Wednesday, November 15, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, November 15, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the 95th Infantry Division of the Third Army, continuing to battle through snow and sleet, had captured two more of the forts surrounding Metz, Forts Hubert and Jussy to the west, and bypassed Fort Driant and Fort Jeanne D'Arc, while another force took Fort Illange to the south of Thionville, driving toward Magny, less than a mile from Metz. The latter force also captured Pouilly and Peltre, repelling a German counter-attack. The Sixth Armored Division pushed back another enemy attack in the area of Arriance. The advances took the forces to within two miles of Metz from the south and west.

Fort Thionville to the north of the city and Fort Koenigsmacher, across the Moselle to the northeast, had already been captured.

To the north in southeastern Holland, the British Second Army launched an offensive the previous night from the junction of the Noord and Wessem Canals and advanced nearly three miles, to within 37 miles of Duisburg in the Ruhr Valley. They reported pushing forward with celerity, there being nothing much at present to impede their progress.

To the south of Metz, the Seventh Army pushed through deepening snowfields of the northern Vosges foothills.

Because of the poor weather and consequent lack of visibility, there was no air support available for any of the drives.

In Italy, the Eighth Army had crossed the Montone River, more than two miles northwest of captured Forli along the highway to Bologna, moving toward Faenza.

The Russians had taken Jaszbereny, 35 miles east of Budapest, as well as towns to the north and south of Jaszbereny. Other Russian forces moved north and northwest from Monor to capture Uri and Peteri, gaining three to five miles to the south of Budapest. Also captured were Soli and Duna Egyhaza, to the south 45 and 42 miles, respectively, eliminating in the process a German bridgehead on the east bank of the Danube.

There was no news from the northern front in Poland and East Prussia, both areas in stalemate.

On Leyte, the Americans were still approaching Ormoc from three directions. The 24th Infantry Division swung wide to the west of the Japanese front line at Limon, while other units maintained pressure from the north. First Cavalry units captured Hill 1525 and Mt. Catabaran to the east of Ormoc. Long-range artillery guns were causing difficulty in the Japanese attempt to re-supply their line at Limon. To the west of Ormoc, the 96th Infantry Division took a crest in the vicinity of Alto Peak. The Seventh Division at Damulaan on the west coast, near the mouth of Ormoc Bay, repulsed a small enemy landing force.

Associated Press correspondent Spencer Davis provides an account from Leyte of PT-boat crews forced ashore on Leyte after a fight with enemy destroyers escorting the delivery of the 30,000 to 40,000 Japanese reinforcements to Ormoc. For several days, Filipinos sheltered the American crews in nipa huts within a Japanese-held section of the island. The Filipino guerillas, despite the Japanese presence, appeared in control of the area. The guerillas included Filipino girls who dubbed themselves Wacs after the American fashion. Trade between the soldiers and Filipinos was active. The crews eventually made their way back to the American lines.

A carrier plane raid on Manila Bay Sunday had sunk fourteen ships, including three warships, destroyed a floating dock, and at least 28 planes. One American ship of the carrier task force was damaged. Cavite, Legaspi, and Clark Field were attacked during the raids.

Land-based American planes had struck Japanese positions on the Salween River in Burma. The dispatch indicated that it was likely that the Ledo-Burma Road from India to China would be re-opened within a few weeks. The road had been closed since early 1942 when the Japanese occupied Burma.

The Chinese High Command acknowledged a Japanese push into Kweichon Province.

A map on the inside page provides a summary of the recent Japanese action in China and provides a report on the Japanese taking of Kweilin, capital of Kwangsi Province, and site of a former American airbase.

Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico, author of the Hatch Act, limiting campaign financing, stated that the three million dollar limit on national political committee spending had proved ineffective and should be raised while retaining the $5,000 cap on individual contributions, removing loopholes from the latter limit. The reason for the change was to obviate the need for creation of independent committees for the purpose of circumventing the law, as had become routine.

After prodding from the War Production Board, a strike was called off at five New Jersey plants of the Wright Aeronautical Corporation, plants producing the engines for the B-29 Super-fortress. The strikes involved 2,900 union members and had left 32,000 workers idle.

A Swiss newspaper reported that Heinrich Himmler had been appointed commander in chief of the defensive forces of Germany for the duration of Hitler's illness. It was unclear, however, how that position differed from his previous appointment as chief of the People's Home Guard, the Volkssturm.

