Monday, November 13, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, November 13, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the last great German battleship, the companion to the Bismarck, the 41,000-ton Tirpitz, had been sunk on Sunday in Tromso fjord in Norway by 29 RAF Lancaster heavy bombers. It was the eighth attack by the RAF on the battleship which had been in protective Norwegian waters since 1942, and was accomplished finally with several direct hits by 12,000-ton bombs. One of the Lancasters was reported missing from the mission.

The Bismarck, incidentally, the keel of which was laid July 1, 1936, five years to the day before W. J. Cash's death, was sunk the last day of his associate editorship at The News, May 27, 1941.

On the sixth day of the Third Army offensive against Metz, seeking to break through into the Saar, General Patton's Fifth Infantry Division captured its first fort in the area, Fort Verny, 5.5 miles south of Metz, capturing the towns of Verny, Pommerieux, Liehon, and Corno, and advanced two miles to encircle Metz from the Moselle River at Thionville, save for an eleven-mile gap in the east. The force, battling mud, snow, and fog, widened its frontal attack on Metz to five miles. Taking Thionville would cut off the Germans' last useful railway from Metz.

There were from 9 to 22 major forts ringing Metz, with interlocking zones of fire. Verny was not one of the major forts but was near Fort L'Aisne, one of the largest, and was due east of Fort Driant, the fort from which General Patton had to withdraw in frustration after several days of attack during October.

To the south, other Third Army forces advanced through Bride and Koecking forest, north of Dieuze, but were then forced to withdraw a mile by a German counter-attack. A wedge bypassed Dieuze and threatened to encircle Morhange.

German forces were reported pulling out of positions southeast of Metz but were holding firm in their positions to the northeast of the city while engaging in demolition.

In Italy, Eighth Army patrols crossing the Ghiaia Canal, four miles below Ravenna, had advanced two miles into a thick pine forest, the Germans having withdrawn some of their defenses from the canal. The next major water obstacle before Ravenna was the Fiumi Uniti, a mile below the city, the confluence of the Montone and Ronco, a Bass-o-Matic river.

To prevent bypass of Ravenna by the Eighth Army, the Germans held fast to their positions at San Stefano on the north side of the canal.

The Russians in siege of Budapest to the south were maintaining their positions against German and Hungarian counter-attack. The Russians captured Monor, fourteen miles southeast of the capital, and seized other German positions, including Fatmos, thirty miles to the east. The capture of Monor meant that the Germans had been cleared from nearly all of the 50-mile Budapest-Sznolnek railway.

In southern Yugoslavia, Marshal Tito's troops were storming Shuptje.

On Leyte in the Philippines, the American 24th Division driving south, gained three miles and captured Mt. Catabaran, a 2,300-foot peak overlooking Ormoc, the supply port for the Japanese. American forces in the Carigara Bay to Ormoc approach were scattered, but moved steadily forward. Air support dropped 62 tons of bombs on Ormoc.

Losses in the landing of Japanese reinforcements at Ormoc on Saturday were said to be 8,000 men, thirteen planes, six destroyers, and four transports. General Yamashita's forces in the Ormoc area were now estimated to total 45,000.

Col. Alfred Kastner, upon return from the Philippines, told of a last minute change in plans by Admiral Halsey, diverting forces set to land on Yap, instead choosing Leyte as the target. Yap was found to be too heavily defended by the Japanese. Yap, to the east of Leyte, was the primary supply depot for Ormoc.

A report indicated that on October 31, a third war correspondent, John Terry of the Chicago Daily News, had died from injuries sustained when a bomb exploded 100 feet from the house in which the reporters were living on Leyte. The two others killed were Asabel Bush of the Associated Press and Stanley Gunn of the Fort Worth Telegram.

In China, Wang Ching-wei, former deputy premier to Chiang Kai-shek, and who had in 1939 become a quisling and been named head of the puppet Japanese-controlled Chinese government at Nanking, had died. Rumors had run rampant through China, especially in Northern and Central China, since 1942 that Wang had been ordered by Chiang to take the position in Nanking, to give Chiang a person inside the Japanese puppet-government. The fact that Chiang's Government had placed a bounty on the head of Wang did not dissuade those who, for hope, clung to these rumors. The belief had caused a degree of loyalty among the Chinese to the Wang government. That was now gone with Wang.

It was confirmed by American headquarters that the last American air base in southeastern China at Liuchow had in fact been destroyed by the Japanese, as they had claimed on Friday.

