Wednesday, October 4, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, October 4, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that American tanks moved into a 2.5 mile wide breach in the Siegfried Line seven miles north of Aachen, a breach stretching from Frelenberg to Finkenrath, in support of the First Army in their drive two miles into Germany, toward the defenses guarding Cologne. Three weak German counter-attacks, one at Hurtgen, another at Stolberg, were quickly foiled by the doughboys.

Neither of the penetrations of the Line, this one east of Ubach or the one begun September 15 below Aachen, had yet materialized into a breakthrough, defined as a gap through which troops could stream and spread out behind enemy defensive positions. At five other positions, Havert, Geilenkirchen, Rotgen, Brandscheid, and between Wallendorf and Bitburg, the First Army was to the outer crust of the dragon's teeth forming the first row of defenses within the Siegfried Line.

The Third Army continued its assault on Fort Driant guarding Metz. Supreme Allied Headquarters reported that the fort had been taken by the Americans, but front line dispatches stated that heavy fighting continued through the afternoon against Germans holed up in underground fortifications and tunnels. The Americans had taken the three corners of the fort as well as fortifications at its center in hand-to-hand combat.

The Germans had attacked American infantry and tanks from hidden trap-door positions as they streamed into the fort. The Americans poured crude oil into the center of the fort and lit it, clearing the area quickly of Germans.

"The hilly fort is like a rabbit warren with countless tunnels, and doughboys hugging the ground could hear the enemy moving about below them," reported correspondent Edward D. Ball.

The Canadian First Army had enabled a truce at Dunkerque so that 20,000 trapped French civilians could be evacuated through 6:00 a.m. on Friday. The Nazis holding their last port on the Channel Coast numbered 15,000. The arrangements for the truce had been made in a meeting the previous day. It presented a stark contrast to the disorderly and bloody retreat at the site by the British in late May and early June of 1940. After the period for evacuation had expired, a twelve-hour period would ensue during which the evacuation route would be dynamited and mined before hostilities resumed.

A thousand American heavy bombers hit Southern German targets for the seventh time in nine days. The RAF struck Dutch islands and targets in Germany. The Ruhr Valley was said to be completely cut off from approach by water from the North Sea following the destruction by the RAF on September 23 of the Dortmund-Ems Canal.

The Russians moved in an arc along the Danube to within fewer than twenty miles from Belgrade, accompanied in American jeeps by Yugoslav Partisans of Marshal Tito. Most of the area at the confluence of the Danube and Tisza Rivers, 50 miles beyond the Iron Gate in the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps, had been cleared of Germans. The Germans had fled Petrovgrad, an important rail junction 37 miles from Belgrade.

The Red Army continued also its advance inside Hungary, hitting the Mureshul River defensive line and capturing Rechin on the west bank. The Germans were threatening to raze Budapest should Hungarian officials continue their efforts to form an armistice with Russia, similar to that accomplished by Rumania and Finland during September.

In Italy, heavy mud continued to bog down operations of the Eighth and Fifth Armies, but the Fifth Army had been able to make some slight progress along a 20-mile front, fifteen miles south of Bologna.

In the Pacific, Liberators made their longest mass bombing raid in the Southwest Pacific by attacking the Japanese oil and gas depot at Balikpapan on Borneo. More than 60 bombers, dropping 74 tons of bombs, hit the facility Saturday, being met by 30 Japanese Zeros. Seven of the Zeros had been shot down and others damaged. The Liberator pilots reported flying through the heaviest anti-aircraft ground fire yet encountered in the Pacific war. Some of the American planes made it back to their unreported landing base, presumptively either on Morotai or in Northern New Guinea, with scarcely any gasoline left in their tanks.

Al Smith, 1928 Democratic presidential nominee and four-time Governor of New York, had died of heart failure at age 70. Governor Smith had run unsuccessfully against Herbert Hoover in a campaign marred by a Southern Democratic revolt against the ticket for the fact of Mr. Smith's Catholicism, even if masking at times under the guise of associating him with the desire to repeal Prohibition.

Known as "Doiby Al" in the press for his trademark brown derby and his New York accent to go with it, the irrepressible former Governor died at 6:20 a.m. at the Rockefeller Institute in New York.

