Thursday, February 10, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, February 10, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Nazis had launched the fiercest attack yet of the Anzio fighting on that beachhead, striking at six points, three of which were British positions north and west of Carroceto or Aprilia, the strongest of the attacks, while the other three were on American positions west of Cisterna. The latter counter-attacks were beaten back and some new ground gained by the Americans. But the British artillery had been in operation for 36 hours without relief or respite. Casualties were heavy for the Allies even if greater numbers were inflicted on the Germans who had developed a superior strength of forces along the beachhead.

A platoon of sixteen men on the beachhead had particularly distinguished itself by killing 30 Germans and capturing 23 others of a company which the platoon, by splitting into two units, was able to surround on either side and begin a crossfire with machineguns ripping the Germans to shreds.

Homer Bigart of the New York Herald Tribune reports of several thousand British troops having been trapped by Germans on February 3 in a salient extending north from Carroceto. The Germans were supported by six or eight 60-ton Tiger tanks, four of which were knocked out by the American tank destroyers. The Germans appeared to have the British soldiers trapped, but failed for unknown reasons to muster sufficient forces in the north to rout the British lines. Thus, the British were able to escape the gambit via a nearby highway, the only route of evacuation.

Fierce house-to-house fighting also continued in and around Cassino, as German forces appeared increasingly aggressive.

In Russia, the Red Army had moved to within eight miles of the iron center at Krivoi Rog, surrounding it from the north, south, and east. Seven pincers were lashing out toward the ten divisions of Germans trapped near Cherkasy, also closing to within eight miles of the center of the Nazi ring at Korsun.

An American raid again hit amid heavy resistance heavily defended Brunswick, Germany. No figures on losses were yet available. The Brunswick, Oschersleben, and Halbersadt raid of January 11 had cost the Americans a record 60 bombers. The raid on Brunswick on January 30 had resulted in 20 bombers lost.

In Naples, a royal decree issued ending all anti-Semitic policies instituted under Fascism. It had been over six months since Mussolini had been forced to resign at the end of July.

Five men who spent a week adrift in the Pacific on four life rafts after their Liberator had crashed during the Marshalls operation on January 29, said that their worst peril had been sharks attacking the rafts. They destroyed one, as they swarmed in predation of the fish which congregated within the shadows of the rafts at sunset each day.

One airman told of an albatross sitting on the side of the raft for several nights, one which was a ready listener to his thoughts. Because the men did not have the balloon with which to hoist their radio antenna skyward, he considered sending the albatross aloft with it attached. He was afraid, however, that the bird would never forgive him and so thought better of the notion.

An eyewitness provided further details of the February 2 mid-air collision which took the life of Raymond Clapper. The Avenger torpedo-bomber in which Mr. Clapper was riding, upon his request to observe the bombing mission over Engebi Island in the Marshalls, had just finished a glide bombing attack when it struck another American bomber and crashed into a lagoon. The pilot of the Avenger was one of the most experienced in the Navy, with over 2,500 hours of flight time without ever having suffered injury. As the plane had taken off from the carrier, Mr. Clapper had given a thumbs-up signal.

Hal Boyle tells of being holed up with American troops inside a house on the Cassino front during the fighting of February 2, just as the American troops were starting to break through into the outskirts of the town. An Italian couple still lived in the house, had been there when the Nazis occupied it, paying at first for food, then, after the Italians surrendered in September, taking whatever they wanted, including cows, mules, and chickens.

When the German barrage shells landed within fifty yards of the house, the conversation suddenly quieted. After it had died down, the soldiers told Mr. Boyle of themselves. When another close barrage began, the talk again ceased. One private began singing softly, "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella on a Rainy, Rainy Day". But he trailed off halfway through the song.

On the editorial page, "Coroners" praises the resigning present coroner of Mecklenburg County for his having urged that the position be abolished and replaced with a system of medical examiners.

"Finland" examines the dilemma of the country which was going to pay the price post-war for being overrun by Nazis after the fight in 1939-40 with Russia. The United States was correct in its warning to Finland that either it had to renounce its ties with the Axis or pay the price with Germany after the war. The State Department's ultimatum dashed any remote hope Finland harbored that because the United States had never severed diplomatic relations with it despite its being at war with Britain and Russia, there would be a defense of Finland by the U.S. vis à vis Russia.

"Wake Next?" wonders whether Wake Island would become the next step after the Marshalls for invasion. It was logical for it so to be, as it was only 600 miles from the Marshalls and was remote from any Japanese stronghold to offer its ready reinforcement. It would, says the editorial, supply a more emotional uplift to the American people than even the taking of the Marshalls. For it was the "Devil Dog" Marines, numbering only 400, who held off for two weeks, to the last of their ammunition and supplies, the Japanese invaders of December 8, 1941. And so it would be for their memory that Otori Island, as the Japanese had renamed it, would be retaken.

Even though supply routes to the island were cut in 1944, the Japanese garrison holding it did not surrender until September, 1945, after the formal Japanese surrender.

