Saturday, January 22, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, January 22, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of the massive amphibious landings by Allied troops at Anzio and Nettuno, circumventing the natural defense barrier of the Pontine Marshes, to get closer to Rome, putting the troops about thirty miles from the capital. Known as "Operation Shingle", the landing forces were reported to have met little initial resistance, apparently taking the Germans by surprise, despite the congregation of ships in the harbor at Naples which "blackened the sea" for days in advance of the movement of the troops.

The map below shows the locations of the landings in relation to the Gustav Line, against which little progress had been made, only by fits and starts, during the previous three months. The landings would permit the opportunity of the Allied forces to flank the Germans, forcing them to divide forces from along the Gustav Line, thus weakening it, or to bring in more reserves from other fronts. An estimated 25 German divisions were present in Italy.

The landing force of the Allies, the VI Corps, under the immediate command of Major-General John Lucas, consisted of 36,000 men and 2,300 vehicles. Confronting them were some 20,000 Germans, converging on the point. By the end of May, the Allies would have 150,000 men in the area, confronting 135,000 Germans. In all, by the end of the operation on June 5, the Allies would suffer their largest concentrated loss yet in the war, 29,200 casualties, of whom 4,400 were killed. Two-thirds of the casualties would be suffered by March 4. Additionally, there were 37,000 non-combat casualties. Of the total, Americans suffered the greatest number of casualties, 16,200, of whom 2,800 were killed. The Nazi Fourteenth Army suffered slightly fewer casualties, about 27,500, of whom, however, a larger number were killed, 5,500.

While the operation would fail its objective of flanking the Gustav Line and clearing the way to Rome, it would serve a secondary purpose to pin down 135,000 German troops, troops who could not be moved to defend Normandy on and after D-Day.

In Russia, the Red Army captured a key rail junction at Mga, thirty miles southeast of Leningrad, to reunite by rail Moscow and Leningrad for the first time in over two years since the siege had begun.

Meanwhile, the Baltic Army continued to press westward toward Estonia and Latvia, as thousands of Germans retreated southward and westward.

The RAF conducted yet another 1,000-plane raid, the second such Allied raid in a mere fourteen hours, following the 1,000-plane combined British-American raid of the previous morning and early afternoon on the rocket-coast of Northern France, in the area of Pas-de-Calais. The latest raid of the previous night was on Magdeburg in Saxony, and, including a small raid on Berlin and other targets in Northern France, cost the RAF fully 55 planes.

The largest raid in several months was conducted in two waves by the Luftwaffe on London and other towns of England the night before and early in the morning. Some ninety planes strong, the attacks caused a massive air raid and cost several lives. It was the first major air raid witnessed by several hundred newly arrived American doughboys.

General Carl Spaatz, commander of U.S. Strategic Air Forces for the invasion of the Continent, indicated to reporters that he expected, weather permitting, the Luftwaffe to be wiped out by Allied air power during the course of the coming summer.

The implication was that Germany would by that time be compelled in consequence to surrender. For without air defense, it could scarcely continue to fight the war.

General Patton, commander of the Seventh Army, was reported to have reviewed Polish troops in Egypt.


The Democrats selected Robert E. Hannegan, 40-year old Internal Revenue Commissioner, as new chair of the Democratic National Committee to replace Frank Walker--who was headed home to read Esquire.

Hal Boyle tells of diminutive Colonel John Victor McCormack, a 36-year veteran of the British Army, whose job it was to convey via radio daily communiqués from Allied Headquarters in Algiers. "Little Mac" had descended from a long line of soldiers. The only thing which disturbed him was to encounter words starting with "b" and "p" in his reports, as they made him stutter. ("British Petroleum", undoubtedly, was a nightmare, a recitation of "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" even worse.) He held an inordinate amount of pride in the Irish Coldstream Guards, suffered with every setback, gloated with every triumph in which they were involved.

