Wednesday, October 18, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, October 18, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the British Second Army had captured Venray in Holland and had established a ten-mile front west of that location, 33 miles from Duisberg.

The Canadians continued their assault on the sea approaches to Antwerp at the Schelde Estuary, as Germans were forced to pull back from their positions. It appeared the Germans might be preparing to abandon the defense as considerable movement of personnel was reported and demolition work had begun in Breskens. The Canadians were within six miles of Breskens from the south.

Aachen remained relatively quiet for the second day in a row, as Berlin stated that the First Army was preparing to attack Cologne.

The Third Army had advanced a mile to within four miles of Metz, despite the retreat from Fort Driant guarding the city.

The French of the Sixth Army Group had advanced to within three to five miles of two Vosges passes leading to the Reich.

German broadcasts expressed concern of a half million men facing each other, as the British had moved up 1,500 tanks to do battle, preparing for a major assault in the Netherlands, to push into the Rhine and Ruhr Valleys.

About 600 American heavy bombers struck Cologne and Kassel, Cologne for the seventh straight day.

A decree by Adolf Hitler setting up a home guard in Germany and indicating that the Germans now stood alone against the enemy, was read over German radio by a surrogate. The Fuehrer, not having appeared in public or spoken on the radio since shortly after the July 20 plot to kill him, made no statement.

The Russians, said a German broadcast, had invaded East Prussia following the capture of stubbornly defended Virbalis in Lithuania, three miles from the border, and advanced to Schirwindt, a mile inside East Prussia.

Another force to the south had crossed the Carpathian Mountains into Czechoslovakia.

Izvestia reported that Belgrade was largely in Allied hands, with both the Russians and Yugoslav Partisans of Marshal Tito engaging in mopping up operations within the capital.

In Italy, the Fifth Army had advanced a mile closer to Bologna while the Eighth Army had also made some convergent progress along the road from Rimini to Bologna.

In the Pacific, carrier-borne aircraft again struck unspecified targets in the Philippines, according to enemy radio reports, concentrating on Manila.

Elements of the 81st Army Division had conducted a bloodless coup September 20-21 on the seven islands of Ulithi Atoll in the Carolines, about halfway between Guam and the Palaus. The main Japanese occupation force of the atoll had evacuated several weeks earlier. It put the Allies within a hundred miles of Yap to the west.

Navy Secretary James Forrestal announced that the Third and Fifth Fleets had combined to sink or damage 905 Japanese vessels, plus another 205 bagged by submarines, during the prior four and a half months, between June 6 and October 16, while in the same period having destroyed 3,080 enemy planes, 60% having been shot down during air battles.

A major hurricane, packing 160 mph winds had struck Havana, causing severe damage during its five-hour period of impact, and was moving toward Key West. Hurricane warning flags, red with black centers, were up from Key Largo to the Dry Tortugas and further in on the Florida mainland.

News Managing Editor Brodie Griffith happened to be vacationing in Miami at the time and so was on the scene to provide firsthand accounts. The piece indicates that every time in previous recent years Mr. Griffith had taken a vacation, a primary story had broken. He reported this date that even the seasoned hurricane veterans of Miami were not concealing their concern that this storm might be a big one. It was expected to hit Miami at 5:00 p.m. with winds still at 100 to 120 mph.

Brace yourselves for the impact, Miamians.

We would be tempted to consider that the film "Key Largo" of 1948 might have been inspired by this hurricane were it not for the fact that the play by Maxwell Anderson on which the film was based had run on Broadway in 1939. The film, directed by John Huston, however, considerably changed the characters and setting.

So, who knows?

On the editorial page, "No Takers" recaps the recent air and sea assaults by the Third Fleet on the Japanese islands near Kyushu, as well as on Formosa and the Ryukyus, (not the "Ryukukus" as spelled in the column, though we admit leaving out the second "y"--Tokara or Iejima, depending on perspective--in our initial effort last week, until we finally caught it on the stepping stones of the Dorman Smith, K. U. and the Air Force).

The piece finds these attacks, largely without opposition by the Japanese, with its Fleet having come out and then disengaged before doing battle, to be hearkening of the end of the Japanese military and naval strength.

