\Friday, January 21, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, January 21, 1944


Site Ed. Note: A fleet of approximately 800 RAF Halifaxes and Lancasters, reports the front page, scored the eleventh major raid on Berlin the night before, dropping a total of over 2,300 long tons of bombs, more than the 2,300 tons dropped November 22, the record to date for strikes on Berlin, though 200 tons short of the record for the war, dropped over Hannover September 23. The raid took thirty minutes to accomplish, registering 77 tons of bombs per minute.

A combined RAF and American raid dropped yet another estimated 2,000 tons of ordnance on the rocket-gun coast of France at Pas-de-Calais during the morning of this date.

The French fighting with the Fifth Army in Italy moved from captured Sant' Elia to take Mt. Il Lago, north of Cassino, after crossing the Rapido River. They were threatening to outflank the Germans' Gustav Line from behind; German prisoners, however, reported that yet another line, dubbed "the Adolf Hitler Line", lay six miles behind the Gustav defense cordon.

British troops of the Fifth Army, supported for the first time in several weeks by Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers firing into positions along the Appian Way, captured evacuated Minturno, 76 miles from Rome, taking 300 prisoners, and moved forward six miles inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea to attack the mountain villages of Castelforte and Ventosa.

Extremely cold weather, rivaling Leningrad, according to German prisoners, limited American troop activity to patrols below Cassino; likewise, the Eighth Army on the Adriatic Coast undertook only patrol activity.

The Red Army's drive south from Leningrad had freed the Soviet Baltic Fleet, locked in port for two years, to ply the waters of Kronstadt Bay and possibly beyond. A communique from Moscow reported that the Baltic Army of General Leonid Govorov had killed 40,000 Germans in the offensive which had finally broken the siege of Leningrad, enduring nearly two and a half years.

It was reported that further west, in Eastern Poland, Volhynia Province, and especially Vilna, were in chaos, overflowing with retreating German soldiers marshaling with them thousands of Ukrainian civilians captured from Berdichev and Vinnitsa, clogging the roads and without sufficient food. Many were said to be dying of starvation. Meanwhile, the Nazis were plundering the stores of grain to send to the Fatherland.

Stateside, Sergeant Bilko was found to be operating the Camp Shanks Army Base in Orangeburg, N.Y., prompting an investigation by the House Military Affairs Committee.

Hal Boyle tells of the concern on the one hand and glee on the other for the musical tastes of the men of the Army, as expressed by classical concert pianist Lt. Robert Wallenborn of Chicago, lately of the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy. Lt. Wallenborn, having taught at the state universities in North Carolina, Indiana, and Texas, observed that the enlisted men, some of whom had never seen a symphony performed live, were attending the three performances per week given in one Italian city and appearing to enjoy themselves. But the officers, he reported, vacillated toward boogy-woogy music.

The future of Western civilization obviously resided in the novitiate hands of the enlisted men.

On the editorial page, "Stop, Thief!" applauds the political astuteness of Wendell Willkie for stepping away from his party ranks and openly supporting the soldier vote bill, even if to do so meant probably loss of votes to the Democrats in November. But, by doing so, says the piece, he also would garner respect from the people which even Roosevelt could not obtain on the issue, for the very fact that it was to a great measure Southern Democrats who were blocking passage of the bill, based on States' Rights. The editorial concludes that Mr. Willkie would pose a formidable candidate for the presidency.

"Stonewall" marks the 119th birthday of Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson, mortally wounded near Chancellorsville by his own pickets, thinking him an approaching Yankee, on the night of May 2, 1863, dying eight days later as he crossed to the other side of the river.

The piece compares the turning of the flank of the Union Army under General Joseph Hooker at Chancellorsville to the victory of the Allied Second Corps in Tunisia in spring, 1943. It indicates that the tactics utilized by Jackson had been studied by both German and American generals for use whenever they encountered open field combat, as in Tunisia and Italy.

Burke Davis, who likely wrote the editorial, subsequently published in 1954 a biography of Jackson, titled They Called Him Stonewall.

It is noteworthy that the column provided a piece on Jackson but none on Lee, whose 136th birthday had been two days earlier.

It is perhaps a cautious irony of history that Stonewall Jackson died at age 39, the same age, differing by only a little over a month, at which the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, April 4, 1968.

Both men were killed by Confederates.

"The Guilty" points out that the Interstate Commerce Commission report on the Atlantic Coast Line wreck of the Tamiami northbound streamliner into the derailed cars of the Tamiami southbound, after midnight on December 16 near Lumberton, fixed blame on the trainmen of the southbound for negligence in not adequately providing signals to the northbound train, despite 45 minutes within which to do so. But, reminds the piece, the ICC could not fix any punishment. That was left to the courts.

The editorial does not favor crucifying the trainmen deemed responsible, even though 72 persons were killed and 187 injured in the worst train accident ever in the Southeast, tenth worst in United States history. But, it also suggests a thorough adjudication of the facts and circumstances to reach the truth of the matter, whether it was simply an accident or whether there was sufficient fault of individual personnel to warrant damages against the railroad. The report had stressed that had extant regulations been followed, the accident could have been prevented.