On the editorial page, "Who?" finds increasingly absurd the resort by many Southern pols to States' Rights arguments against progress, this time brandished to justify an attempt to defeat a bill to extend civil aviation after the war and to make uniform air safety regulations and the like. That, said the hue and cry raised against it, was an invasion of States' Rights.

Naturally, every state should have its own set of aviation regulations so that planes could adjust accordingly at the air borders, just as on highways.

And, of course, it would avoid the unseemly prospect of Stepin Fetchit becoming a pilot over the Great State of Georgia, for instance, in which position any such member of the colored races would surely crash the plane into some great stone monument of the State, whether deliberately or by accident being subject to subsequent investigation of the ruminations born of ruination, claiming subjugation, when the real demonic influence was miscegenation in the congregation of the conjugations.

"High & Low" comments on Hal Boyle's report of the previous day that officers favored boogy-woogy while enlisted men were regularly attending classical concerts in Italy. It brushes off the dichotomy with the fact that, since the enlisted men far outnumbered the officers, it was harbinger of good musical taste to come in society.

Undoubtedly, therefore, by 1960, the entire United States would be one big happy family listening to Brahms, Mozart, and Beethoven, from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters. And even beyond 1960, even to the year 2000, nay, 2011.

None of this. Hunc-uh, daddy. Only this here. For your mama should know.

"Cutie" remarks on the continued isolationism of Representative Jessie Sumner of Illinois, who had voted consistently in an isolationist pattern before the war. Thus, it was no surprise that she would stand against the bill to provide postwar rehabilitation funding for Europe, contending in a speech on the House floor that it would only be providing funds for Josef Stalin, who would become dictator of Europe.

"Wastrel" comments on the continuation of waste of paper by the Government, while paper remained scarce for the country at large.

Even the Congressman, Marion Bennett of Missouri, who had brought to light the huge Government absence of conservation, had himself consumed eight pages in the Congressional Record in so doing, and then proceeded to send copies of the eight pages all around the country to spread his inflammation.

Perhaps, his writ would have run larger and louder, while being more true to purpose, prouder, had he combined with Senator Guy Gillette, taken to the radio in the nighttime, with Sherpas and clowder, maybe enjoying an introduction by Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper, Sugarpuss and her Papa, with Mr. K urging the beat in the background, a lariat strayed to cougar noose in the hazy bergamasque burgeoned, stretched to creek off the track of the bent, slacked crack hound which bound her.

"Guess What" finds Senator Robert Reynolds being his usual self with regard to the rehabilitation bill, making anti-British and anti-Soviet remarks, while he also had managed to place himself on the same level with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin. Thus, concludes the piece, Bob Reynolds was now the leader of the U.S.

Dorothy Thompson writes of the specter of World War I haunting Anglo-American relations with Russia, on the one hand fear by Russia that the Western Allies would agree with the Polish government-in-exile, believed desirous of throwing up a cordon solitaire to enlarge Eastern Poland at the expense of Russia as at the end of World War I. Complicating these generally persisting fears more recently was the prospect of Britain making unilateral peace with Germany, implied as a possibility in the report issued by Pravda, stating rumors that German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop had met with British officials somewhere in Iberia to discuss such a peace.

Samuel Grafton interprets the Pravda report as merely a warning to the West to avoid peace entreaties by Germany. But, questions Mr. Grafton, if Germany should wave the Western Allies in through France so that they could surrender to the West rather than risk annihilation by surrender to the Russians, it would be hard for the British and Americans not to accept such an inchoate surrender by the Germans. For it would be pointless then to continue to fight and die when the enemy was seeking to surrender, even if posed on terms which were more favorable than unconditionality.

