Monday, January 24, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, January 24, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports further on the Allied landings Saturday morning at 2:10 a.m. at Anzio and Nettuno, above the Pontine Marshes, thirty miles from Rome. It was confirmed that they had met no resistance in the initial landings. Don Whitehead, on the scene for the Associated Press, reported that not a shot was fired and that the men literally walked onto the beaches unmolested.

A German broadcast reported that the Allies were moving toward Littoria, away from Rome, twelve miles east of Nettuno. If true, it would mean an entrapping maneuver against the back of the Gustav and Adolf Hitler lines in front of Cassino, to the southeast of the landing points.

The German Tenth Army had begun a concerted assault at Cassino against the Fifth Army front, pushing the Americans back across the Rapido River from a bridgehead seized Saturday three miles below Cassino, timed to coincide with the landings to the northwest. The purpose of the thrust by the Nazis, said Allied Headquarters, was to buy time, occupying the Fifth Army forces at Cassino, to prevent being surrounded from the rear by the landing forces at Anzio and Nettuno.

The Germans were reported to be evacuating their command headquarters from Rome, moving to the north, leaving behind only essential personnel responsible for the immediate security of the city. They were also shoring up defenses on the southern coast of France, fearing an imminent attack from that direction.

Hitler had demanded of Marshal Petain that he guarantee that the French would not attack Germans if the Allies invaded France. Thus far, Marshal Petain, on behalf of Vichy, had made no response.

Marshal Tito reported from Yugoslavia that the Nazis were throwing men to the slaughter and materiel to destruction wholesale at Senj, 35 miles south of Fiume, on Croatia's coast.

In Russia, the Red Army had moved to within ten miles of Chudovo, 75 miles southeast of Leningrad, a vital rail junction still retained by the Nazis on the Moscow-Leningrad railway, which on Saturday a communique had indicated was clear for the first time since the Leningrad siege began nearly two and a half years earlier. Still, however, it was clarified, there was a short section of track between Chudovo and Tosno, the latter also menaced now by the Russians, which was not yet wrenched from the enemy's hold.

A German broadcast indicated that the Russians were also newly on the move in the south at Kerch, approaching from an established bridgehead from the northeast while troops landed to the southeast in the Crimea, driving inland toward the city.

In New Guinea, the Australians were on the move toward Bogadjim, fifteen miles along a smooth highway from the Japanese base at Madang. The Japanese were said to be in quick retreat of the onrushing Allied troops, 25 miles south of Bogadjim.

In China, General Joseph Stilwell’s forces were reported to have captured Mingru Ga, on their way to Taipha Ga, in the Hukawng Valley of northern Burma. Chinese forces were engaged in clearing Japanese patrols from the new Lido Road into China.

Wes Gallagher usurped control of the space normally occupied by Hal Boyle, without, he indicated, Mr. Boyle's approval or even knowledge. He wanted to explain plainly to the readership of the column just who they were reading, a man with an unpronounceable middle name, apparently culled from a Gaul chieftain who sought, with bad consequence, to do battle with Caesar in 45 B.C.

Mr. Boyle believed in infantry warfare with an ideal of only one airplane in service to protect it. He liked only enlisted men, ignored most officers, and especially generals. The lower in rank the soldier, the more he garnered the rapt attention of Mr. Boyle, who was a stickler for obtaining the address of every private he interviewed, so he could tell the people back home from whence the man hailed.

He never slept, but woke up every morning chipper, full of wisecracks, mostly profane. A Reader's Digest writer informed Mr. Gallagher that Mr. Boyle, during the closing days of the Tunisia Campaign the previous spring had only managed two hours sleep out of 84, nevertheless generating copy of between 2,000 and 3,000 words per day while gathering the material for the reports.

He had developed his column the previous winter from tidbits which did not fit the regular stories and now devoted full time to it.

He talked constantly of women, while waiting for letters from his wife, sending her souvenirs from the front in such abundance that she had nowhere at home to store any more. He had an expanding waistline and a receding hairline, the latter about which he was quite sensitive. He foraged from his fellow reporters incessantly, to their increscent annoyance.

His sense of danger was non-existent, as he had already nearly lost his life at least once, during the landings in Morocco in November, 1942. He had walked into a heavily time-bombed Sicilian city just to enable a dateline from its captured point. He landed with the engineers at Salerno who were assigned to build an airbase under fire and remained there with them in constant danger for several days.

