Friday, December 29, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, December 29, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that American armor had pushed the German spearhead in retreat another ten miles across the Lesse and Homme Rivers to the outskirts of Rochefort. Nevertheless, Von Rundstedt's infantry forces were entrenching at the western end of the salient. The critical battle had been waged in the village of Humain, four miles southwest of Marche and four miles north of Rochefort. The Americans drove the Germans from the village with a combination of air strength, artillery, infantry, tank destroyers and flamethrowers.

The German infantry, along with tanks and trucks, were often encountered on the snow-covered fields wandering blindly in the fog, limiting visibility to 50 yards. The retreat was being described as having, in some places, turned into a rout.

General Patton's Third Army, having broken through on December 27 to the Bastion of Battered Bastards of Bastogne, had advanced up to three miles against the German southern flank, to move to within seventeen miles, at the Bastogne center, of the main body of the First Army pressing the northern flank, entering the villages of Jodenville and Villeroux near Sibret, 2.5 miles southwest of Bastogne. A junction with the First Army at Bastogne would cut off Von Rundstedt's advance elements from their eastern supply lines.

The Third Army had in six days, after General Patton had successfully petitioned the Almighty for good fighting weather, shifted its front from the Saar offensive to move twenty miles in six days to attack the flank. In so doing, the Army had to renounce its position at Dillengen, already secured at great cost, having afforded initial penetration in the Saar region into the Siegfried Line.

Hal Boyle provides a vivid first-hand account the previous day of the abandoned front, "which yesterday rocked with the crashing sounds of battle as an American armored outfit stopped Von Rundstedt's drive three miles short of the Meuse River, [and over which now] lies a silence compounded of cold, fog, and death."

The latest move to relieve Bastogne, as described by an unnamed general to Mr. Boyle, had occurred after an overnight drive through country the Army had never seen before, traveling fully a hundred miles. The operation had been undertaken then, of necessity, spontaneously, without the ability even to assemble and plan the drive. For four days and nights continuously, the battle then raged.

It was disclosed that the commander who had issued the eloquent response to the German general requesting surrender of Bastogne had been Brig. General Anthony McAuliffe, leading the 101st Airborne and elements of the Ninth and Tenth Armored Divisions.

The regular commander of the 101st was Maj. General Maxwell D. Taylor, eventually Chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, having succeeded General Lyman Lemnitzer as Chairman just prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis, then becoming in 1964 and 1965 Ambassador to South Vietnam, succeeding Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. General Taylor was in Washington when the 101st was unexpectedly trapped in Bastogne by the German Bulge line after having been thrown against it. The General, upon hearing of the plight of his men, immediately flew to France on December 26, then rode in a jeep to Bastogne together with the Third Army's Fourth Armored Divsion, which, along with elements of the 80th and 35th Infantry Divisions, cut the supply route from the south into the beleaguered contingent of 10,000 men on December 27.

About 1,500 American heavy bombers and fighters, together with a large array of RAF bombers, undertook major bombing operations for the seventh straight day, striking supply lines at Euskirchentrier and within the Bingen-Frankfurt-Aschaffenburg triangle. The raids the previous day, comprised of 1,200 American heavy bombers accompanied by 700 escorts, along with RAF heavy bombers, dropped a total of 9,000 tons of bombs on various targets in Western Germany. Air cover along the Western Front, however, was again limited by snow, sleet, and clouds.

The Fifteenth Air Force out of Italy struck at Innsbruck and Salzburg in Austria.

The Russians were now fighting within the heart of Budapest, moving house to house in a battle which the German High Command described as the most furious since Stalingrad. The Russians had cracked the first of three rings of enemy defenses of the capital. The German communique also contended that U.S. and British planes were attacking the Western Balkans from an airfield at Ungvar on the Czechoslovak-Hungarian border, placed at their disposal by the Soviets in conjunction with the Czechoslovak mission.

The Japanese reported movement of a large, heavily guarded American convoy, including 30 transports, through inland Philippine waters, the Mindanao Sea out of Surigao Strait south of Leyte, and claimed to have sunk six of the ships in a two-day battle, Wednesday and Thursday.

American bombers again struck Iwo Jima, while Admiral Nimitz announced the second Japanese raid in three days on the B-29 base at Saipan.

Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher, one of the principal Naval commanders in the Saipan and Leyte landing operations, stated from Pearl Harbor that he foresaw within a year the defeat completely of the Japanese Navy.

Admiral Mitscher, of course, could not foresee the advent of the atomic bomb which would obviate the necessity of that arduous remaining campaign within the home islands of Japan. But he provided the scenario, which, along with calculations from General MacArthur on the cost to infantry of such a heavily defended fight to Tokyo, led, most wisely, President Truman to consent to deployment of the bomb, saving not only tens of thousands of American lives but also, inevitably from the necessity otherwise of continuing conventional bombing raids, far more Japanese lives than were taken by the two bombs, as horrible as they were. Advance warning was provided by President Truman, along with Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek, to the Emperor of Japan should surrender not be forthcoming. If anyone, therefore, should be blamed for the destruction in Japan, the mantle of responsibility falls squarely upon the shoulders of Hirohito and the Koiso Government, as well, of course, the predecessor Tojo Government, the role of the less bellicose Suzuki, Prime Minister at time of dropping the bombs, being clouded by the fog of war.

