Friday, January 7, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, January 7, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that along a 175-mile front, the First Ukrainian Army under General Nikolai Vatutin was driving hard against the fleeing Germans. The front extended from ten miles within the old Polish border at the Pripet Marshes near Rakitno to the flat steppe at Zhashkov, exerting further pressure on the Germans in Kirovograd and Krivoi Rog. These forces were within 20 to 70 miles of four key German communications centers: Revne, through which the Warsaw to Kiev highway and the Warsaw railway passed; Shepitivka, another important rail junction; Vinnitsa; and Zhimerinka, on the Odessa to Warsaw line, the latter a necessity for the Germans to remain in the area east of Odessa.

In the north, amid blizzards, the Baltic Army under Ivan Bagramian continued to surround Nazi forces in the area of Nevel.

In Italy, the Fifth Army continued, amid snow and rain, its heavy offensive movement along a ten-mile front, including its fight for the heavily fortified San Vittore, two miles up Via Casilina from San Pietro, captured by the Americans December 10, and six miles from crucial Nazi defense lines at Cassino, guarding the remaining distance of the road to Rome. American troops captured Monte Maio, a mile southwest of Viticuso, and five miles northwest of Venafro. Monte Maio afforded a position by which the Nazi supply road from Cevaro to San Vittore was cut, thus rendering the Nazis fighting in San Vittore severed from their supply route, much as the Canadians and British had worn down the Nazis fighting equally tenaciously at Ortona on the Adriatic coast in December.

American bombers hit northern France and southwestern Germany, while an unusually large force of RAF Mosquitos, traversing over the southeast coast of England for two hours, hit targets the night before in western Germany and in northern France. There were no reported losses in any of these raids.

In the Pacific, as fighting continued on Cape Gloucester on New Britain, the Marines killing another 600 Japanese, 2,000 having been killed since the landing December 26, the American forces across the Vitiaz Strait, who had just landed at Saidor on the Huon Peninsula of New Guinea, had moved ten miles to within 50 miles of Madang. The Australian troops, seeking to pinch the Japanese on Huon into a pocket between their lines and those of the American forces, had pressed to within 67 airline miles of Saidor. Air operations also continued on Kavieng on New Ireland, at Rabaul on New Britain, and at Madang on Huon.

Admiral William Halsey, Navy commander in the South Pacific, declared at the start of the Army-Navy War Conference in Los Angeles that when American troops reached Tokyo, there would be a party where Tokyo once stood. He was, of course, entirely accurate in that prediction.

Major Gregory Boyington, after it had just been reported the day before that he had tied the record for most enemy air kills, 26, by a fighter pilot during the war, as well as tying Captain Eddie Rickenbacker's record for World War I, was now reported missing over the Pacific, presumably in the area of New Britain, where he had tied the record, over Rabaul. Major Boyington, now a part of the "Black Sheep" Squadron, had been a part of the "Flying Tigers" in China under the command of General Claire Chennault.

In fact, though he was listed as missing in action for the remainder of the war, Major Boyington had been picked up by a Japanese submarine after being shot down over Rabaul on January 3, just after he had tied the record for enemy bags. He spent the remainder of the war, through August, 1945, in a Tokyo prison camp. No one knew, however, of his presence there until his liberation, as the Japanese, for unknown reasons, did not officially list him as a prisoner. That silence notwithstanding that it would seem that having in their custody the record-tying pilot would have been a propaganda coup. Major Boyington was awarded the Navy Cross and the Medal of Honor by President Truman following his release. He lived until 1988.

Major W. W. Inglis, president of the Glen Alden Coal Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, went on record favoring the use of German and Italian prisoners of war in the labor-strapped anthracite coal mines of Pennsylvania. Not surprisingly, UMW officials lodged a strong protest against the idea.

Fritz, no doubt, would have enjoyed getting his hands on a coal pick inside a dark, deep, dank, coal mine, to impress, not John L. Lewis, certainly not President Roosevelt, but rather Adolf Hitler in his mining capabilities.

--Yah, I handle dynamite in mines before. I can set blast good.

Hal Boyle continues his series on the personality of General James Doolittle, describing him as a taciturn man of short, stubby stature, rarely speaking more than one staccato burst of a sentence-worth of words at a time. He insisted on punctuality, and always gave as he got in that regard. Said a ground crewman to Mr. Boyle, the General would not wait three minutes for the Lord.

