Thursday, January 27, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, January 27, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Fifth Army was moving north of Cassino as patrols had penetrated the outskirts of the town which appeared abandoned, though still within reach of German artillery fire from Mt. Cairo. Elements of the Army were within a half mile of the opening to the Liri Valley north of Cassino, as they inched forward through mine fields and barbed wire.

In the northwest sector below Rome, the VI Corps met the Hermann Goering Armored Division, moved from the Cassino front, southwest of Littoria and pushed it back.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson indicated that he expected soon the Germans to mount an offensive, pulling troops from Northern Italy and from the Cassino front. But thus far, the invasion force of Saturday had encountered little opposition and suffered few casualties, those few coming from land mines.

Russian General Leonid Govorov announced that his Army's two-week offensive had completely liberated formerly besieged Leningrad from the grip of the Nazis, and the city, for the first time since September, 1941, was no longer being shelled.

In apparent preparation for an invasion of the Marshall Islands, Admiral Chester Nimitz announced that seven air raids had been conducted on the islands on Monday, a total of 102 since the Gilberts had been taken in late November.

A Swedish newspaper reported that American and British airmen shot down over Germany and captured would be tried by the Nazis as war criminals, apparently in retaliation for the war crimes trials resulting in the execution of four Gestapo agents in Kharkov, Russia in December. The Nazis labeled the Allied airmen "murderers", pointing out that one American bomber bore the name, "Murder, Inc."

The RAF announced that during January, Allied bombers operating out of England had dropped 22,0000 tons of bombs on Hitler's Europe, with an additional 9,000 tons having been dropped from Mediterranean bases on Italy and the Balkans. Both numbers established records thus far for the war.

Secretary of War Stimson indicated that by the end of 1944, two-thirds of the men in military service would be in combat duty abroad, compared to the present one-third.

Argentina was said to be preparing to apply to the United States for Lend-Lease aid in the wake of its announcement the previous day that it had severed relations finally with the Axis. Reaction by the State Department would likely depend on the extent to which the Argentine Government would rid the country of Axis spies. The bulk of Lend-Lease aid to Latin America was going to Argentina's neighbor, Brazil.

Republican Senator Eugene Millikin of Colorado contended that the President's proposal for a Federal ballot for soldiers violated the Constitution by usurping rights granted expressly to the States to provide for their slates of electors for President and Vice-President. He also offered that the plan was ripe for fraud as it would have to be administered by foreign military officers in cases where American soldiers were fighting under the command of such men.

The latter point of Senator Millikin was, of course, downright silly. The administration of ballots abroad was no more ripe for fraud than local administration of ballots at home by partisans. Indeed, foreign administrators would likely be more impartial than persons minding polls stateside.

As to his constitutional point, he was correct that the states have exclusive authority to select their electors by the means they choose. But, the President's proposal had nothing directly to do with that process. It had only provided the machinery for delivering ballots to absentee voters in the armed forces. The ballots would be counted state by state in the normal manner established by the States and would not interfere therefore with the method in which each State selected its electors. The argument was simply specious and obviously politically motivated.

Hal Boyle reports on the green B-24 Liberator pilots and crews just brought out of training, set to go into combat for the first time, headed from North Africa to Italy. He rode with ten of them, a full crew, aboard a transport across the Mediterranean, found them being mocked by a veteran sergeant who was bemused at each packing a .45-automatic pistol and a long knife. They were complaining about the apparent pilfering of their belongings as they believed themselves short of bedrolls and handbags. They decided to steal someone else's, successfully, before takeoff.

On the relatively smooth ride across the Mediterranean, one of the new crewmen, a gunner, vomited three times. One of his friends commented that he was always getting airsick and they didn't know how they would handle it when it came time to fly combat missions. The crew chief of the transport asserted that the man would be a hazard in combat and would probably be grounded.

As they landed, a flight of bombers came into the field from a mission. An ambulance pulled up to receive wounded. The new men headed for a hangar.

On the editorial page, "World Aid" discusses the passage in the House of a bill to underwrite the work of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and to provide the President with authority to administer 1.35 billion dollars in international aid. It predicts the bill would pass the Senate. It stresses that opposition in the House had come from the old isolationists and that attention should be paid during the Senate debate and vote for the same source of opposition.

"Poor Yankees" finds disingenuous the argument waged by a member of New York's Transportation Bureau of Commerce and Industry that the Southern governors' efforts to bring parity to the freight rates between the North and South was an attempt by the Southerners to grab for themselves the industrial might of the North, failing to consider that the disparity had, as stated by Vice-President Wallace, so crippled the South in both its agricultural profits and its industrial development as to place it in colonial status.

"The Plunge" remarks on the long delayed action of Argentina in breaking diplomatic relations with the Axis, finding it the probable result, not of its stated suffering from internal espionage activity of Axis agents, long allowed to occur, but rather from pressure exerted by the State Department, threatening economic boycott post-war unless the Argentine joined the Allied camp.