Drew Pearson also examines the ultimate reason for publication of the Pravda story, finds it likely a means by which the Russians could force the perceived reluctant hand of the British to proceed forward with the opening of the long-awaited second front. Reports out of Tehran had it that Churchill and Stalin did not get on well with each other and that Churchill had favored a Balkan invasion rather than one through the West. By perpetuating the rumor of unilateral peace talks with Germany, the Soviets could place the British on the defensive such they had to deny the rumors and, completely to dispel the prospect, forge ahead with the second front.

Raymond Clapper reports from Cape Gloucester on New Britain, having been transported to the front at Hill 660, taken by the Marines shortly before he arrived. He talked to several of the men, continuously on the frontlines in the area since the landing December 26, able to enjoy little rest in the meantime as the enemy ordinarily shelled them at night. They nevertheless appeared in good spirits, wanted the President to send them some beer, and pretty well uniformly believed that FDR should be re-elected in 1944, that he had done alright so far in running the war and ought be left in charge.

The Marines on Cape Gloucester had fought on Guadalcanal, and by comparison to the present fight, one said, the earlier battle for Henderson Field had been a rest camp. To take Hill 660, their foxholes had been a mere twelve feet from those of the Japanese.

Mr. Clapper talked to Sam Stavisky, former city editor for The Washington Post, who indicated that his worst experience had been the routine of interviewing a soldier for a story to send back to the States, and, no sooner than wired, the soldier would be brought in dead, necessitating trying to recall the report to change it accordingly. Mr. Stavisky told of surgeons operating on the wounded as machinegun bullets whizzed past them on Hill 150, a knoll between Hill 660 and Target Hill, the latter where some of the most concentrated bombing and shelling yet of the Pacific war had occurred.

Mr. Stavisky, of course, had no way of knowing that he was being interviewed by a reporter who would be killed within less than two weeks.

"I'll tell thee everything I can;
There's little to relate.
I saw an aged aged man,
A-sitting on a gate.
'Who are you, aged man?' I said.
'And how is it you live?'
And his answer trickled through my head
Like water through a sieve.

He said 'I look for butterflies
That sleep among the wheat:
I make them into mutton-pies,
And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men,' he said,
'Who sail on stormy seas;
And that's the way I get my bread--
A trifle, if you please.'

But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one's whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
That they could not be seen.
So, having no reply to give
To what the old man said, I cried,
'Come, tell me how you live!'
And thumped him on the head.

His accents mild took up the tale:
He said 'I go my ways,
And when I find a mountain-rill,
I set it in a blaze;
And thence they make a stuff they call
Rowlands' Macassar Oil--
Yet twopence-halfpenny is all
They give me for my toil.'

But I was thinking of a way
To feed oneself on batter,
And so go on from day to day
Getting a little fatter.
I shook him well from side to side,
Until his face was blue:
'Come, tell me how you live,' I cried,
'And what it is you do!'

He said 'I hunt for haddocks' eyes
Among the heather bright,
And work them into waistcoat-buttons
In the silent night.
And these I do not sell for gold
Or coin of silvery shine
But for a copper halfpenny,
And that will purchase nine.

'I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
Or set limed twigs for crabs;
I sometimes search the grassy knolls
For wheels of Hansom-cabs.
And that's the way' (he gave a wink)
'By which I get my wealth--
And very gladly will I drink
Your Honour's noble health.'

I heard him then, for I had just
Completed my design
To keep the Menai bridge from rust
By boiling it in wine.
I thanked him much for telling me
The way he got his wealth,
But chiefly for his wish that he
Might drink my noble health.

And now, if e'er by chance I put
My fingers into glue
Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot
Into a left-hand shoe,
Or if I drop upon my toe
A very heavy weight,
I weep, for it reminds me so,
Of that old man I used to know--
Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow,
Whose hair was whiter than the snow,
Whose face was very like a crow,
With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
Who seemed distracted with his woe,
Who rocked his body to and fro,
And muttered mumblingly and low,
As if his mouth were full of dough,
Who snorted like a buffalo--
That summer evening, long ago,
A-sitting on a gate."

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