Monday, December 11, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, December 11, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that on Leyte, Ormoc was captured on Sunday by the 77th Division, which had landed just south of the port on Thursday. The 7th Division had moved to within a mile of the town, trapping several thousand Japanese defenders. The Japanese troops were being destroyed, with little chance of escape or retaliation, by the forces moving against them from three directions.

Capture of the port cut off reinforcement and supply of the enemy forces in southern Leyte, running from Ormoc north to Carigara Bay on the west coast. The only port remaining for the enemy was a small one at Palompon, eighteen miles northwest of Ormoc.

While the capture of the port was significant to the campaign, correspondents stressed that much fighting for the area north and south of Ormoc still lay ahead. The Japanese appeared to be preparing for a stand before the 7th Division at this critical location on a pivotal island in the campaign for the Philippines.

On the Western Front, the First Army, facing a fresh snowfall, had driven to within 2.5 miles northwest of Duren, to Echtz, and three miles to the west, to Dhorn, advancing 1.5 miles, along the Aachen-to-Cologne autobahn, to Merken, seventeen miles inside Germany, the deepest penetration yet into the Reich.

By late in the day, the troops had advanced another quarter mile east of Echtz, taking Schlich, 2.5 miles west of Duren. The Germans were giving ground to the Roer River, where they had three prepared defensive lines within a mile and a half of the east bank.

Other First Army forces continued their threat to Pier and Schophoven, moving to within 500 yards of the latter town.

The previous day, the First Army had captured Geich, Obergeich, and Strass in the same area around Duren.

The Germans claimed that they had sixteen divisions of infantry and armor arrayed in defense of Duren to the ten divisions of the First Army.

To the south, the Seventh Army was reported in a late dispatch to have captured Haguenau, eighteen miles north of Strasbourg in Alsatian territory.

More than 500 heavy bombers and 2,000 escorts supported the Western Front on Sunday, knocking out railcars and locomotives in the Saar.

On this day, 1,600 American heavy bombers, supported by 800 fighters, dropped 6,000 tons of bombs on Western Germany, striking Frankfurt, Hanau, and Giessen, in what was described as the largest fleet of four-engine planes yet flown during the war, involving 17,000 pilots and crewmen. The RAF during the morning also flew raids against Osterfeld, Bruckhausen, and Meiderick.

Other raids were flown from Italy by the Fifteenth Air Force over Austria and southern Germany, for the third time in three days.

Correspondent E. V. W. Jones reports that London newspapers had it that the Germans were busy developing new weaponry for deployment in 1945, the V-3, the V-4, jet aircraft, a submarine which remained submerged longer than existing craft, already said to be in use, and an artillery gun with dimmed fire capability, making it harder to spot for direction of counter-measures.

No word came as to the nature of the V-3 or V-4. Albert Speer had warned in the previous two weeks of a new V-weapon which could strike New York and would soon be deployed. The V-2 rocket was harder to attack at its base than the V-1 because of the former's capability for mobility of its launching site.

While little was being said of the V-2 attacks on Britain in the news, they were occurring with some regularity and, while of no advantage militarily, unable as they were to be directed with accuracy onto specific targets, acted as terror weapons against the civilian populace.

The Russians had advanced toward Budapest, to within seven miles from the north, moving six miles south of captured Vacs, and to within five miles from the south, advancing from captured Eresi, taking the town of Erd. Mass panic had gripped the capital. The puppet government of Hungary had fled the seat of government the previous week for Sopron to the west. The Second Ukrainian Army was also ready to strike from a position three miles east of the capital, but artillery fire on Pest, that portion of the city east of the Danube, had not yet been initiated.

In Italy, German counter-attacks to the Allied bridgehead of the Eighth Army west of the Lamone River along the approaches to Faenza, especially at Celle, had been repulsed. The worst of the attacks was on the ridge running southwest of Allied-captured San Prospero to Pideura. The British held their positions encircling Faenza. Italians cleared the Germans from Port Corsini on the Adriatic.

In China, the Chinese troops had pushed the Japanese from Kweichow Province and their threat to Kweiyang, back into Kwangsi Province.

In Burma, British troops had moved to within 200 miles of Mandalay, advancing 100 miles since August.

