Friday, January 28, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, January 28, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Fifth Army was now making such progress as to threaten Rome out of the Anzio-Nettuno sector. The British encountered the German Tenth Army ten miles north of Anzio at Carroceto and, after a furious battle, drove the Nazis back at a point 21 miles south of Rome.

Armament, including 60-ton Tiger tanks, were being moved into place to contest the increscent Allied beachhead, now extending five miles inland at every point, generally six miles, and in some places further.

General Sir Harold Alexander indicated that the operations had gone smoothly thus far and paid special tribute to the Americans who had crossed the Rapido River near Cassino and held the Germans in place there, preventing the shoring up defenses against the invasion at Anzio and Nettuno on Saturday. The surprise was so great, he said, that an unfinished steak and drink were left in the German commander's house. He confirmed that Rome was threatened by the progress of the Fifth Army.

Meanwhile, the Luftwaffe suffered its worst air battle of the Italian Campaign, losing 50 planes in one day along the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead and in Southern France.

In what was described as essentially a mopping-up operation on Berlin, the RAF launched the twelfth major raid on the capital the previous night at 8:00 p.m., dropping 1,500 long tons of bombs in twenty minutes, an average of 77 tons per minute, ten tons off the record concentration. Thirty-four planes did not return from the mission.

American bombers again struck the northern coast of France in a daylight raid, presumably hitting the so-called rocket-gun coast in the vicinity of Pas-de-Calais.

A joint Army-Navy report was released the night before, indicating gross atrocities having been committed by the Japanese against the 36,000 Americans and Filipinos taken prisoner on Bataan in April, 1942, finally disclosing in detail to the American public the inflicted horrors of the notorious "Bataan Death March", some eighty-five miles in six days on one ration of rice, or, in some cases, twelve days with no food at all, much of the time forced for days at a time to sit in the broiling sun without nourishment or water. It told of at least 5,200 Americans and many more Filipinos having been murdered or starved to death while in captivity. The report was based on eyewitness accounts revealing such things as beheadings for mere possession of Japanese money at capture, shooting or butting with rifles those who sought water, beating of soldiers periodically with two-by-fours as they were strung up from behind by their arms for two days for trying to escape the prison camp. Once the punishment was complete, the attempted escapees were shot or beheaded. Some of the men during the march were even buried alive.

Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley called for swift trial and punishment after the war of those responsible for the war crimes. The report was released after a change of policy had been implemented based on the belief that the Japanese would react no more severely with the information made public than with it withheld. Previously, the information had been withheld out of concern that the remaining prisoners would be subject to retaliation by the Japanese, resulting from American press outrage at the torture and murders.

British Foreign Minister Sir Anthony Eden revealed that many thousand British soldiers had died in Japanese prisoner of war camps in Thailand and elsewhere after being systematically starved and otherwise mistreated. He, too, implied that the officers responsible would be tried after the war for war crimes.

An article had been published simultaneously in American Magazine, authored by Palmer Hoyt before the release of the Army-Navy report the night before. Mr. Hoyt, formerly with the Office of War Information, had declared that most of the 50,000 American and Filipino prisoners taken on Bataan by the Japanese had been systematically mistreated and murdered. He stated that some 25,000 were still held as prisoners of war. He had expressed the opinion that the policy of withholding the information to avoid retaliation against the other prisoners was a flawed notion, that the opposite would be true: the Japanese would treat the prisoners better with insistence from the Allies that it be done, especially now that they were plainly losing the war and thus likely subject afterwards to the mercies of the Allied war crimes tribunals.

It appears that the Government adopted this reasoning in releasing the report, following the publication of the article by Mr. Hoyt. He had criticized the military leaders for a policy of obstructionism in failing promptly to release information about the war.

A communique promptly relates, however, a report concerning one Stanley Akers of Phoenix, an airman with the Air Transport Command, shot down over India while flying a mission to China. He and the crew bailed out, the others hitting the ground safely in open field. Airman Akers, however, landed in a bamboo thicket so dense he was unable to see. He began slashing the bamboo with his knife until he came upon an open path leading to a clearing in which stood an elephant. The elephant, not appreciating the sudden invasion to its territory of a strange animal, began charging Airman Akers, goring him in the thigh, kicking him out of its territory into the jungle with its forefoot. The shaken pilot managed nevertheless to emerge and obtain transportation to a hospital where he was recovering, no doubt being now endowed with a special memory of dropping by parachute into bamboo thickets.

Meanwhile, a Tokyo propaganda broadcast urged Americans to form "Peace for the World Clubs" and instructed that American POW's in one camp were being permitted to present a play based on John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

Whether, for entertainment of the Japanese guarding the men, George was going to be compelled by his captors to use a live bullet on Lennie at the end of the drama, was not indicated.

Hal Boyle continues the sad saga of the WABOC's, the Women's Auxiliary Brush-Off Club, inspired as the female counterpart in Santa Monica to the BOC's, founded by Captain Howard Hammersly. Mail had come to Mr. Boyle from the WABOC's, detailing stories of wayward soldiers straying to hussies, trollops, and street urchins of all stripes, leaving the poor faithful girl at home heartstruck, melancholic, feeling betrayed, sometimes choleric, with no one left--save maybe some 4-F'ers, like Sinatra. (The WABOC's didn't say that last part; we inferred it from the implications.)

One woman from Richmond, "a belle of the Old South", said that she feared her man, who had left for the Southwest Pacific eighteen months earlier, had fallen for one of the "bush women".

