Saturday, December 16, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 16, 1944


Site Ed. Note: No news would come this day of the big new German offensive which would become the bloody Battle of the Bulge for the ensuing 40 days, taking in that time 20,000 American lives.

Instead, the front page reports that the Seventh Army had exerted greater strength into its four-pronged invasion of Germany within the Karlsruhe corner, taking Lauterbourg, two miles from the Rhine and reaching the first pillboxes of the Siegfried Line within the Palatinate of Bavaria. The 45th, 79th, and 103rd Divisions were battling along a 17-mile front against stiff German resistance. The 79th Division entered Germany at two locations near Lauterbourg, meeting a German panzer division. The 45th and 103rd moved over the border west of Wissembourg, eleven miles to the west of Lauterbourg.

To these inroads there would now come a tremendous counter-thrust by the Germans, seeking to protect as long as possible their precious dream of Aryan superiority.

The first hint of problems on the front came from a German broadcast contending that the 30th Division of the Seventh Army northwest of Colmar had been so badly torn apart by German fire that it had withdrawn. It appeared that the report was mistaken in identification. The 36th Division was fighting in the area of Colmar and the 30th was with the Ninth Army on the Cologne plain.

The 78th Infantry Division, now fighting with the First Army since December 1, had captured Kesternich, Rollesbrolch, and several other villages northeast of Monschau. The 78th was commanded by Major General Edwin Parker, Jr. of Wytheville, Va., and had been activated out of Camp Butler, N.C., in August, 1942. It had been used as a training division for about a year until April, 1944 when it was moved to Camp Pickett, Va. It had gone overseas in mid-October and arrived at Rouen and La Havre in France.

Lt. General Omar Bradley, commander of the Twelfth Army Group, comprised of the Ninth Air Force, and the First, Third, and Ninth Armies, insisted that the Group would forge ahead as quickly as possible on the Western Front, regardless of poor weather. Waiting for spring would enable the Germans to revitalize their broken and depleted forces.

German battle casualties, explained General Bradley, were running three to five times higher than American casualties and thus it was necessary to maintain pressure, for the Germans could not long withstand such a rate.

The air superiority of the Allies had proved striking, the Germans having flown only 6,500 sorties along the front since D-Day while the Ninth Air Force had flown 190,000 sorties providing air cover. (That number did not include the long-range bombing by the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces, or the RAF air cover and bombing operations.)

After the disaster in the breakthrough at St. Lo, when supporting aircover had killed numerous American troops, there had been no repeat breakdown in coordinates. The infantry now had complete confidence in aircover operations and called in strikes within 500 yards of their lines without worry or difficulty. The Germans had never equaled such precision support, even when they had been flying at full strength in 1940-41.

The Germans were being pinned down all day during the daytime hours. As soon as they hit the roads, "they are duck soup," said the General.

On the previous day, a twenty-mile long convoy moving south and west from Leyte, departing on Tuesday, had landed troops of the Sixth Army on Mindoro Island in the Central Philippines, 155 miles from Manila. Three strong beachheads were established. The troops experienced few losses in the landing as the Japanese fled inland from the artillery fire. The Japanese were confused as to the destination of the ships. In consequence of this surprise, the worst impediment to the landing were the gathered Filipino welcoming party and the water buffalo crowding the beaches.

The ships had been attacked twice by Japanese planes on December 13, Wednesday, but without incurring serious damage. On Friday, there had been no attacks because of the control of the air by the carrier-based planes under the command of Vice-Admiral John S. McCain. Fully 347 enemy planes had been taken out of action since the previous morning, 191 of which had been destroyed on the ground with another 115 damaged on the ground. Twelve enemy ships, including a large transport, were sunk. The Japanese were trying to fly planes from Formosa into the fray and 27 had been shot down from this group.

It represented the first time in the history of naval air war that a covering air force had for a continuous period of 24 hours maintained air cover over a land mass the size of Luzon, 300 miles long with 100 airfields. Previous attacks on Luzon had been conducted only during daylight.

