The Charlotte News

Thursday, October 12, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the First Army's two pincers from the north and northeast were closing in on burning Aachen. Aerial bombing and artillery bombardment continued to hit the city in force.

An American patrol had entered the city, and the factory section in the northeastern outskirts had been cleared of Germans, but no American forces had yet penetrated the central part of the city. The German defenders had launched several counter-attacks, each of which had been repulsed. The Germans appeared determined to fight to the death, had brought up one of their best divisions to defend Aix-la-Chapelle, as it was called in French.

The scenery of Aachen, wrote William S. White, reminded of Rock Creek Park in Washington or Skyline Drive in Virginia or wooded areas along parkways in Connecticut--full of dead Germans. It had been sunny during the morning but a light rain was falling again by afternoon as the city was being methodically destroyed by American fire.

Northwest of Aachen, German demolition experts were blowing up docks and quays in Rotterdam in preparation for evacuation of that Dutch port city, and had been at the task for ten days.

General Eisenhower announced that a long, hard fight still lay ahead to conquer Germany and that it would persist unabated through the winter if necessary. He would permit no fraternization with the Germans as the Allied troops moved deeper into the Reich.

A celebrating Louisville sergeant of the First Army, hearing that his wife had given birth to a son, opened fire on German lines and killed ten of the enemy. The other Nazis fled.

Welcome to the planet, son.

About 750 American heavy bombers struck Bremen and other German targets while the RAF hit a synthetic oil plant at Wanne-Eiskel in the Ruhr Valley, as well as gun installations at Breskens in Holland. The Fifteenth Air Force out of Italy hit targets in Austria.

One of the most concentrated air strikes of the war, even more so than the strike on Cassino during the spring or the one February 15, was delivered by the Fifteenth Air Force on Bologna in Northern Italy, as the Fifth Army moved to within ten miles of that Po Valley city.

Toward the west coast, Brazilian forces reached the vicinity of Gallicano, 29 miles inland from the naval base at La Spezia. Another column advancing up the other side of the Serchio River valley reached Barga, four miles east of Gallicano.

On the Adriatic coast, the Eighth Army captured Longiano, 12 miles west of Rimini, as well as the neighboring village of Lacrocetta. The Army also pushed German forces across the Fiumicino River and occupied the towns of Gatteo and San Giovanni.

Russian troops were within five miles of the Baltic port city of Memel, having occupied Plikisi on German soil. The Russians, according to German reports, had launched what was described as a "concentric attack" on Memel, utilizing 200 tanks. Heavy fighting continued, said the Germans, in the areas of Tilsit and Riga.

To the south, in Hungary, the Russians entered Debrecen, the third largest city in the country, along the Orient Express railway, 116 miles east of Budapest.

The Japanese, smarting from attacks to their oil transport vessels as well as from the attacks on the Balikpapan oil fields in Borneo recently, were said to be suffering a fuel shortage for their ships, contributing to the lack of resistance of the Japanese Navy to recent attacks by the American Third Fleet carrier-borne aircraft on the Ryukyu Islands.

Unconfirmed reports from Tokyo claimed that a thousand American bombers had attacked Japanese-occupied Formosa off the Chinese coast, striking Takao, Tainan, and Taichu, important towns on the island. The broadcast claimed that the battle began at 7:00 a.m. and was still transpiring eight hours later.

In New York, police reinforcements had to be called out to restrain some 25,000 teenage girls determined to obtain a glimpse of Frank Sinatra as he entered the Paramount Theater for a performance. The girls ripped the shirt of one patrolman, smashed the window of the theater's ticket booth. Several fainted in the street.

Columbus Day was blamed for the crowd, whoever he was. By 7:00 a.m., 2,000 girls in sweaters, bobby socks, and saddle shoes, along with boys in polka-dotted bow ties, were at the theater to see the blue-eyed singer.

About 5,000 people were actually inside the theater for the performance. When the Man appeared on stage, the audience shrieked, stamped their feet, and ran up and down the aisles in frenzy.

The Man eventually became perturbed at the insistent screaming and threatened "to forget about" the show unless the Sinatramania was dampened down a bit.