The "Happy Warrior", so dubbed by FDR after the latter nominated Governor Smith in 1928, had turned against Roosevelt and the New Deal in 1936, backing Republican Alf Landon, and again in 1940, supporting Wendell Willkie.

On the editorial page, "Top Man" reports the fact that the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina had authorized the hiring of a new football coach at a salary not to exceed $12,000 per year--a princely sum in 1944 when U. S. Senators made $10,000 per year.

Informs the piece, the president of the Greater University, consisting then of the Chapel Hill campus, N.C. State, and Woman's College, (now UNC-Greensboro), earned only $8,250 per year plus a home in Chapel Hill. Frank Porter Graham, the current president, while on the War Labor Board spent one of every three weeks in his role as president and drew one-third the salary.

The editorial, while recognizing that football was entertainment and that many entertainers earned more than the President, takes issue with the pay scale nevertheless, stating its dissent from the part of the population desirous of such a winning football coach at Chapel Hill that he would be deserving of $12,000 per year.

What's more, even as late as 1961, when on August 2 of that year Mr. McGuire resigned as basketball coach at the University to become coach of the Philadelphia Warriors, he became the highest paid NBA coach at the time at $12,000 per annum. Mr. Smith, his successor, only commanded $5,000 per year. But he was a pretty bad coach. They even hung him in effigy on Polk Place in 1964 before firing him. Whoever heard of a 6'6" center? One-way ticket out of Carrboro on the Night Express for dat guy.

"Big Money" writes of the cotton crisis in Mecklenburg, with 5,000 to 12,000 bales yet to be picked from the fields while farm labor shortages produced by the war left it sitting there. In recent years, children and young college men and women had volunteered throughout the South to assist the farmers in gathering in the crop.

To place a dollar figure on the cotton balls lying, waiting to become rotten, the editorial fixes the crop's worth at 1.5 million dollars, which, aside from the critical war need, bespoke the urgent necessity to lend the hands to the local farmers to pick it.

"The Bond" tells of the common denominator between the glowing reception provided the President on Saturday, September 23, when he spoke in Washington to the Teamsters, and the beginning, on the previous Monday, of the fall term of the Supreme Court, that being the dynamics of personality of Franklin Roosevelt.

He had appointed eight of the nine seats on the Court, Justice Owen Roberts being the only holdover from prior to 1933, albeit Chief Justice Harlan Stone having been elevated in 1941 by President Roosevelt to Chief from his position as Justice, appointed originally by President Coolidge. And all of those appointments had occurred since 1937 when his first appointment, that of Hugo Black, was made during the first year of his second term. FDR had appointed nine justices in the six year period running to 1943, with Justice James Byrnes having stepped down in 1942 after a year on the Court to work for the Administration as Economic Stabilizer and then War Mobilizer.

The editorial speaks to the notion that the appointees had represented collectively a coterie of men closely aligned with the President and continued to function at his behest in their current roles on the Court. It did not find in this obedient super-majority, however, anything necessarily sinister. Nor anything Svengalian in the allegiance to the President provided by the Teamsters. The piece was content merely to point out the fact that it was one man and his personality which held these somewhat disparate coalitions, the blue-bloods of the law and the working men of the Teamsters, together in splendid cohesion.

"Not Quite" comments on the address the previous evening via radio by Thomas Dewey concerning the subject of taxes. He had missed the boat by being too dignified and vague in his approach. He criticized the Roosevelt plan of taxation for its impact on the ordinary worker and promised a reduction of corporate taxes, favoring a tax scheme which he touted as encouraging full employment--otherwise known as "trickle-down economics", mostly trickling down into the gutters.

But the problem with the plan was that Mr. Dewey did not explain how he intended to lower corporate taxes and taxes on the ordinary individual taxpayer while at the same time offering expansion of services afforded by the New Deal.

It was simple: Close your eyes, and walk off the White Cliffs.

Drew Pearson tells of advertising man Albert Lasker, one of Warren G. Harding's campaign managers in 1920, having deserted his party in favor of Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt's daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, had argued with Mr. Lasker against bolting, but to no avail.

He had to hold his nose, but, he said, it was better that than to close his eyes as he would have to do to vote for Dewey. He had never walked over a cliff holding his nose.