The entire Mindoro amphibious operation was considered the boldest yet of the Pacific war, as it unlocked the sea approaches to China, 900 miles away, and cut in two the Philippines, establishing an east to west corridor of transport, severing in the process Japanese supply lines to the south. Yet, preparations were being made for violent Japanese reprisal.

American and Filipino guerillas were reported to have seized airfields on Cebu, Panay, Negros, and Bohol islands between Mindoro and Leyte, as well as securing a 135-mile northern coastal stretch of Mindanao.

In China, the Chinese had driven to within 18 miles of Hochih, penetrating deep into Kwangsi Province.

All was not bleak for the Japanese, however, as it was announced from Tokyo that a new messkit had been developed which enabled cooking of rice within thirty minutes while the soldiers continued to march. The change was propitious.

The inside page shows a map of Nagoya, the latest B-29 target in Japan.

A story appears of a B-29 crew of ten, minus their co-pilot, having been rescued at sea 300 miles north of Saipan after drifting for eleven days since December 3, following the raid that night on Tokyo. The plane's windows had frosted so badly that the crew could not see, had to guess at the jettison point of the bombs after dropping out of formation to avoid the potential for collision. Dropping low, they became susceptible to anti-aircraft fire and three of their engines were knocked out. They finally had to ditch in the sea. The plane broke in half and the nose went down after thirty minutes, following the tail which had sunk in ten. The co-pilot was apparently knocked out and never emerged from the plane.

Frustratingly, five B-24's had passed overhead during the ten days of drifting. Finally, on the tenth day, a B-24 spotted the flares of the stranded crew, dropped rations and sent a rescue destroyer.

Another B-29 crew from the December 13 raid on Nagoya was being rescued 300 miles away, this crew of eleven having survived intact.

The Russians moved into Western Slovakia for the first time, advancing from captured Ipolysag, a half mile inside Slovakia and 34 miles northwest of Budapest. The position was at the foot of the Borzsony Mountains and other troops reached positions which led downhill into the plains toward Bratislava. There was also movement in the Debica-Tarnow area of southern Poland, suggesting a new winter offensive toward Krakow and a northern drive into Slovakia.

In follow-up to the previous day's information, it was further confirmed that the Germans, in anticipation of the Russian drive into Austria, were moving factories from Vienna, transferring them to Straubling, Regensburg, and Linz.

The Norwegian government-in-exile in London reported that Norwegian patriots were sabotaging Germans seeking to escape through northern Norway from the approaching Red Army.

A correction to Prime Minister Churchill's major policy speech to Commons the previous day came from Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden. He indicated that the Prime Minister had erred in attributing to the Atlantic Charter of August, 1941 the insertion that territorial changes could be made prior to the peace table, provided there was mutual agreement. It had been pointed out that no such insertion existed in the Charter. That was acknowledged by 10 Downing and it was pointed out that Mr. Churchill meant instead to refer to the 1940 policy statement of the British Government which had so allowed for territorial changes in the event of mutual agreement, before popular votes of those nations could determine such changes.

Finland's semi-annual World War I debt payment of $235,444, which, as in June before diplomatic relations with the U.S. had been severed, the Finnish Government sought to pay out of frozen assets in the United States, had not yet been accepted pending further study by the Treasury as to the issues involved in the payment. Finland had sought previously to pay interest to its bondholders from the assets but was refused permission by the United States. The prospect of receiving the payment on the war debt from those assets, therefore, now appeared to some to be an inconsistent policy smacking of unfairness to the bondholders.

The State Department had found no objection to acceptance of the payment. Finland had never defaulted on any of its war debt payments. The United States had not declared war on Finland but had severed diplomatic relations.

To prevent further migration of war workers to civilian industry, the War Production Board issued an order, made December 7, to freeze all existing civilian production at current levels.

--Dang, sugar, does that mean no cigarettes for Christmas? I 'as hoping for a few cartons anyway. Call up 'at ol' boy we know 'at works down 'ere at Reynolds and see if he can grab us off some from the assem'ly line.