In Sicily, he ate almonds by the ten-pound sack, wearing a dent in his helmet from cracking them on its surface with a rock.

In North Africa, he had entered each captured town standing up in a jeep, proclaiming, "Vote for Boyle, son of the soil. Vote for Hal, the Arabs' pal."

The News, incidentally, began regularly carrying Mr. Boyle's column on the front page on February 5, 1943. We continually refer to him as "Mr." Boyle when in fact he was, if we recall correctly, a Lieutenant. But we don't wish to demote or promote him unduly, and since his rank has thus far not recently been re-disclosed, we simply continue to designate him by the civilian form of address, not out of disrespect, but only for the fact of our imprecise memory on the point, disclosed by The News at some earlier juncture, of which we are too lazy to make discovery again. Besides, such a bum as was described by his colleagues scarcely deserves any military rank anyway.

Indeed, why should we even read him? BOC's and WABOC's. "Almond King". "Vote for Boyle, son of the soil." Goat's milk and vodka. Whoever heard of such things in the midst of a war? This was serious. He seems to take it all very lightly. What did he know? Just a reporter. We've seen movies where actors died under fire on the set by the wholesale bloody lot, Mister. This was War, not some almond-eating contest for some silly, fat, balding pencil-pusher for a newspaper syndicate. Get the lead out, drop and give us twenty.

On the editorial page, "Oversight" finds candidate for the North Carolina Democratic nomination for governor, Dr. Ralph McDonald, to have overlooked, in his general praise of North Carolina for its effort in the war, both in fighting and on the domestic front for avoiding labor strife, a politically beneficial issue: that of challenge to Governor Broughton’s Work-or-Fight law, requiring that people work or suffer arrest and disportation from their loafing status into the armed forces.

To champion such an appeal would ingratiate the candidate not only to the ha'penny loafer class, but as well to the properly fit workers, who, no doubt, chafed at the notion of needing such a prod in their backsides to continue the rigors of their employment. The editorial believes that the candidate who would first take up the challenge to engage duel with this directive would gain a two-edged advantage in the race.

Apparently, that would prove to be Gregg Cherry.

"Stretchout" reports with contempt the recent statement to the Japanese people conveyed by General Hideki Tojo, that they must be prepared for a long war of endurance, to outlast the democracies which were pouring everything they had into the Pacific on the gamble of a short-lived war. He thereby convinced the Empire’s acolytes that there was nothing about which to be concerned in news of the repeated defeats, ongoing for twenty months since the turning points in the war at the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, followed by successive and unremitting blows on Guadalcanal, through most of New Guinea, New Georgia, the Gilberts, and now ground being continually lost on Bougainville and New Britain, as remaining positions on New Guinea were becoming increasingly tenuous, while the Marshalls were being softened for the imminent kill with air and naval raids.

The piece concludes ruefully: "The longer the war goes, Tojo, the more complete will be your ruin. You must know that full well, you grinning candidate for hari-kiri."

The editorial predicted well, even if General Tojo's aim at his own heart was a bit off when he attempted suicide, though not the ritual hari-kiri, as American MP's surrounded his residence on September 8, 1945, a month after the second atomic bomb had flattened all remnant of Nagasaki, at the will and invitation of General Tojo and his Emperor and Empress vassals. He would survive for the hangman's date, in late December, 1948.

"The Word" duly documents the President's succinct response when presented with the prospect of a draft for the Democratic nomination for a fourth term. He had replied, "Oh." No one in the public was permitted by its terseness to understand what it meant, whether declamatory or exclamatory, interrogatory or investigatory, or simply declaratory, the most probable, of an accepted fate. Time could only provide the answer.

"Stargazers" suggests that the rosy picture painted by the Treasury's Alcohol Tax Unit regarding its opined success in arresting out of the chute the incipient emergence of moonshining was the stuff of mithridatism, inoculating themselves with moonshine, the belief thus in the foredoom of the still of the night instilled, nevertheless persisting. For, the piece assures, as long the liquor shortage persisted with high liquor taxes on the legal commodity keeping prices on that available at Everest, there was a ready market for the illegal inebriant. And moonshining, it could attest from observation, had never been less prevalent, goombay-shoed, Pollyannish coppers theeward, stiller, notwithstanding.

