Wednesday, December 20, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 20, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page and inside page report that the First Army had stopped for the time the German 20-mile plunge into Belgium at Stavelot and had recaptured Monschau, seventeen miles to the northeast while other American units held positions three miles from St. Vith, 11 miles southeast of Stavelot. Other contingents were forming to stop another German lunge in the northern tip of Luxembourg. Heavy fighting continued in Stavelot, St. Vith, and Malmedy, each of which was a road hub within the bulge.

Front line dispatches from CBS war correspondent Richard C. Hottelet reported the situation as definitely improved after the initial thrust, as the American flanks had stiffened their resistance above and below the four-pronged German attack. He reported that the battle could be the most important of the war.

Partial lifting of the news blackout by Supreme Allied Headquarters allowed disclosure that the first thrust had occurred 27 miles southeast of Aachen, then split, with one part heading toward Butgenbach, eight miles northeast of Malmedy, and the other prong moving toward Stavelot, five miles southwest of Malmedy and eight miles south of Spa. The third thrust had been aimed at St. Vith, with one part of the German force reaching Maspelt, four miles from the town. The fourth plunge was made toward Luxembourg from the Ardennes on either side of Echternach. The deepest penetration in that area had come at Consdorf, five miles southwest of Echternach.

Some of the American First Army infantry had remained in their foxholes as the panzer tanks rolled right over them.

Some of the Nazi columns were plunging forward in an effort to obtain breakthrough of the Allied lines to capture supplies. Many of the Germans were wearing civilian clothes.

The Nazis had dropped about 500 parachutists west of Monschau, but they had been largely captured or wiped out.

New thrusts were reported by the British-Canadian forces and the Ninth Army to have occurred in the area of Geilenkirchen, 35 miles north of the primary bulge line. It was unclear whether the purpose was to prevent Allied reinforcements or to initiate a new point of counter-thrust.

The presence in the Belgium Bulge of some of the best German units held in reserve, plus the heavy concentration of Luftwaffe cover and large contingents of armor, all signaled a full ambuscade deployed by Field Marshal Gerd Von Rundstedt, aimed at re-taking the Western Front from the Allies. Many other sectors had been drained of supplies and men to afford this concerted effort, leading Allied observers to comment that a victory by the Allies in this battle could end the war.

Flying bombs were being used by the Nazis in large numbers, though not specified as to whether they were V-1's or, more probably, the V-2 rockets, with their mobile launching capability.

Elsewhere on the front, the Third Army captured 40 pillboxes and fortified houses in the area of Saarlautern, bringing their two-day total to 176. Scalpings were taking place on a regular basis whenever Nazis were caught. General Patton tried to warn you, you poor stupid bastards.

Dillengen had been cleared of Nazi sons-of-bitches, except for the factory area where scalpings were shortly scheduled to begin.

The Seventh Army turned back two counter-attacks northwest of Wissembourg, while to the south, French and American troops made small gains northwest of Colmar and in the Vosges Mountains.

Berlin radio reported: "The German people, educated by the advances and retreats of this war, view the situation coldbloodedly, realistically, and callously. But there is joy in everyone's eye. We are advancing again."

The RAF and American air forces combined efforts to provide air cover despite limited visibility occasioned by the poor weather along the bulge line and elsewhere on the front.

The Fifteenth Air Force, for the fifth successive day, attacked targets in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany.

The Second Ukrainian Army and the Fourth Ukrainian Army continued their approach to Kassa in Eastern Czechoslovakia, gaining as much as eight miles, now adding a fourth approach column. Senya, nine miles to the south, had been captured, and the three other contingents were approaching from the east, southeast, and southwest. Twenty-three other towns along the approaches also fell during the previous day's fighting, including Davidov, Dargov, Kerestur, Turna, and Perin.

In Athens, following the fall of the RAF Headquarters to ELAS troops, British General Ronald Scobie announced that, unless there were a ceasefire, the ELAS would be attacked by aircraft, naval guns, and rocket weapons, in addition to ordinary infantry weapons.

In Commons, a debate transpired regarding British policy in Greece, with Prime Minister Churchill remaining firm on his commitment to use force to the extent required to restore order. He, as well as Foreign Minister Anthony Eden, urged a Big Three meeting at the earliest possible date to discuss the situation. The Prime Minister stressed that general harmony among the three Allies continued even if there were minor differences on specific situations.

