Wednesday, December 13, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 13, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the First Army had cleared the Germans from fives miles of the west bank of the Roer River, advancing up to two miles southwest of Duren, south of Hurtgen Forest. Fighting continued in Mariaweiler. The drive appeared headed for Bonn, 35 miles distant, future post-war capital of West Germany. Other units to the north, opposed by the Fifth Panzer Division, were 28 miles from Bonn.

The Army was pinned down by heavy concentration of German artillery fire at Schophoven and, a bit to the south, Pemmerich, where heavy fighting was ongoing.

The Ninth Army had cleared all enemy forces from its sector west of the Roer and was holding the line on the west bank from Julich to Linnich, but had not yet attempted a crossing.

The Seventh Army had been slowed by blown bridges and muddy roads. The troops nevertheless advanced to within three miles of the Palatinate at Wissembourg and to Soultz, seven miles south from Wissembourg. Soultz had been the location of the first important battle during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

The Third Army, still fighting house-to-house inside Saarlautern, scored new gains, taking the suburbs of Roden, Fraulautern, and Endorf. Fighting continued also at Dillengen. The last of the forts still in German hands surrounding captured Metz, that of St. Jeanne D'Arc, surrendered during the day.

The RAF struck the night before at Essen, and during daylight at Witten, as during the previous 24 hours, 4,000 Allied planes had dropped 10,000 tons of bombs on eight German cities, the second successive day of such record-breaking bombing. The cost was eleven American bombers and thirteen British, along with nine American fighter planes. All of the losses were from ground fire as few Luftwaffe fighters contested the raids. Most of the losses were in the vicinity of the synthetic oil plant at Merseburg.

General Hap Arnold, chief of the Army Air Forces, in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, stated that the B-29 raids had Japanese industry "reeling in the ring" and the knockout punch would be dependent on continued high production in the United States, the key to taking Japan out of the war being destruction of its industrial base.

An inside page provides a map, with a bit of mangled caption, showing the several dates of B-29 raids, begun June 15, conducted by the 20th Air Force from airbases in southern China and on Saipan. The 21st Bomber Command of the 20th Air Force operated from Saipan. The targets thus far had been the home islands of Japan, Manchuria, Formosa, Singapore, Bangkok, Rangoon, and Palembang in Sumatra.

A force of B-29's equaling or exceeding the largest force yet to attack Japan, struck at Nagoya during mid-afternoon. The exact number was not disclosed but about a hundred Super-fortresses had flown on the mission. Tokyo radio said that Tokyo, Yokohama, and Hamamatsu were also hit on Honshu. Other targets on Shikoku Island, south of the Inland Sea, locale of the December 7 earthquake, were also hit.

Previous raids on Japan had been conducted with the wind; this one faced the westerly wind, slowing air speed, but likely enabled thereby increased accuracy, especially as the planes flew 3,000 to 4,000 feet lower than in prior raids.

The raid had utilized Nagoyan Castle as a landmark, just as had the Doolittle raiders of April 18, 1942. Nagoya was a manufacturing center, especially for aircraft and parts, and also afforded a dock facility. It was the third largest city of Japan, after Tokyo and Osaka. The city was also deemed one of the most highly flammable within the Empire.

Tokyo radio declared that Japanese industry was being moved underground to escape the destruction from the air of the B-29 attacks.

A propaganda report was also issued to Japanese citizens stating that the B-29's had damaged a manor house within the Emperor's Palace compound. The report was apparently untrue, meant to stimulate pride and religious zeal in the Japanese who ascribed deific qualities to the Emperor. American fliers had explicit instructions to avoid hitting the Palace to attenuate any such prospect.

In a coordinated effort between the British, Americans, Chinese and Indian troops, the Allies had taken Katha and Indaw, towns 155 miles above Mandalay in upper Burma.

General Fang Hsien-chueh, commander of the Chinese 10th Army, disclosed that the Japanese had slaughtered several thousand Chinese prisoners of war after capturing Hengyang in Hunan Province. General Fang had escaped Hengyang after defending the city for 47 days.

Off the west coast of Leyte on Monday and Tuesday, American planes took out another Japanese convoy heavy-laden with reinforcements, this one, the ninth so destroyed, consisting of eleven ships, including four destroyers and five transports which were sunk. Two PT-boats sunk a sixth transport during the night. Only one destroyer escaped destruction. General MacArthur estimated that the convoy, seeking the last available Japanese-held Leyte port at Palompon, sixteen miles to the northwest of captured Ormoc, had been transporting 30,000 Japanese troops.

Heavy rains continued to slow land operations below Limon in the northern sector of the Ormoc corridor.

Russian troops were 10.5 miles northeast of Budapest, having captured Godollo, an important rail junction cementing the northern line of German defenses.

In Italy, the Eighth Army had crossed the Lamone River, threatening the German defenders of Faenza.

In Greece, ELAS troops continued their assaults on the center of Athens but with little success against the British Army. Maj. General Sir Ronald Scobie had delivered ceasefire terms to the ELAS and awaited reply. It was reported that the ELAS were considering the terms.

