Tuesday, January 18, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 18, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the First Ukrainian Army continued to make headway, closing in on Rovno, key rail center inside old Poland, 110 miles south of Pinsk. General Vatutin's forces, however, first had to cross four miles of swamp, after crossing the Horyn River, to reach Rovno. Another wing of the Army had moved to within 47 miles of Pinsk, another of the First Army's objectives.

To the north, the Baltic Army continued to make progress as well, in the Nevel and Lake Ilmen areas south of Leningrad.

In a maneuver forecasting diplomacy during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962, Secretary of State Hull indicated that the Soviets had not yet received from Ambassador Averell Harriman the U.S. offer regarding resolution of the Polish border question when the Soviets had stated they had interpreted as rejection of the Russian terms the communique from the Polish government-in-exile that it would not accept terms unilaterally proposed by Russia. The U.S. proposal thus still remained on the table. The maneuver enabled the Soviets and the Poles to save mutual face as the U.S. proposed a plan for the border resolution.

As French troops in Italy took Sant Elia, three miles northwest of Cassino, an American patrol crossed the Rapido River to the north of the town, probing the Gustav Line on the west bank of the river, running to Cassino. The Americans encountered German fortifications on the west bank and, after a brief skirmish, retreated.

In the Pacific on January 14, a battle occurred on what became known as Walt's Hill, named for Lt. Colonel Lewis Walt, whose men repulsed five separate attacks of the Japanese, occurring in quick succession over the course of a few short hours. The fighting was hand-to-hand in the fiercest action thus far on Cape Gloucester on New Britain.

In Yugoslavia, as German Marines were landing on the island of Brac, south of Split on the Dalmatian coast, the Partisans were holding firm against an attempted advance by the Germans into Glamoc in western Bosnia, 55 miles southwest of Banja Luka.

In the Pacific, the Navy Black Cats, Catalinas, famed for their taking a heavy toll on the enemy from the air with few losses, struck a Japanese convoy near Kavieng on New Ireland and sunk a 10,000-ton merchantman, leaving two other cargo transports in flames. The night-flying Black Cats suffered no losses.

The House Military Committee voted to table the proposed universal service measure which the President had sent to the Congress just the previous week. The quick move suggested that the bill would never pass.

After convalescing in the Middle East for over a month from a bout with pneumonia, giving some tremulous pause to observers for awhile in December on the belief that he might not recover, Prime Minister Churchill unexpectedly returned to London amid cheers from the House of Commons. He indicated that he would soon make a statement to Parliament on the war, but wished not to be pinned to a particular date.

Hal Boyle quotes liberally from a lieutenant colonel, as they awaited in a cold, dusty farmhouse somewhere in Italy for the return of a group of Flying Fortresses, just completing their 200th mission across enemy lines.

The colonel wanted to talk about the invaluable service performed by the ground crews, without whom the planes couldn't fly. Most of them had been on the lines eighteen consecutive months, had been in England, in North Africa, and now were operating in Italy. The combat crews, while obviously taking the flak and dropping the bombs in harm's way, were sine qua non to the war effort, but so, too, insisted the colonel, were the ground crews. Their work was not without danger as they faced bombs often dropped in the vicinity of their conducting repairs and maintenance, a job which began in the evening by flashlight after the return of each mission and often, depending on the extent of necessary remedies, lasted throughout the night. They slept on the ground; the combat men got the cots.

Finally, the Flying Fortresses returned and the fliers gathered around to congratulate each other and their commander on the completion of the group's 200th mission. For the ground crews, however, numbering only five or six per bomber, it was just the beginning of another night of repairs.

On the editorial page, "Peace Move?" places little stock in the rumor that Britain had unilaterally offered terms of surrender to Germany. There was no evidence of such a meeting, and if it had taken place at all, there was no reasonable expectation that anything would have come of it. The Nazis were well aware that Britain could not effect an armistice without the support of the other Allies. Moreover, Germany had to be aware by now, a year after the Casablanca Conference had asserted the determination of the Allies to prosecute the war to unconditional surrender, just reaffirmed at Cairo and Tehran, that there could be no armistice as at the end of World War I.

"Of Liquor" expends an exorbitant amount of print on a tempest in a teapot, the prospect of wartime prohibition, being considered by the Congress in the form of the Bryson Bill. The piece indicates that the bill had little support in Congress as it was not supported by the people. The contrary was true in December, 1917 when the Eighteenth Amendment was passed by the Congress and submitted to the states.

The piece provides a great deal of detail on the manner in which Prohibition was enacted and its history to its constitutional death by repeal in 1933.

"The Vatican" comments on the statement of a private Washington think tank, the Foreign Policy Association, critical of the Vatican for its not being clearly on the Allied side throughout the war, especially under the previous papal monarch, Pope Pius XI. The Catholic Church had, said the Association, become known in Italy as a haven for Fascists, and a danger existed that this reputation, exagerration or not, would maintain after the war, diluting the impact of the Vatican on international relations.

While the piece indicates general agreement with the statement, recognizing the while that Pope Pius XII, anti-Communist, had declared Nazism to be the worst enemy stalking the world, it issues the caveat that the Association's comments should not be taken as an American attack on the Vatican, that such could only harm the Allied cause. The editorial expresses the hope that the Vatican's efforts to foster peace would be perceived as paramount to any misgivings regarding political loyalties.