The cold fact remains and must always be foremost borne in mind by would-be revisionists and emotion-laden apologists for the bomb that America did not start the thing.

American support was said to be favorable to a regency in Greece in place of King George II, who, it was widely believed, enjoyed, along with the Papandreou Government, little support among the people. The regency having been indicated as an acceptable compromise by the ELAS and EAM, it was therefore hoped in Washington that Prime Minister Churchill's just concluded trip to Athens would result in an acceptable peace arrangement within Greece.

Nevertheless, a report came that the British had initiated a three-pronged military offensive against slight opposition from the ELAS within the eastern suburbs of Athens, a day after the Prime Minister's departure. The British soldiers advanced through Zappion Park on Ardittos Hill, then entered the Pank Rati Cemetery, from which ELAS troops had been firing mortars into the cleared sections across the Phaleron Road below the Acropolis. A Greek mountain brigade assisted the operations by moving southward against the ELAS stronghold within the suburb of Kissariani.

And, to round out the compleat news of the day, Iowa Governor B. B. Hickenlooper announced his intention to resign as Governor the following Wednesday so that he might be sworn in as newly elected Senator from the State of Iowa.

On the editorial page, "It Works" provides the infallible maxim for frustrated Charlotte weather observers, gleaned from staring the weather square in the face from within the Ivory Tower of The News, extending fully to the upper vapors of the empyrean realm.

Went the maxim: "Fog before seven, Sun before eleven," regardless of forecast.

The added caveat was that the maxim depended on Standard Time, not War Time, for its operation. For to alter to War Time the hours to eight and twelve, respectively, meant to trammel the rhyming couplet's key couplers and thus do violence to the mystic quality endowed surely by the timing doublet's pre-Dopplers, though blitzed the Time sustained was and tempus from it flew in strain through the narrow aperture down the enchanted corridor of late into which was delved.

"Man in a Hurry" discusses the urgency of the trip to Greece by Prime Minister Churchill, that mounting adverse opinion, from the press, the Parliament, and within his Cabinet, to the British use of force in Greece had compelled nothing less than this trip to resolve the crisis. The situation had been exacerbated by the advent of the Belgium offensive, as observers had begun to question why, with materiel and men needed so badly now in the West, the British, using American equipment in many cases, were busy turning back a home-grown guerrilla movement to preserve the Papandreou Government and the throne of King George.

The piece opines that American opinion was probably summed by Drew Pearson in his open letter to the Prime Minister published September 19, urging that Americans did not want their equipment used in such manner to uphold royal power.

The Prime Minister's visit to Greece, now concluded, suggested that he was about to admit that his policy had been in error.

"A Failure" comments on the commutation by Governor Broughton of the death sentence of a 14-year old black girl, convicted of the murder of a Charlotte taxi driver. Convinced though he was of her guilt and the general rectitude of the sentence, he was actuated by the quality of mercy, based on the defendant's youth, to reduce her sentence to life imprisonment. He stated that society had not fulfilled its obligations with respect to this young girl, the product of illegitimate birth and an orphanage after her mother was killed in a brawl, later adopted, but never shown care and attention by the adults who had the responsibility.

The editorial finds the Governor's wisdom in the matter appropriate and asks rhetorically, given the condition of juvenile courts and prisons and mental institutions in North Carolina, how far the state was willing to go to ameliorate the problems resulting from them.

Again, as we have before stressed, Law and Order advocates need always to be mindful of the potential victim down the way for those either too harshly punished or not enough rehabilitated.

That is why such policies as expressly exist, for instance, in the State of California subsequent to the Neanderthals of the 1970's and 1980's having gotten, through money and manipulation, their hands on the tiller of the laws via the referendum process, bought and paid for through advertising to the soft-headed and those scared of their own shadows, to make "punishment" the sole goal of imprisonment, expressly excluding rehabilitation as a goal, all in the name in fact of establishing a Nazi-Fascist State. For that sort of pig-headed cruelty, both to the imprisoned and those controlled thereby from the fear thus instilled outside the prison walls, is the hallmark of a Nazi-Fascist State.

"A Firm Hand" states the shock to the country resulting from the news that hundreds of Army soldiers had been arrested in France for stealing and then selling on the French black market Army supplies, including food and gasoline. These soldiers, says the piece, had committed treason or something akin to it by interrupting the flow of such essential supplies to the fighting front.

Four North Carolinians had already been convicted in court martial proceedings and sentenced to life, 30 years, 25 years, and five years, respectively. Their offenses ranged from going AWOL with stolen supplies sold on the black market to sale of 1,055 gallons of gasoline to the French.

The editorial opines that, while Army discipline would change or reform men, such sentences would act as deterrent and as punishment for these serious acts of theft of Government property, endangering men's lives in combat and prolonging the war.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record has Senator Josiah W. Bailey of North Carolina, having spoken in opposition to the proposed raising of the salaries of postal workers on the ground that it would lead to inflation and cause the war to be lost, recounting the situation of Frederick the Great, who, having lost battle after battle, finally won the Seven Years War to establish his Empire, giving example presently two centuries later to Hitler that not all was necessarily lost.