The President signed the bill freezing Social Security taxes at one percent for another year. He did so, however, remonstrating Congress for the freeze in the process. He also stated his intention to deliver soon a comprehensive plan under which benefits would be broadened and administration made more efficient.

The Congress had expected a veto but the enactment of the legislation by a margin of more than two-thirds in each chamber had apparently convinced the President that it would be useless to veto the bill. The bill had avoided an otherwise automatic doubling of the rate on January 1.

The Congress thus departed for the holidays, happy.

On the inside page, Dottie's boyfriend, according to her young sister, apparently was unduly frisky. But given Dottie's ordinary behavior pattern and raucous past, of which we know all too well, should we be surprised?

On the editorial page, "The Crusader" reports of Dr. Frank Porter Graham, president of the University of North Carolina, having ventured to Boston to make a plea for the South receiving greater Federal funding for education. By comparison to Massachusetts, for instance, which spent $18 per student on elementary school education, North Carolina spent $10, South Carolina, $9, and Georgia, $8.

Yet, because of a poorer tax base, it required more taxes per capita to supply the lower amount from the Southern states than the higher funding in the North.

Federal aid to education was the only solution to the inequity. Yet, some in the region still objected on the basis of states' rights.

"Never Mind" finds the Senate exercised over nothing in trying to understand why there was a missing document which had never reached its intended recipient, from former Ambassador to Spain Claude Bowers to Secretary of State Hull, during the Spanish Civil War. The letter had stated essentially that the Republic had been Spain's best hope for democracy.

The editorial remarks that the Senate did not need to understand that from the letter. It had always been taken for granted that Franco represented totalitarianism and, by contrast, the Republic had been democratic. The literature of the period of 1936-39, fiction and non-fiction, had been rife with such conclusions.

For a teen-aged set and younger, incidentally, this subject has absolutely nothing to do with the NYU firing, quite unjustly, obviously, of a professor for providing a quite obviously justly earned "D" in Directing class to some actor of whom we have, honestly, never heard. The school, contends the professor, had bent over backwards to endow a "Franco-friendly environment"--which obviously speaks directly to the case.

We shall deal with the absurdity of which we read also taking place at Rutgers, in due course. We are merely awaiting the appropriate opening. In the meantime, we think it wise that the faculty there review the definition of literary irony, not to mention the First and Fourth Amendments, and apologize, appropriately, to the graduate student.

"Only a Policy" reviews the August, 1941 Atlantic Charter, signed by the U.S., Great Britain, Russia, and nine governments-in-exile. It had not, however, been incorporated in the Connally Resolution of the Senate in 1943 on the ground that it would constrain the power of the President to act in foreign relations.

It guaranteed the right of peoples to form their own government and pledged to restore the right of self-determination to those peoples from whom it had been taken. It also guaranteed that there would be no territorial changes without the expressed wishes of the peoples concerned.

Since its signing, Winston Churchill had, in September, 1941, proclaimed that the Charter did not affect British policy statements regarding India, Burma, or other parts of the British Empire. In February, 1944, he had declared that it did not apply to the enemy nations.

The Charter, it reminds, was not a treaty, was not binding on its signatories, but was merely a statement of principle. But it was to that statement that the United States was seeking to remain, insofar as practicable, steadfast.

"Dissenters" reports on opinion arising against the plan proposed by Governor Broughton with respect to the new program of hospital and medical care to be provided by the State. Some doctors had objected to the plan despite the official insistence that there was no intent to install socialized medicine or impair the physician-patient relationship.

Iredell County, for instance, had supported generally the plan to have adequate medical and hospital care across the state but did not want it put into effect by the State. That opposing idea could be heard from physicians throughout the state.

The piece supported the Governor's plan nevertheless, for the improvements would likely never be implemented without State support if left solely to the devices of private interests.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record has Representative John Rankin of Mississippi asking questions of New York Mayor LaGuardia regarding his record as a flier and bomber during World War I versus the technology in the Air Forces during the present war. Following a series of exchanges with Mr. Rankin and other members, Mayor LaGuardia asserted finally that there was no comparison between the bombing technology of each war.