A decree issued by Hitler was read over German radio urging Nazi field commanders to educate their men "in the Nazi sense" against retreat or surrender. Presumably, the "education" entailed death unless the soldiers were willing to commit suicide by continuing to fight.

On the editorial page, "Great Event" tells of the unofficial Charlotte planning commission recommending that an official version be formed. The commission also recommended extension of the city limits to afford planning for areas surrounding the city. The piece commends it as a wise plan.

"The Veterans" celebrates the resigning three public members of the War Labor Board, including University of North Carolina president Frank Porter Graham, William H. Davis, and George Taylor, says that their contributions to the war effort had been as significant as the victories achieved in battle. For it was through their efforts that coordination of industry had taken place during the war, averting strikes by settling disputes between labor and management, hearing half a million cases in the process.

They had worked out the maintenance-of-membership agreement for the unions, that is that once the employee joined the union he would be required to remain a member through the duration of the contract. They also had maintained the Little Steel formula which had kept prices and wages in line, preventing wartime inflation.

"An Example" tells of the park system in Charlotte being woefully inadequate to the needs of the population, that half the city's residents did not have ready access to parks or recreation facilities. The News had so editorialized on a day when it so happened that Governor Broughton was in town speaking of recreation as a fundamental human need and making plans for creation of a permanent Recreation Commission.

The problem lay in the outmoded two-cent tax rate, the sole source of funding for the parks.

"Epilogue" states that the reason the Nazis had resorted to the crude, indiscriminate robot bombs, the V-1, and the rocket bombs or "flying telephone poles", the V-2, was the complete defeat of the Luftwaffe during the previous two years of the war. The new Nazi weapons, while frightful, were not nearly so effective or efficient as a group of heavy bombers dropping bombs on strategic targets. The editorial aptly compares the V-1 and V-2 to blunderbusses in the hands of desperate men. It suggests that, without greater aim being accomplished, these new weapons of war would have little impact on the outcome.

The piece accurately forecasts, however, that the rocket bombs provided a glimpse into the war of the future. In so doing, the Nazis were "cooking not only the goose of the present criminal generation but its descendents."

Samuel Grafton, still in Akron, tells of the smells of rubber, varying between bad dried fish and bad baked potatoes, inside a Firestone plant he had visited. One did not, he says, get a sense of an assembly line operation but rather individual effort required to make each tire. One man built each tire from strips of rubber.

The United Rubber Workers had 60,000 members in Akron, out of a population of 350,000. The local election in the Goodrich plant was front page news. The union had its own building and was integrated into Akron life.

But during the thirties, there had been labor strife, bullets even flying on Market Street during one strike. By integrating the union into the fabric of the community, class lines had disappeared.

Such was what Mr. Grafton said that he had learned from Akron, that along with the fact that rubber could smell as "peaches frying in fish oil".

Marquis Childs suggests that it would be wise for the President to change some of the personnel in his Administration early, to insure accomplishment of the objectives of his fourth term, especially the primary one of establishing a lasting international peace.

Suggests Mr. Childs, Leo Crowley, head of the Foreign Economic Administration, had been particularly ineffective in the role and would better serve the Government as the American representative at the Vatican. He relates that the State Department had enunciated a policy intention to work more closely in the future with the Vatican.

Mr. Childs also suggests that the State Department was due for revitalization, that the health issues of Secretary Hull had caused decision-making to bog down, as Undersecretary Edward Stettinius was hesitant to act in his capacity as Acting Secretary during Mr. Hull's frequent absences.

Mr. Hull in fact would resign at the end of the month and Mr. Stettinius would succeed him.

Drew Pearson examines the same issue. He adds to the list Jesse Jones, Secretary of Commerce, as a probable departure. He speculates that the replacement might be Fed chairman Marriner Eccles, former OPA head Leon Henderson, present OPA head Chester Bowles, or Beardsley Ruml, author of the Ruml tax plan to defer taxes during the war. None of his guesses would prove correct. Mr. Jones would be replaced by outgoing Vice-President Henry Wallace.

He also marks Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor since 1933, for replacement. She would be replaced by former Wisconsin Senator Lewis Schwellenbach, not by either of Mr. Pearson's guesses, Ambassador to Great Britain John Winant or Teamsters Union leader Dan Tobin.