The Japanese confirmed the death on July 7 in the area of Saipan of Vice-Admiral Chiuchi Nagumo, who had directed the attack on Pearl Harbor. His death had previously been announced by Admiral Nimitz. He was the 74th Japanese admiral to be killed in the war. The Japanese had lost eighteen generals thus far.

Selective Service put into effect the directive of War Mobilizer James Byrnes which provided for immediate reclassification to availability for service of those men who quit essential war industries and moved to civilian jobs. The primary effect was to make subject to immediate draft men between the ages of 26 and 37 who had previously, after changing employment, escaped the draft despite becoming eligible for it by the fact of available military manpower among those under 26.

A new advisory War Manpower Commission, headed by former North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner of Shelby, had met for the first time to advise Mr. Byrnes of the need for these changes.

On the editorial page, "Worst of Luck" wishes it to the people of Japan, remarks that on December 7, 1944, an earthquake had hit the home islands, causing a tidal wave, but apparently doing little damage. As that happened, a lone B-29, flying a reconnaissance mission dropped a load of incendiary bombs on Tokyo.

The citizens of the United States, continues the editorial, might have wished the result to have been not unlike that of September 1, 1923 when a major earthquake had struck Tokyo and Yokohama, causing a tidal wave, wreaking havoc, killing 99,331 people.

The satisfaction that Americans might take from this coincidence of date with the third anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor was that, even though apparently little damage occurred, there was no offer of aid this time from America, as had been the case immediately upon the communication of the news of the 1923 earthquake.

The understandable sentiment expressed by the piece would have less than eight months to fulfillment.

"Bond Fires" informs that those patriotic citizens who were burning their war bonds as visible cancellation of the debt owed in repayment by the Government should let the Government know of the act for the fact that war bonds were recorded on microfilm and each record owner's claim maintained as a debt against the Treasury. Thus, if there was no record of the forfeiture of recovery, the war bond, regardless of physical destruction of the instrument, remained of record as if extant. It might cost the Treasury more in bookkeeping expense over a period of decades than the payment of the bond interest itself.

The piece was not opposed to the patriotic practice, only to the absence of reporting the forfeiture.

"Epochal Question" finds the upcoming proposal to be made to the Charlotte City Council to form a City Planning Commission to be one of monumental importance to the city's future and recommends the proposal be adopted.

"Whispering" comments on the pay raise before the Congress for clerks, as Drew Pearson referenced on Saturday, the rise being from $6,500 per year to $9,500 plus a hike in the individual pay cap from $3,900 to $5,000. The problem was that the increase in the clerks' salaries would prove effectively a pay raise to the members of Congress as it would encourage the practice of nepotism to family members on staff and that also of obtaining salary kickbacks from staff to the member of Congress.

The Congress needed a pay raise to keep pace with the cost of living in Washington, but this backhanded way of dealing with the issue was deceptive; the better way was a direct pay raise for members as well as staff.

"Little Paragon" finds laudable the action of Norway at the International Civil Aviation Conference in giving up its seat at the table to accommodate India, representative of 400 million people and a sub-continent. The gesture might not wind up availing India of much concrete benefit in light of their control by Britain, but the chivalrous act was nevertheless impressive and one which, if emulated, might engender in the post-war world a spirit of cooperation which was beginning to appear, with the problems surfacing between Britain and America, to be ever sailing from practical reach.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record is from defeated Congressman Hamilton Fish of New York who rose on the floor of the House to express his support of the so-called Gestapo bill. He declared at length his support of free speech and the First Amendment, expressed his hope that the ongoing sedition trial in Washington, lasting since May, and which had just lost its judge to death, would be ended—something The News had also recently advocated.

Mr. Fish openly supported the right of citizens to inveigh against their Government, even to the point, as some of these citizens on trial had, of anti-Semitic remarks, for he believed that an American citizen had that right of expression, regardless of the appropriateness of the statement.

He asks the question—in the same words which his avowed critic, W. J. Cash, had once asked it in a by-lined editorial, having nothing to do expressly with Mr. Fish--"What is a liberal?" Mr. Fish answers that the liberal is a person who believed in "free speech, free press, free men, free America". That was his political philosophy, he said. He proudly therefore asserted that he was a liberal in that sense.