Men around him believed that his daring exploits, such as the Tokyo raid, and the consequent notoriety achieved from it with the public, had deprived him of his proper recognition as an engineer capable of designing and building planes, not just flying them. He was also a master of organization.

In Moscow, the Russians celebrated their Orthodox Christmas on January 7. The reason for the thirteen day delay from the Western celebration was the addition of thirteen days to the old Julian calendar by the Gregorian calendar, to compensate more accurately for the earth’s annual orbit of the sun.

As part of the Christmas Eve celebration in Russia, incidentally, twelve dishes are served, symbolic of the twelve apostles--also the symbol, no doubt, for the Twelve Days of Christmas, even if the song commemorating that extended celebration has little or nothing to do with anything but love, also a part of Christmas, of course, as well as with some, at least, of the apostles.

We are reminded, not as you might otherwise think, of this one--a song, with many others of the period, which unfortunately for what followed in November, 1963, brings to us, whenever we hear it, a sense of inescapable melancholy, not so much sadness, as longing for a time which can never really quite be again for the generation which was alive then.

An unexplained accident involving an Army bus and a freight train in Kingman, Arizona, along Route 66, took the lives of 27 soldiers, injuring critically another eight, when the bus, appearing to slow for the flagman at the rail crossing, suddenly went out of control. The dead soldiers were air cadets returning from a night mission at a gunnery range on the base.

The cause of the accident appears to have been faulty air brakes, which perhaps released air pressure to apply the brake for only one side of the bus, causing the load to become destabilized, throwing the bus out of control. But that is simply speculation. There is no indication whether ice or snow, apt to occur in that area in January, might have contributed to the accident.

While on the subject of speculation, we feel compelled to venture that perhaps the collision between the northbound and southbound Tamiami streamliners, occurring at Rennert near Lumberton on December 16, was not only the result of Nazi sabotage to the rail which proved defective and caused the initial derailment, but was in fact an assassination attempt on FDR, based on a false assumption that he would be returning on that line from Warm Springs after his arrival stateside from his trip to Cairo and Tehran.

The fact that Josef Stalin had warned at Tehran both Churchill and FDR of the possibility of such an attempt on their lives, and their having taken precautions against it by staying at the British Embassy next door to the Soviet Embassy, not venturing out into the streets of Tehran, lends some credence to the notion. Moreover, there had been, by Churchill's own subsequent account in The Hinge of Fate, an attempt on his life as he returned from his trip to North Africa in early June, that attempt taking the life of Leslie Howard in a plane shot down over the Bay of Biscay, the ill-fated flight mistaken by the Nazis as the plane carrying Churchill for the fact of a look-alike having boarded the plane at Lisbon.

The line through Lumberton was not the Southern Railway line through Charlotte which Roosevelt ordinarily took between Warm Springs and Washington. But it would have been quite reasonable at the time for the FBI to have put out through friendly connections surreptitious intelligence to known Nazi spies that the Tamiami northbound would be used to transport the President. The President had in December, 1938 ridden a route through Sanford to get to Chapel Hill for his speech there at Woollen Gymnasium.

It would further explain the military presence barring the press in the hours after the accident, a military presence which the War Department declared was not ordered from Washington. The topic raised in complaint in The News column immediately after the accident, however, never re-surfaced.

But, of course, that is all speculation, both as to the possibility of an assassination attempt and that, in the first instance, of sabotage to the rail. Still, no explanation was provided by the subsequent I.C.C. report issued in January, 1944 as to why the rail had internal fissures, not reaching the outer surface of the rail. Such would imply internal anomalies within the steel, not metal fatigue, as the rail had been installed in 1937.

Did the Nazis have a method for causing such undetectable fissures internally, which could be accomplished without detection at the very moment before the train passed over the tracks? The fact that only the inside rail was so possessed of a defect would naturally cause the train to derail in the direction of the other adjoining tracks.

If the trains, as the schedules published would imply, were supposed to pass one another at the time of the derailment in that section of track, should they have been running on time, would that not substantiate the theory? provided, of course, that our theory about the schedules of the trains being deliberately misstated to avoid use of the accident by the Nazis as propaganda, viz., that had the trains been on time the accident would not have occurred, is incorrect.

