fault, says the piece, was ultimately parental delinquency, not so much that of the juveniles. And the new curfew imposed by the State would not supplant parental responsibility.

"Fewer Stripes" notes with irony the suddenly diminished ranks of prisoners populating North Carolina's prisons. So far had the population fallen that North Carolina's roads were beginning to suffer for want of prison labor to repair and maintain them. Counties, bereft of their usual labor base, were complaining. But the State had no labor to provide.

No official word had come as to the reason for the sudden decline. The editorial ventures that most likely it was the fact that the young and the restless, who had been most apt to land in prison, had opted instead for the adventure of warfare and were now thick in the fight against Hitler and Tojo.

Moral, says the piece, was that crimelessness might not pay the State or at least pave its roads.

Dorothy Thompson examines the absence again of any Russian representative at the conference between Roosevelt and Churchill. Three reasons had been offered: that Stalin, as during January with Stalingrad during the Casablanca Conference, was busy as commander-in-chief of the Red Army engaged in an offensive operation, and yet his foreign minister, Molotov, also was not present in Quebec; that it would have been unseemly for Stalin to have appeared at a conference discussing the military situation in the Pacific, when Russia was still trying to maintain neutrality with respect to Japan; and finally, that the Western Allies had simply not invited Stalin.

If the latter, Ms. Thompson questions the reason, finds it likely to have been that first Churchill and FDR had to find agreement on certain matters which were being pressed by the Russians, the determination of territorial rights in the frontiers surrounding western Russia, the establishment of a second front which would divert forty to sixty German divisions from Russia, and the clarification of post-war policy toward the Axis and Axis-occupied nations. Failure first to reach agreement, she says, would only lead to embarrassing difficulties later, were the Russians included. For U.S. and British opinions on these questions were not yet uniform. Churchill had spoken shortly after the fall of Mussolini against the American proposal to have military occupation governments installed in the liberated lands, that these occupation forces would scarcely be greeted with any more approval than had been the Nazis.

She cautions against the tendency of hubris among Americans in believing that they could establish the policy which they favored, regardless of the other Allies. The nations of Europe had paid the heavy price of war and would largely determine the conditions therefore of the peace, that Russia would have to be accepted eventually at the peace table. But first a consensus by the Western Allies on these crucial questions had to be reached.

Samuel Grafton also chooses to look at Russia and American relations with it. He finds that most everyone wished to get along with Russia, but methods by which it would be accomplished radically varied. At least three presented themselves: the Roosevelt method of feeling the way along slowly, not joining issues, while providing full military aid to Russia; the Willkie method of plunging headlong into a partnership with Russia which would govern relations for the rest of the century; and the "old sea dog" method of playing hard politics with Russia, insisting that a second front be forgotten, that the desire and demand for post-war buffer territory in the Balkans be dropped, and that the Russians immediately declare war on Japan.

Of the three, Mr. Grafton appears to lean toward the Willkie approach as most sound, for at least he had a definite plan for dealing with Russia, not the somewhat wishy-washy method of FDR.

Raymond Clapper writes that, after his four months abroad, in England, in Sweden, in North Africa, and finally on Sicily, he had come to the conclusion that America must adopt soon a much more clearly articulated foreign policy, not one simply reliant on presidential rhetoric, but also possessed of the imprimatur of Congress. He urges therefore the Congress, then in recess, to confront and press these decisions on foreign policy into the form of legislation when it returned to Washington after Labor Day, and before the 1944 election cycle began.

For with the war going now apace, policies needed to be in place to deal with the potential for sudden collapse of the Axis, even if over-optimism still had to be carefully resisted, despite the recent successes in Tunisia and Sicily, and with far fewer casualties in the latter campaign than anticipated by the Allied High Command.

Obviously, he says, the Allies were unprepared for Mussolini's fall and thus had been slow to react with plans in place for meeting the new government; hence the war on Italy continued.

There had been in the victory in Sicily still some unplanned results which might prolong the war. For one, he cites the mined roads having made travel impassable for large trucks and artillery, slowing operations through the mountains especially, despite substantially larger numbers of troops possessed by the Allies, thus enabling more Germans to escape across the Strait of Messina to the Italian mainland than had been anticipated.

The rule to be implemented, he offers, is that the war had to be prosecuted militarily as if it would last forever, but politically, as if it might end tomorrow.

Drew Pearson looks variously at a report from Spanish and German radio sources that the Spanish Belearic Islands apparently had been used by Luftwaffe torpedo planes to attack an Allied convoy bound for North Africa, thereby compromising the place of Spain's proclaimed neutrality in the war; the price ceilings in the United States having cut off the U.S. market for Mexican and Guatemalan bananas, which instead had been flowing to Canada, where more favorable prices prevailed, until a ban on boxcars passing international borders had been implemented by the Interstate Commerce Commission, all, at the request of Mexico, now under reconsideration by the State Department; the mercurially currish behavior of "Whiskers", Jimmy Byrnes's doggie, a Scottie now competing with Fala for canine attention from the press, recently celebrated in newspaper photographs, including The News; and the exemplary behavior of American soldiers vis a vis the women of North Africa, compared to the apparently less then examplary behavior which had previously been demonstrated to them by British soldiers, or so had bragged Captain George Vournas of the U.S. Army.

Just why Mr. Pearson juxtaposed these disparate items the way he did in his column, especially the last two entries, we shall leave it to the reader to discern, if any reason there be.

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