William Pitt, the Elder, the Earl of Chatham, had resigned as Prime Minister in England, causing the British to leave the war. The Empress of Russia, Elizabeth, had died, causing Russia to leave the war when Czar Peter came to power, befriending Frederick.

Thus emboldened, Frederick then was able to win repeated victories, return to Prussia and establish the Empire of the Hohenzollerns, grabbing Silesia and ultimately Austria.

It was, Senator Bailey insisted, therefore incumbent upon the United States to hold the alliances together with both Russia and Great Britain, as it would require all three to win the war finally against Hitler.

Drew Pearson comments that the Germans, no matter the outcome of the Belgian Bulge offensive, had achieved their main objective, to prolong the war by about six months, to obtain time to amass a hundred fresh divisions for a spring drive.

The American objectives, to take the west bank of the Rhine and the Siegfried Line by spring, had been frustrated. That, opines Mr. Pearson, was now definitely out.

The Philippines campaign also might be retarded by the need for supplies on the Western Front.

The capture of stores of ammunition by the Nazis and the need to use huge quantities to resist the offensive would further beset supply problems already experienced by the Allies on the Western Front, requiring rationing of ammunition.

Part of the problem of attenuated supplies had been caused by German mines in the English Channel, laid freshly each night, as well as narrow roads and difficult conditions within the French ports. The E-boats of the Germans had taken to lying still in the water to avoid being spotted by patrol planes. The RAF patrols had begun utilizing flares to light the water to find the boats. Once spotted, they gave the call, "Want Willie, want Willie," which brought the patrol planes to the area to take out the E-boat.

He also reports that the German flooding of the Dutch country before the British Army by opening dikes and levees had caused salinization of the soil which would take half a century to undo to make again the land arable.

Military observers, he comments, were puzzled by the Japanese reluctance to fight for Mindoro Island when they mounted a defense to every other island objective of the Allies. Mindoro was being fitted with a B-29 airbase for attacks on Japanese positions in China.

Finally, Mr. Pearson describes the grave reservations expressed in a letter of September 30, 1943 by Count Carlo Sforza to Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes regarding his anticipated ordeal with Churchill as he prepared to return to Italy from exile. He said that after he returned, he might be in power or he might be in jail. The Count knew of the British Prime Minister's dislike of him for his having authored a book several years earlier, Makers of Modern Empire, critical of the British Empire and particularly Winston Churchill.

Mr. Pearson adds a note that Italians, concerned of the Churchill intention to take over Pantellaria and other of the small Mediterranean islands, had been alienated from Britain and were gravitating now toward Russia.

Samuel Grafton relates of the recrimination now going on within the public for the sudden turn in the European war, following three promising months from September to November in which the general tenor of the public had been to forget the war with the optimistic belief in tow that it was soon to be won. Now, the failure of Army Intelligence before the Bulge line in Belgium and the shortages of supplies to the troops combined to create a climate of blame.

The blame for the condition, suggests Mr. Grafton, was that there had been the tendency, with victory seemingly in sight, to begin anew the practices of Red-baiting and British-baiting, as if it were again the pre-war period. The German offensive, he cautions, was only a symbol of what could transpire when the Allies would begin to disintegrate their alliance forged during the war.

Marquis Childs writes of the ominous cloud forecasted by the announcement of Undersecretary of War Robert Patterson that all horse racing tracks within the country would be closed for the winter starting January 3, affecting tracks in California, Florida, and Louisiana. The horse racing community had sought to forestall the closings until after the winter season. The Undersecretary's case had been strengthened, however, by the bad news from Europe.

The horse racing industry had become a target for press criticism because of reports of large crowds motoring to the racetracks, using scarce gasoline and tires. Cars were wearing out with no new replacements since February, 1942, 150,000 cars per month estimated to be leaving the roads out of the 74 million in operation, taxing thereby mass transportation facilities to transport war workers to and from their jobs.

New tire plants to use synthetic rubber were scheduled to begin construction at a cost of a hundred million dollars, but would not begin production before the end of 1945.

Automobile manufacturers had gathered in Washington in September and October to plan a resumption of manufacture shortly after V-E Day. Now, that optimism was past as a pipe dream.

Fifth Day of Christmas: Five Buda-Bast Seized Yeggs.

Incidentally, we note that someone, believe it or not, liberated, yesterday, a squirrel monkey from the San Francisco Zoo, bearing the appellation, provided by zoo attendants, Banana-Sam. If you see Banana-Sam, provide him a couple of nuts. It has been a long time since we were at the monkey house of the San Francisco Zoo, but once we did visit. At least the squirrel monkey's name was not Mrs. Murphy.

Hint to the SFPD, on the Q.T.: You are probably looking for someone, male or female, who answers to the name Benjamin Braddock and is stalking Elaine Robinson, while also dating, in an echo chamber, Mrs. Robinson at the Taft Hotel. Ask the desk clerk for a description.

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