A Laborite had shouted that civil war might erupt in Britain regarding Greece. Mr. Eden had replied that the only mistake the British had made was to act unilaterally in the country and not have with them other Allied troops.

Another Laborite, Aneurin Bevan, stated that the Scobie proclamation, if put into effect, would constitute a shame on the House. He set forth the bitter irony that the Nazis had been warned that if they bombed Athens, the Allies would bomb Rome; but now, the British bombed Athens.

Labor wanted the British to renounce the continued reign of King George on the throne of Greece in favor of a republican government.

Three B-29's out of Saipan bombed Tokyo prior to dawn. All of Honshu was reported blacked out in anticipation of attacks. One of the planes had its bomb-bay doors stick and had to drop its load, after they opened, on a small island along the coast of Japan. Twelve hours following the previous raid on Nagoya, another raid by two B-29's hit the city. There was little resistance to the attacks.

On Leyte in the Philippines, American forces of the 77th Division had seized Valencia and an airfield nearby, as the 77th and the 32nd Divisions moved their northerly and southerly advancing net ever tighter on the trapped Japanese forces within the Ormoc corridor on the west coast of the island. The 77th then drove northward from Valencia. Fully 1,484 Japanese troops were found dead on Monday.

A.P. correspondent Richard Bergholz, later a prominent Los Angeles Times correspondent, reported that American fighter planes hit a Japanese truck convoy in the mountains east of Palompon on Sunday, destroying every vehicle.

President Roosevelt and members of the American High Command sent their Christmas greetings to the men and women serving in the armed forces.

In Los Angeles, a report on the inside page tells of the paternity case for support brought by singer Joan Berry against Charles Chaplin, with Mr. Chaplin vehemently denying that he had engaged in any form of sexual relations with Ms. Berry. He stated that she had harassed him no end after he had done favors to promote her career as a singer, harassment which therefore greatly perplexed him. She finally arrived at his home and insisted on staying the night, which he reluctantly obliged, insisting that nothing of a romantic nature had transpired between them.

Mr. Chaplin had been acquitted in the spring in Federal court of charges of violation of the Mann Act by transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes, charges which stemmed from the course of interstate transport of Ms. Berry. His testimony had been calm in that case. Now, he was visibly reactive to the cross-examination of Ms. Berry's attorney and repeatedly called, in a highly agitated state, seemingly over nothing, the accusations implicit in the questions "lies".

On the editorial page, "On the Ball" reports that the Mecklenburg Tax Attorney, a special position set up by the City Council in 1942 to collect delinquent taxes, was doing his job efficiently. He had collected in two years $589,159.03, even if over another half million in back taxes still remained uncollected from as far back as 1928.

"An Oversight" advocates that, in the wake of the dispute between Assistant Attorney General Norman Littell and Attorney General Francis Biddle, resulting in Mr. Littell's resignation, the practice, emblematic of lobbyists in general, of having former Government employees and attorneys practicing before the agency with which they had been employed, be outlawed for a period of years after the employee left the Government. A bill had been introduced in 1941 by Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico to that effect, banning the practice for two years following government service.

The practice, says the piece, was so routine that such a law was necessary and, unfortunately, the dying down of the whole matter following Mr. Littell's resignation had caused the true issue arising from the dispute not to be addressed, in this instance specifically regarding Tommy Corcoran's attempted exertion of influence on the Attorney General to have the United States pay a million dollars for the Savannah Shipyard in condemnation proceedings by the Government to take over the shipyard for war purposes by the constitutionally authorized procedure of eminent domain, requiring that the Government pay fair market value for the property.

As previously informed by Drew Pearson and Marquis Childs, Mr. Biddle resisted his friend's entreaties to this end and instead allowed Mr. Littell to contest the sought value in Federal court in Savannah. But a Savannah jury had awarded 1.378 million dollars, thus costing the government $378,000.