Of course, that begs the question that if it was so simple for the Nazis to have sabotaged the tracks and derailed one train, why would they not have done so with the Southern Railway train as well? Or were they simply induced to rely on false information?

That which caused the occurrence yesterday, January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona, the killing of six people, including a Federal judge, including a nine-year old girl, and critically wounding in the head Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, accomplished by an obviously deranged young man who had too easy access to a gun and too little access to a proper and fully enlightened education plus social support systems, is too painfully obvious to place into words at this time. We hope that the Congresswoman is able to effect a miraculous recovery.

We ask again, solemnly: Did the Founders, in putting forth deliberately the Second Amendment right after the First, mean anything besides what the words plainly express, not what fools bending over backwards to accommodate special interest groups wish to read into those words: that guns are for the well-regulated Militia, not for anyone else in the public?

We note that Congresswoman Giffords was on record as favoring gun rights. We disagree. But that is what the country is all about, under the First Amendment. The young man, no matter how “fringe” looking, as described by one press report, no matter how deranged, no matter how voluble in his derangement, had every right to debate openly the Congresswoman on whatever issue he wished, even if nonsensically. He did not have the right to bear a gun, openly or concealed, in a public place. He did not have the right to use that gun and shoot people.

During the summer of 2009, when the health care legislation was being debated in town hall meetings, if you recall, a gun-toter appeared outside a presidential rally in Phoenix, Arizona, openly and with impunity carrying his weapon.

Congressman Barney Frank had the right idea during that time when he suggested that trying to debate some of these people was like trying to argue with a table. But, nevertheless, he listened and he responded. The health care legislation, overdue for 75 years, was passed. That is what America is about under the First Amendment. It is not about shouting down the opposition, either with voices, with megaphones, with lies--or silencing the opposition with the chilling effect of guns or other devices designed to do physical harm.

Ms. Palin, eager to declare this shooting a tragedy, should examine and control her own rhetoric from the stump. Her Tea Partiers, who she seems bent on leading, are outrageous examples of neo-Nazism at work in the country. Yet, the only way to try to lead them back to sanity is to argue with them. Unfortunately, Ms. Palin and her ilk exploit the ill-tempered, anti-government mindsets of these crazy individuals and, for their own personal political and financial gain, egg them on--much as Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater and his ilk at the time did in the period 1963-64.

The country was founded as liberal, not Conservative.

It is high time that we take this nut running around the country seeking to foment some half-baked Nazi-Fascist social and political revolt quite painfully seriously. We have seen her like before during the mid-1960's, not only out of Arizona, but out of Southern California and Florida, as well as in pockets, Nazi pockets, throughout the country. These nuts for awhile took over the country and nearly ran it into hell, their ultimate, if not always intimated, desire being to bring about Armageddon to fulfill the prophecy they believe the Bible instructs them to do, these dumb nutsy Nazis from hell.

They have the right to say as they damn please, lemmings to the sea though they be. But we also have the right to say back to them as we damn well please. You are a bunch of nuts.

And you are every bit the equivalent of living, breathing Nazis, save your yet having achieved sufficient power to accomplish your ultimate goals. You are devoid of humor, devoid of intelligence, devoid of insight or intuition which has anything but the most narrow-minded conceptualization behind it, devoid of anything but a cute line, a cute little face, and cute little adoring bunches of Nazis following behind in the queue seeking your autographed picture, buying your panacea and cute little lines of Nazi rhetoric written for you by your Goebbels--just as Adolf Hitler, your hero.

America First, nationalism, patriotism, honor, God, country, anti-them, whoever them might be of the moment. All were the hallmarks of Nazism, then, in the 1930's, and now.

On the editorial page, "Loophole" finds North Carolina, leading the South save for Texas in per pupil expenditure, not getting its money’s worth in teacher salaries and student attendance. Teacher salaries, at $946 annually, lagged behind six Southern states, including Maryland and the District. Enrollment of whites was behind only Missouri and Texas, of blacks, only Missouri. But, actual average daily attendance, 14% off enrollment, fell behind seven states.