Whether the various omissions of care, the failure to place flares and light signals which were visible to the northbound, the time delay in walking a hundred feet down the track, and the failure to deploy the explosive "torpedoes" on the track as alarms to the northbound, were consequent of individual lapses of attention that night, from lack of training by the company, from lack of sufficient oversight in the selection of qualified personnel, or from some combination thereof, remained to be determined by the courts.

Of course, as the report had pointed out, too, there was the intervening misperception by the trainmen at the front of the southbound, responsible for deploying signals to the northbound, that the only problem was the unhitched cars to the immediate rear of the engines; they were simply unaware of the wreckage at the rear of the train, despite signals having been deployed by the trainmen at that end to alert the front. Thus, the men at the front of the train were not aware of the urgency for deploying the signals and were not acting callously, even if acting negligently, in violation of regulations, requiring any stopped train immediately to deploy all three types of signals.

You are on the jury, to assess liability and then any proved damages for wrongful death and injury from reckless or negligent conduct of the trainmen, realizing that the individual trainmen will not have to pay the damages; only the companies will be liable for payment, on the theory of respondeat superior.

There is plainly negligence per se, as established regulations were violated, or so will argue the plaintiffs' attorneys. The defense will argue that the conditions preceding the time of the collision were cold, dark, dank, confusing, that the individual trainmen each acted responsibly under the circumstances, that a series of ill-fated problems arose causing, in chain, the accident, attributable not to negligence, but simply to the unfortunate series of circumstances leading to the tragic, unavoidable accident.

You will be instructed by the court that negligence per se does result from the violation of any law or regulation which is the proximate cause of damage suffered by the plaintiffs. If you find negligence per se, there is automatically negligence attributable to the person or entity violating the law or regulations and they are properly held accountable for any damages proximately caused by the violation of the law or regulations.

How do you find on the issue of liability?

"Spain" lays odds against the prosperity of the country after the war, lest it heed the recent call of British Foreign Minister Sir Anthony Eden to resign its troops from the Axis battlefields at once and declare itself for the Allies. It would face a post-war Mediterranean dominated by the British, a sphere of influence surrounding it politically dominated by the Americans and British.

Its position, cautions the piece, was thus unenviable, but, despite feints by Generalissimo Francisco Franco toward the Allied camp by denouncing Fascist customs in his country, in furtherance of which he had come to power at the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War in 1939, it would likely continue on its reckless course and leave its troops fighting with the Nazis.

Raymond Clapper reports of the conditions at the Army hospital at Port Moresby, overlooking the Coral Sea on New Guinea. He finds it far more ingratiating than he had imagined jungle hospital care in such surroundings could be. Cocoanut trees shaded the series of tents which had delivered care to 1,174 soldiers in fourteen months, many of whom had been treated for shell-shock or other psychoneurotic conditions, some suffering from simple homesickness.

For mental rehabilitation, patients worked a five-acre garden, planting flowers and watermelons.

They held Protestant and Catholic religious services every Sunday, had a baseball field, and were able to watch movies five nights per week.

The new drug penicillin had just come into use at the hospital and was saving many lives.

A news piece on the page reports from Mare Island, located in the middle San Francisco Bay, that some hundred patients at the Navy hospital, men who had lost arms and legs in the fighting on Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and other hot spots in the Pacific, were being fitted with custom-tailored prosthetic limbs, enabling them to function normally. Some were planning to return to duty as truck drivers or military policemen. They were not invalids, merely temporarily set back.

Drew Pearson discusses the dissension in the ranks of Democrats as the Democratic National Committee met to select a new chair to replace Postmaster General Frank Walker. Republicans were licking their chops as both farm and labor groups were beginning to turn against Roosevelt. Many were even suggesting that the Democrats were prolonging the war to assure victory in 1944. A decided climate existed among the Republicans to get Roosevelt, no matter what it took.

It was in this uneasy setting, therefore, that the Democrats met to try to achieve some dubious form of unity and select a new chair, something the Committee itself had not done in eleven years, always previously determined from on high by FDR and Jim Farley. Now with kingmaker Farley out of the picture since 1940, disgruntled over Roosevelt's decision to run for a third term, the Democrats were foundering in terms of party unity.

Samuel Grafton remarks on the sudden discovery of the Republicans that perhaps they had committed collectively a series of faux pas in taking the unpopular side of at least two issues, led into it by their particularized idiom which included such catch phrases as "States' Rights", to justify their turning down the soldier vote, or "regimentation" dreamed up by "college professors", to sanctify their turning down food subsidies. In fact, they had acted purely to stop Roosevelt.

But they had forgotten the underlying issues and the groups who provided support for those issues, soldiers who wanted to vote and housewives who wanted low food prices. Now, the GOP was beginning to discover the folly of its ways, that no matter whether Roosevelt existed or not, the soldiers still wanted to vote, the housewives still wanted cheap food.

Dorman Smith utilizes some syllabication in probable furtherance of confusion of already fairly confused variant spellings of General Dwight Eisenhower's last name. It did indeed appear in print variously as "Eisenhour" or "Isenhower" or "Isenhour".

Regardless, as was pointed out back in June, 1942, it translated into German as "Iron Beater". Das Iron Beater was indeed about to cross the Strait of Dover, in just four and a half months, with the largest expeditionary force ever assembled under the sun.

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