Thursday, January 20, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, January 20, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that British troops of the Fifth Army in Italy had enlarged their bridgehead on the lower Garigliano River to a depth in some places of two miles, taking the villages of Argento, Tufo, and Suio. The movement, the first in the sector in two months, was accomplished under a fog screen, supported by amphibious landings from the Tyrrhenian Sea. The British troops forded the river, encountering fire from the heights on the other side as they did so, either in rafts or by swimming, as the river's depth prohibited wading across its 70-yard width.

German broadcasts indicated that the Nazis meanwhile had abandoned Minturno on the Appian Way, 76 miles from Rome.

American and French troops of the Fifth Army were also active, probing the German lines, as the Americans again crossed the Rapido River to conduct patrol activity.

On Wednesday, Liberators of General Nathan F. Twining's Fifteenth Air Force had bombed the airdromes at Ciampino and Cintocelle on the outskirts of Rome, as well as at the Perugia airfield 85 miles north of the capital. Another raid was reported to have hit in the same vicinity, at Ciampino and Cintocelle, on Thursday morning.

The raid came in the wake of successful interdiction of all rail traffic south through Rome by bombing raids on rail junctions in Northern Italy, cutting off the central supply line and the line supplying the German Gustav Line confronting the Fifth Army on the west coast. The only rail line still operating was along the Adriatic Coast, carrying supplies to the German forces entrenched against the Eighth Army--where fighting had been limited to patrol activity during recent weeks because of bad weather and the change in command effected at Christmas, as General Montgomery was transferred to London to head British troops for the invasion of the Continent. It was expected that the interruption of nearly all supplies to the German forces along the Gustav Line, save for that effected by truck along hazardous roads, would soon serve to weaken the fighting resolve of the Germans in the west, as the Fifth Army's offensive consumed German supplies apace.

This fact explains why the amphibious landings at Anzio and Nettuno were shortly to be undertaken, beginning Saturday.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson announced that the raid on January 11 at Brunswick, Oschersleben, and Halberstadt had been more successful than originally believed, completely destroying the Brunswick Messerschmitt factory and the Focke-Wulf plant at Oschersleben, while inflicting 40% to 70% destruction of the Junker manufacturing facility located at Halberstadt.

He also recapped the progress of the fighting in the Pacific, indicating that substantial gains had been made by the Australians in New Guinea, taking Sio and Vincke Point, crunching the Japanese into ever-tightening nets against the American positions taken at Saidor, apparently weakening the Japanese will to fight in the area. On Cape Gloucester on New Britain, reported the Secretary, the Japanese had suffered 3,100 men killed since the landing December 26. The Americans had lost 228 men with 694 wounded.

In what was described as the most devastating attack yet on Rabaul on New Britain, a contingent of forty American divebombers and sixty fighters, originating from Bougainville to the east, struck at Simpson Harbor, sinking between three and six Japanese transports, with two others seriously damaged. More than a hundred Japanese planes contested the raid, of which between 18 and 33 were shot down, compared to a loss of twelve planes by the American forces, of which ten were divebombers.

Air raids on Rabaul since the beginning of the year had resulted in between 152 and 194 enemy planes destroyed, plus eleven merchant vessels sunk or left sinking. The Allies had lost 32 planes.

Japanese Imperial Headquarters, always a little slow with the abacus, reported two hundred enemy planes had attacked the Harbor, sinking two ships. The Japanese had successfully bagged, said the report, 102 of the American planes. The Americans would shortly surrender all of their forces under General MacArthur, by noon the next day. The Aussies, a bit tougher, would soon, nevertheless, follow.

Meanwhile, at Cape Gloucester, the Marines, having taken Hill 660 the previous Friday, repulsed an enemy attack designed to recapture it.

North of Empress Augusta Bay, original landing site of the Marines on Bougainville, Army troops crossed the Torokina River and established new positions near East Lagoon.

In Russia, Novgorod was captured by the Baltic Army during the sixth day of fighting south of Leningrad. The key rail junction to the north of Lake Ilmen and on the west bank of the Volkhov River had been surrounded by the Red Army north and south as they crossed the frozen lake and river. The Nazis evacuated the city, held since August 22, 1941, site of strongly established hedgehog positions to enforce the siege of Leningrad against the northern line of the Red Army along the Volkhov. The action also effectively outflanked the city of Staraya Russa, forty miles to the south of Novgorod.

