Friday, December 22, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, December 22, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from British-Canadian dispatches that, following an additional five-mile penetration into Belgium by the Germans, the winter offensive of Field Marshal Gerd Von Rundstedt had slowed down this date. The German High Command reported the German forces having crossed the Ourthe River at a point seven miles to the west of Werbomont, the previously stated deepest point of penetration of its dagger. The general aim of the Germans was westward, seeking breakthrough of the First Army lines in the area of Aachen, having already been cut off in the attempt to broaden the bulge line northward.

The Germans stated that fighting on both flanks was heavy, at Butgenbach and Lagleize, four miles northeast of Stavelot on the northern flank, and at Consdorf and Waldbillig on the southern flank.

Some broadening of the German positions had taken place to the south, 20 miles below the city of Luxembourg, near the Third Army front.

There was some general confusion, especially on the southern flank, where enemy troops had penetrated American lines at several points, at one time overrunning a command post. But each of these relatively small contingents of enemy troops had been wiped out, costing in their sum heavy German casualties.

Near the center of the battle front, an entire SS Division was attacking frontally American-held St. Vith. Nearby, to the southeast, Bastogne had become completely surrounded.

Supreme Allied Headquarters was imposing a 48-hour delay on positions and movement along the fluid front. The next report was to come late in the day, covering events through Wednesday night.

Not yet reported, this date, the German commander of the forces besieging Bastogne, Lt. General Heinrich Luttwitz, had sent a note to the American commander, Brig. General Anthony McAuliffe, seeking surrender. The note read:

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours' term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well known American humanity.

Supplies to Americans holding the town had been bottled up and food and ammunition were scarce, with the men of the defending 10th Armored Division and 101st Airborne Division limited to ten rounds of ammunition per man per day—a situation to a degree extant before the counter-offensive had begun.

Nevertheless, General McAuliffe at length replied to the cordial German invitation, stating, in written iambic pentameter and with extended prolixity:


The Germans then had to busy themselves cracking the code.

General Eisenhower issued a statement to the Armies in which he proposed, "By rushing out from his fixed defenses the enemy may give us the chance to turn his great gamble into his worst defeat." He exhorted the troops to "destroy" the enemy at every turn in the air and on the field.

General McAuliffe had determined to follow the Supreme Allied Commander's proclamation to the letter.

The German radio was meanwhile broadcasting to Belgians the threat of use of "horrifying new weapons" which would leave no one alive in the sectors where they were deployed, and thus instructing the civilians to evacuate.

The Russians agreed to shove three Army groups at the Germans on the Eastern Front to take pressure from the German bulge line in the West.

Meanwhile, the Second and Fourth Ukrainian Armies moved deeper into Southern Slovakia, the Second moving to within fourteen miles of Lucenec, seizing along the way Rimaszombat, opening the path into the Matra Mountains.

The Third Ukrainian Army had resumed its movement west of the Danube between Budapest and Lake Balaton, linking with elements of the Second Army, menacing Szekesfehervar.

The Germans reported that in the north, the Russians had, with 27 divisions, initiated a new drive 60 miles south of Riga in Latvia.

About a hundred B-29's attacked Nagoya again from Saipan, the third attack on the aircraft manufacturing center in ten days. The attack lasted over the course of two and a half hours. Other targets were hit in Shizuoka prefecture and at Osaka on Honshu.

On Leyte, the north and south pincers of the American 10th and 24th Army Corps had linked and snapped shut on the trapped Japanese soldiers in the Ormoc corridor. An additional 2,032 Japanese were found dead.

An airfield began operations on easily captured Mindoro Island to the west of Leyte. Mindoro, invaded a week earlier without resistance, not only afforded a base a mere 150 miles from Manila but also was not subject to the torrential downpours which regularly beset Leyte during this time of year.

In Greece, another confrontation appeared brewing as 15,000 to 20,000 ELAS troops were said to be moving into Western Greece in the area of Epirus, overlooking Yanina from the Dhriskes Ridge, an area held by EDES, rightist guerrillas led by General Napoleon Zervas.

In Athens, mopping-up operations by the British continued, as 4,000 ELAS troops had been captured. The port of Piraeus was virtually clear of combatants and was once again operating.

In New York, Willie Bioff, serving ten years for extortion, and George Browne, serving eight years on the same charge, relating to the million-dollar shakedown of the movie industry by their Stagehands Union, were granted parole after serving three years of their sentences at Sandstone Federal Prison in Minnesota.

"Theaters", incidentally, from the note of March 18, is now here. Mr. Bolden's very important story is now here. (Here's a hint, punk. Try to lend some permanency and sense to the internet. We are not here, that is, the adults among us, to be punks, but rather to learn. And one cannot learn very effectively when the ground is constantly shifting beneath one, now can you, punk? It may be to your singular advantage to do so, because you are such an irremediable, dumb punk, and wish to retard the rest of us and reduce us to your lesser position on the animal scale. But it does interfere with the progress of the human race, Herr Hitler. We know what you're thinking... And we also know when you've been bad or good.)