Drew Pearson reports on the approval issued by the War Production Board for resumption of manufacture of electric irons because the demand for them, suspended in production since the start of the war, was high among frustrated housewives in wrinkles. But the problem had arisen as to who would manufacture the new irons, the large companies which had previously done the job being tied up in war production. The small companies, the bulk of which having not obtained war contracts, were suffering and wanted the job. But the large companies thought that allowing the smaller competitors into the market would generate unfair competition after the war, as their market would be ironed out.

A compromise was reached whereby the irons would be made by the smaller companies, stamped with the trademarks of the larger manufacturers, then turned over to the large companies for marketing.

Yet, however, remained the problem of how to deal with other goods scheduled soon to resume manufacture, such as refrigerators. The big companies wanted everything frozen until after the war; the WPB believed the spirit of free enterprise should allow the small companies into the market to thaw it. In the realm of refrigerators, prediction was that they would be made of plastic in the future--an accurate prediction--and so to preserve the status quo would unfairly limit the expansion of new technology in the realm of the icebox.

Which, as you recall, on top of which we fought the Cold War, not too far from Fort Bragg, against the snakes threatening from the swamp down below.

Mr. Pearson next reveals that Economic Stabilizer Fred Vinson was exasperated with some members of Congress who wanted to relax ceilings on food prices while giving citizens on fixed incomes food stamps with which to purchase their food at reduced prices. Judge Vinson thought this practice unseemly, as teachers, wives of soldiers, government workers, policemen, firemen, others who worked hard, were all on fixed incomes, and would not feel comfortable being placed in the category of paupers in need of relief stamps with which to buy food. Chairman Vinson asserted the position that either the Senators wanted stabilization of prices or they wanted inflation; they could not impose halfway measures to have it both ways.

Next, Mr. Pearson reports of the manner in which progressive Governor Ellis Arnall of Georgia had slowly made inroads on the poll tax, limiting exercise of the franchise in that State since the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment after Civil War. He had first eliminated it for those over 60, then got the Legislature to remove its yoke from the young, both excisions on the premise that neither group could afford it. He had also convinced the Legislature to eliminate its restriction on the ability of servicemen to exercise the most precious right of direct democracy afforded the citizens of the United States. Thus, in increments, he was eroding the hold of the poll tax and, with it, that of the polecats, on the State of Georgia.

Governor Arnall also eliminated the Georgia chain gangs during his tenure, among other progressive moves from the dark ages. He would re-emerge into politics to run unsuccessfully in 1966 against virulent race-baiter Lester Maddox. Future Governor and President, Jimmy Carter, also was in that race, running the first time for statewide office.

Samuel Grafton comments on the stale political situation in Italy, one which was supposed to be a temporary measure until victory was won quickly, but which, because victory was only being won slowly, had become a liability for the Allies the longer the condition persisted. The favor provided King Victor Emmanuel and Marshal Pietro Badoglio, which irritated the majority of Italians for the previous Fascist sympathies of the two leaders, was demoralizing to those many who had greeted the Allies as liberators, while giving solace to those who had supported Mussolini. As time had worn now to six months since the fall of Il Duce, the policy had become increasingly an albatross on the neck of the Allies. Mr. Grafton counsels eating some crow, admitting the failure of the plan, and reorienting the alliance to accommodate more acceptable leadership, faithful to principles of democracy, to rally Italian morale.

Raymond Clapper continues his report on the action of the Marines on Cape Gloucester. He tells of his initial landing by LST, greeted by the beachmaster, a glorified traffic cop for amphibious landing craft, assuring that there were sufficient trucks and crews on hand to enable quick unloading of supplies so that the sitting duck would not be too long lingering on the beach, a prime target for enemy aircraft. An alert, in fact, had forced the LST which had delivered Mr. Clapper to leave before all of the supplies had been offloaded.

Mail to Cape Gloucester was a month behind. Some of it had been lost in an enemy attack on a landing craft.

The rain was unremitting, with only three of the previous nineteen days having been without it, turning the roads to muddy streams. The swamps reeked of odors when it rained. The only way to bring supplies through the swamp was by jeep or amphibious small craft called "Alligators". The men slept, when not under attack, in hammocks suspended from trees with mosquito netting and a rubberized covering overhead.

As these Marines had fought on Guadalcanal, shellshock cases were rare, only four men having been taken from the front for the condition.

The Reverend Herbert Spaugh provides three versions of "A Child's Prayer", a plaque bearing its words, as we have made comment before, having hung at an earlier time above our bedside, somewhat ominously, especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis--when we resorted to it daily for comfort, just as the recovering alcoholic soldier said he did of the altered version.

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