It asserts the hope that in consequence of Argentina's action to clean out Axis spies, Bolivia would follow suit.

"Silence" addresses with approval the call by the Government to avoid careless speculation and reportage of compromising military secrets regarding the coming Allied invasion of the Continent. The piece indicates a general willingness of journalists to cooperate.

It then questions, however, why the Government was not providing information on the postwar plans for Germany, as questioned also by Dorothy Thompson's column of the day. The editorial suggests that the likely reason for no comment on this point was the same which likely belied the rumor of plans to divide Germany into five divisions, as discussed by Ms. Thompson: that the Allies had no plan, would proceed, as it had in North Africa and Italy, on an expedient policy of the moment, formulated ad hoc.

Samuel Grafton laments the poor judgment of the labor representative who debated an American Legion representative at a Town Hall Meeting on the radio the previous week regarding the national service act proposed by the Administration. Mr. Grafton finds that the labor representative merely underscored in high relief the already too bright line being drawn between Labor and the men in military service. By debating against the national service act while the American Legion representative argued in favor of it, the labor representative had drawn the line that much more starkly, urging on rather than abating the grave doubts already possessed by the soldiers regarding the sincerity of Labor in support of the war effort.

Drew Pearson discusses the Republican machine strategy in Pennsylvania to dump Senator Jim Davis in the Republican primary. In that case, Senator Davis might, says Mr. Pearson, run as a Democrat. Indeed, some talk had surfaced that he might even be selected to run on the ticket with FDR, having supported most of the President's foreign policy and war policy.

He next turns to the release of the I.C.C. report on the Atlantic Coast Line wreck of the Tamiami south and northbound trains at Rennert, N.C., on December 16. He underscores that the Commission lacked any enforcement power, though it wanted same, to compel the Atlantic Coast Line to run on the same safety standards of the Union Pacific, which had one-third the ACL rate of casualties per million miles of travel.

Mr. Pearson explains that the railroads had been refusing for 18 years to install radio, despite efforts to that end, to enable communication between the caboose and the front of the train and between the caboose and the waystations along the track. The railroads did not trust radio, they had said eighteen years earlier, preferred to rely on the tried and true Morse telegraphy; moreover, they did not have the trained radio operators available to them.

The situation had remained in that status throughout the interim and only now, in the wake of the Tamiami tragedy, were the railroads considering incorporating radio equipment.

A radio device between the caboose and the front of the train of the southbound Tamiami, enabling the rear trainmen to apprise the front of the train that the rear cars had derailed, something of which the trainmen at the front were not aware, would have caused in all likelihood alacrity in implementing the emergency procedures which were supposed to have been undertaken immediately upon any stoppage of the train. Undertaking these cautionary procedures with respect to potential oncoming trains with emergent diligence likely would have prevented the collision of the northbound with the cars of the southbound, as the northbound received no forewarning of the presence astride the tracks of two of the three derailed cars of the southbound.

Raymond Clapper, still at Cape Gloucester on New Britain, reports of the striking fact that the engagements in the Southwest Pacific were small compared to those of Europe in World War I. General MacArthur chose this manner of fighting by design, to attenuate the number of casualties. Frontal assaults were avoided as the plague. The Japanese fought likewise, even if still making charges on occasion in banzai fashion, shouting as they came.

Most of the action occurred in small patrols of between 12 and 60 men sent out to reconnoiter. These patrols often wound up in hand-to-hand action with bayonets and thus suffered high casualties while overall, the casualty rate remained low, especially when compared to that of the Japanese. The proportion of officers killed, however, was fairly high.

Despite the primitive conditions, the Marines were cared for well, receiving two hot meals per day. The tropical rain was the most onerous condition to which the men had to adjust, creating a depressing effect after some time.

Dorothy Thompson, as indicated by the editorial column in "Silence", returns to her plaint regarding the lack of post-war planning to determine the future of Germany and Europe, even seven weeks after the Tehran Conference. She presumes some discussion had taken place on this plan, but none had been made public. A rumor, however, had surfaced which she examines, indicating that Germany would be divided into five sectors, one being governed exclusively by Russia in the East and the others governed by the Western Allies.

She thus begins an examination of this rumor, finding it stocked with plentiful objection and carrying with it the seeds of future conflict between Russia and the Anglo-American Allies. Her analysis is shrewd and quite predictive regarding a rumor which turned out pretty close to the fact.

She promises to return to the subject and only outlines the issues for the present.

The main problem would be that the division of the country would not be supported by any anti-Nazi group in Germany and administration of the sectors would be accomplished by local governing bodies bent on power, ready to strip from the citizens all freedom of speech and press, necessary to maintain order under such conditions. It would thus provide the fuel for underground movements of guerillas bent on intrigues, making the establishment of a democracy impossible of accomplishment. If it happened to work at all, she concludes, Germany would become as a result the master of Europe, on the order of the old Holy Roman Empire.

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