"Quiet Progress" informs of a discussion held by Governor Broughton with Hiden Ramsey of the Asheville Citizen-Times, Dr. W. J. Trent, Sr. of Livingstone College, Dr. James Shepherd of N.C. College for Negroes in Raleigh, (now, N.C. Central University), and Dr. Lyman Bryson of New York, re race relations in the South, with emphasis on North Carolina. The group concluded that there was a definite and substantial problem in the area still within the South, but that progress was being made.

They cited the facts that 16 of 18 black colleges in the country were located in the South, with 11 in North Carolina, that North Carolina had removed its poll tax in 1920, that the state had equalized pay between black and white teachers and hired 8,000 black teachers, that it was the first state to provide public welfare for blacks, had the only full-time black welfare consultant, paid its 17 black welfare workers the same as white workers, that blacks received more than their proportionate share of welfare payments based on their 27.5% of the state's population, and that Charlotte's Good Samaritan Hospital had been the first such facility in the nation devoted solely to medical care of blacks.

We do not mean to be overly cynical in viewing in hindsight this testament to progress, but it cannot be overlooked that, with the exception of equalization of teacher salaries, each of these conditions bespoke segregation and its invidious impact on both races, in the end spilling, in the restless 1950's and 1960's, into the streets, often erupting in violence stimulated by racist Southern police given free leash by segregationist governors elected by rednecks and their better-heeled white-trash patrons, all without any sense or sensibility to their time and place in world history—not to leave out the better lights of the South who sometimes formed the majority of the electorate in the least expected places, such as in Alabama which sent such progressives as Hugo Black, Lister Hill, and John Bankhead to the Senate.

There should never be any quarter given the racist fools of the region, or of the rest of the country, in which there were ample supplies, any more than anyone of normal sensibilities would ever seek to excuse and rescue from the historical clutches of infamy devoted Nazis and Fascists of the thirties and forties.

"The Cities Speak" tells of the effort by the League of Municipalities to obtain a sixth of the state's gasoline tax revenue, based on the fact that cities provided 75% of the taxes. They wanted the money to build and maintain roads.

The Highway Fund had a surplus of 40 million dollars, the result of a halt in highway construction during the war.

The editorial finds the argument persuasive, provided the greater proportion of funds was not given the cities at the expense of rural areas. It cites the experience of the road between Charlotte and Union County, the county seat being Monroe. Prior to the road's construction, little traffic between the two areas had taken place; afterward, the inter-area travel became frequent, bringing greater prosperity to the rural residents along the way. The state benefited by better roads throughout, not just within the cities.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record finds defeated lameduck Congressman Hamilton Fish telling his fellow Republicans that they should henceforth engage in more criticism of the President, both on domestic issues and foreign policy, that it would soon become the case that no one would dare speak out against the Communists in America for worry of offending the Russian Allies.

To that, future House Speaker John McCormack of Massachusetts responded, chastising Mr. Fish for not realizing the difference between personal invective and constructive criticism, for the latter of which, said Mr. McCormack, he had never heard anyone criticized on the floor in 16 years in the House. He accused his personal friend, Mr. Fish, of erecting a straw man which did not exist by his suggesting that constructive criticism invited chastisement for throwing a monkey wrench into the war effort.

Drew Pearson first reports that the Interstate Commerce Commission was about to release its long-awaited decision to end differential freight rates across the country, which had before disfavored the South.

He next informs of a movement to begin after the start of the year aimed at securing the Republican nomination in 1948 for former Governor Harold Stassen of Minnesota. The movement was going to be orchestrated by Dan Tobin of the Teamsters. The first step would be a campaign to elect Mr. Stassen as Senator in 1946 in a run against incumbent Senator Henrik Shipstead. The move, however, did not signal any change in Mr. Tobin's general support of FDR and the Democrats.

Mr. Pearson then tells of the General William Starke Rosecrans V.F.W. post in Gardena, California, having refused to include the names of Japanese-Americans on its military service plaque. The exclusion meant that Kiyoshi Muranaga of Gardena, who had been killed in action in Italy and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor in rank of awards for military bravery, could not be listed on the post's plaque. Mr. Muranaga, by himself, had held off a squad of German artillery, equipped with an 88-mm. big gun, and forced their retreat with only his single mortar at his disposal.