British Minister of Labor, Ernest Bevin, told the annual Labor Party Conference that the British and Russians were acting in Europe pursuant to established cooperative spheres of influence, accepted at the Quebec Conference by FDR. Britain had assumed the role of maintaining order in Greece while Russia had the chore in Rumania. The Labor Party had called upon the Churchill Government to bring about an immediate armistice in the Greek situation.

Republican Senator C. Wayland Brooks of Illinois charged on the floor of the Senate that Britain was seeking to establish puppet governments in Greece, Italy, Belgium, and France, while Russia was trying to forge an empire through the Baltic and Balkan states.

In West Virginia, a Baltimore & Ohio train bound for Grafton was lost in the snow near Elkhurst, 45 miles east of Charleston, and apparently had become stranded with some 20 to 25 passengers aboard.

In Gloucester, N.J., an eleemosynary and munificent school janitor asked the local Board of Education to reduce his annual salary by $200 as he had less to do. The board had not yet taken action, being taken aback by the unusual gesture of magnanimity.

In the Louisville area, 8,633,471 pounds of bright leaf burley was sold for $3,801,197.24.

Sold American!

On the editorial page, "Where to Start" looks at the new policy enunciated by Selective Service whereby men between ages 26 and 37 would be drafted for active service at the fronts because the pool of men under 26 was nearly exhausted.

The piece, probably by J. E. Dowd, who, in late August, had just finished a 20-month stint in the Navy Reserve, expresses the hope that the Army and Navy would instead use existing manpower stateside who wanted to get into the battle but had been assigned training tasks, despite being fit and able to go to the fronts. The older men in the 26 to 37 age group made marginal soldiers. The camp commands stateside were brimming with well-trained men and should be looked to first for supplying the demand at the front before resort to this pool of inevitably less physically adept draftees.

"The Alarm" reports of defeated Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa having stated that, politically, the war was nearly lost while being won militarily, for the fact of the problems with Great Britain and Russia in dealing with the liberated countries of Europe, suggesting a future return to a world in which the most powerful nations would be hostile to one another rather than striving for cooperation to prevent future world war.

While recognizing the truth of Senator Gillette's despair, the piece nevertheless believes too much was being made over the apparent rift between the United States and Great Britain. Russia's similar struggle for a balance of power in Eastern Europe by establishing a sphere of influence over buffer states in the Balkans and Baltics had generated no such despair among internationalists as the same struggle now being waged by Great Britain in Italy, Belgium, and Greece.

The editorial concludes that, practically, to effect the principles of the Atlantic Charter, required the presence of such spheres of influence to achieve a balance of power.

"A Deadly Foe" examines the proliferation of the water hyacinth. The piece explains that, while thought to be a quaint part of Southerniana, as in Kinnan Rawlings's Cross Creek set in Florida, it actually caused manifold problems in its tendency to spread like wildfire over the waters.

In Louisiana, the Government had spent over a million dollars seeking control of its adverse impact on the shrimp, oyster, and fish industry, as well to arrest its impediment to navigation. It also served as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Three other Southern states also battled the problem.

The piece further explains that the water hyacinth had been introduced to the country in 1884 by the Japanese at the New Orleans Cotton Exposition, "and the little fifth columnists have spread amazingly". The hyacinth formed mats four feet thick, so sturdy that a man could walk across them without sinking. They sprouted three to four times each season.

The problem was unlikely to find eradication, but control had to be effected.

The editorial concludes with the ironic note that seed catalogues offered tiny hyacinth plants to gardeners for their backyard pools at a cost of 50 cents.

Whether, incidentally, anyone in the family of General Nathan B. Twining, future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs under President Eisenhower, and whose family at the time resided in Charlotte, was engaged in gardening, we haven't the foggiest notion.

"Our Churches" approves of the notion set forth by a Presbyterian minister to the Charlotte Ministerial Association suggesting the formation of a local council of churches to bring about better unity within the Christian community.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record is a speech on the floor of the House by Congressman Emanuel Celler of New York, well worth and more the $84 per page in taxpayer cost of the Record. It is not susceptible to summary and should be read, regarding the Holocaust and the War Crimes Commission set up to address the atrocities, of which evidence of those committed at Auschwitz and Birkenau had just begun to come fully to lightójust to name two of the death camps scattered throughout the occupied Eastern territory and in Germany.

He asks, plaintively, whether the War Crimes Commission would be so dilatory and vacillating in its operation as to repeat the mistake made after World War I and, as with the war criminals of that war, allow Hitler, Goebbels, Goering, Himmler, Antonescu, Quisling, and the rest to escape due punishment.

Drew Pearson provides first a list of the erroneous predictions made by various military and government personnel in both the United States and Great Britain regarding the prospective end of the war in Europe, beginning with a series of early predictions for an end in 1943, progressing then to mid-1944 and then again to the end of the year. Winston Churchill had gone on record on June 19, a day short of a fortnight after D-Day, as saying the war might reach conclusion by the end of the summer. General Eisenhower, on December 27, 1942, leaving Algiers to go to London, had looked ahead to see an end to the war in Europe during 1944.

