Friday, November 3, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, November 3, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the U. S. First Army moved forward two miles from captured Vossenack, capturing the village of Schmidt overlooking the Roer River, ten miles south of Duren. The German High Command reported that the Army was probing German defenses along a thirty-mile front from Waldenrath above Aachen to Hurtgen, which appeared to the Germans as precursor to a major new offensive drive.

On Walcheren Island, the last major pocket of Germans at Vlissengen fell to the British and Canadian troops, as did North Beveland Island and Tholen Island. British and American troops restored three major bridgeheads across the Mark River Canal, five to six miles south of the Moerdijk bridge. Zeebrugge, Sluis, Heyst, and Knocke also were captured. The actions virtually cleared all German resistance which had prevented use of Antwerp by the Allies and cleared all of Belgian territory.

In Holland, the British moved into the outskirts of Meijel, twelve miles west of Venlo, finding the enemy had removed to the Meuse.

To the south in northeastern France, American and French troops moved deeper into the slopes of the Vosges Mountains, capturing Baccarat and seven other towns, moving to within three to eight miles from towns inside the passes to the Rhine frontier.

The heavy dogfights of the previous day with the Luftwaffe over Germany produced a 1944 record loss of 208 German planes as American losses in the attack on synthetic oil facilities at Merseburg were 40 heavy bombers and nineteen fighter planes, fewer than originally reported. Some of the Luftwaffe planes were shot down in the vicinity of Berlin, a hundred miles distant. The entire German force had numbered some 500 planes, countering an armada of 2,000 American planes, including 900 fighters. The largest single day's bag of the war had been 308 German planes shot down or destroyed on the ground in raids of August 18, 1943.

The previous night, the RAF sent a thousand bombers in a concerted raid on Dusseldorf in the Ruhr, dropping 4,480 tons of bombs.

The winter's first heavy snow fell on the Eastern Front as Russian forces moved from captured Keeskemet to within 14 miles of Budapest, reaching the area of Bugyi, causing panic within the capital. In five days, the Red Army had advanced 50 miles over the Hungarian plain, a breadbasket for the Germans. The Germans were reported to have lost half their trucks and a large proportion of their tanks in the fighting.

American B-29's, carrying record bomb loads, hit Rangoon in Burma from bases in India. There were no losses in the mission of undesignated strength. For the first time, B-29's flew in combination with smaller heavy bombers, B-17's or B-24's.

Tokyo radio warned residents that the appearance of B-29's over the city on Wednesday, apparently dropping no bombs and engaging only in reconnaissance, was foretelling of raids to come over the city. They were correct.

General MacArthur narrowly missed being killed by a strafing Japanese plane over Leyte, a 50-caliber bullet having hit within a foot of his head. As the General's aide dashed into the room, the General nodded toward the hole and said, "Well, not yet." It was one of several close encounters with death for the General during the war.

Meanwhile, his forces took Carigara and continued battling for the last major Japanese stronghold on Leyte, the supply depot at Ormoc, prepared by an air battle taking place over Ormoc lasting eight hours.

After twelve days of bloody fighting, the 24th Division moved out of the Leyte Valley to join the First Cavalry Division after the taking of Carigara. The Japanese were in such a hurry to reach Pinamopoan and move south to Ormoc that they abandoned Capoocan west of Carigara.

Air support also attacked Cebu and Negros Island, west of Leyte and Samar.

The International Civil Air Conference being held in Chicago revealed that the conferees had adopted an American plan which provided for Russia, not attending the conference, to have two spots on a fifteen-member executive air council to determine post-war air routes.

The Gallup, Newsweek, and Crossley polls each predicted a close finish to the 1944 presidential race to be held on the upcoming Tuesday. FDR had a firm lead in 20 states with 198 electoral votes while Governor Dewey was leading in thirteen states with 143 votes. There was disagreement, however, among the three polls on the leader in the other 15 states, possessed of the decisive 266 electoral votes.

Private Cyril Rooney was seeking a "Bobby" whom he had promised to marry before being shipped out from Salt Lake City before they could tie the knot. He had written the Salt Lake City newspaper for help. After inquiry, the newspaper located her in Pomona, California. Miss Sorenson denied the two had ever been engaged but stated that they were good friends. She thought Private Rooney was a nice boy and hoped he would get in touch with her but could not imagine him forgetting her name.


On the editorial page, "No Miracles" tells of the distress of the Community Chest drive, still $100,000 away from its goal, and the need for the citizenry therefore to dig deep into their pockets for contributions.

"Patron" concerns itself with John Foster Dulles, of whom not much had been written, it says, during recent weeks until Drew Pearson had on Wednesday again shone the spotlight on the prospective secretary of state to Thomas Dewey. Mr. Pearson had set forth facts and figures on contributions by Mr. Dulles and his wife to the isolationist America First Committee in 1939 and even so late as November, 1941, and, more problematic, underscored his denial during the course of the late campaign of ever having supported or associated with America First.

That association called into question the foreign policy judgment of Thomas Dewey.