Finally, the column reports that Winston Churchill was upset with the President and the State Department for leaking Mr. Churchill's order to General Ronald Scobie in Greece that he use armed force if necessary to quell the revolt by the ELAS and to make an example of them which other armed-guerilla movements would be loathe to emulate.

The Pearson column had been the recipient of the leak and had printed the order on December 12.

Marquis Childs raises the notion of "detraining" the men who had been trained to become killers in the war before placing them back into society, much as the dogs of war were detrained from the trained embrace of their most predatory canine instincts before being returned to their original owners who had loaned them for duty on the battle fronts.

Many sources had informed him that the Veterans' Administration was inadequate to the task set before it, to reacclimate the veterans to civilian life. His own observations convinced him of the truth of the opinion. The problems were most visible in the area of medical care, partly the result of the American Legion and other lobbying groups having put pressure on Congress to provide special benefits for veterans, leaving the V.A. hospitals without control of determination as to who should and should not receive care. Consequently, men who went to the V.A. hospital often remained there without any effort exerted to return them to a normal life.

Each case of shell shock cost $40,000 worth of treatment. The old formula of providing unlimited free medical care to veterans would overburden the system in this war, with so many casualties returning. That, plus pensions, predicts Mr. Childs, would create a financial and social crisis.

Samuel Grafton turns the mirror upon Americans and addresses the question whether Americans would not respond to foreign occupation for years by forming guerilla forces and then, after cessation of the occupation, permanently maintain those groups, just as the underground forces within Europe had done. He draws comparison to the continued vitality of the American Daughters of the Revolution, still in existence after the passage of 168 years since 1776.

The French, he says, understood the notion well and tolerated the resistance groups in localities despite their insisting on having control of local matters and maintaining their arms notwithstanding orders by the De Gaulle Government to surrender them. The Government had not pressed the requirement. After four years of resistance, the French guerillas could not be expected to roll over and play dead, and the Government understood that fact. They had not yet come to descry the notion of greys in between the black and white of the world to which they had become forcibly accustomed.

Conservative groups in America favored the idea of the guerillas being forced to surrender their arms, while in the same person often resided the fiercely held concept of the Second Amendment right to bear arms without infringement by the Government. Mr. Grafton comments that if Americans had become quiescent on the matter, then it was from acquisition over time of trust in their government.

The same would need occur over time in the newly liberated countries, and Americans and the Allies generally needed to realize that fabian process.

It is an ancillary point in passing which Mr. Grafton makes with regard to the Second Amendment, and so we won't belabor it this time. But we wholeheartedly disagree on that notion that the Second Amendment absolutely prohibits government interference with the right to bear arms, the clause that militias being necessary to security thereby, if so, rendered surplussage. We say that notwithstanding the Supreme Court's recent and only pronouncement of consequence on the matter in lo the 224 years since ratification. In any event, the Supreme Court expressly left open the right of control of arms, merely striking down the District of Columbia's law absolutely banning possession of arms without specialized and infrequently granted permits.

Harry Golden writes a letter to the editor praising Samuel Grafton's level-headed approach to the appointments to the State Department, saying that it was entirely necessary for achieving world peace to have conservative as well as liberal ideas represented in the State Department.

Mr. Grafton had raised the argument that the fact that Will Clayton, for instance, was willing to accept appointment to the Department indicated his general support for the FDR foreign policy and thus signaled amicably cemented relations across ideological and party lines within the country.

A pair of quotes are worth setting forth:

"There is no doubt that the war is definitely in our favor. There is not an inkling of doubt in my mind that Hitler and Mussolini will save Europe." –Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitau.

"Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery told me that Germans between 20 and 25 are hopeless in their outlook and cannot be changed and the only thing to do is kill them." –Adm. Sir Bruce Fraser, British Pacific Fleet Commander.

If the latter quotable was accurately ascribed and quoted, then we might assume, albeit only an assumption, that part of the fault may have lain in the fact, as we have been previously informed by Dr. Herbert Spaugh, that General Montgomery read the Bible every goddamned day, but perhaps a mite too literally, at least at times. Yet, nevertheless, having said that, we also admit having a great deal of empathy for the sentiment as it related to Nazis, whether those of Germany or the American South.

We could do it and maybe have a before and after talk over a cheeseburger.


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.