Saturday, December 30, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 30, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the American counter-attacks by the First and Third Armies against the Belgium Bulge flanks had pushed the German lines back to 16 miles into Belgium at one point, reacquiring nearly a third of the territory lost previously in Belgium and Luxembourg since the drive had begun two weeks earlier.

The First Army had gained as much as ten miles from the north and the Third Army, as much as 13 miles from the south. The width of the corridor had been narrowed to an average of 20 miles, and, by Thursday, to 16 miles above Bastogne, between Grandmenil and Longchamps.

The deepest German penetrations had been pushed back twelve miles as American infantry continued to fight into the outskirts of Rochefort. The supply corridor from the south into Bastogne had been further strengthened by the Fourth Armored Division of the Third Army, that which had broken through to the embattled but stubbornly persisting 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne on December 27. Through Friday, the Germans had not scored any gains for four full days.

A report by Kenneth Dixon tells of the Fighting Seventh Armored Division which led the spearhead to halt, ten days earlier, the four-day old penetration into Belgium by the Nazis. The Seventh had been maintaining the area around St. Vith, holding off six German divisions, sometimes with their supply lines severed. But the Americans were able nevertheless to move through the enemy lines or travel back roads by night to replenish supplies.

Some 1,300 American heavy bombers, escorted by about 700 fighters, hit railyards and bridges in Germany for the eighth successive day. Reconnaissance reported rail lines between the German rear and the Ardennes, through which the Bulge line had advanced, to be completely now severed.

The night before, the RAF had attacked railyards at Troisdorf and a synthetic oil plant at Schloven-Buer in the Ruhr.

The London Evening News issued a report that the Supreme Allied Command structure was about to get an overhaul, following changes made by General Eisenhower in September whereby Field Marshal Montgomery, former chief of land operations, had been moved onto the same level of command as other Allied group commanders in Europe. Also, Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh had been killed and General Eisenhower had not appointed anyone in his stead.

Retired Lt. General Sir Douglas Brownrigg had criticized the resulting command structure, contending that General Eisenhower in consequence had too many duties.

Close-quarter fighting continued by the Russians against German and Hungarian defenders within the heart of Budapest. The Russians were believed to have taken most of Buda west of the Danube and been making steady progress within Pest on the other side. German resistance had, however, stiffened on both sides. The use of the Danube was now being denied the enemy and all of Budapest's airfields had fallen from their possession. The city was completely surrounded and cut off from German supply.

In Greece, King George II had stipulated to the naming of a regent, Archbishop Damaskinos, who would likely take the oath the following day. A report also had it that George Papandreou had resigned his office and that "right wing liberal" Themistoklis Sophoulis had been asked to form a new cabinet.

The ELAS were reported to have sent Prime Minister Churchill a proposal to submit the country's tumultuous conflict to him for arbitration under an immediate truce. There was no immediate indication as to response.

Meanwhile, the right-wing EDES in northwest Greece, fighting the ELAS, were stated to have abandoned their positions and were moving to Corfu.

Prime Minister Churchill, addressing a conservative British group, the Primrose League, of which he was a member, stated his hope that there would be an Allied victory in Europe during 1945.

Herman Goering, in a prepared written statement, assured Germans that victory would come in the war and that a peace would be achieved under the leadership of Adolf Hitler.

Charlotte had selected Coleman Roberts as its Man of the Year. Mr. Roberts led the planning committee appointed by the Chamber of Commerce which had made initial recommendations for long-term projects, leading to the casting by the City Council of a new officially sanctioned planning commission with the task of creating a master plan for Charlotte's future development. Mr. Roberts had occupied a similar role in 1922-23 with respect to Greensboro.

On the editorial page, "Quick Triggers" reports of flaring tempers in the press and among retired military officials, seeking to blame military leaders for the lapse which had led to the breakthrough by the Germans in Belgium.

But there was more to it than mere failure of intelligence at the scene. The German Army had proved stronger after the summer campaign than anticipated and had also been able to build up its forces during a lull all across the front.

It was too early to pass judgment, as counseled by Secretary of War Henry Stimson. The war was quite different than the one fought in France in 1918, causing the recrimination by the older generals who had fought in it to appear hollow and anachronistic. Germany was a far more formidable foe in the current war.

The better attitude was to view the winter offensive by the Germans as an opportunity to deliver the final knockout punch.

"Something New" discusses a proposal by the president of the American Bar Association that the Congress create a Bureau of Legislation to investigate and draft subordinate regulations designed to supplement acts of Congress, a bureau which would act at the direction of the Congress.