Following up on his previous day's discussion of the need for increased coordination of the three different Allied command structures in the Pacific, Raymond Clapper reports of the new cooperation between General MacArthur and Vice-Admiral Thomas Kincaid, recently transferred from Alaska to head naval operations in the Southwest Pacific. Mr. Clapper also indicates that Admiral Halsey was getting along well with the General.

All of this new cooperative effort was good news for the Pacific war as previously, based on accounts from high ranking officers, lack of coordination had compromised efficient operation.

Samuel Grafton examines Labor's reaction to the national service plan: they were uniformly opposed to it. The position was paradoxical because they also had supported the no-strike pledge two years earlier. But the leaders, Phil Murray and William Green, took their marching orders from the rank-and-file soldiers below. While they supported the President generally on prosecution of the war, they balked whenever the Administration sought to impose controls on Labor, wage ceilings being the biggest bugaboo.

Now, says Mr. Grafton, Labor and its enemies were in cautious unity in opposition to universal service, behaving as if at once they had seen the eye of the cockatrice.

Dorothy Thompson opines that the President had only half-heartedly proposed the national service act, as he did not provide any plan for its implementation if passed. She suggests that it would not become law, that it was not to be missed in any event.

There was very little method by which it could be implemented without resorting to authoritarian measures imposed on the civilian population, antithetical to democracy, ultimately thus destructive of morale. Moreover, the loss of man-hours from strikes had not been so much as that from sickness, and compulsory service would not be a panacea in any event to eradicate the effects of strikes: men could be compelled to show up for work but not actually to perform the assigned work efficiently, free from malingering. Labor was performing yeoman work in any event, despite the strikes. Production in the war effort was consistently reaching and surpassing record levels. There was really no need therefore, even among women, for conscripted national service.

The fact that generally the national service plan had worked in Great Britain served as no example for the United States. Britain was a confined island of smaller and more concentrated population. Moreover, the British experience at national conscription had not been altogether a smooth-working operation.

Drew Pearson discusses Dr. Wei Tao-ming and Madame Wei, residents of the Chinese Embassy in Washington known as "Twin Oaks". The name was apt for this particular pair of Chinese representatives, says Mr. Pearson. Madame Wei had done every bit as much as Chiang and Madame Chiang to shape modern China. She had been offered the ambassadorship, as with two other prior positions of import, but deferred each time to her husband.

Mr. Pearson also reports of the manufacturers of concrete bathtubs having come to Washington to protest findings of the War Production Board and the Public Health Service that concrete tubs harbored bacteria within the interstices of their porous surfaces at greater levels than did the smooth sides of the cast iron or porcelain jobs. Probably so.

We mention it not so much because it is so very interesting but because the first line of the story grabbed our eye by apparently referring to "concerto bathtubs", seeming thus to suggest some sort of musical arrangement, maybe a Bach bathtub in a Love Story. But it was concrete, or actually concerte.

And we recommend to Ms. Palin, Representative Bachmann, the Limbecks, and many other loose-lipped voices of the day the piece by the Reverend Herbert Spaugh, especially its last paragraph.

Fifty years ago today, January 20, 2011, President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated the 35th President of the United States. We recall the day well, frosty as it was. We watched and listened to the speech within our second grade classroom, a trailer, though not so small as that in which John Steinbeck traveled with Charley.

Subsequently, on May 5, from the same classroom, we watched the first manned rocket launch, that of Alan Shepard riding Freedom 7 above a Redstone rocket into sub-orbital flight above the earth’s atmosphere, for all of fifteen and a half minutes, before it splashed down in the Atlantic, ushering in for America the manned space age.

The President's speech that day in January, still resounding in memory as one of the greatest inauguration speeches, if not the greatest, of the recorded age, was, of course, subsequently heightened in its impact on Americans because of the shortened life and term of President Kennedy. But it is hard to imagine the speech not having nearly as great impact even had he lived out a full span of years.

Yet, the speech, lasting only fourteen minutes, was shorter than the short first manned flight into space, but equally as significant.

"...Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," remains engraved on the memories of virtually every American of sufficient age when that speech was delivered. No single phrase from a presidential inauguration speech in the modern age stands in such high relief, save that of FDR's first inauguration speech of 1933 when he said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

It is probably only poetically fitting that Theodore Sorensen, who helped write the speech, passed away just this past Halloween. It is probably equally poetic that the President's brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, who became first Director of the Peace Corps, implemented by President Kennedy as an alternative to military service, passed away just two days ago. Peace to both of them.

And as always, peace to the spirit of President Kennedy. No one can say of him that he did not most usually think before he spoke--even if perhaps, as with most of us, the words came trippingly off the tongue once in awhile.

The torch was passed to a new generation that day, one born in the Twentieth Century. And receded on a snowy evening to his home and retirement in Gettysburg the oldest elected President, giving way to the youngest elected President in the nation's history to that time. It was a cold day in a cold world. But the voice from the platform issued strong reassurance that the world would survive its own worst tendencies toward self-destruction, and not ride the Tiger, nor wind up inside.

It was a time. If you weren't, you should have been alive to see it and to hear it.

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