In Los Angeles, comedian Harry Langdon died at age 60, following an illness lasting several weeks.

President Roosevelt reaffirmed the United States commitment to the Atlantic Charter and its principles of non-aggrandizement of territory and assurance of self-determination to liberated countries.

He denied a story that he and Democratic National Committee chairman Robert Hannegan had locked horns in a recent White House meeting.

He also urged workers to continue on the job during Christmas as a present to the fighting men on the fronts, to keep the flow of supplies moving.

The News announced that it would publish, by means of a skeletal staff, on Monday, Christmas Day, despite having, before Pearl Harbor, always provided the day off to employees.


On the editorial page, "Mark It Paid" tells of Carl Snavely having been hired as the new football coach at the University of North Carolina, at a salary of $8,500 a year, less, however, than the previously allocated $12,000 per year--$2,000 more than Senators and Congressmen received. But the allocated salary was reported to be set to go into effect at war's end. Coach Snavely had been at Cornell, where he also received $8,500 per year, had coached previously at the University for two seasons during the mid-1930's, enjoying success in the position.

The move signaled a change in University policy, to promote big-time college football at the institution. The editorial found it disturbing, asserted the belief that money had governed college athletics for too long already.

It then compares the coach's salary to Frank Porter Graham, University president, $8,250; Chancellor Robert House at Chapel Hill, Chancellor Harrelson of State College in Raleigh, and Chancellor Jackson of Greensboro Woman's College, each at $7,013; various deans of schools at the University, varying between $5,500 and $6,000; and University athletic director R. A. Fetzer, "between $7,000 and $7,500"--the precise point on the range annually presumably depending on shoe contracts?

The editorial allows that perhaps the fault in the disparity lay in too low salaries for University officials rather than, so much, a too high salary for coach Snavely. Or, perhaps, it was just the nature of the game that big-time college football required a big-time salary, completely disproportionate to the intrinsic value to education of the recipient.

It implicitly recommends bringing to parity the salaries of Greater University officials.

Coach Snavely would remain at the University through the 1952 season, posting a 59-35-5 record, and taking the team to two Sugar Bowls, in 1946 and 1948, and a Cotton Bowl in 1949, their last bowl appearance until 1963. He would preside over the era of Charlie Justice, the most celebrated football player in the University's history.

"Sound Advice" finds that the North Carolina Treasurer had much about which to crow, a 70 million-dollar surplus in the budget and higher revenue than at any time in history. He also commented that it presented a prime opportunity to pay down the state's debt and that reduction of taxes should only occur when the citizens were least able to afford them, not, as presently, when the public was well-heeled from war industry work. He added the caveat that future spending could not be premised on present revenue, because of the abnormally ballooned revenue from the affluence produced during the war.

The piece wholly agrees with the Treasurer's financial advice.

"It's Official" praises the formation of the Charlotte planning board by the City Council, presaging a new era of preconceived city planning.

"Another Way" points out the dissimilar attitudes in government between Raleigh and Washington, the former busily recommending the dismissal of useless clerks who sat around without work, the latter busy seeking to raise the pay of clerks from $3,900 to $5,000 per year. In Raleigh, State Representative Umstead insisted that eighteen sergeants-at-arms, for instance, were in the employ of the Assembly when six could perform their job.

The piece finds the North Carolina approach more sensible.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record presents a colloquy transpiring between Senator Happy Chandler of Kentucky and Senator Sheridan Downey of California re the appointment of lameduck Governor Robert Hurley of Connecticut by the President to the War Surplus Property Board, Senator Chandler voicing opposition to the appointment, and apparently also to that of lameduck Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa.

Senator Downey asks rhetorically whether defeat in an election dampened the ability in any manner of any Senator to serve in another capacity, to which Senator Chandler agreed that it did not. Senator Downey continued his inquiry, asking whether Governor Dewey's defeat precluded his fulfilling his term as Governor of New York. Senator Chandler agreed that it did not, that, in that case, however, Governor Dewey had gotten what he desired, the ability to finish out his term, with the help of the people of New York and the country generally, fully expressing their will to oblige him.

Drew Pearson tells of the reconnoitering by each side across each other's lines on the Western Front, affording each side an understanding of what the other was doing. The Nazis were reported to be using jet planes to provide reconnaissance, moving too fast to be caught by Allied fighters.

There remained a question as to why the First Army was not made aware by air reconnaissance of the massing of German troops opposite what now was the Belgium Bulge line, and were thus caught by surprise. Conventional wisdom was that U.S. commanders had been aware of the presence of the troops but believed the enemy to be preparing for the American offensive which had already begun when the German counter-offensive was initiated December 16.