Only problem with it was that Mayor LaGuardia was present in Washington only to speak in favor of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and in passing had happened to mention its value in case of an enemy aerial attack.

Drew Pearson tells of the secret terms of the Italian armistice of September, 1943, terms maintained in secret because of the imperialistic terms demanded by Great Britain, terms to which Premier Bonomi was strenuously objecting and had so indicated in a 100-page letter to President Roosevelt, along with other complaints about the British presence in the country.

Among the terms were that Pantellaria, the small island below Sicily in the Mediterranean, would be ceded to Britain to enable it to protect its lifeline to the south, a term with which the U. S. had agreed. Trieste would become an international free port on the Adriatic. And part of the Piedmont, the breadbasket of Italy, would be ceded to France. To the extent Italy participated with the Allies in the war, the terms would be lightened.

But, Bonomi complained that Italy had been limited to an Army of only 11,000 men and that the British disarmed all guerrilla bands whenever they encountered them.

The prior spring, when Moscow had recognized the Badoglio Government, Badoglio was informed by the British that he had no right to deal with any government independently.

Mr. Pearson next informs of a genial visit to Texas by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal. He was able to regale them with his easy manner and salty speech.

Marquis Childs prints another part of the May 12 letter he had received from Wendell Willkie, deceased since early October. Mr. Willkie had stated therein that he had insisted on remaining steadfast to his principles in the Wisconsin primary which he had lost, causing him to resign the race.

He objected to the isolationist stand which had been taken by Robert La Follette of Wisconsin who now appeared to be a Republican rather than a Progressive, the party to which he had theretofore belonged. He would become the third ranking member as such on the Foreign Relations Committee, behind the two aging Republicans, Hiram Johnson of California, another isolationist, and Arthur Capper.

Mr. Willkie had said that he was not intending to stand by while the Republican Party was so hijacked, even if it meant renouncing his membership in the party.

Mr. Childs suggests that the tragedy was that leadership of the Republicans toward an internationalist view could have been provided by Mr. Willkie had he not died at age 52 of a heart attack.

Among the Quote," items is one from University of Chicago sociologist Ernest W. Burgess, who provided the perspective that since Pearl Harbor, American war deaths had run only 50 percent higher than traffic accident deaths for the same period.

For the next war, all they needed to do therefore was to build safer cars and have the battle out on the highways of the world.

Come to think of it, that is pretty much what we did.

Incidentally, though it was not the very first time we had heard it, as it had already been out a couple of weeks, that song of the open road, we recall vividly, happened to come on the radio on a hot early August afternoon there in 1965 as we sat in a Rambler American waiting, waiting beneath a bridge, a bridge of the superhighway--the stretch of which some called the Witch-of-Salem, Goody Cloyse--hoping, hoping nothing would crash through the steel guard rails off the curve which ran through it, then intrude, intrude upon our super-sanctitude, the secure universal place, secure from the race, there by the creek, where the tadpoles shed their feathers and fly, waiting, waiting while someone, quite against our will and better judgment, made registration for us to try to have imparted to our feet the time-stepped ritual of the cha-cha. Suffice to say, the experiment failed.

A letter to the editor comes from Secretary of State Edward Stettinius thanking the newspaper for its support in the editorial of November 28.

A second letter asserts that Tom Jimison should have been recognized as citizen of the year in North Carolina in 1942 for his brave series of articles on Morganton. Too many people in power, he asserts, had sought to dodge the facts contained in the expose. But the letter expressed hope that the ensuing four years would see the leadership necessary to implement the changes which had been recommended in the summer of 1942 by Governor Broughton's select committee.

Another letter wonders why women were not being permitted on juries in North Carolina when they wore pants, smoked, chewed tobacco, drank liquor, cussed, and voted.

Maybe the author answered his own question. Of course, we grant that the menfolk were not far behind.

Dottie appears up to no good again in the Side Glances of the day.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>--</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.