"Warning" reminds Labor that reliance on a congratulatory message issued by General MacArthur in 1942 for being patriotic in time of war provided scarce evidence to overcome charges of hampering the war effort now by strikes. The General had issued plentiful such laconic statements of congratulations, as having been re-printed recently in The New York Times. Many of the missives were to President Roosevelt, one had been to Josef Stalin in early 1943 for the defense of Stalingrad, to President Quezon of the Philippines, and on down the line. They were more the norm for the General, possibly issuing from a prospective presidential candidate, than the exception.

"A Sleeper" comments on Pravda's irritation expressed at Wendell Willkie for supposedly becoming anti-Russian. The editorial assumes for the sake of argument the correctness of Pravda's stance, erroneous though it was, and suggests that Pravda appeared to desire the re-election, for obvious reasons, of FDR. That Mr. Willkie had questioned the territorial demands of Russia in the Baltic and that Pravda had stuck its nose into 1944 U.S. presidential politics, suggested to the editorial writer that the Allies were one big happy family.

"Even So…" comments that, despite the City Council and County Commissioners having returned from a visit at the Mecklenburg Industrial Home, a vocational rehabilitation facility for females convicted of misdemeanors, with a surprisingly glowing opinion of the facility as clean and efficient, the Home had outrun its functionality, as its services had been assumed by more modern state facilities. It had other potential uses, as recommended by the Grand Jury, as an extension of the similar segregated black facility or as a juvenile detention center. The editorial favors such use and closing of the facility as the county Home.

Samuel Grafton ruefully attacks the anti-Allied tactics employed by Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana in protesting the 73 to 27 percent ratio of American to British troops to be used in the cross-channel invasion of the Continent. Mr. Grafton indicates it to be a continuing strategy of isolationism and nationalism, one which had protested the giving to the United States by Britain of only 99-year leases rather than permanent possession of Atlantic bases, had proclaimed that Russia’s failure to provide bases from which to attack Japan would cost a million American lives (to which recently General Marshall had responded that such could not be the case, for the bases in any event would be good only for a short period of a couple of months, their proximity to Japan enabling the Japanese to neutralize them in short order).

The rhetoric implied, says Mr. Grafton, the incompetence of General Marshall and General Eisenhower in organizing the invasionary force and suggested that the casualties to come would be the result of knee-bending by FDR to Churchill rather than the need to vanquish the Nazis.

Drew Pearson reports on the imputed politically-favored status of soldiers stationed at Fort Ritchie in Maryland, rumored as a “country club for slackers" from blue-blood families. General George Strong, head of Military Intelligence, was investigating the matter and taking a special interest in insuring that no preferential treatment was being afforded the soldiers assigned to the camp, especially as Military Intelligence had long suffered from the same accusations.

He then discusses the many hats being worn by Leo Crowley, appointed head of the newly formed agency to oversee the combined operations of Lend-Lease, the Board of Economic Warfare, formerly headed by the Vice-President, and the warfare boards of the State Department and those formerly headed by Jesse Jones. Additionally, Mr. Crowley was the Alien Property Custodian and the administrator of Federal Deposit Insurance for banks. His multiple positions had earned him criticism for striving for too much power, much as had been the ill fate of Jesse Jones.

Raymond Clapper, still on his stopover in Honolulu, on the way to the Pacific battle fronts, discusses, as he had on December 20, the various island strategies to be followed by the Allies in approaching differing topographical features, depending on whether the island was a large land mass such as Guadalcanal, Bougainville, or New Britain, or a coral-ringed island such as Tarawa in the Gilberts, taken in costly fighting November 20 through 23.

On the large land mass islands, he reports, the landing was usually achieved in a location which was not covered by the enemy, in order to approach over land an airfield or harbor objective, affording troops the ability to achieve surprise and position before the first bullets flew from the enemy. The landing, thus, was accomplished with few casualties, while the land operations, after the enemy became aware of the landing, were costly and prolonged.

On the coral-reefed islands, by contrast, the landings were costly, as the enemy was holed up in narrow stretches of beach nearby, beyond the reefs. But once onto the beaches, the enemy had nowhere to go for the small area of these islands and the absence of large stretches of sandy beach or mountainous terrain in which to hide.

On the principal Japanese supply depot for its South Pacific operations at Truk, however, there were coral reefs and steep mountains rising from the terrain, making operations to take it doubly tough, both in landing and afterward.

There is a column of wit on the page which you may peruse on your own. We are not feeling terribly wit-inspired today.

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.