At present, legislation was being interpreted by the Executive Branch, often with results appearing quite unintended by the face of the legislation. An example was the Fair Labor Standards Act, intended to set a floor on wages and a ceiling on hours. The Wage & Hour Administration, however, had interpreted its strictures beyond that simple goal and held applicable the Act's time and a half provisions for overtime work to employees earning substantially more than minimum wage, requiring each employer to maintain costly records on each employee's accumulated hours of work.

"A Shortage" reports of the endorsement by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce for more hospital facilities for African-Americans. Presently, only a hundred hospital beds were available for black residents, all at Good Samaritan Hospital, an average of 2.3 beds per thousand black citizens residing in the county, some 45,000. The Chamber recommended that at least another hundred beds be added, and that a new wing of Good Samaritan be constructed to accommodate the new beds.

The editorial thought a better suggestion would be to add a wing to the publicly supported Memorial Hospital.

Of course, no one dared suggest the unthinkable and far cheaper solution in 1944, to integrate the existing hospital facilities to accommodate patients according to the Hippocratic Oath, not their skin pigment.

"Second Stand" relates of George Gallup's defense before the House Campaign Investigating Committee of inaccuracies in his poll results before the election.

It was not the first time the veteran pollster had been forced to the defensive. In 1940, he had explained the inaccuracy then in a letter printed in the New York Times in November, expressing that he had been surprised at a one percent jump by Roosevelt on the weekend before the election and so took a re-sample, showing on Sunday a two percent decline, albeit one he subsequently, having relied finally on it, acknowledged had been thrown askew by its timing, when lower income citizens were not as available for responses.

In 1944, six of the nine states which he had leaning toward Governor Dewey had instead gone to FDR. The reason for the error was that he had expected light voting and when results suggested heavy voting, he had not corrected his deliberately skewed direction of the polling data based on an apparent trend toward Dewey. Moreover, the CIO PAC had registered voters at a higher than expected rate and efficiently got them to the polls, especially transient war workers.

Dr. Gallup had been a Dewey adviser. The piece concludes, therefore, that his final poll was one based on personal opinion rather than scientific data, the pollster's explanation notwithstanding. He had been no more convincing, says the piece, and no more accurate than in 1940.

Just wait until 1948.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record finds Representative Clare Hoffman of Michigan taking considerable umbrage at an editorial by John S. Knight, publisher of the Knight Newspaper Syndicate, with newspapers then in Miami, Detroit, and Akron. The editorial had stated:

A Congressman is a man who played ball with the drys during prohibition, but never missed an opportunity to sample his friends' private stock. A Congressman is a man who will drink your liquor all night. A Congressman is a man who collects mileage from the Government for trips he never takes.

A Congressman is a bumptious, slow-witted politician who depends upon smarter men to elect and re-elect him, a small chip in his big international poker game now being played at Washington. He is susceptible to flattery, devoid of backbone, lacking in principle, short on ability.

He usually labors under the delusion that our Government exists chiefly to perpetuate him and his kind on the public payroll. In brief, most Congressmen are a total waste of time, money, and effort.

The inept, spineless Seventy-Seventh Congress now assembled in Washington should be a direct challenge to every good citizen to see to it personally that the Seventy-Eighth Congress will be a better one.

Congressman Hoffman thought it therefore no wonder that the public had such a lack of confidence in their chosen representatives in Washington.

Drew Pearson reports of the country's most expensive Christmas turkey of the year, that of Brig. General Lewis Merritt, commander of the Marine Corps base at Cherry Point, N.C. A plane full of 19 Marines, including women, were ready to take off for Washington on the morning of December 23, to make connections home for the holidays, scheduled to depart at 10:00.

But the flight was delayed three hours for weather, then another two hours while an aide to General Merritt drove his turkey from Kinston to Cherry Point, a distance of 60 miles, because the General had forgotten that he left his turkey in North Carolina when he intended to spend Christmas in Washington.

When the turkey finally arrived, the plane took off at 3:30, but then, after 45 minutes in the air, turned around, on the advice from the ground that General Merritt had changed his mind, decided after all to spend Christmas at Cherry Point.

So the plane returned to base and left the turkey to the turkey—who had cost the 19 Marines about three hours of time beyond the initial delay and cost the Government 150 gallons of precious high octane fuel, not to mention the aide's fuel expended in driving from Kinston.

The Marines finally reached Washington at 8:00 p.m. on December 23.

Mr. Pearson concludes his column with advocacy for higher pay for Congressmen than the currently allotted $10,000 per year, stating that the average member was worthy of far more than that in earnings, probably double the amount.

Samuel Grafton once again apprises that war was not akin to a football game, where territory won determined the winner. Rather, it was the army which was finally defeated which determined who emerged victorious.