The piece therefore examines the history of America First, initially not so disreputable an organization as it became by early 1941 with the passage of Lend-Lease. It had been founded by the Quaker Oats family and championed by General Robert Wood, head of Sears, who espoused the belief that making Hitler wealthy would tame the rebel in him and that America should not interfere in the ancient, insoluble internal squabbles of Asia and Europe.

After March, 1941, the organization began its vitriolic rallies around the country featuring the likes of Father Coughlin, attracting Bundists and Fascists to its mass meetings, sometimes held in Madison Square Garden, utilizing such drawing cards as Charles Lindbergh, as well as Senators Burton, Wheeler, and Nye. Anti-Semitism crept into the rhetoric as did invective against Roosevelt. In October, 1941, Lindbergh had made an impassioned anti-Semitic speech while America Firsters warned of totalitarianism in America.

In November, 1941, General Wood asked the President for an immediate declaration of war on Germany for the sinking of American ships, from the Robin Moor in the spring through the Reuben James on October 31.

On December 7, Senator Nye, when informed of the attack on Pearl Harbor, had gone right on speaking his isolationist, anti-Rooseveltian rhetoric, contending that the British and Roosevelt had finally roped America into the war.

Thus, the contributions by the Dulleses as late as November, 1941 to such an organization were problematic to the say the least.

We might note that parts of an older generation in the late 1960's and early 1970's, accustomed to the conventions of war which had taken place during and prior to World War II, likely looked upon the anti-war rallies of the later era with prepossessed disdain driven by their prior experience with America First and like organizations, viewing therefore such rallies and protests as stimulated by Communists, then the common enemy, just as America First was seen as driven by Fascists and American Nazis. Add to the complex a prominent Briton, John Lennon, and the old mix of isolationist suspicions, of Communists and Perfidious Albion, which ironically had driven America First, was complete, so intolerable by then as to mandate the British subject's deportation for insubordination to the King.

But it was a different war and a different time, and old solutions were no longer viable in a world gone mad with a nuclear arms race, trying at length to commit collective suicide. Viewed from the perspective of a younger generation which had grown out of but not coming of age during World War II, there was nothing at work but true patriotism, certainly no dalliance with Communism, viewed as much as an enemy to freedom as Fascism, that which appeared to characterize the Nixon Administration, bent on curtailing freedom despotically to achieve and maintain power for the sake of power. It seemed so then; it still seems so now in retrospect.

"Due Process" discusses the temporary intervention pending final decision by the Fifth Circuit District Court to prevent the discharge of 23 black trainmen who were about to be dismissed by Western railways because they were not, in a closed shop environment mandating union membership, members of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen. The problem lay in the fact that the union prevented their membership on the basis of race and so the legal question constitutionally was whether the employees were thus being denied Due Process in the dismissal.

The editorial supports Federal intervention in union activities in this regard, as the union received the support of the Government via the NLRB, subjecting its rules and regulations to scrutiny when they contravened the Constitution, serving to deny without Due Process property rights to employees.

"Allies" comments on the appearance of unanimity, in contrast to the past conflict, on the Charlotte City Council, based on its unanimous recommendations of late to hire an engineer to draw up plans to upgrade the sewage system and to extend water lines to a packing plant which was to be constructed some distance from the city.

The editorial congratulates Mayor Baxter for effecting the better unity than had existed in the past when the two factions of the Council, the so-called Iron Dukes and Blocks of Granite, fought each other at every turn.

Drew Pearson once again writes an open letter to his sister, which he had done on a couple of previous occasions during the prior year. He tells of being out on the farm gathering in the lespedez, a good type of hay which the Japanese introduced into the country. He had tried to arrange to have some German prisoners from a nearby camp do his harvesting, but it had rained each time they were supposed to come. It had rained most of the summer. And he could not blame that on the President.

Finally, the prisoners came and the first group worked hard, the second, indoctrinated with New Deal ideals, wouldn't work.

It was tough being a farmer during the Roosevelt Administration. But, be that as it may, it was tougher yet, he contends, being a journalist at election time.

Mr. Pearson then recounts some of his many criticisms of the Roosevelt years, from the failure to take a stand in the Spanish Civil War to the continued shipping of scrap iron to Japan, the Administration's sloth in recognizing General De Gaulle, the President's succumbing to pressure from Prime Minister Churchill on sovereignty for India, the "quarrelsome old men" of the Cabinet, the rubber and tire shortage caused by a failure to undertake soon enough the production of synthetic rubber, the delay by former Secretary of War Harry Woodring in ordering planes, the questionable firing of Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles in August, 1943, and the bungling of relations with Russia.

But, despite all of the criticism, the fact remained that Roosevelt had been under the microscope of the press for 12 years. Mr. Dewey was not willing to have the microscope placed upon him. He had shielded from scrutiny his being granted a farm draft deferment between his term as New York District Attorney and becoming Governor, claiming confidentiality on the part of the draft board. Inquiry into how Governor Bricker, the vice-presidential running mate, had become an ordained minister right out of Ohio State without first attending a seminary, received no explanation.

Mr. Pearson concludes his letter to his sister by reiterating that farming, for all its difficulties, was probably easier than writing a column.