Closing a seven-mile gap between two contingents of the Red Army, General Leonid Govorov's forces had converged, threatening to entrap a quarter million Nazis besieging Leningrad from the west and south. A force of the Army had moved to within thirteen miles of the railway forming the only supply route to the Nazis in the Leningrad sector. The northern contingent of the Army captured most of the specially-designed long-range guns used by the Nazis during the siege.

In Yugoslavia, fighting was heavy in the Croatian coastal area to the south of the naval base at Fiume, as the Germans holding the base tried to prevent Partisans under Marshal Tito from advancing on the base. The Germans had launched two offensives in protection of the location, one in Croatia and the other from Western Bosnia.

The London and Moscow press were busy attempting mutually to shore up relations between the British and Russians in the wake of the rumors which had been published by Pravda that Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, had discussed unilateral peace negotiations with Great Britain. Eddie Gilmore, Associated Press correspondent, reported from Moscow that the topic was receiving more attention among Muscovites than any since the beginning of the war, save for the Tehran Conference between Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill in late November and early December.

William L. Worden reports of the vicissitudes accompanying mail to and from the men on the front. Johnny might write of "the temperature of a beached codfish" in apparent response to a warm love letter from home, suggesting maybe to the recipient that he had found someone else. But the recipient should not resort quite so quickly either to the WABOC's or to Juliet's and Thisbe's panacea; for it only meant that, in all probability, the love letter had not yet cleared censors and so had not been read by the intended.

Not only that, but Johnny, himself, had difficulties always writing down his true feelings, as the Army or Navy censor peering over his shoulder might either become concerned that he was too winsome and lovelorn and thus suggest to a commander that he be sent immediately into combat, or, even worse, that the snoop would, upon receiving his leave stateside, look up the lass to whom Johnny addressed the adoration and make time from it what he would--in New York City. (We take some liberties with Mr. Worden's already expertly conveyed words, as we think we understand the concept all too well.)

As to matters other than love, the proper interpretation of the mail stateside had to be achieved from translating the contents through a perceiving filter, aware of the censor's probing eyes at the other end. Hyperbole was often used to kill with kindness the superiors who, perhaps, had been overly cruel to be kind. Excessive praise of the ensign's eyes, elocution, mien, and bearing were all sure signs that the sailor had a substantial gripe with his immediate superior.

For instance, lines in a love letter home might be taken as something performed with special aplomb, should that writ have run thus: "Lieutenant Nixon's reversed aquiline nose, my love, rather rhinocerical in its effect--ah, the French have a word for it, retroussé--struck me as the most perfect metaphor for the war out here in the Pacific, a kind of jumping-off place for skiers on the upslope, off the ramp, and into the arms of eternity, which the sonorous, poetic voice of the Lieutenant communicates so wonderfully and skillfully, and at every turn of borrowed phrase and on every morn of every day. Well, my sweet, be it enough stated that I feel the enormity of love's pangs cured developed in my breast, as upon it is bestowed many soporific polstices to my wounds by the Lieutenant and his extraordinary visage which peers necessitously dependent upon my daily and regular service. So must I retire from your attention to that of my liege; thus, I bid thee adieu and farewell until the morrow, when first it shall be my estimable pleasure to be hearkened to by that familiar, melodious voice issuing the clarion call from off the cowslipped tongue, giving the rime to that otherwise prosaic rhythm of the world, both to my mind and to my ear, and silent, steady allegory in a hill of rolling cadence to mine eyes, once more. Yours, Somewhere in the Pacific, as always, with exception, of course, for space in reserve left to the Lieutenant, Me"

And, in Philadelphia, it was reported that the strike by Public Works employees, begun shortly after the New Year, was possibly to widen its scope as 300 drivers of garbage trucks, presumably members of the Teamsters Union, threatened to walk off the job in support of the effort of the public employees to obtain a raise of ten cents per hour.

On the editorial page, "Premiere" expresses the hope that the Fourth War Bond Drive, starting in the country successfully, with four million dollars worth purchased in the first two days, would wind up with much success, and urged Mecklenburg County residents to do their part. It invited residents to attend the premiere of the motion picture "Madame Curie", sponsored by The News as a benefit to raise money for the war through the purchase of war bonds.