He was opposed to Communists and their attempts to destroy that freedom.

Yet, he said, he upheld the right of free speech for all, including Communists.

Mr. Fish, it should be noted, had provided his public endorsement to Governor Thomas Dewey during the late campaign and Mr. Dewey, a fellow Republican, had openly rejected it, called Mr. Fish an anti-Semite, wanted no part of his endorsement. Mr. Fish hotly denied the charge.

The long-time Congressman had been an isolationist to the time of Pearl Harbor and had also opposed the New Deal.

On this issue of freedom of speech, however, he was probably 100% correct. People have the right to be jackasses if that is what they want to be.

Just as with the girls' high school basketball team in New York of which we read last week, a team which had as their secret cheer, "1-2-3, nigger", whatever the hell that was supposed to communicate to anyone of normal sensibilities.

They contended it was not meant as racist but admitted that it had caused a stir with an African-American member of the team who got into a fight with a white player over use of the cheer. Apparently, it was some sort of secret tradition on the team, as the cheer had been in use for some period of time. Yet, the school's faculty and coaching staff claimed not to have possessed knowledge of its utterance on school grounds at the end of basketball practices. Consequently, after they discovered it in the wake of the fight, the girls were suspended from the team for awhile and their games canceled. But they were also suspended from school for two days and required to attend classes in sensitivity training.

We have our cheer, too, girls and faculty of that school. We call it the Fish cheer.

Suspend them from the team, cancel their season—fine and dandy. But you cannot suspend someone from school, we venture, for behavior constituting merely speech at a public school, short of that causing disruption in the conduct of the school itself, not without a lawsuit from the parents anyway. In this instance, the offensive and racially loaded word used might be too embarrassing to try to defend and certainly is not appropriate.

While the use of the word had prompted a fight in fact and thus might, in legal terms, under the circumstances, be found to constitute "fighting words", unprotected by the First Amendment, the question also arises as to whether, when viewed objectively as required under the law, there was any real cause of disorder in the school by its use when it was stated in such manner that the coaches and faculty were unaware of it, despite it having been in currency for awhile.

Ultimately, it sounds as if this team was not being properly supervised on school grounds. Perhaps the adult supervisors, therefore, ought be the ones suspended without pay for a couple of days rather than picking on some obviously immature high school girls with a lot of growing up still left to do, without branding them before the nation as racists for use of a pejorative term which they are obviously too young to understand should be relegated to the dustbins of either strict irony or history.

If you, girls, passed by a school and overheard some Muslim girls, for instance, shouting in chant, "1-2-3, white witch-bitches", you might get upset, but only because you are not yet mature enough to control your emotions and realize that such usage of ethnophaulisms in vain contexts are stupid, arrogant, and immature.

In any event, girls, next time, just use that Fish cheer instead. And, hopefully, all will be copasetic with everyone on the team and your high school there in western New York State.

You could also just say, far more edifyingly, and so much more mysterious to your peers, "1-2-3, Penguin," or "1-2-3, it's so elementary."

Drew Pearson discusses an agreement between Roosevelt and Churchill reached in 1943 that the British would have control over military matters in both Yugoslavia and Greece, providing the British essentially a sphere of influence in those countries, such that all American aid to the Greek underground had to be cleared first through the British. The same was true in Yugoslavia when the Americans wanted to send in troops in aid of Tito's Partisans. Usually, the men deployed to aid the guerillas in their fight against the occupying Nazis were men of Yugoslav, or, in the case of Greece, Greek descent, who spoke the native language. But whenever the British found an anti-royalist among the Americans in Greece, he was promptly sent home.

For two years, this policy of cooperation with the British had been in place and so it appeared too late for the State Department now to try to reverse it by expressing a policy favoring popular will in determining the constituency of government.

Mr. Pearson next informs of the tender feelings of some of the public with respect to the open support lent the Roosevelt campaign by Frank Sinatra, Orson Welles, Ann Sheridan, and others of the Hollywood community. One woman had written to Harry Warner of Warner Brothers stating that she wished the studios would implement a policy forbidding actors from taking public stands in politics. Mr. Warner had written in response that her attitude would find pleasant company in Nazi Germany or Japan, that actors, as with any other citizens, had the right to express their views, just as she had the right to criticize a movie after departing the theater.