Samuel Grafton seeks to dispose of the argument circulating that a reason to vote for Dewey for President was that it was likely that the new Congress would have a number of isolationists, most of whom would be Republican, and that Governor Dewey thus could better effect peace plans with them than could the President. The argument, says Mr. Grafton, was to reward the isolationists for their lack of foresight by giving them the right to plan the peace.

Governor Dewey was working for the election of several isolationists within his Party, Senator Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin, Richard Lyons, Senate candidate from Illinois, and Thomas Curran, Senate candidate from New York, whose views on foreign policy were a question mark, poised against the seasoned internationalist, Democrat incumbent Robert Wagner.

Mr. Dewey, concludes Mr. Grafton, was working hard to elect a Congress which would require tender handling by a Republican President to effectuate the sort of world peace necessary in the post-war environment, thus providing both the ailment and the cure in one fell swoop by electing both isolationist Republicans to the Congress and Thomas Dewey to bring them into line.

Marquis Childs also observes the presidential campaign, entering its final weekend. He finds that both candidates had presented convincing arguments that no one foresaw the war properly. Mr. Childs posits that to be close to the fact, as the country stood divided in its positions on the war from 1937 when, in Chicago, President Roosevelt called for a quarantine of all the aggressor nations. But most of the people turned a deaf ear, even through the "phony war" period of fall, 1939 and winter, 1940.

He concludes that most Americans were not in the mood to hear a recapitulation of the mistakes of the past, given that they had united to bring a cohesive effort to fight the war since Pearl Harbor.

The President had spoken recently of a post-war rosy picture with sixty million jobs and three times the foreign trade prior to 1940. But these lofty goals were stated only in the most general terms.

The Chicago air conference was getting down to tasks and finding there to be considerable disagreement at its start between the interests of Britain and America, the Britons favoring utilization of their own airlines to get about the world, fearful of American domination out of the war.

In the abstract, that was a more salient issue for the campaign than the generalities being discussed, but one which was probably too complicated to address in the context of a political campaign. Then again, that was to admit that major issues could not be discussed in campaigns because American democracy was too flawed to admit of them, that only vague generalities and carping could be the time-honored meat to be consumed by the electorate.

Hal Boyle, still with the Ninth Evacuation Hospital in France, reports on October 26 of a French Goum of Morocco who had come into the hospital tent complaining of stomach pains after a three day and night walk across the mountains so that he might lie in a warm bed and eat good food.

The hospital, in addition to the wounded, was now treating numerous malaria cases among the soldiers from the Pontine Marshes in Italy, where the troops had been fighting during the winter months. The malaria had lain dormant until the soldiers reached the French front and, with lowered resistance from exposure and exhaustion, there became manifest.

Hospital personnel also noted more cases of gas gangrene than had been encountered in North Africa. The reason was that the soil of France contained more bacteria, the result of centuries of fertilization by manure, infecting wounds more readily than in the desert sands. The cure was penicillin.

A letter writer, a corporal at Camp Mackall, responds to "Old Story" of October 28, anent the problem of prostitution, and syphilis among the prostitutes, in Charlotte, indicating disagreement with the doctors' viewpoint stated in the piece, that the problem of rampant African-American venereal disease in the South was insoluble. The author states that the fault lay in the types of clinics, small, crowded, inhospitable, which were available for treatment to black patients.

Harry Golden, in a letter to the editor, eloquently sets forth the case for Franklin Roosevelt being remembered for the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, for its having met the needs of Great Britain and, eventually, Russia, in their battles against Germany, laying the groundwork for Allied victory before Americans had to begin dying in North Africa and in Europe. He compared it to Thomas Jefferson's stated desire to have carved on his tombstone two achievements, that of author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and father of the University of Virginia.

And, indeed, while eclipsed by the great battles which followed in the war, in both the European and Pacific theaters, the Lend-Lease Act, passed in March, 1941, against heavy initial opposition in Congress during the fall of 1940, undoubtedly saved thousands of American lives, indeed, may well have been singularly responsible for winning the war, and winning it without the war ever having touched American soil beyond Hawaii and isolated ship sinkings within American territorial waters.

A paratrooper from Camp Mackall writes as much in another letter, asking rhetorically of those who complained of FDR having sent American troops abroad to fight the war whether they would have preferred fighting it within the streets of American cities, not at all an unlikely hypothetical had Americans not been sent into combat.

A correspondent in another letter tells of his appreciation for much of the newspaper, except the editorial page and its support for the Roosevelt Administration. He was especially disenamored of Samuel Grafton.

A boy writes, complaining to The News because the comics were being printed within the first section of the newspaper, which his parents had first rights to read before he got to get at it. He wanted a return of the comics without fail to the second section. The editors apologized, stated that his rights under the Bill of Rights were being violated by his parents, and that the reason for the occasional displacement of the comics was the result of space limitations, not a dastardly plot to deprive the young of their Constitutional right to read the comics before sunset.

We never cared for them ourselves. We snatched the front page from our papa and began reading voraciously each morning.

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