Friday, February 11, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, February 11, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Germans had taken advantage of rain and cloud cover, depriving the Allies of its crucial air coverage of the Anzio beachhead, to rain down on the Anzio sector artillery and tank fire, entrapping the Fifth Army in an encircling line of assault. The new thrust had begun the previous afternoon and continued into this day.

By the previous nightfall, however, it was reported that German artillery appeared to have slackened under fierce counter-fire by the Allied big guns, firing in timed unison on specified targets, the concentration designed to obliterate those targets.

The Nazis had started to utilize their tanks as artillery in hit-and-run operations along the beachhead, to push ahead of infantry wedges, consisting now of five divisions and a brigade. Carroceto or Aprilia, ten miles north of Anzio, was reported by the German High Command to have been breached by the Wehrmacht.

The previous day, a concentrated force of bombers of the Fifteenth Air Force out of the Mediterranean command of General Nathan Twining, had launched a fierce ring of bombing attacks on the Nazi troops, interrupted, however, at noon on Thursday by the cloud cover and rain.

The President indicated that the Allies were praying for good weather to relieve the tense situation which had suddenly arisen on the Anzio beachhead.

In the Pacific, General MacArthur announced that the five-month Huon Peninsula campaign on New Guinea, begun September 22 with the advance by Australian troops on Finschhaben, had concluded successfully with the clearing of all enemy from the peninsula, destroying a Japanese division numbering 14,000. The Australians moving north had now linked up with the American forces which had landed at Saidor on January 2.

General MacArthur gave praise to the air and naval cover afforded the operation, having cut off supply and reinforcement to the Japanese, resulting in their entrapment and eventual withering to the heights from starvation.

The next objective appeared to be Madang, 60 miles to the north. Air reconnaissance had reported that Madang had already been abandoned by the Japanese.

In the Marshalls, bombing of Japanese positions from the air within the islands continued. The only named target was Wake Island, 600 miles north of the Marshalls and a potential supply depot for them, suffering its twelfth Allied blow of the war.

In Russia, the Red Army had taken Shepetovka, vital rail center of the Nazis 45 miles southeast of Rovno in the Ukraine. The encircling movement to entrap up to 150,000 Nazis in a ring centered about Korson continued along its seven concentric points of advance.

American bombers again struck Frankfurt and targets over the rocket-gun coast of Northern France. RAF Mosquitos hit Berlin and other targets in Germany the night before.

A French underground "weather broadcast" suggested doom on the horizon for Germany and occupied France, ending with the ominous notation: "Time: It is exactly the hour minus five."

Based on the Navy's rendition of time, as reported by Raymond Clapper in the final days of his life, that could have meant five days before D-Day. Of course, it was actually four months less five days until that hour. But the Allies were keeping the Germans deliberately off balance by disseminating confusing information as to precise time and place, even if the continuing softening of the Pas-de-Calais section of the French coast gave fair certainty that the invasion would occur in that area.

Hal Boyle tells of the pesky German "hide and seek" gun which would be rolled from a concrete garage, fired down Highway 6 toward the Allied lines at Cassino and then quickly rolled back before Allied air cover and artillery could spot it down and destroy it.

He then turns to the pitiful picture of Italian children playing within a few hundred yards of the Cassino front where the sound of artillery blasts replaced that of the birds and the breeze through the trees. The children appeared oblivious to the threat and the rumble and shake of the ground. They played games with ration boxes, pretending them to be boats. They got into arguments and fights as children everywhere. And their mothers duly scolded them as mothers everywhere.

Then an ambulance passed with two wounded Allied soldiers aboard, headed for the field hospital. None of the children or their parents, however, paid any attention to it.

On the editorial page, "Silence" looks at the break in the censorship of news from Italy with the announcement that several of the provinces south of Rome and all of Sardinia and Sicily had been handed over by the provisional Allied military government to Marshal Pierre Badoglio and King Victor Emanuele, with the proviso that the government would only last until the liberation of Rome at which time a new government would be popularly determined.

The editorial, however, questions whether Badoglio could be trusted given his past with Mussolini, given his present, banning any group of more than five Italians gathering in the streets of Naples, appointing a former Fascist as mayor of Palermo and Bari, refusing to accept a National Liberation candidate as mayor of Naples, having insisted for more than a month after the fall of Mussolini that Italy remain in the war against the Allies, only changing his tune upon the landings at Salerno.