Last, the column informs of a dozen snowplows which had departed the West Coast headed for Alaska by ship during the summer, necessary for the American Army during winter to clear their airfields, but which had become sidetracked by the ship being diverted to the Marianas to supply ammunition it was carrying to the battle for Saipan, then ongoing. Before the ammunition could be off-loaded, the snowplows had to be removed from the ship and, since there was no dock, there was difficulty in getting them to shore. Once finally accomplished, it was too hot and the men too busy with other cargo to reload them, causing the ships to depart for Alaska without that critical portion of their cargo. The plows were still sitting on the shore of the tropical island.

Samuel Grafton examines the growing conflict between the United States and Great Britain. Following the International Civil Aviation Conference just concluded in Chicago, in which the U. S. had insisted on rights of freely accessible international routes without resort to quotas based on passenger traffic, as favored by the British, the British were predictably following course in Greece, Belgium, and Italy, with designs on keeping in place governments friendly to Britain to enable it to have commercial advantage after the war. Britain, as an island nation, necessarily depended on the Continent for a good portion of its food, and thus such favorable relations were imperative to its survival.

While Secretary of State Edward Stettinius had broken good ground in his statement to Britain that the U.S. did not disfavor Count Sforza's Cabinet appointment in Italy as Foreign Minister, as did Britain, and that every country in Europe should be able to choose without interference from the outside its own government, the only way, offers Mr. Grafton, that the two nations would effect harmony in their competition for post-war economic advantage would be to hold a meeting on the topic.

Marquis Childs, while not finding any great problem with the fact of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee scrutinizing the new State Department appointees as Assistant Secretaries, Will Clayton, Archibald MacLeish, and Nelson Rockefeller, finds nevertheless the attitude conveyed by the intense scrutiny troubling for the future of world diplomacy as practiced by the United States.

Will Clayton, wealthy cotton broker from Texas, had come under fire from Senator Happy Chandler of Kentucky for his big business connections, even though Mr. Clayton was a firm believer in free trade and stood opposed to the increasing cartelization of the world which appeared likely to continue after the war, especially as encouraged by Great Britain and Russia.

Says Mr. Childs, there was no white knight absent a past worth his salt in such a position, and Mr. Clayton appeared well-qualified for his assigned task of dealing with international economic relations.

While one faction stood opposed to Mr. Clayton and Nelson Rockefeller on the ground of their silk-stocking pasts, other members of the committee were disenchanted with Archibald MacLeish for being too liberal, as well disenamored apparently with his poetry.

You could not please all the people all the time.

The editors print, as a companion to the editorial of December 2, a photograph of a bond issued by Charlotte in 1869, not scheduled for payment until 1950, having been extended in 1920, and payable at eight percent interest. The picture of the bond was meant to be a reminder to the readers never to allow such a temptation, as opposed to raising property taxes to pay the city's bills as incurred, to attract the community again, as nearly two million dollars in interest would have accumulated by 1950 on the bonds, with no practical way to pay them off prior to maturation.

A letter writer responds to the disgruntled gentleman who had written the previous week irate at the publication on the front page of the President's letter to The News, thanking it for its endorsement in the campaign. Whereas the previous letter writer found the letter's statement of unity to have been misplaced, the present author thought the President to have set just the right tone in the letter, regardless of party affiliation or for which candidate the voter had cast his or her ballot.

Incidentally, since Mr. Childs remarks on a man named Baldwin and since Mr. Grafton and the editorial column remark on the recently concluded International Civil Aviation Conference in Chicago, and, further, as Mr. Pearson informs of Mr. Warner's letter of remonstration to the woman who had written him complaining of movie stars expressing themselves in public on political matters, we feel it only appropriate to comment again on the Doolittle raid of April 18, 1942, and point out that its occurrence, while militarily of little significance, it having lasted but Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, was, nevertheless, conducive to improved morale at home in a time of uniformly bad news from all fronts of the war, and thus, while criticized by some, was quite salutary in its moment of tribute to Shangri-La.

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