The probable strength of the Third Fleet, it assays to be at least twenty carriers and a thousand planes, escorted by the newest battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and auxiliary vessels. Though 5,000 miles from Pearl Harbor and 1,700 miles from the Marianas, 3,500 from the Marshalls, the full-scale attack was overwhelmingly successful, proving that the American Fleet was now capable of operating effectively at long distances from major ports.

It cautions, however, that, regardless of the success, the Japanese Fleet remained formidable, having, prior to the action on Saipan, possessed still ten battleships, seven or eight large carriers, 35 cruisers, and 75 destroyers. But it now faced the problem of either staying to defend the Philippines and outlying defense posts, thereby engaging the risk of being cut off from the home islands, or retiring to the home islands to risk thereby being bottled.

The bold stand of the Third Fleet off Formosa, it suggests, might as well have occurred with equivalent likely results at Yokohama Harbor.

"Penny-Wise" tells of a plan by a South Carolina Congressman aimed at alleviating the shortage of newsprint while helping the ailing price of cotton. The plan was to use low-grade cotton fiber to combine with wood pulp to produce newsprint.

But, counters the piece, the plan would not accomplish its purpose, for it would only relegate cotton into a field yielding low prices just to get rid of the excess.

"At Odds" observes the discrepancy between the polls and the betting odds on the presidential election now but 20 days away. The pollsters predicted a close outcome, too close to call, with Governor Dewey gaining ground. The oddsmakers, however, in St. Louis were calculating the probable electoral college results to find that Roosevelt had a lock on 29 states with 296 electoral votes while Dewey would definitely carry only 19 states with 235 electoral votes. In consequence, the betting line had it that a correct three-dollar bet for Roosevelt would pay only a dollar, and a winning dollar bet for Dewey would pay $2.50.

Place your bets. But have the pistol ready. Hitler will be cheering for you to win the bundle and clean the house.

"Weak Spot" comments on the St. Louis speech of Governor Dewey Monday night in which he had continued to criticize the President for his inefficient administration, one of his most assailable points. The New Deal, it says, had been profligate in its waste and inept in its execution. And, furthermore, as Governor Dewey duly pointed out, FDR had been elected in 1932 after having criticized President Hoover for his incompetent administration and expansion of the bureaucracy.

But during the first eight years of the Roosevelt Administration, the Government had doubled in its size, and during the third term had nearly tripled yet again, growing in 12 years from 572,000 jobs to 3,112,965. While recognizing the bulk of the two million jobs added since 1941 had dealt with the war, still too many jobs were present on the civilian side.

The piece suggests that the President, if re-elected, ought pass the job of administration to someone else. Mr. Dewey sounded as if he wanted to assume the position.

Of course, one of the great attractions of Senator Truman as FDR's running mate was that he had effectively chaired the Senate committee which oversaw and sought to cut government waste.

In fairness to President Roosevelt, he had inherited a royal mess from three successive failed Republican Administrations which had culminated in the Depression, at its lowest point in 1932 when he was elected.

If, under those circumstances, he had kowtowed to the Republicans and conservative Democrats and not expanded the Government, not undertaken the Hundred Days plan in 1933 to get the country moving again, not engaged in experiment, not expanded the Government, where would it likely have been by 1936? Where would he have been but back in Hyde Park?

You can't have it both ways, trying to please all the people all the time, and be considered anything other than a milquetoast, vacillating fence-sitter, offending no one but also getting nothing done in the meantime. That was the lot of Presidents Coolidge and Hoover, in a train arguably of the worst three Presidents in succession since before the Civil War.

Drew Pearson reports that Assistant Secretary of State Adolf Berle had been remonstrated by former New York Governor Herbert Lehman, head of the United Nations Rehabilitation and Relief Administration, for denying initially two passports to two women whom Mr. Lehman wished to send to Europe to work for the organization. Mr. Berle had determined that the two women were Communists. Mr. Lehman countered that his own investigation proved that they were not, but that even if they were, the State Department should not engage itself in denial of passports to people involved with the United Nations, as Russian Communists worked for the UNRRA. Moreover, Mr. Lehman asserted that, since Mr. Berle himself had been accused by Governor Dewey recently of being a Socialist, were Mr. Dewey to become President, he might deny a passport to Mr. Berle.