And you thought Elvis and the Beatles invented this kind of scenery.

Forget about it.

On the editorial page, "Clever" comments on the new definition offered by Attorney General Francis Biddle for "bureaucrat", that being a person holding a public sector job which a Republican would like to have.

As chief mouthpiece and fixer for the New Deal, General Biddle was adept at such clever definitions, had a couple of years earlier described at a Washington dinner the New Deal as "a political party tied up with the labor movement under an able political leader."

"The Prophets" finds the Republican doomsday soothsayers of the past to have been all wet in their predictions for the future, in each of the election years of 1932, 1936, and 1940.

The CIO PAC, while as much or more a liability to the President as an asset, had pointed out that in August, 1943, novelist Louis Bromfield had predicted a food shortage in the country by February. Not only had it not materialized, but the Food Administrator, Marvin Jones, had just announced that record levels of farm production had seen the country through the times of greatest need for the war and that food levels were safe for the duration.

"First Aid" tells of the good fortune enjoyed by North Carolinians with regard to health and longevity. The state had the seventh highest birth rate, the largest families, and the seventh lowest death rate. That was so despite there being inadequate medical facilities, with only two hospital beds available per thousand persons, half that of the national average. Prior to the war, there had been only one doctor per thousand, four-fifths the national average.

So, there had been rejoicing when the Governor announced an intent to increase medical services. Gregg Cherry, the next Governor, was committed to the program.

Now, and for at least three decades, the state has abounded in medical facilities, the leading employer now in Winston-Salem being the health care industry. Where is the state's health? Go figure.

The best healthcare plan, as we have before asserted, is to remain fit and healthy and stay away from the horse-pistol. It served our papa quite well for his 92 years, during which time he spent less than one week in the horse-pistol. Don't go for fun; don't go unless you are bleeding to death. Even then, a good tourniquet might prove preferable, even if it's to be applied to the jugular.

"Man of Words" finds Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes to be the king of the insult and, in consequence, the magnet of greatest vilification. Mr. Ickes had referred to Wendell Willkie as "the barefoot boy of Wall Street", to Thomas Dewey as "throwing his diapers into the ring". He had labeled Col. Bertie McCormick, isolationist publisher of the Chicago Tribune, as Col. "McCosmic" or "bilious Bertie, the bingy bullie". He had dubbed himself the Curmudgeon, the title of his autobiography.

Now, he had added to his laurels the singular phrase, in reference to Mr. Dewey's Western swing, "Mr. Gullible's Travels".

Samuel Grafton, in Los Angeles, reports that California politics were sui generis vis à vis the rest of the country, the primary difference being that local politicians could take to the hustings and engage in criticism of the Administration as in other places, but with the added expectation that someone such as Robert Benchley or Katharine Hepburn would rise from the audience and inveigh against them.

Angelenos were active in politics on both sides of the party divide. But the state was likely to vote Democratic in the November election, despite efforts by the Republicans to marshal public support from the ranks of Hollywood on the one hand, while on the other attempting to paint such support as silly and meaningless, when, that is, it was offered in support of a Democrat.

Office of Price Administration head Chester Bowles writes of the aftermath of World War I, the high inflation which had followed in the two years subsequent to the war, rising 46 percent by mid-1920 over the November, 1918 prices. The result had been not only rampant inflation but ultimately a downward economic spiral set off by closure of manufacturing plants, laid off workers, corporate profits and taxes thus derived from them plummeting, resulting in a half million farm foreclosures. It was a grim economic picture which, Mr. Bowles warned, could not be repeated in the aftermath of World War II without similar results. Price controls, therefore, should remain in place until the economy had time to readjust to peacetime conditions.

Drew Pearson first looks at the cut-throatedness of the 1940 campaign between FDR and Wendell Willkie, after the latter's passing away on Sunday. Regardless of the fight, the two men had remained friends after Pearl Harbor, a year after the election, even without complete trust of one another's politics.

It had been a closely guarded secret that the President had personally telephoned Mr. Willkie just before the recent Quebec Conference in September and asked him to serve as his personal representative in Germany in the event of an early armistice.