We are constrained to suggest that if she had been less of a "belle of the Old South"--which is to suggest something out of Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown"--she might have had better success than the fates befell her, her intended leaving her clutches for those of some bush woman. But, that is just based on the ephemera of the brief provided, perhaps too greatly in result penetrating to the viscera of the evanescences emanating out of the impenetrable complexities, behazed by the forest.

Concluded Captain Hammersly, "The way things are going, we will need more WABOC badges than tanks before the war is over. We will soon be in mass production."

Well, 67 years on, Captain, we might add that the way things are going...

On the editorial page, "Preview" stresses that the incessant Allied bombing of Festung Europa, Hitler's vaunted European Fortress, from both the west and the south presented itself as prelude to the massive Allied onslaught to come, to finish Hitler's Wagnerian opera for him.

"Danger" rebukes Rear Admiral Emory Land, head of the Maritime Commission, for counseling that Japan after the war be limited to coastal shipping only and be allowed no ocean-going merchant shipping, that it would inevitably turn any such ships into war vessels.

The editorial finds the position so punitive that it would lead, if implemented, to World War III, much as the like emasculating, punitive measures to Germany had led to World War II.

"A Blush" comments on a correspondent to the paper who had found The News unduly laden with hubris to criticize editorially the Senate race in South Carolina between Governor Olin Johnston and Cotton Ed Smith as presenting a choice of the Devil and Deep Blue Sea, when North Carolina was represented in the Senate by the likes of Robert Rice Reynolds. The correspondent likewise asserted that for the column to criticize Tommy Manville as a playboy was the proverbial pot calling the kettle black, as Mr. Manville had been married seven times while Senator Reynolds was close behind, working on number five, replete in that one with the mother-in-law's Hope Diamond as a quest.

The piece responds that regardless of the State's representation in the Senate, it would not forfeit its right to engage in plain speaking on issues provincial regarding matters outside its immediate environs. And it reminds that the newspaper had, from the beginning of the career of Senator Reynolds, following his 1932 mock-populist, Tin Lizzie campaign against "bathing in caviar" Cam Morrison, the supposed penurious boy from the hills of Asheville against the wealthy country squire of Charlotte, without hesitation expressed his public persona as less than candid, thus less than palatable.

"Dog-Fight" reviews the inhospitable Congressional reaction provided FDR when he urged the Congress to pass the soldier-vote bill, posing himself as "an interested citizen" in so doing, drawing from the membership on Capitol Hill derisive laughter at the remark. Senator Taft had responded that the President was merely jockeying for soldier votes in trumpeting this bill, not in the least interested furtherance of democracy.

The editorial finds the level of partisan bickering unusually high, bespeaking dangerous disunity in this time of war.

"The Schools" applauds the fact that during the previous month of January, school attendance for blacks in Charlotte had been 93 percent while for whites, 89 percent. Given, says the piece, that blacks had to endure unequal facilities, this statistic demonstrated a remarkable achievement for the black schools, and one which, if it stood as bellwether to the rest of the State and to the South in general, meant that significant strides had been undertaken within the black community to encourage education.

Drew Pearson remarks on the tension of Sam Rayburn experienced at the Jackson Day dinner of the Democrats in Washington. Mr. Rayburn, Speaker of the House and touted as potential running-mate to FDR in 1944, was peeved that his competition, Vice-President Wallace, had also been invited to speak on the ordinarily Southern stage.

To add insult to injury, Mr. Wallace did the unthinkable and couched his speech in terms of the New Deal, sure to anger even FDR who had, during the previous month, declared the New Deal to have served its function and thus worthy of dignified retirement. Mr. Wallace insisted, however, that the phrase and its programs were the property of no one individual and that its goal of human progress was one which had to continue unabated regardless of presidential administration.

Mr. Wallace had memorized his speech. Mr. Rayburn had not. But even reading it, Mr. Rayburn appeared to stumble and stammer. Mr. Wallace explained to the press afterward that the lights at the dais were so glaring that it was impossible to read anything. Thus, it has been providential that he memorized his words, contrary to advice.

Regardless of quality of delivery of the words, White House Secretary Jim Barnes, appearing more concenred of substance, warned that "the boss will be very sore" anent the Vice-President's speech.

Samuel Grafton continues his look at the rift between Labor and the men in service and suggests that it would serve no one's interest in the society for this rift to continue. Labor would not gain in the end, as the division could be exploited after the war by every anti-labor group opposed to unionization and collective bargaining. Mr. Grafton suggests that the apparent yawning indifference to this growing schism in the country be doused forthwith to awaken the competing sides to the potential harsh reality germinating, with the potential of holding hostage the country after the war in a spellbound contest between labor and the military--the one first seeing the eye of the cockatrice, to die.

Raymond Clapper describes a training flight aboard a B-25 Mitchell bomber over New Guinea, on which he went along for the ride, taking a seat in the navigator's perch behind the pilot and co-pilot, as the men fired their artillery at a small island. The action required that the plane go into a glide to fix on the target, something which some observers believed would make it a too stationary sitting duck for enemy anti-aircraft guns. The crew disagreed, indciating they enjoyed the exhilaration to the glide to the target. The expected rattle and clatter from the massive 75-millimeter guns aboard the plane did not come, reports Mr. Clapper, simply a barely audible sound, similar to a medium-sized firecracker, accompanied by a slight jolt.

They landed at Nadzab in the Markham Valley near Lae, where there was an ongoing Allied construction effort to create an elaborate air facility from the small airfield developed by the Japanese during their nearly two years of occupation.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>--</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.