Thursday, January 6, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, January 6, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that beginning Tuesday night in rainy, snowy weather, the Americans and British of the Fifth Army, in its first major offensive action in several weeks, initiated a furious ten-mile wide drive, five miles to either side of Via Casilina, the road to Rome via Cassino. The Army had thus far advanced an average of a mile along the front, as fighting was hand-to-hand in the heavily fortified town of San Vittore, half of which had been taken by the Army as of noon Wednesday. Germans had dug themselves into the houses of the town, utilizing wine cellars to form concrete pillboxes built with enforced Italian labor--similar to the method employed by the Nazis inside Ortona in December, taking ten days of bloody house-to-house fighting by the Canadian troops of the Eighth Army finally to vanquish the town.

The Americans were surging from the north side of Via Casilina west of Venafro, coming off the heights in the area near San Vittore, while the British swept up from the south side of the road west of Rocca.

The RAF hit targets with Mosquitos in Northern France, Western Germany, and again dropped bombs on Berlin. Heavy bombers meanwhile attacked Stettin, principal German port on the Baltic and crucial supply depot for the German troops in northern Russia.

In the Pacific, American bombing raids hit Japanese targets from Dutch Timor to New Ireland. Japanese ground troops were pushed further east on Cape Gloucester by the Marines in the area of Borgen Bay, utilizing tanks and artillery supported by air wings.

In Russia, Fritz von Mannstein's army had reformed west of Olevsk, with its left flank protected by the Pripet Marshes, along the railway leading from Olevsk to Kowel, making a defensive stand at that point along the pre-1939 Polish frontier.

Meanwhile, General Nikolai Vatutin's First Ukrainian Army continued to thrust toward the old Rumanian border at the Dneister River, following the capture of Berdichev, announced the previous day.

A report from the Greek government-in-exile in Cairo indicated that the Nazis occupying Greece had murdered a thousand residents of the town of Kalavrita. All males over the age of 12 had been ordered to assemble to listen to a speech outside the town on Mount Peloponessus. There, they were machine-gunned to death. Subsequently, the women and children of the town were ordered to gather in a schoolhouse which was then set afire.

In Yugoslavia, Marshal Tito reported continued fierce fighting for Banjaluka in Croatia.

It was reported out of Croatia via Swiss sources that the First Army under General K.A.N. Anderson and the Seventh Army under General Patton were gathered at Bari, Italy in preparation for a massive invasion of the Balkans.


Major Gregory Boyington, operating as part of the "Blacksheep" Squadron over Rabaul in New Britain, bagged his 26th enemy plane on December 28, tying the record for the war, shared with fellow Marine pilot, Major Joe Foss.

The President declared in a report to Congress that through November 30, 1943, 18.6 billion dollars had been spent thus far in the war on Lend-Lease aid to the Allies. Of that, fully 10.3 billion had been expended just during the first eleven months of 1943. A little over 7 billion had been spent in 1942 and 1.3 billion in 1941, during the program's first nine months of life.

Undersecretary of the Navy James Forrestal, future Secretary of the Navy and first Secretary of Defense, in reporting that the United States had built 65 aircraft carriers during 1943, advocated a position of maintaining that strongest Navy in the world after the war, in contradistinction to the position taken after World War I, at which point a large part of the American Fleet was scrapped in an effort to encourage multilateral disarmament of all nations, a move which had miserably failed and backfired for the lack of more than scant ability to police and regulate foreign nations in the effort to rearm.

Hal Boyle continues to report on the routine of General James Doolittle in the Mediterranean as he prepared to take command of the Eighth Air Force in Britain. He had just finished organizing the Fifteenth Air Force operating out of the Mediterranean, the command of which had just been handed to General Nathan F. Twining.

Reports Mr. Boyle, General Doolittle never smoked or drank coffee, but enjoyed a spot of tea in the morning, arose at 6:30 and was at work by 8:00. After his 12:30 lunch he would work until 6:00 everyday, then two or three times per week take flight to inspect the various airfields across the Mediterranean, staying in touch in that manner with the men under him. His new position would consist in planning and orchestrating, no longer to involve hands-on flying as had been the case in the Mediterranean. He was deemed too valuable any longer to risk in flight operations.

Nevertheless, his insistent routine suggested that he would follow an implacable plan of hopping around to visit areas of pre-flight preperation. In one afternoon recently, he had made seven hops to inspect airfields and consult with commanders.

After dinner, the General climbed into bed with a good book and read it until midnight, sometimes staying up until one or two if he became preoccupied with an entrancing mystery.

We know the feeling, General. This war has caused plentiful such nights for us as well, and during especially the past 19 years of ever-enfolding, unfolding mystery.

And, demonstrating a renewed mood of defiance starting to catch fire in the country as news of new offensive action came from abroad, high school girls in Sherburn, Minnesota, perhaps ready to don the full raiment of Brunhilde, were being ordered by school officials not to wear slacks to school. Two girls defying the order were sent home and ordered to study there.

Just a guess as to their front names: Sarah and Michele?

On the editorial page, "Volunteer" assumes from Senator Burton Wheeler's statement, that he would favor under certain conditions where U.S. interests were protected a "sane and sensible" world peace, that what he actually meant was a peace based on his long advocated notions of isolationism, a peace in which the United States would abandon its role in international relations and recoil into the downy shell of nationalism and national defense against the world.

"Fire Fight" quotes Representative Charles LaFollette of Indiana in a speech before Congress gleaning from the fire insurance companiesí reactions to the recent charges of their having indulged in monopolistic practices and being indicted for same, that they had admitted the practice, that they did use their economic power to cause higher rates for ordinary consumers than provided corporations. But they had so much confidence in their economic clout that they nevertheless felt they could win in court.