Frank Walker, Postmaster General, was wishing to retire. Mr. Walker, former Democratic national chairman, had stirred up a controversy a year earlier over his seeking to ban Esquire Magazine from the mails for its supposedly lewd and obscene content. Mr. Pearson correctly predicts that Democratic national chairman Robert Hannegan would get the nod for the job.

He next predicts the replacement of Claude Wickard as Secretary of Agriculture by Henry Wallace, who formerly held the position before becoming Vice-President in 1941. The position would go to Clinton Anderson, Congressman from New Mexico.

Mr. Pearson likewise misses the call on Secretary of State Hull's replacement, predicting either John Winant or War Mobilizer James Byrnes—who would get the appointment the following July, two and half months after President Truman took office.

He correctly predicts retention of Harold Ickes as Secretary of Interior, one of Roosevelt's original Cabinet appointees, and the one who would wind up staying the longest, until the beginning of 1946.

Francis Biddle, as Mr. Pearson indicates, would remain as Attorney General, having been in the position since 1941. He would be asked by President Truman to resign after President Roosevelt's death and would, within a few months thereafter, be appointed as a judge of the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal.

So, in terms of the Cabinet positions to be changed, he predicts correctly in all respects, but misses all save one of the replacements to be named by the President.

Mr. Pearson next turns to the plan of Henry Kaiser to use some of the merchant ships he had built during the war to form a competitive shipping enterprise with the West Coast shipping lines. He would emphasize cheap rates and mass orders to ship to the Orient.

He next tells of what had occurred when former Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy had recently visited the White House during a campaign in which he had planned, via radio, publicly to criticize the President on his handling of foreign policy. The former Ambassador held considerable influence over the Irish vote, especially critical in Boston and Brooklyn, where the President's strength was considered shaky.

Robert Hannegan had arranged the visit at the White House. The President did not speak of politics or solicit support in the campaign from Ambassador Kennedy. Rather, he spoke to him of Joe, Jr., who had been killed August 12, shortly after takeoff from England on the special mission to be flown over France, piloting a semi-drone B-24. (Mr. Pearson does not mention the then presumably unknown fact that the President's own son, Elliott, was in a trailing Mosquito photographing the mission and could have easily been killed himself in the explosion of Kennedy's B-24.)

FDR also had discussed with the Ambassador old times which the two had enjoyed together, and of Henry Kaiser's plans to use U. S. merchant ships after the war, asking Mr. Kennedy to study that plan. When Mr. Kennedy departed the White House, he did not discuss the conference, but canceled his allotted radio time. He informed Mr. Hannegan the previous week that he had not voted for Thomas Dewey.

Hal Boyle, writing still from Germany on November 4, tells of the bitterness between soldiers and noncoms and officers and the ways they handled it. A sergeant who was a jeep courier managed always to avoid driving toward the front lines by either not being available or feigning illness. One night, he had volunteered for a trip which no one else wanted because of the lateness of the hour. He was happy to oblige because the route was far beyond enemy artillery range.

Some of the officers liked him, some didn't. He was always obedient though and respectful to his superiors. And so they arranged to promote him to sergeant. The men who had sort of liked his folksy style, his ability to play cowboy songs on the guitar, while he had been a private, now suddenly found him intolerable as a sergeant, able to give them orders. His orders were received in complete silence. He was ostracized, considered persona non grata in the outfit.

Most of the men in the unit were transferred a hundred miles away and the sergeant decided to obtain a week's pass to visit them. But when he reached them, they still gave him the cold shoulder, refused to speak to him.

Then the sergeant went AWOL, was four days late returning from his leave, had been on a drinking binge. They took away his stripes, busted him back down to private.

Now, he sometimes forgot to salute officers when they passed. He still played his guitar, but only when the new men gathered about to listen. They now referred to him as "The Man Who Was."

A man writes a letter to the editor urging the populace to do something about two of the five amendments to the State Constitution which had been approved by voters the previous week. The two amendments, he thought, would allow corruption and the possibility that a husband could mortgage the family homestead without the consent of his wife. He hopes the voters would act before it was too late to avert the coming disaster.

The editors seek to allay the author's fears by pointing out that one of the amendments in question only permitted notaries public to hold other offices for the convenience of people needing notarizations of documents and that the other had eliminated the requirement that a wife be examined in the deeding of the family homestead, but had not altered the requirement of her signature on the deed. Western civilization would continue, after all.

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