He points out that, while disappointing that the Belgium Bulge had occurred to interrupt progress on the Western Front, it would have been equally disconcerting had there been a winter stalemate during which time the Germans could replenish their lines and supplies.

The failure, he suggests, was not in the lack of recognition of the enemy's intent to initiate the drive but rather the lack of offensive being undertaken against the Germans. By contrast, the Russians had stopped a German counter-drive in July 1943 on the Orel-Belgorod front in Russia within eight days because the Russians had ready in reserve two offensive columns.

For the nonce, the Germans threatened the Allied line, but they were also encircled and when the blows from within the circle became strong enough, they would be forced to retreat back into the Fatherland, having expended great effort, would from that point be unable to stop the Allied push into Germany.

Marquis Childs speculates on the future of Vice-President Henry Wallace. Talk centered around his becoming Secretary of Commerce, as he would become, to replace Jesse Jones at the two-block long Commerce Building constructed during the Hoover Administration. But Secretary Jones, though aging, was not giving any indications of resignation and a Roosevelt request for same would be rare in his tenure as President.

Mr. Wallace had expressed interest in the job but many felt that he should return to his old position as Secretary of Agriculture, in which he had proved an effective administrator. The Vice-President, however, was not interested, felt the job of food distribution and planning domestically had been accomplished sufficiently during the 1930's.

He, himself, had stated his belief that he might prove most effective by going to the forward rest areas for the troops in France and engage there in his favorite pastime, playing volleyball.

Whether the Vice-President was going to serve his volleyball at some of the Fokkers flying over the front, Mr. Childs does not impart.

Dick Young writes of positively 4th Street.

Sixth Day of Christmas: Six Goose-steppers Gone Gimpy.

The News, not being published on New Year's Eve, did not stop to wish anyone Happy New Year, the year having ended on such a sour note on the European front that not too many people appeared very jubilant at the prospect of the passing of the year to another war-weary circuit around the sun anyway. But pass it would into history, this final full year of world war, and enter probably the most momentous year of the nation's history, if not that of the world, with ahead the death of President Roosevelt on April 12, the death of Hitler and Goebbels on April 30, the end of the war in Europe eight days later, the dropping of the world's first atomic bombs on August 6 and 9, and the end of the war in the Pacific within days thereafter. The United Nations Organization would be formally chartered in the spring in San Francisco, and the world, with the threat of nuclear annihilation increasingly set before it with evermore celerious means of delivery of the warheads, would never quite be the same.

Left behind, on the beaches of Normandy, on the Cherbourg Peninsula, at St. Nazaire, in the approach to St. Lo, at Caen, at Brest, at Grenoble, at Arnhem, at Aachen, at Belfort, at Metz, at Cassino, at Anzio, at Florence, below Bologna, on Kwajalein and Eniwetok, on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, on Leyte, in the advances to Warsaw, Bucharest, and Budapest, in other places, villages, hamlets, crossroads too numerous to name, in France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, East Prussia, Burma, Northeastern India, Southern China, Hollandia in New Guinea, and from out of the air over each of these battle-torn parts of the globe, were thousands upon thousands of men who had fought and died for the preservation of freedom and democracy during 1944. Some, such as the Maquis in France, the Polish Patriots holding firm in the spring in Warsaw, Tito's Partisans in Yugoslavia, the underground forces in most of these places, died without uniforms, fighting to protect their homes and families or to gain some sense of justice for their loss.

These two war-weary American faces, one from March 29 on Eniwetok in the Marshalls, and the other from December 23 from within the Belgium Bulge, perhaps sum it best.

As we embark on 2012, it is good to realize that there is no world war with its consequent torment which daily harassed and beset that generation of world citizens from 1937 to 1945, and to understand that human progress is slow, painfully and frustratingly so, but nevertheless progress we have made in the 67 years since, and will continue so to do, if haltingly at times, into the future.

Since the curmudgeon of curmudgeons, Andy Rooney, a reporter in this war for the Army newspaper Stars & Stripes during his youth, passed away a few weeks back, we shall, in his honor, refrain from wishing you all the best in the year ahead. We shall simply wish, in addition to the best, that the end of the Mayan Calendar next December does not entail the hidden meaning which some ascribe to it, and that, we trust, most of us, unless we should elect to follow self-fulfilling prophecy over the edge of the precipice, will still be here plodding along a year from now. We intend to be, as we intend to go through the end of 1945 for you, to get the feel and atmosphere of the beginning of the post-war period. So, see you around the bend, for one more year from not so very long ago, 1945.

From The News, March 20, 1944
"Birds" is now here.

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.