Now, the Marshal was saying that he would relinquish power over the provinces, provided someone would step forward more "fitted" after the fall of Rome. The piece wonders, however, who would be arbiter of whether Badoglio was the better fitted.

"Dissenters" finds unenlightened two British clergymen, Lord Lang, former Bishop of Canterbury, and the Bishop of Chichester, for advocating the end of Allied bombing of Germany, even while recognizing the pattern of wanton destruction wreaked by the Luftwaffe during the Blitz of 1940-41.

The piece asserts that such thinking would lead the Allies to ruin, that which remained of the day being enslaved to the Reich. That these men wanted Nazi rule was, doubtless, indicates the piece, not the case; but their advocacy logically led to no other result. To stop the bombing was to lose, or at least, greatly prolong the war.

The piece was entirely correct, of course, as demonstrated by the Second Blitz beginning in fall, 1944 as soon as Hitler adequately developed his rocket bombs to hurl at England across the Channel. Any idiot who believes the world could have lived in peaceful co-existence with Hitler misunderstood the serpent in Eden and its literal translation into the Nazi Superman mentality, as seen through the hazy mists of Ragnarok substituting for Armageddon.

Such criticism of the war by the British clergy had arisen earlier.

"Turnabout" fetches irony from the response of the President to a reporter who suggested that the election might be delayed for a year because of the war. The President had retorted that the Constitution demanded that the President and Vice-President be determined by election held every four years.

The editorial offers that this principled response sounded tinny against the several challenges to the Constitution waged by the Administration during its eleven years in office, the defeat of the 18th Amendment ending Prohibition in 1933--even if in that case the Amendment was passed by Congress a month before FDR's first inauguration--, the Court-packing plan of 1937 to add six justices to the Supreme Court in an effort to dilute the effect of the "Old Men" of the Court who had dismantled much of the New Deal, the National Recovery Administration, struck down in great part by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 1935-36, the general extension of executive powers to combat the ill effects of the Depression, and the $25,000 salary limit first proposed by the President during the fall of 1942.

"War Song" seeks an appropriate anthem for World War II, yet, it suggests, to be produced. Tin Pan Alley had failed to deliver. "Dirty Gertie from Bizerte" was preferred at the corner drugstore, but there remained public ignorance of that "allegedly gay and naughty ditty".

Coming closest to filling the bill thus far, opines the piece, was Noel Coward's "Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans!" Yet, even with that one, the men on the North African and Italian fronts had expressed displeasure, for they took it literally to recommend leniency to the Nazis. The soldiers had other ideas.

The piece concludes that a more literal, less ironic, song was needed to appeal to the men seeking the liberation of Europe.

Samuel Grafton contrasts the failure of the United States to develop a foreign policy, other than that led and governed ad hoc by the war, with that established by the Soviet Union in clear definition. He again counsels that America make its foreign policy known in terms other than war.

Drew Pearson, writing from Wichita Falls, Texas, examines the oil companies of the country, finds the small producer in trouble in an unprofitable business where the major oil companies reaped all the profits. The majors were rooting for the Government to maintain low oil prices, which, to stem inflation, the Government was happy to oblige. The majors wanted oil prices low because they bought the bulk of their oil from small independent producers--which was why these producers were giving up the business for lack of profits.

The scenario was being played out in Tulsa, Oklahoma and all of Texas, save East Texas, where the oil still gushed and did not have to be pumped.

Of the 400,000 wells in the country, 300,000 were "stripper" wells, that is old wells which produced only a relatively small amount of oil daily. They were being closed down for lack of profitability and once closed, it was cost-prohibitive to re-establish them, thus losing steadily a valuable resource for oil, one to three barrels per day from each of these 300,000 stripper wells. Fred Vinson, Economic Stabilization Director, was willing to provide price subsidies to the independent producers who owned the stripper wells, but the strippers did not want the subsidies, instead fought for higher oil prices.

And so turned the Carousel.

He next assesses the popularity of the President in Texas, finds it strong, even while Texans found displeasure with aspects of the Administration's policies, were expected to vote for FDR in 1944. But Wendell Willkie had cut a fine figure before them in a recent tour of West Texas and was received warmly, generally was thought to be the only Republican who could give Roosevelt a run for his money in Texas.