"Huzzah!" comments on the efforts of some in the South Carolina Legislature to seek repeal of Governor Olin Johnston's Work-Or-Fight law, which required compulsory employment or arrest and induction into the armed forces. The legislators had branded the act tantamount to slavery. One had suggested that South Carolinians had fought a war over slavery, did not want any more of the institution. The piece likes his stand but questions whether or not he had confused his sides in the prior War.

It finds the law equally unconstitutional to the similar edict put forth by Governor Broughton of North Carolina during the previous summer.

"Round Two" comments on the report from Georgia that a town council had requested of Georgia Congressmen that they close the local Fair Employment Practices Committee office. The issue, which had arisen in December, related to the Committee's directive that by December 30 the railroads provide equal employment opportunities between the races, especially as to engineers, firemen, and conductors, a prospect which the Southern railroad operators had declared "impossible" of enactment for its impact on railway passenger traffic, white passengers not wanting to ride with black engineers or firemen in control of the train.

The piece throws up its hands and declares the reaction hardly surprising, in resignation that the South's entrenched recalcitrance in such matters would not disappear for "generations ahead".

"Equality of employment opportunities is simply not in the cards."

"Mutiny" finds it pleasantly ironic that the female staff of a CIO office in Detroit had struck a few days earlier for better wages, causing the manager of the office, aptly named perhaps, Ben Probe, to walk out in exasperation. Concludes the piece, the chickens sometimes come home to roost.

"Opinion" underscores the fact that many returning veterans, far too many simply to be imagining the phenomenon, were consistently saying, as had a Greenville, South Carolina veteran, Colonel Arthur Rogers, about whom the Reverend Herbert Spaugh had related in a different context December 8, that Americans back home did not appreciate the war, were simply going about their business as usual, interested only in earning a buck.

Raymond Clapper, somewhere in New Guinea, tells of picking up two pairs of paratroopers as he drove his jeep along the roads, expounding on the special perils faced by the jumpers.

He then turns to the troop and supply transports operating under the command of Brigadier General P. H. Prentiss, responsible for ferrying troops and supplies from Port Moresby over the Owen Stanley Mountains to the battlefronts in New Guinea. Supplies sometimes included small bulldozers for use by the Sea Bees to construct and repair runways. Once, Mr. Clapper relates, the transports of General Prentiss were landing at one end of an airstrip while the Japanese still fought at the other. Everything, including spare wings, were hauled by the big transport planes.

The struggle for New Guinea, second largest island in the world, had been ongoing for nearly two years, proved exhausting to the Australian and American troops engaged in the fight, some of whom having been in it for the full time since the battle had begun, in 1942. The primary objective in land operations had been to take enemy territory around airstrips to establish forward positions from which fighter planes could strike at other Japanese airstrips, harbors, and entrenchments.

The air war also had been long and hard. One flier had been promoted recently after 215 missions. Two Air Force generals had been killed.

Dorothy Thompson examines a piece by Herr Doktor Goebbels appearing December 5 in his weekly propaganda rag, Das Reich. He had, for the first time, admitted Germany's defeat in the war of territorial acquisition, that, he also admitted, having befallen the Nazis beginning in the fall of 1942 with the retreat in North Africa by Rommel and the beginning of the Russian counter-offensive at Stalingrad. He urged that, henceforth, the stress in Germany would be on a defensive war of the Fatherland, one to be made so bloody that the Allies would be forced to grant liberal terms of surrender, despite a superior military position, or, alternatively, so weakened that the Germans might be able to resume their offensive effort.

The Americans, he had optimistically stated, were divided in their attentions between two theaters, were not prepared for the heavy losses to be inflicted in the campaign for Europe. The Russians, he had confidently predicted, would stop their offensive when the Germans were finally driven from Russia, something which he appeared to accept as a fait accompli. The campaign in the Balkans, he believed, would cause a great rift between Russia and the Western Allies.

The article had been drafted prior to the release of the Tehran Declaration, asserting a unified front for the Allies, to prosecute the war to unconditional surrender of the Axis. Thus, this unified statement of strong purpose and principle, suggests Ms. Thompson, had to have dealt a severe blow to the hopes expressed in the article by Herr Doktor Goebbels.