"Total War" finds an Algiers radio broadcast stating that the American people need not recoil in horror at the news of the bombing by the Luftwaffe of an Army evacuation hospital at Nettuno, despite its being plainly marked with a red cross. Such episodes, remarked the broadcast, were going to become the norm, and anyone who was stunned at the fact did not understand the concept of the war at this juncture. "There is no gallantry. It is no game. It is kill or be killed."

The piece echoes the sentiment and finds that it would be true of both sides, that hospitals contained potential combatants who were no less soldiers than those actively fighting on the front lines. As barbaric as attack on the convalescing seemed, it was simply another manifestation of a harsh precept of a harsh and bitter war.

Dorothy Thompson again addresses the contemplated division of Germany after the war, offers that should it be divided into five sectors as proposed, whether that would have any disintegrative effect would depend on whether there were five separate economic systems and educational systems. She proposes that a true division might take place should the Soviets be granted control of one sector, including Prussia, the putative, if exaggerated, font of Nazi mentality, while the Western Allies controlled the rest. But even then, she says, ideas would eventually permeate the borders and cause common bonding among Germans. So whether the division would strengthen or weaken Germany was a story yet untold.

The belief obviously by the Soviets that division of their own country into sixteen republics was a move to strengthen the country economically and diplomatically, gave question to whether the concept was, by design, to be divisive or ultimately unifying.

Ms. Thompson, of course, could not foresee the Berlin Wall to be erected by the Soviets in August, 1961 as a barrier against the sort of permeability by ordinary of which she writes.

Samuel Grafton discusses the failure thus far of Thomas Dewey to come out into the open and commit to positions on current issues of note, such as the Tehran Conference of November-December, the national service bill, and the tax bill. Instead, Governor Dewey remained busy being Governor of New York and stayed aloof from the issues of the day. Such a posture, says Mr. Grafton, disserved the electorate who had to make a determination whether Mr. Dewey would make a fit and informed president.

Meanwhile, his chief opponent for the nomination, Wendell Willkie, who this date was reported to have declared in Oregon that he would be the Republican nominee again, took a stand on taxes, if a bit waffly, and asserted a clear course in support of internationalism. Mr. Grafton concludes that Mr. Dewey ought join Mr. Willkie on a traveling platform and openly discuss the issues side by side with him.

Drew Pearson discusses the Louisiana gubernatorial race, Jimmie Davis, author of "You Are My Sunshine", having won, along with Earl Long, running for lieutenant governor, the first Democratic primary on January 18. There was now to be a run-off. Should, as was the case, Mr. Davis win, says Mr. Pearson, the cuetaker of "Pass the Biscuits Pappy" O'Daniel of Texas would likely take off for Hollywood to make hillbilly records, leaving the state in the hands of Mr. Long, to run it on the lines of his assassinated brother, the Kingfish.

Among the stories of note out of the primary was the dismal finish of Congressman James Morrison, despite his having spent $200,000 in funds of mysterious origin. Odds appeared that it came from a notoriously corrupt lobbyist who backed Mr. Morrison Morrison.

The political savant had pulled another trick, less daring perhaps than his having obtained the imprimatur of the Postmaster General for sending campaign literature utilizing his Congressional franking privilege, that by attaching to it a speech delivered before Congress. This time, he had sent out fliers with an article about him from Saturday Evening Post, even if less than flattering, referring to him as "the minnow who could be kingfish". Mr. Morrison, nevertheless, asserted that any man written up in the Post was an important personage. The voters, however, apparently thought otherwise.

That Mr. Pearson had in December reminded them in his column that Mr. Morrison once had shot himself in the arm in a feigned assassination attempt, to seek to place himself in the minds of Louisianans on the same level with Huey Long, could not have helped his candidacy.

Raymond Clapper, in his seventh of eight posthumously published pieces, provides his second installment of life aboard the carrier which would take him to his death. The clean and well-kempt surroundings were in dramatic contrast to the jungle and mud to which he had become accustomed on his tours of New Britain, Munda, and Guadalcanal in recent days.

The ship provided a black steward who even kept Mr. Clapper's shoes shined for him.

The radio was broadcasting a station from San Francisco, even if the steward contended that it was originating from recordings played onboard to fool the ship's captive audience.

One could get hit onboard ship, realized Mr. Clapper; but he thought it far better to get hit there than out in the jungle where he had been, in a foxhole half full of mud and rain.

He was feted with fine meals and was able to obtain even a nice haircut from the ship's barber, a sailor who had been a barber in civilian life in Tennessee.

Mr. Clapper said he felt as a country boy come to the city, as the bumpkin in Oklahoma! who had sung Mr. Clapper's favorite song, "Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City".

Thus, that we happened in the note associated with February 2 to link to "Kansas City Star" by Roger Miller for another reason, to explain the vast contrast between such erudite fare of our generation and that to which the generation coming of age in 1944 listened, such unedifying neologistic patois as contained in "Mairzy Doats", turns out to have been perhaps not such an unfitting choice after all to honor the passing of Mr. Clapper--whose writings, we are sad to say, will no longer be with us to consider anew after tomorrow's final entry.

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