Dr. Frank Porter Graham, president of the University of North Carolina, tendered his resignation, along with two other of the four civilian members of the War Labor Board. They included Board chair William H. Davis and vice-chair George Taylor, former labor consultant with General Motors and professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Further word came out of Germany that Hitler was under the care of four doctors, including a brain surgeon who had previously operated on him. He had delivered a speech the day before in commemoration of the November 9, 1923 Munich Beer Hall Putsch. The speech, however, appeared largely culled from excerpts of Mein Kampf and prior speeches, fueling speculation that someone other than the Fuehrer had written it.

The last films of Hitler, of course, showed that a pronounced palsy had developed in his left hand; perhaps, the reported treatment was in relation to that, perhaps the result of the explosion in July. Perhaps, he needed a new head.

On the editorial page, "Safety Valve" reports of the precedent set by the Regional War Labor Board in Atlanta on Saturday by drafting a maintenance of membership contract for a Gastonia, N.C., machine and foundry company, inclusive of a contingency clause mandating labor adherence to its no-strike pledge. This new contingency gave management the right to appeal to the Labor Board should there be a strike in violation of the pledge, with the potential consequence that labor would lose some of its benefits under the contract by its breach.

The piece finds the action of the Board praiseworthy, exerting effort to give teeth to enforce the no-strike pledge, originally made by the unions in early 1942.

"Round Four" comments on Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes's routinized quadrennial statement made the previous week, attached to his equally routinized resignation from the Cabinet, anent the overwhelming press support for the opponent of President Roosevelt. This time, he reported, only 17.7 percent of the newspapers of the country had supported the President. Mr. Ickes charged, therefore, that, with such a vast disparity between that number and the outcome of the election, the press had become disconnected from the people and did not reflect their views.

It was true, said the editorial, that most newspapers had endorsed Roosevelt's opponents since 1932, had stood largely opposed to much of the New Deal. But there were at least three points which Mr. Ickes, it contends, had overlooked: the three million vote majority for the President out of 47 million cast suggested that the press was in fair sympathy with a large minority of the country in being against a fourth term; second, that it was rare that newspapers wielded great weight upon the electorate in any event; and third, that most newspapers carried a variety of opinion on political matters, aside from their own editorial opinion.

The piece does not say so, but The News, incidentally, was a part of that 17.7 percent which had favored the fourth term in its official editorial stance. In 1940, J. E. Dowd had expressed his opinion as editor for Wendell Willkie while W. J. Cash, as associate editor, had written an editorial the same date expressing his reasons for supporting re-election of FDR. Thus, the official stance of the newspaper at that time was divided.

Mr. Dowd, in late August, returned to the newspaper after having been in the Navy Reserve since the end of 1942. Burke Davis had been the editor in the meantime, and then returned to his position as associate editor, a position which he had held from June through December, 1942, responsible primarily for the editorial page.

"Bell-Wethers" suggests the old adage, "as Maine goes, so goes the country," to have become long since outlived in its usefulness by experience, as Maine had voted only once since 1900 for a Democrat, Woodrow Wilson in 1912. The better bell-wethers were New Mexico and Idaho. Since 1900, Idaho had uniformly voted for the winning candidate; New Mexico, admitted to statehood in time for the 1912 election, had since that time performed likewise.

But the trouble with using those two states as barometers, it says, was the same as using polls to predict the outcome: "you can't tell there's a storm coming until you actually hear the wind howling."

North Carolina has not been a bad barometer since 1928, having gone with the winner in every election except those of 1952 and 1956, when it cast its lot both times with Adlai Stevenson, and 1992 and 1996, when it voted Republican each time against Bill Clinton. One could, of course, place an asterisk beside 2000.

"Challenger" comments on the story the previous week of the Japanese atrocities committed against two villages in the Netherlands East Indies, the razing of the villages and then machinegunning of inhabitants who sought escape, all for either underground activity in one case or, in the other, refusing to give up the rice crop and then killing a policeman, that it was only confirming of the past conduct of the Japanese, bestial in their conduct, from Nanking to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The feeling of desire for vengeance to be exacted against the Japanese was felt far more keenly by American soldiers than against the Germans. But, the piece reminds, for butchery and bestiality, the Japanese could not begin to equal the Germans. The Germans had committed acts of terror on a much larger scale and that, urges the piece, could not be forgotten when the day of judgment would come.

Drew Pearson tells of the friendly meeting between President Roosevelt and General Douglas MacArthur at Pearl Harbor in late July. General MacArthur and the President had for long been at odds, but the General offered to support publicly the President in the election and, in turn, the President even suggested to Admiral Leahy that the General be made General of the Armies, the title then held only by General Pershing. Admiral Leahy had recommended against it, that it would appear as politics. The President, however, continued enthusiastically in support of the General's plan for invasion of the Philippines via Leyte. The Joint Chiefs had favored a landing on Eastern China rather than in the Philippines, but the President stuck by General MacArthur and the plan was accepted.