Mr. Willkie, who had planned then to go to California to try a case for the Gianninis, the Bank of America family, then became ill at his home in Rushville, Indiana, and had to enter the hospital in New York, from which he never emerged alive.

The two men on occasion ruffled each other's feathers. FDR had mocked Mr. Willkie while he had been in Russia during the summer of 1943, finding Mr. Willkie's pronunciation of reservoir, with a harsh "r", to be worthy of ridicule. Mr. Willkie, upon being informed of the mock, when he arrived from Siberia into Alaska, was upset but withheld comment. By the time he got to Calgary, he received a call from the President apologizing and inviting him to the White House for a conference regarding his findings during the trip, which included stops in India and China, in addition to Russia.

Mr. Willkie held a meeting first in Minnesota with Harold Stassen and the Cowles brothers, publishers of newspapers and, subsequently of greater impact, Look, therein determining how to make his presentation effectively to the President.

After conferring with FDR, the press reported that Mr. Willkie had said little, was interrupted repeatedly by the President supplying his own views. But, to Mr. Pearson, Mr. Willkie had confided the contrary, that the President had listened intently for ninety minutes with scarcely any interruption at all.

When the Australian Government had invited Mr. Willkie a year earlier, the White House intervened and sent Mrs. Roosevelt instead. The President, believed Mr. Willkie, did not want him to be the recipient of positive press from such a good will trip and so was resentful of the move.

But when Marquis Childs wrote a magazine article quoting the President in ways belittling of Mr. Willkie, the President had written a letter to Mr. Willkie, pointing out the numerous errors in the account. Mr. Willkie accepted the President's explanation.

Just before the Democratic Convention, a leading Administration official had consulted with both the President and Mr. Willkie anent the possibility of the latter becoming the vice-presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket. Mr. Willkie had been skeptical of the prospect of the convention taking such an action with respect to the 1940 Republican nominee, but had agreed to accept such a nomination if drafted. The President had also agreed to the prospect, provided the convention would draft Mr. Willkie, without any hint of a political deal having first been struck between the two.

A move among the New York delegation, led by Senator Bob Wagner, to place Mr. Willkie's name in nomination had begun, when it was nixed by the big city bosses running the show, DNC chair Robert Hannegan, Ed Flynn, Mayor Ed Kelly of Chicago, and Frank Hague of Jersey City, who had determined that Senator Harry Truman would be the running mate.

It appeared that Mr. Willkie would likely have eventually endorsed the President. He had told San Francisco Republican leader Bartley Crum that the process was akin to courting one's future wife, that he was pretty sure he would say yes but was going to keep the suspense up as long as possible.

Dorothy Thompson eulogizes the passing of Mr. Willkie, describes him as a man without a party, one who could not hew the Party line, but, who, in the process, had gained the admiration of his country. He had stood for principle, had laid out in detail the reasons why blacks should have the same rights as all citizens, had asserted his belief in free enterprise, but the while understood that wealth had to be distributed through the society for it to prosper.

In the end, he had failed to win the presidency, had failed to win the re-nomination of his Party. But he had succeeded in becoming the measure by which others gauged the merit of men, and so would be remembered through time. He had, with his searing lucerne cast on the problems of the country, been embarrassing to all, an embarrassment to none.

Hal Boyle tells of the sad plight of the fighting Ninth Division through its various tours of duty during the prior two years, from Tunisia, to Sicily, to England, to France, Belgium, and Germany. They had not yet found themselves in a single locale fit for any form of entertainment. Each of the places had been either small villages without even a bar or, as in the case of Bizerte in Tunisia, ruined cities with few places left standing. Even in England, they had been assigned to a small village 30 minutes' walk from the nearest bar, leaving their only pastime as sitting around the barracks and watching the rain.

Finally, after being diverted in their movement east of Cherbourg, back to take the rest of the Peninsula, then assigned to the St. Lo-Perriers district, they thought the moment of celebration had arrived as the Allies moved into Paris. But, true to form, they had been assigned to Christency, 30 miles south of the capital, a village of 100 persons.

Now, in Belgium, they were in the medium-sized town of Verviers. Three liaison officers, not used to city life, promptly got lost. Even so, there was only one streetlight burning and still no action.

Forget about it.

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