Note, however, that President Roosevelt had not made any such predictions, indeed, expressly had eschewed any intent to do so, finding the business of war too unpredictable and susceptible of complex turns and twists of fate.

Mr. Pearson then tells of a debate had by Wendell Willkie in the waning days of his life during September with former Ambassador to Mexico from 1933 to 1941 and Secretary of the Navy under Woodrow Wilson, Josephus Daniels.

Mr. Willkie had written a column for John Temple Graves stating that he had been an ardent supporter of the League of Nations in 1924, and in 1932 wanted Newton Baker to win the Democratic nomination, but found House Speaker and soon-to-be Vice-President John Nance Garner, Democratic Party chairman William McAdoo, and Roosevelt kingmaker in New York, Jim Farley, not interested in the concept of world cooperation. That position and the subsequent developments within the New Deal, which Mr. Willkie, by the mid-thirties, regarded as being antithetical to the notion that government should serve the people and not vice-versa, convinced him to change party affiliation and become a Republican. President Roosevelt, Mr. Willkie believed, had abandoned the Wilson ideal.

To that, Mr. Daniels had responded with his own column indited for Mr. Graves, stating that, as a disciple of the Wilson ideal, he was aware that Franklin Roosevelt had, in 1920 as the vice-presidential nominee for the Democrats with James Cox, fought for a national referendum on the League of Nations. The country had rejected the idea and elected Harding and Coolidge, and their platform of "return to normalcy". (It was President Harding who immediately cast the oar in the water which led to the Congressional vote against United States membership in the League, diluting its consequent power hopelessly.)

Mr. Daniels continued that in 1944, President Roosevelt was the chief proponent of a new world organization, one which would have enforcement means, unlike the League, to prevent another world war which, opined Mr. Daniels, if it occurred, would make the "robot...look like a child's toy compared with the destructive weapons which will be used if another war curses the world."

Marquis Childs looks at the situation of Attorney General Francis Biddle denying that he ever granted any favors to his old friend and lobbying lawyer Tommy Cochran when Mr. Cochran came calling regarding the desire to have condemnation value of the Savannah Shipyard for war use set at a million dollars, or any other favor he had sought. Indeed, as pointed out by Drew Pearson the previous week, Mr. Biddle had told Norman Littell, Assistant Attorney General, to contest the matter in court, even if that contest wound up costing the government an additional $378,000 when a Savannah jury awarded 1.378 million dollars in valuation costs for the condemnation.

Mr. Childs thinks that it would be best, to save such embarrassing situations, to pass a law forbidding lawyers in government service from appearing before panels or commissions of which they had been part while in government, for a period of three to five years after departure. Thus would be avoided any hint of compromise of government interest by the seeking of special favor.

He cites, as example of the honorable side of the ledger, Thurman Arnold, who, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of anti-trust litigation, had opportunity to leave the Justice Department for a private sector job assuring him $50,000 to $75,000 annually, a king's ransom in 1943, but chose, instead, to take a job as Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals, paying then $12,500 per year.

Samuel Grafton tells of another letter received from a soldier, in complement to the first one of which he had made note a few weeks earlier, advocating the position that men without skill or trade should be released from the armed forces last to afford time for training. The previous soldier had written in desire of a policy of release by which men who had a skill or trade or profession to which to return in civilian life be released last to afford men without skill or trade the first chance at obtaining jobs.

The common thread between the two concerns was that of fear that the job market could not accommodate them. Both arguments, says Mr. Grafton, had their merits.

The object, therefore, post-war, had to be relief from this concern, by assuring that the President's proposal for 60 million new jobs was realized, failure of which could produce "queerness of some political developments".

Hal Boyle, with the 2nd Infantry Division in Germany, relates four vignettes. In the first, several doughboys uneasily were huddled in a basement for the night when suddenly a noise broke the silence to everyone's start. They went in search, only to findó

Private Alton Massey of Texas told of his surprise to discover, after being lionized in Life in 1942 for his jitterbugging capabilities, that he had been pilloried by a German magazine, utilizing the very same set of photographs to denounce the dance fashion among American G.I.'s. The Germans did not, as did Life, find the maneuvers cut across the floor with the Chicago lass "groovy".

Two men raced for a slit trench to avoid German artillery fire, too small to accommodate both; but both nevertheless piled headlong into it, the second left halfway outside, the first so far in that he had to be extricated, when the fire stopped, by three men.

The fourth was of a captain who was not very hungry.

A letter writer, a Doctor of Divinity from Great Barrington, Mass., presumably also of the Starry Cross, as the previous day's submission on the subject from the same locale, tells of his receipt of the series of articles by Tom Jimison, "Out of the Night of Morganton", from January-February, 1942. He finds that contained within them horrifying and expressed the query whether the conditions described had seen since any remedy.

He imparts that he had unimpeachable evidence of similar conditions extant in institutions in Maryland, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, and Illinois, and further believed that the conditions existed nationwide in mental hospitals. Why should they be the equivalent of degraded prisons? he asked.

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