"A Split" finds intriguing the diversion in opinion on the Supreme Court evident in recent decisions by Justices Hugo Black and Frank Murphy with Justice Felix Frankfurter. All three were solid New Dealers before coming to the Court. All three were liberals. But where Justice Frankfurter had advocated in dissents the right of the Executive branch to set up programs regulating the economic affairs of the country, Justices Black and Murphy had stood for leaving that function, as mandated by the Constitution, to Congress. The piece applauds the upholding of American principles by Justices Murphy and Black.

"Tart Tito" provides approbation of the effort of the fledgling ragtag army of Partisans put together by Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia, resisting well and pushing back their German occupiers. The piece sees the potential for the creation of an open road to Germany through the Balkans, or at least a softened battleground through which such a southern route of invasion might be opened.

Germany might yet fall, it offers, before an Anglo-American invasion from the west. Regardless, at that point, the fall would become a fait accompli.

Dorothy Thompson begs to differ from the statement attributed to General Marshall that the Nazis had used the recent threatened railway and steel strikes to their advantage to boost German morale. (She does not mention that the President also was reported to have issued such a statement regarding German propaganda.)

She says that it was not so, that Nazi propaganda was aimed instead in recent months against the "capitalist", "bourgeois", and "plutocratic" Anglo-American Allies, bent on imperialism, while accusing the Russian "Bolshevics"--no longer referred to as "socialists" or "communists"--of being led economically by Jews, determined to destroy Germany, the original line of propaganda, of course, which the Nazis used to gain power in Germany in 1933. Such were the references repeatedly made in Hitler's New Year's Eve speech to the German people.

German propaganda was aiming at bolstering the notion that the German state was organized on a socialist basis for the benefit of the people.

Hitler had referenced the famine in India as evidence of Anglo-American imperialism having worked to disserve humanity. But nowhere had he mentioned the threatened strikes. That would have implied that there was freedom in America, that workers could protest. It would not only disturb his purpose of characterizing the Anglo-American powers as imperialistic, but would also have potentially laid the seeds for ideas of revolt among labor in Germany where the rule was simply enforced peonage.

Raymond Clapper, on a stop-over in Honolulu on his way to the Pacific fighting fronts, reports on the work of the Seabees, the Construction Battalions, the subject of a piece by Drew Pearson during November. The work ranged from repairing and constructing airstrips taken from the enemy to building roads and bridges. It also involved ingenuity in small ways which worked to save lives, for instance coming up with the idea of using oil drums for cover in foxholes. It was a dangerous assignment as well. The Seabees were deployed often before the shooting stopped, to initiate construction on airstrips to provide with celerity bases for local air operations to accelerate mopping up operations.

Samuel Grafton comments on the lethargic morale of Italians, being brought about by the policies of the Allies, supporting the popularly disfavored King Emanuele and the government of Pietro Badoglio, disallowing any form of mass gathering of Italians, save for one meeting permitted in Naples, apparently only to establish a façade to suggest democracy, in fact absent.

He contrasts the mood with that in Yugoslavia where a quarter million Partisans, springing from the angry grassroots, were occupying multiple divisions of German troops, reported to be in greater numbers than those fighting in Italy against the Americans and British.

He further offers contrast with the 40,000 Italians operating effectively in Northern Italy where the Allies had no ground presence or control. And, in Naples, prior to the occupation by the Allies, a popular movement of Italians had sprung to fight the Nazis.

The insistence on too much order in Italy, he implies, was forestalling victory.

Drew Pearson tells of Vice-President Wallace being reluctant to provide to a student editor for the Loyola College newspaper requested advice for the young. He stated that he felt it inappropriate, that the young must obtain their advice from within. But then, when asked about the ten books most influential upon him, at first demurring also to that question, offered that Plato's Republic and the Bible were two books which provided best guidance. He then pulled down his Bible and began quoting from Amos, suggesting it as denunciation of profiteers and those disfavoring renegotiation of government contracts. Moving on to Micah, then Psalm 118, he offered up those passage as parables to represent other current issues.

For not wishing to provide advice directly, the Vice-President had delivered a fair amount indirectly.

Eventually, after hearing enough Bible quotes, the student editor departed.

We agree, incidentally, with everything the Vice-President had to say. Indeed, his spirit may have in part directed our steps on Thanksgiving Day on our tour of the nearly deserted campus of the University of North Carolina, leading us ultimately not only to the cemetery but also to the controversy surrounding the cubist artwork, then back through the Arboretum.

On this Day of the Epiphany, there appeared in the pages of print no great new epiphany which had not already come in recent weeks of world determining conferences, beginning with the Quebec Conference in August between Roosevelt and Churchill, the October foreign ministersí conference at Moscow between Sir Anthony Eden, Cordell Hull, and Russian Foreign Minister Molotov, the November 22-26 Cairo Conference between FDR, Churchill, and Chiang, and the immediately ensuing four-day conference at Tehran with FDR and Churchill meeting Stalin. These conferences had determined the future course of the war and had at least laid the groundwork, even if imperfectly, for shaping the world to come after the war.

It was a world at war designing itself to try to become a world at permanent peace. But yet a wildcard would come to the fore to be injected as instruction for the future generations, a wildcard which would infuse with greater purpose and demand with stronger mandate than ever the words from Micah which Vice-President Wallace had read and recommended to the student editor:

"And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nations shall not lift up a sword against nations, neither shall they learn war any more."

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