Monday, November 20, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, November 20, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that French First Army infantry and armored divisions, having advanced 35 miles during the previous week, had broken through the Burgundy Gap at Belfort to reach the Rhine the previous day at the Swiss border along the southern part of the Allied front. German defenses two miles west of Belfort, at Essert and Fort Le Sultert, and at Fort De Mont Vaudois, four miles southwest of Belfort, had been overrun.

American Seventh Army and French forces took four of the six primary passes through the Vosges Mountains leading to the Rhine. The four were Gerardmer, Raon-L'Etape, Badonviller, and Blamont, leaving only scorched St. Die, into which the Americans were said to have penetrated, and Fraize. These forces were now 37 miles from Strasbourg, 11 miles from Sarrebourg, 21 miles from Colmar, and 10 miles from Mulhouse, the French part of the forces apparently having broken into the latter area. A report from the front informed of the capture of Dannemarie, twelve miles to the east of Belfort and ten miles from Mulhouse.

The Third Army had completed the encirclement of Metz, closing an eleven-mile gap existing the previous week, and were fighting within the fortress city, having overrun about a third of its area. It was the first time that an enemy force had entered Metz since the Huns had done so during the fifth century. The Fifth Infantry Division, suffering only light casualties, bypassed Fort Queulen to take the southeastern quarter of the city, the Tenth Regiment moving 1.25 miles to reach the east bank of the Seille River, finding there its bridges blown. The 98th Division crossed the Moselle to enter the northern end of Metz, joining elements of the Fifth Infantry to close the escape route to the east. American tanks then moved near Fort Bennecroix to the central part of Metz.

An enemy garrison of 2,000 to 3,000 troops, bolstered by Gestapo, many of the troops not in uniform, defended the city.

The First and Ninth Armies to the north in the area of Aachen continued to make progress, having advanced five miles since the offensive began on Thursday. There were signs that the Germans were retreating toward Cologne and the Ruhr Valley northeast of Aachen.

A raid of 850 American planes, only 100 of which were heavy bombers, struck Gelsenkirchen and Munster in the Ruhr Valley. The unusual predominance of fighters was indicative of expected heavy Luftwaffe opposition.

The Fifteenth Air Force out of Italy hit oil refineries at Blechhammer in Upper Silesia and eight other synthetic oil facilities in Germany.

In Italy, the German troops re-took Monte Fortino, five miles southeast of Faenza, after a hard fight with Polish troops of the Eighth Army. The Poles had resisted two counter-attacks on Converselle.

Russian and American-made tanks were being utilized by the Red Army in a move on Lucenee along the Slovak-Hungarian border, moving from just captured Gyongyos, 40 miles northeast of Budapest. Galgaheviz, a village 19 miles northeast of Budapest, was also captured. The Second Ukrainian Army moved to within two miles of Miskolc.

On Sunday, 300 American carrier-based planes struck Luzon in the Philippines, including Manila, Clark Field, Lipa, Batangas, and Aparri.

Another American force again bombed Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, intermittently a target since July 3-4, preparatory to the coming invasion three months away.

On Leyte, amid torrential rainstorms, Japanese counter-attacks utilizing tanks were thrown back by American troops, inflicting heavy losses in the area of the Ormoc Road south of Limon. Other counter-attacks were repulsed west of the road and on the eastern edge of the island.

It was announced that since the operation on Leyte had begun one month earlier, 45,000 Japanese troops had been killed or wounded, against 5,691 American troops, including 1,143 killed and 126 missing. The Japanese figures did not include losses aboard their ships in the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea a month earlier or naval losses off Ormoc on November 10.

Americans raided the Asra Islands off New Guinea and completed occupation of the nearby Mapia Islands, invaded the previous week.

In China, the Chiang Kai-shek Government announced a Cabinet shake-up involving eight officers, principally the Minister of War and Minister of Finance. The former War Minister, General Ho Ying-Chen, had come under criticism for his not integrating American strategy, training methods, and equipment into his Chinese fighting forces. He also had used some of his best troops to fight the Communist guerillas in the North of China, who were themselves engaged in effectively fighting the Japanese.

It was thought therefore that the naming of General Chen Cheng to succeed Ho would bring about new policies with respect to each problematic area. General Chen had organized the forces in southwest China fighting in the area of the Salween River.

The Chinese High Command announced that the Japanese had made advances in Kwangsi Province, completing a link between Hong Kong and Manchuria, with the taking of Kweilin.

The Chinese, however, captured a key point along the Burma Road in the Salween River area.

The Sixth War Loan Drive began, seeking 14 billion dollars, enough to pay for about two months of the war. The President stated that it would cost 7.5 billion just for the month of November. Treasury officials estimated that individuals would purchase about five billion dollars worth of the bonds.