The Seventh Army forces in the south noted the sudden weakening of German defenses in the Vosges Mountains, leaving them largely undefended, affording a pathway into Southern Germany above the Swiss border.

He notes that German Tiger tanks were superior to American Shermans and were nearly impossible to destroy. Even the older tanks were now reinforced with steel and concrete behind the nose. The Nazis had also brought up many fresh reinforcements, whereas the American troops had been fighting continuously for six months.

Moreover, the Russians had halted their offensive in Poland in the area of Warsaw and the British had reached stalemate in Holland, leaving now the brunt of the fighting to be borne by the American armies in Belgium and Luxembourg. Americans comprised about 70 percent of the fighting forces now on the Western Front, per the original plan prior to D-Day.

The primary problem with the Russians stopping at the Vistula, despite their continuing effort in the south before Budapest and to the west in the Southern Slovak territory, was that the Germans, while likely unable to shift troops from the Eastern Front in any great numbers, could alter their supply allocations to benefit the Western Front forces, forces which had been of late in obvious short supply because of the continued Allied bombing operations.

The previous fall, the Western Allies, suspicious of the Rooskies, had investigated to determine whether the reduction of activity before Warsaw was calculated or the result of enemy resistance, found that it was the latter, that Russia genuinely had supply problems, with their longer supply lines now than the ever-shortened lines of the Germans. Nevertheless, reports Mr. Pearson, U.S. military leaders were bitterly disappointed in the progress in the last few months by the Russian Army in the north in Poland.

He next informs that Senators Claude Pepper of Florida, Joe Guffey of Pennsylvania, and Happy Chandler of Kentucky, opponents of some of the recent appointees to the positions of assistants to the Secretary of State, had inquired of the President whether he had personally given his approval to the appointments of these assistants, especially James Dunn and Brig. General Julius Holmes. General Holmes had been antagonistic to the President, and Mr. Dunn had been associated with the pro-Darlan, anti-De Gaulle group in the State Department following the invasion of North Africa two years earlier. The President thanked the Senators for opposing these men as it would keep them on their toes, but he indicated his full support of them and that they deserved a chance, failing which, they would be removed.

Mr. Pearson notes that the President was known for not firing high officials in his Administration, had only fired outright three relatively low-ranking persons during his entire twelve years in office. He usually simply sought a resignation and then appointed the person to another post.

Marquis Childs clarifies the mission to Washington of Richard K. Law, British Minister of State, as being one more important than most realized. His purpose was to effect a better plan for transporting supplies to liberated Europe. The needs of the fighting men on the front had taken up all available shipping of late, leaving shipping of civilian goods to Europe wanting. Mr. Law sought to convince American decision-makers that the jobs of supplying the front and of feeding the liberated civilian populations were inseparable. The civilian need was to repair broken societies so that they might begin to effect their own supply requirements.

Dorothy Thompson relates of the advantage in propaganda provided the Germans by open discussion of mounting rifts between the Allies, especially as between the United States and Great Britain re policy in Italy, Greece, and Belgium—even if Mr. Churchill had stated to Commons that the U.S. supported the British action in Belgium to suppress demonstrations against the government.

Discussing policy was one thing, opines Ms. Thompson, but displaying in public the problems between the Allies only allowed the enemy increased resolve to continue fighting, in the hope that the Allied cause might disintegrate of its own weight and afford Germany terms of surrender.

She gives praise to the President for not fueling these problems, even if Mr. Stettinius's note stating the U.S. hands-off policy with respect to Greece, of which she takes cognizance, had. She doubts some of the revelations in the press with regard to "inside dope" being provided journalists on what was taking place behind the scenes.

The Side Glances of the day has a couple of bobby-soxer Dotties eyeing, enviously, their well-dressed fellow student, Prim, an obvious fashion plate, some 21 years ahead of her peers in habit. The question remains, though, why, on the Friday before Christmas on Monday, these three attractive young ladies were in school and not out carousing in the snow with young men, where they quite obviously belonged. Perhaps, they had been bad, solicitin' boys in the libr'ry and that sort o' thing, and were forced to remain extra days in school, e'en through Christmas Day. Ah well, 'tis better than going to war.

Dr. Herbert Spaugh provides the symbology attached to Moravian candles, a fixture in Winston-Salem which anyone who has ever resided there for long will readily recognize. The candles are made of beeswax and tallow, product of living animal flesh, with a red ribbon tied at the bottom, standing for the divine light of the world afforded by Christ.

That is fine and we had a few in our possession while growing up in that burg. But, we always found them to smell rather pungent, especially when burning. Stand very close to a beeswax candle sometime should you need your sinuses readily cleared, right up to your cerebral cortex. Whether that effect, too, is of Biblical origin, we have yet to determine.

It has, apparently, nothing, by the way, per se, to do with the Great Speckled Bird, smart aleck.

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