Mr. Berle, notes Mr. Pearson parenthetically, was known around the State Department as its chief Red-baiter.

Mr. Pearson also tells of the refusal of a petition for rehearing to the Supreme Court of its 4 to 3 decision the previous spring ruling that fire insurance companies were subject to existing anti-trust laws. The effort had arisen in light of Justice Stanley Reed having recused himself from participation in the original decision because his son worked for a law firm representing the insurance companies, but had left that job since the spring. Thus, hoping for a change of circumstance and a vote which would change the outcome, the insurance companies had sought in vain for the rehearing.

Nevertheless, a bill was pending in the Senate which would allow the exemption from the anti-trust laws.

Marquis Childs, now in San Francisco, tells of Republican Mayor Roger Lapham, (grandfather of Lewis Lapham, longtime editor of Harper's), a shipping magnate who had been elected with the broad support of labor. San Francisco had been relatively free of labor trouble on the docks during the war. The city in those days held non-partisan local elections. Such was the case also in many other California municipalities.

Even Governor Warren was essentially a non-partisan Governor, with several Democrats in his Cabinet. The Governor had run on both party ballots.

California had several propositions of note on the ballot for November, one being to raise old-age pension payments to $60 per month. Another was the outlawing of the closed shop, to allow non-union workers to be employed at a union company. The latter had been put forward by a contingent out of Los Angeles. Mayor Lapham publicly opposed the proposition as defeating of labor.

Mayor Lapham had become Mayor out of a sense of public responsibility, regarding the job as a chore. He had a chart before his desk with days of his term expired and days remaining until the end, updated daily by his secretary.

Hal Boyle, reporting from Germany on October 12, indicates that seven crew members of a half-track had found themselves in the midst of a German artillery barrage along the Siegfried Line north of Aachen, and had caught a three-inch shell in the rear, one which fortunately proved a dud. They were happy to be alive.

He relates of two other similar episodes, albeit where the shells exploded without harming anyone. In one instance, Lieutenant Joseph Still of Blackville, S.C., was telling a captain during lunch that it wouldn't be so bad to receive one of "those million dollar wounds", the ones which got you out of front line duty but only slightly injured the lucky recipient. At that moment, a 75-mm. shell hit the room, bounced three times from the ceiling to the floor, hit the lieutenant in the leg and lodged in the hallway. Lieutenant Still had received his million dollar passport.

The results of a poll taken by the Saturday Review of Literature appear on the page, providing that Drew Pearson ranked substantially ahead of Walter Lippmann as the Washington columnist having the most influence on the people of the nation. He came in second to Arthur Krock of the New York Times in his influence on Washington. In terms of reliability and fairness, however, he ranked only 17th, while Marquis Childs came in a close second to Thomas Stokes.

The Review noted that had Raymond Clapper not died in a plane crash over Eniwetok in the Marshalls on February 2, he would have topped all three lists without question. Some correspondents voted for him anyway, and he ranked fifth still among Washington correspondents most influential of Washington.

The Review criticized Mr. Pearson for his questionable reliability. The News echoed the sentiment but added that most of his revelations, while controversial, had proved true. It also informed that former North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner of Shelby was Mr. Pearson's lawyer and had stated to The News that Mr. Pearson had won all of his libel suits, which had become numerous.

Incidentally, we note that actor and author Sterling Hayden once was in Charlotte during the period 1936 to 1940, likely, as we recall it, in the latter portion of the period. We did not at the time make special note of it, just something which passed by our eyne 12 years ago on the microfilm, occasioning momentary recognition. It was in the entertainment section of The News on a Sunday, one of those Sundays on which Cash had made a contribution to the Book Page.

Mr. Hayden, we note further, in 1941 joined the Office of the Coordinator of Information headed by William Donovan, that office having been founded July 11, 1941 by the President, the first spy agency in the country's history and predecessor to the O.S.S. Mr. Hayden, under the pseudonym John Hamilton, became a member of the O.S.S. after its founding on June 13, 1942. He subsequently parachuted into Yugoslavia and was one of those Allied troops from the Mediterranean theater who fought with Marshal Tito's Partisans against the Nazis. He received the Silver Star for his valor.

His purpose in Charlotte was ostensibly a matter of theater, which, with particularity, we have forgotten. It really doesn't matter, does it?

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