In Paris, cigarettes were going for $4 per pack on the black market, while soldiers and officers in the city could not obtain a single fag on which to drag.

Bet you didn't know that.

On the editorial page, "New Ally?" comments on the fact that, since November 6, Stalinist Russia had become more bellicose in its statements against Japan. The previous week, Col. Ivan Tolchenov had provided a public address in Moscow in which he had stated that the plight of the Japanese was growing steadily worse, suggested by implication that the Japanese were inimical to Russia, reminding that they had previously committed unlawful acts of aggression against the country, including the Mongolian border incursion in 1939, and that the Russians might therefore soon assist in the final stab against the Empire.

Japan had reacted to the address with offense, but stated it would not respond officially.

The Soviet mutual non-aggression pact with Japan thus far had stayed the hand of Russia, either from considering direct action or lending its bases to the United States for launching of air attacks on the Japanese home islands. Heretofore, part of the motivation for respect of the agreement was the strength of Japan militarily and the threat to the Soviets therefore of a two-front war. But now that the Germans were out of Russia in the East and that the Eastern front was steadily being pushed back toward Germany, the door was softly opening for the possibility of Russian aid to the Allies in the war against Japan.

In fact, however, Russia would not declare war on Japan until the waning days of the war.

"Maverick" discusses the continued problem of Argentina's flirtation with the Axis, and the United States response to the problem, the State Department having instituted some trade sanctions, while still accepting the import of Argentine beef.

It had been announced on Friday that the U.S. would not attend the Pan-American Conference because of the intention of Argentina to plead its case to neighboring countries. Thus, the appearance was that there was unity in the West among all nations with the exception of the troublesome outcast, Argentina.

"Cashing In" tells of George Meany, then secretary-treasurer of AFL, future AFL head and, eventually, after they combined in 1955, AFL-CIO head until 1979, stating in a speech his preference for the Government to give free reign again to Labor and end regulation—a plaint usually heard instead from management.

The piece speculates that what he meant was that since Labor had attained so much progress under the New Deal, it should now be content before further regulation began to intrude on union activities.

But, it says, there was a good deal of sense in the position for the fact of Labor's interdependence on favorable treatment by politicians in government and thus having to obtain favor from each new Administration into the future to shore up its gains and maintain them. It appeared that Mr. Meany wisely wanted to quit while he was ahead.

The editorial also mentions the intense competition within Labor between the two primary organizations, AFL and CIO. It would be to a great degree through Mr. Meany's efforts that they would finally conjoin in 1955.

"Forward!" tells of a report by Drew Pearson, though not one on the editorial page, that the President had stated at the first Cabinet meetings after the election that two pieces of legislation would receive paramount attention come January when the new Congress would convene. First, the minimum wage would be raised from 40 to 60 cents per hour, a change which would have a dramatic impact on industry, especially in the South where wages were lower than the rest of the country. The piece thinks that it likely would pass.

The other proposed bill would revise the Social Security Act to eliminate some of its inequities and inadequacies, extending payments to persons presently not covered, such as farmers and domestic workers.

Drew Pearson imparts the sketchy story available thus far on the condition and whereabouts of Hitler, having been rumored for weeks to be seriously ill or even dead. The reliable reports had it that about two months earlier he had gone to Vienna for throat surgery. Prior to this time, he appeared to become increasingly unhinged emotionally, more than usually domineering and shouting down all voices of opposition.

That had led to the surmise that Hitler had been placed in a sanitarium by Himmler and the other Nazi Party leaders. The absence of erratic German military maneuvers had suggested that Hitler had not been in charge of military operations for some time.

It was believed that he had not been seriously harmed in the July 20 explosion, that only a piece of shrapnel had entered his hand—perhaps accounting for the palsy in his left hand evidenced in the last films of Hitler in the waning days of the Reich.

Mr. Pearson offers that, while Hitler's absence would not hinder military operations, it could have a serious detriment to morale of the ordinary German soldier, who had fought more for Hitler than for Germany.

He next turns to the subject which had arisen during the campaign, the extent to which FDR exerted influence over the war as Commander-in-Chief. Tending to rebut the notion that the military largely ran the war, a letter from the President, dated October 31, had just leaked out from the Administration, addressed to Secretary of War Stimson, in which the President had overruled the military in respect of food distribution to Southern Italy. Food shortages had been reported and food stockpiles were being set aside for Northern Italy when it would eventually fall to the Allies.

The President, being quite perspicacious, had stated in his letter that Northern Italy might not fall until Germany, itself, had fallen, at which point it would be much easier to supply Northern Italy. Thus, the stockpiles should be used to some extent to ease the burden on the civilian population of Southern Italy. He thus ordered an increase in the rations.