Mr. Pearson next tells of a report soon to be released, prepared by Senator Harley Kilgore of West Virginia and Senator Elbert Thomas of Utah, favoring a hard peace for Germany, essentially the Morgenthau plan to de-industrialize the country. The report recommended punishment not only for war criminals but also German trade cartel leaders, the complete outlawing of cartels, and the creation of an international economic and social council, per the plan enunciated at the Dumbarton Oaks conference, to prevent their resurrection.

The extent to which industry, potentially convertible to munitions manufacture, would be permitted to exist after the war in Germany would depend, said the report, on the extent to which German industry was still intact after the war, the internal political balance in the country after punishment of war criminals, and the number and influence of Germans who could be relied upon to operate industry solely for peaceful production.

Samuel Grafton remarks that the effects of the past election would be with the country for a generation and more. With the defeat or retirement of eight isolationist Senators and even more Congressmen, the American people had bid farewell to the last vestiges of that dogma which had been with the republic since its founding.

No longer would a person rise in politics on the basis of espousing distrust of other nations, by exploitation of American fear of foreign countries. The change amounted to a second Declaration of Independence. The xenophobic American would henceforth be reduced to a comic figure.

Rather than the country being sharply divided 53-47, as with the results of the presidential race, the true division was cast at about 80-20, internationalists versus isolationists, based on the Congressional races. Two years earlier, no isolationist of consequence had lost his seat. With the results in 1944, it was evident that the change was from within both parties.

Of course, as cast in terms of anti-Soviet bias, the country had not yet seen the height of isolationist fervor, which would begin to grip it again just two years hence with the election of such notable anti-Communists as Senator Joseph McCarthy and Congressman Richard Nixon, sedulous, ultimately divisive, anti-Communism to become a virtual political cottage industry and patriotic litmus test in the country for four decades hence, a position often clung to more on emotion than fact, leading nearly to the destruction of mankind, as well the economies of both the United States and the Soviet Union.

Marquis Childs likewise examines the aftermath of the Congressional elections and finds, similarly, the same anti-isolationist trend, especially in Illinois and the Midwest. In Illinois, Mrs. Emily Taft Douglas had defeated isolationist Representative Stephen Day by largely campaigning against his isolationist views. She had won by a wide margin, 225,000 votes. Senator Scott Lucas had won re-election over isolationist Richard Lyons.

On the Republican side, law school dean Wayne Morse had been elected as Senator from Oregon and Govenor Leverett Saltonstall, from Massachusetts, both of whom were advocates of internationalism.

The Democrats had elected Representative William Fulbright, another strong internationalist, to the Senate from Arkansas. Connecticut replaced Senator Dannaher with Brien McMahon, based primarily on the isolationism of the former.

Senators Robert Rice Reynolds of North Carolina and Cotton Ed Smith of South Carolina, old guard obstructionists of the Democrats, were now retired as well.

Mr. Childs remarks fatefully of the booing which Texas Senator Pappy Lee O'Daniel had received during his anti-Roosevelt campaign in the South, suggesting that his defeat might be imminent. He adds that the Senator "unfortunately" would not be up for re-election, however, until 1948. Senator O'Daniel would be defeated in that year by Congressman Lyndon Johnson who had lost by a small margin to then Governor O'Daniel in the special election held to replace deceased Senator Morris Sheppard in June, 1941. Several persons in the cemetery remarkably had cast ballots in that earlier election, especially in the late returns, signal of something perhaps of Poe.

Hal Boyle, writing from Germany on November 3, tells of the mileage records being racked up by American tanks. A T/4 of the Fifth Armored Division had driven his Sherman 1,565 miles in ten weeks of combat and it was, he claimed proudly, still the best running tank in the Army. It still had the same engine, spark plugs, and tracks which it had in England.

A T/5 was on his third bulldozer after the first had been hit by a shell in Mahon in France and the second had been destroyed on the Siegfried Line.

A First Infantry private received a letter postmarked from Brooklyn within three days of its being mailed, establishing a record.

Chaplain William Boice of Cincinnati was the latest "sky pilot" to receive a Silver Star, his having been awarded it for leading medics through heavy enemy fire to provide treatment to the wounded.

A sergeant told of how he and his crew, having bivouacked after a 70-mile tank run, set up bed for the night in a ditch. When they woke in the morning, they found that they had been sharing the ditch with four German soldiers.

A 47-year old private, who wanted combat duty, had gotten his wish when his sergeant had stated that any man under him who was dissatisfied and wanted out of the platoon could transfer to infantry. The private raised his hand, was now an ammunition bearer with the Fourth Infantry.

Chaplain Lewis Koon of New Market, Va., told of holding services in a Siegfried Line pillbox and also in a heavily mined building.

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