Monday, August 9, 1943


The Charlotte News

Monday, August 9, 1943

SIX EDITORIALS

Site Ed. Note: During the weekend, the Seventh Army, reports the front page, moved within forty-two airline miles of Messina by capturing San Fratello and within twenty-two miles of Mt. Etna and fifty miles of Messina in capturing San Agata. The two locations were captured by a combination of infantry from the west at San Stefano and amphibious landings from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Bombing of Italian targets, at Milan, Turin, and Genoa, continued during the previous 48 hours.

You might note that General Patton's name had suddenly disappeared from the communiqués since Saturday. On August 3, in the Army hospital tent in Sicily he had slapped a young soldier for being a coward, suffering from what the soldier reported to the General as being shell shock. The incident was under investigation and did not hit the press until November, just as General Patton's public apology to the soldier, required by General Eisenhower, first privately tendered to the soldier, was reported on November 22. In the meantime, General Patton would soon be relieved of command of the Seventh Army.

It eventually turned out that the soldier was suffering from malaria. General Patton would, as part of his personal apology, express his regretful misunderstanding of how sick physically the soldier in fact was when he slapped him.

Thus, after nine months since General Patton had led the invasionary landing force in Morocco as part of Operation Torch, after five months since he took over command of Army II Corps in Tunisia following the debacle of Kasserine Pass in mid to late February, relieving General Lloyd Fredendall of his command, and then leading the newly reconstituted Seventh Army for the previous four weeks during the unabated drive in central and western Sicily back across the northern coast through Palermo, aiding the British Eighth Army along the way in taking on the east coast stubborn Catania the previous week, both armies now headed ever closer to Messina and victory, his hindquarters were now about to be parked on the bench for awhile by the coach, until the preparation for the D-Day invasion the following June.

DeWitt MacKenzie analyzes the unconfirmed reports out of Germany that a military coup was brewing to depose Hitler and maintain him only as a figurehead to avoid the chaotic power vacuum occurring in Italy since July 26 when Mussolini fell. Hermann Goering was rumored to be the intended liaison between Hitler and the generals. The move was predictable and probably true, opines Mr. MacKenzie, as the Prussian militarists who brought Hitler to power had always stood in the wings, awaiting the opportune moment to seize power when Hitler proved no longer useful to their ends of conquest. The word was that their intent would be to fight a long defensive war.

The real power to be in Germany, reports a juxtaposed piece, was to be vested in the hands of Goering, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, and Admiral Karl Doenitz.

Louis Lochner, former chief of the Berlin A.P. bureau, also examines the issue, finds that Hitler's demise had begun the moment General Eisenhower and the American invasionary force of Operation Torch set foot on North African soil November 8, 1942. For it was then, not neglecting the Allied bombing campaign or the Eighth Army's rout of Rommel or the Russiansí victory at Stalingrad and points west since, that Hitlerís psychological position in command of the war was directly challenged. Since that time, Hitler had been on the defensive for the first time in the war, no longer charting its course, choosing its fighting ground. That change, says Mr. Lochner, had begun his fall from power.

On the Russian front, the Soviet Army was pressing hard on Kharkov, to within fifteen miles of the city from the northwest.

On the editorial page, perhaps emulating the pot pourri usally present in Drew Pearson's column, the column, in quick succession, takes on an unusual multiplicity of mostly disparate topics: first, pies and Governor Broughton's food policy for North Carolina; then, the habits of jaybirds in comparison to those of Mussolini, as the Stanley News and Press had reported some jays after irate R. L. Smith's pecans with a vengeance, but inevitably dropping most of the pecans along the way back to the nest, serving only to mess up the pecan tree; next, recommending early that Americans in casting their votes in 1944 should remember the interests of the twelve million persons in service of their country rather than voting only upon their own personal interests; then exmaining the implacable and intractable German mindset which had gone along with Hitler's piping until now in the war, leading the lemmings slowly to sea with his step-by-step plan for victory, but now slowly was coming to grips with the realization that there was no step beyond the string of defeats in the previous ten months, in North Africa, Russia, and now Sicily, inevitably bound soon to collapse as its triumph of will was deflated by its immediate perceptions of bombed-out shells of its surroundings, its once proud cities lying in ruins, the result of having followed Hitler down the primrose path; American censorship of news of the Harlem riot in the British press for three days, the story's entire duration in the American press, until finally it was leaked, causing the British press to treat of it even more visibly than had its American cousin.

Finally, in "Lusty Sailorman", it reprises the January prediction of Admiral Halsey, that the Allies would win the Pacific war in 1943. Everyone knew it was likely not so. Recently, he had been asked the question as to whether the war might be won in 1943 and he had to sidestep it. The editorial nevertheless praises the Admiral's willingness to venture out on a limb, wishes he had done so again so that everyone would know where they stood, that the war was not going to be won in 1943.

Raymond Clapper reports further on his accompanying the Seventh Army beyond Palermo, heading east as fast as they could go. Mr. Clapper, Ernie Pyle, Jack Thompson of The Chicago Tribune, and Chris Cunningham of the United Press took a car and drove along the road going east. The piece provides a microcosmic view of a day in the war in Sicily.

There was no established front as the Germans and Italians were retreating as fast as they could. There remained, however, substantial dangers. The engineers were clearing mines and roadblocks from the roads, blown out in two places they crossed via detours. Eventually, they reached a point where soldiers had hit the ditches because of shelling, none of which was closer than a half mile. The engineers were attempting to repair a road and the Germans were shelling them to try to prevent it.

Finally, as someone said it was the end of the line, close enough to the firing to become lethal if they went any further, the reporters had to turn around and head back to camp.

Drew Pearson looks at the question of Jewish settlement in Palestine after the war. It had leaked to him that Patrick Hurley, former Secretary of War and now a general, had met with the most powerful contemporary Arab chieftain, Ibn Saud, and had agreed with his policy of driving all Jews from Arab lands.

In response, the State Department had advocated that the President establish a policy of not commenting on the Jewish question until after the war was over. The British, though reluctant to agree with the policy, had finally approved. It awaited the Presidentís implementation. But several prominent Jewish leaders had intervened to prevail upon the President not to authorize the policy. To stop open debate on the issue, they contended, was to stifle the need for a quick determination of a new homeland for Jews within Palestine, safe from further persecution. For the present, the policy of non-comment, therefore, had been placed on hold.

Samuel Grafton looks at the new French unity between General De Gaulle and General Giraud, finds that only America remained unaccepting of French unity, the French having finally reached a mutual understanding. He expects soon for Washington to accept the new French unified committee as the official government of France for the duration, for not doing so would be to place America, a principal in the prospective liberation of France, in the position of spoiler of the very unity necessary to carry on the fight to liberate all of France and re-establish thereafter a new French republic.

The catalyst for unification appeared to have been the Italian situation, that France wished to be able to sit at the table in determining the new government of Italy, to avoid any repeat of the stab in the back which France got from Italy in 1940.

Yet, for the nonce, the problem for a unified French government appeared to be America, the liberators.

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