Mr. Pearson looks ahead to the Republican prospects in 1948, finds that plans were already being made to revitalize party hierarchy by hiring a top-rung staff. Herbert Brownell, National Republican chairman, wanted to resign the post. It appeared likely that there would be a move within the party from backing Thomas Dewey to support of Harold Stassen, former Governor of Minnesota.

Among his "Merry-Go-Round" topics were the facts that Britons were forming fan clubs for Bing Crosby, Glenn Miller--whose plane would go missing over the English Channel just 25 days later--, and Dinah Shore, that Daniel Boone was now popular in England, and that returning veterans had picked up some new slang: "Now he's scrubbed," meaning "He's all washed up."

Whether Crosby was scrubbed or not, he doesn't impart.

He concludes with the irony that Republican Senator Robert Taft of Ohio had been largely responsible for the low soldier vote for Governor Dewey in the election. Senator Taft had sponsored the bill which prohibited distribution to soldiers of publicity in support of either candidate. Most had never heard of Governor Dewey. But all knew FDR.

Marquis Childs gives praise to Charles Wilson, president of General Electric, for his announcement that the company would sell its products during reconversion at pre-war prices, criticizing the prediction that post-war products would need be marked up 10 to 35% over pre-war prices.

He had also indicated that turning back hours to a 40-hour work week should not cause a large drop in take-home pay of workers. To accomplish that, industry would need high levels of production.

Such post-war reconversion talk, however, had been squelched by the Army and Navy as tending to produce laxity among war workers. Mr. Childs believes that it was time to begin such discussion, however, to enable planning ahead for the post-war economy, not likely to cause any Americans to leave their war industry jobs.

Samuel Grafton, in St. Paul, Minnesota, discusses Senator Joseph Ball, Republican, who had come out for President Roosevelt in the latter weeks of the campaign, based on foreign policy considerations. Senator Ball had been one of the co-sponsors of the March, 1943 Ball-Burton-Hatch-Hill proposal for a post-war international organization with a police force to maintain the peace.

Some Minnesotans praised the Senator for the support of the President; others despised him for it, labeled him a party traitor.

The Republicans had claimed that Senator Ball's bolt had no great effect on the election in Minnesota—which went for Roosevelt by 5.5 percentage points. The Democrats claimed that the move had actuated Democrats and Republicans in the state in what had otherwise been an apathetic electorate.

A good example was the Congressional race in St. Paul in which Congressman Melvin J. Maas, who had held the seat for 16 years, was defeated by Frank T. Starkey, a Teamster-backed candidate. Mr. Maas had beaten himself, seeking to continue isolationist rhetoric with respect to the European war. He had charged that President Roosevelt knew of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor six hours before the first Zeros broke the airspace over Oahu and had done nothing. Both Republicans and Democrats were appalled by this claim and became hotly energized in turning out Mr. Maas from office.

Hal Boyle reports from an American air base in Belgium on November 9 that a buzz bomb had given three airmen the fright of their lives. Flying at night on a routine patrol mission, they suddenly spotted the buzz bomb headed for their plane. Despite exhortations by the crew to the pilot to begin firing, he waited until they were within 400 feet of the missile before pulling the trigger; and then hit it squarely, causing it to explode.

They flew right through the center of the explosion, blinding the crew for awhile. For a bit, they could not rouse the pilot on the intercom, thought that he might be dead, shot through with some of the rocket-bomb debris. But he had just been temporarily blinded by the explosion and could not see the instruments.

The plane went into a deep dive in the process, but the pilot finally managed to see the horizon just in time to pull out.

When they landed, they saw that the explosion had coated the aircraft in soot and burned off their left rudder and left aileron, plus half the left elevator.

The radar operator was so mad at the pilot for waiting so long to start shooting at the missile that he refused to speak to him for a week, said, "The next time you decide you want to run over a buzz bomb, just let me know. I'll get out and walk home."

In a letter to the editor, the paratroopers of Company C, 129th A B Engr. Battalion, at Camp Mackall, N.C., wanted it rightly known that the two individuals, identified in the previous Tuesday's News as "paratroops" of their battalion, who had been accused of an armed robbery with a tommy-gun, were not in fact paratroops at all, but rather "Glider Riders", even if, unfortunately, from their battalion. They wanted no guilt by association attributed to them.

In another letter, Harry Golden, registering in this case his two-bits plain, tells of having bet the Gallup Poll a quarter that Governor Thomas Dewey would not poll a hundred electoral votes. Mr. Golden won the bet. Mr. Dewey grabbed but 99 to the President's 432. And Gallup, he reports, duly paid the bet, with a note attached offering to repeat the ante for the 1948 election so that Gallup might recoup its losses. Should they have wagered precisely the same on the same candidate, Gallup would have won, by 90 electoral votes on the latter occasion.

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