Mr. Pearson next turns to the topic of the Pacific war, indicating that, while the war in the Central Pacific, with the taking of the Marianas and the beginning of the campaign for the Philippines, was five to six months ahead of schedule, the war in China was going badly. The Japanese were transferring much of their manufacturing base to the mainland of China from Japan, expecting that the homeland would be occupied, and that they could thereby wage a prolonged war from the Chinese base of operations.

The Japanese had vast reserves of soldiers at home to supply the Chinese front and it might take a long time to extricate them from the vastnesses of China. Moreover, Chiang's popularity in China was on the wane as was his continuing cooperation with the United States. Anti-American war lords in China were now obtaining power and some of these men had rather face an embrace with Japan than to have China become a battleground for Allied armies.

He next turns to the special tribute paid by Winston Churchill in Commons to the Americans for landing successfully more than a million men on the Normandy beaches since D-Day, plus the supplies and weapons to supply and protect them.

One of the ways this tremendous logistics effort had been conducted was for Liberty ships to be driven onto the beaches and turned over deliberately on their sides, to which platforms were then built to form temporary piers at which other ships could dock. Railroad barges were also strung end to end far out to sea to form docking facilities.

Finally, he reports of the busiest Hollywood studio during the war, the First Motion Picture Unit, Army Air Forces. It produced films for training of airmen, including survival training for crews forced to bail into unaccommodating terrain. The films, made on location, were better teachers than dry lectures.

Samuel Grafton reports from St. Louis of the problems attendant with local politicians running for office on the coattails of an incumbent President. The ward heeling form of politics becomes rife with incompetence and hangers-on while the out-party could stress local issues substantively and win elections through ballot-splitting.

Thus, it was feasible that there could be a Republican Congress which might defeat the plans of the Administration for post-war peace simply by having run on bread-and-butter issues back home.

Marquis Childs discusses the long list of cartel-oriented clients of John Foster Dulles and his New York law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. The Dewey campaign had anticipated the charge against Mr. Dulles of being in the virtual employ of the sympathizers to the dictators of Europe, but had believed it would come early in the campaign. Now, conventional wisdom was that it was too late to have any decisive impact on the election.

Which, of itself, suggests Mr. Childs, presented a bit of a puzzler. In earlier Roosevelt campaigns, either a White House surrogate or the President, himself, would haul forth such charges. But now, even though assembled for some time, they had remained in the hold, occasionally leaked in part to friendly columnists to do the White House bidding.

Hal Boyle, reporting from a casino in Spa, Belgium on October 1, tells of American swing music echoing, to the delight of Belgians, along the Siegfried Line in the town which gave the world its cognomen to mean a health resort.

The First Army band had entertained, providing a mixture of martial music, classical selections, and swing numbers for the Belgian population. They especially appreciated "Stardust" and "In the Mood", one man with a handlebar moustache jumping to his feet and shouting, "Vivent les Americans."

Then the place started really hopping when the swing band took over and played "Crazy Rhythm" and "Exactly Like You", plus an original authored by a member of the band--or so thought Mr. Boyle--"Annie's Cousin Fannie".

A soldier was heard to say to his buddy as they walked out of the Casino, "Ain't it hell to be a wallflower in two languages?"

A letter to the editor, sounding a bit as the letter written strictly in irony the previous week by Lewis Ayers Smith, appears on the page, quite seriously trumpeting the virtues of Mr. Dewey while spending most of its time laying low the President for his having appealed to the no-accounts of the country by giving them the sucker's taste of something-for-nothing, not telling them that their children and grandchildren would have to foot the bill for their lazy parents and no-account grandparents, those who sought only satiety of the day without concern for the morrow, for years into the future.

Along the way he denies that there was a depression from which Roosevelt had to extricate the country, applauds Governor Dewey for being "100 per cent American...not soliciting any Communist bedfellows," implicitly thereby suggesting the lack of such virtues being possessed by the President.

He implies in his specific response to Mrs. D. S. Beatty's previous letter that she was a hick merely voting the party line for the Democrats because her grandpappy done done it, too.

If she's dumb, this guy's dumber.

Mrs. Beatty has another letter printed on the page in which she three times refers scoldingly to Mr. Dewey having recently criticized the President's quoting from "Mien Kampf".

Perhaps, had Mr. Dewey taken issue with the President quoting from Mein Kampf, she would have been more quiescent concerning the matter.

Never mind.

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