Samuel Grafton sardonically reviews a radio broadcast by the State Department, to which he had recently provided his rapt attention, regarding the Department's considered justification of its having dealt initially with Admiral Jean Darlan during the period after the initial landings in North Africa in early November, 1942, through the Admiral's assassination in Algeria on the ensuing Christmas Eve.

Mr. Grafton finds the radio script wanting of an apt premise for its being so dated, and an apt middle for not explaining why the Government had been so reluctant to deal with Charles De Gaulle, widely accepted by the Free French as their leader, and an appropriate conclusion, to explain the climax of the play, why the Government seemed to want to deal with the wrong sort of fellow but not the right sort, leaving the listener to believe in a moral which at best was confusing.

Drew Pearson discusses the patriotism of the Eskimos of Alaska in the war against Japan, despite Uncle Sam not fulfilling his promise to them in return. They had forsaken their fishing season on promise of a shipload of food from the Government, to build fortifications of St. Lawrence Island, within visual sight of Siberia.

But the Government, despite the yeoman effort by the Eskimos, never sent the food.

Recently, Alaska Governor Ernest Gruening had visited the Eskimos and provided them with guns with which to hunt and to defend themselves against the Japanese, then made a speech asking for some contribution of their money on hand for purchase of war bonds to help pay for the guns. They manned up with $15,000, their total community fund. He suggested that they reconsider, that they retain on hand some for themselves, whereupon, after short mutual consultation, they reaffirmed their commitment on the ground that Uncle Sam had been so kind to them.

Mr. Pearson next turns to the newest position provided Maury Maverick, former Congressman, avid New Dealer, and liberal Mayor of San Antonio, until defeated for his having taken on too many political heavyweights in putting forward social reform. It had come as a shock that support for his appointment as head of the Smaller War Plants Corporation of the War Production Board came, not from the Administration, which favored another appointee, nor his former colleagues in Congress who also favored another, but from conservative businessmen and Republicans who believed he could could best get the job done efficiently.

Reports also Mr. Pearson, as he had recently informed that the Soviets preferred real butter to oleomargarine resultant of the fact that butter cost thrice as much, thus had to be better, they also preferred oleo for the civilian populace, as they had been sent half the Government's purchased allotment of oleo in 1943.

He neglected to consider that there was simply no butter than oleo.

In a news item on the page, following up on an item in Drew Pearson's column of December 13, it was reported that the Democratic primary for the governor's race in Louisiana appeared headed for a return to the days of Huey Long with Jimmie Davis, reputed author of "You Are My Sunshine", grabbing the gubernatorial nomination in the one-party state, as Earl Long headed for the lieutenant governor's office in the building where his brother had been assassinated in 1935.

Mr. Davis indeed won and served a term until 1948, subsequently to be elected for another four-year term in 1960.

Colorful Earl Long would succeed Governor Davis in 1948 and would return as Governor in 1956, dying a few months after completion of his second term. Huey Long's son Russell served in the Senate from 1948 until 1987.

Equally colorful Congressman Jimmy Morrison Morrison, who had once shot himself in the arm and plied the wound with catsup to feign an assassination attempt, seeking to place himself next to Huey Long in Louisiana's statuary hall while living to tell the tale, polled only 15%, perhaps the result of his having used his franking privilege to send 30,000 campaign fliers, passed by the Postmaster General for his having included with them a copy of a speech, "Our War Heroes Deserve the Best". (Esquire should have tried that, maybe with a strategically placed American flag, or at least a few medals.)

Dorman Smith, addressing allegorically the right to strike, appears to have seen all too well, on a quite literal level, the future.

The Reverend Herbert Spaugh quotes from Chapter 53 of Isaiah, stressing verse 6:

1: Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

2: For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3: He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8: He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9: And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10: Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

11: He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12: Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Seventeen years from this day in The News, allusion would be made to Chapter 58 of the same Book of the Bible, stressing verse 6:

1: Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

2: Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

3: Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.

4: Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

5: Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

6: Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

7: Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

8: Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.

9: Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

10: And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

11: And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

12: And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

13: If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

14: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

As always, you may make of the coincidences what you will.

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