Recounts Mr. Pearson, Mr. Willkie had pulled one boner during the tour. A Dallas Times-Herald photographer had been assigned to accompany the Willkie tour. But Mr. Willkie made favorable reference in one speech instead to the competitor newspaper in Dallas, The Dallas News--which had then its offices on the plaza named for its still living publisher, George Bannerman Dealey. Upon the comment favorable to the rival, The Times-Herald pulled its photographer from the trail ways.

Mr. Pearson then explains that Texans were glad that Amarillo cattleman, Grover Hill, had been appointed Undersecretary of Agriculture, even if he appeared to have a poor memory at critical moments. In a hearing before the railroad rate commission, he was complaining of bad conditions in the cattle business, thus favored lowering of freight rates for cattle, whereupon an attorney for the railroads produced an article Mr. Hill had indited for the Amarillo News in which he painted the picture as dandy for the cattle business. Although Mr. Hill had fumbled for an explanation, that Texans always liked to paint their country rosily, he could have cited his article as explaining that the current year was particularly depressed in the cattle business. Mr. Pearson concludes that either Mr. Hill had a poor memory or had the article ghost-written, not reading it himself very thoroughly.

Raymond Clapper, with his last entry to be published, now nine days after his death in a mid-air collision over the Marshalls, reports for the third time of his experiences aboard the carrier transporting him to his last destination. He tells of religious life aboard the carrier with a Protestant chaplain, a Catholic priest, a Christian Science reader, and a Jewish rabbi each to conduct various services for the 3,000 men of the ship.

The Protestant chaplain, a Lutheran minister in civilian life, told Mr. Clapper of an experience he had recently with a flier. Despite having flown eight previous missions, against Tarawa in the Gilberts, against Nauru, and against Rabaul, the airman expressed extreme fear of his next mission, to occur over Kavieng, New Ireland, on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Eve, therefore, he consulted the chaplain, asking for strength. His fear was as never before; his wife's baby was to be born soon and he did not want to go on the mission. The chaplain offered to obtain for him excuse from the mission, but the flier refused, fearing that were he not to go on the mission, he would never be able to fly again. He was more fearful of the fear itself than the actual flight.

He flew the mission Christmas Day and was hit by two bullets which penetrated the bottom of the rear of the cockpit. His death was the only casualty of the mission.

The chaplain had no ready explanation, had heard of such premonitions among the airmen but had never encountered one until the young flier of his story.

Mr. Clapper eerily concludes his piece on the unnamed flier by stating, "I don't know exactly why I should feel the story of this young man so far down in my throat even now as I write it."

Those were the last words of Mr. Clapper published at the time following his death.

The editors at The News believed it possibly to have been a premonition of his own crossing of the bar.

The sentence becomes especially interesting in light of Mr. Clapper having referenced the rain of Guadalcanal falling in mists reminiscent of that in the play based on the story by Somerset Maugham, titled "Rain". Within the film, a strange piece for its time, and presumably within the play, there is a quote from Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra.

As we referenced two days ago, the part of the section containing that quote, as below italicized, runs:

For me—how could there be an outside-of-me? There is no outside! But this we forget on hearing tones; how delightful it is that we forget!

Have not names and tones been given unto things that man may refresh himself with them? It is a beautiful folly, speaking; therewith danceth man over everything.

How lovely is all speech and all falsehoods of tones! With tones danceth our love on variegated rainbows.—

—"O Zarathustra," said then his animals, "to those who think like us, things all dance themselves: they come and hold out the hand and laugh and flee—and return.

Everything goeth, everything returneth; eternally rolleth the wheel of existence.

Everything dieth, everything blossometh forth again; eternally runneth on the year of existence.

Everything breaketh, everything is integrated anew; eternally buildeth itself the same house of existence. All things separate, all things again greet one another; eternally true to itself remaineth the ring of existence.

Every moment beginneth existence, around every 'Here' rolleth the ball 'There.' The middle is everywhere. Crooked is the path of eternity."—

—O ye wags and barrel-organs! answered Zarathustra, and smiled once more, how well do ye know what had to be fulfilled in seven days:—

—And how that monster crept into my throat and choked me! But I bit off its head and spat it away from me.

And ye—ye have made a lyre-lay out of it? Now, however, do I lie here, still exhausted with that biting and spitting-away, still sick with mine own salvation.

AND YE LOOKED ON AT IT ALL? O mine animals, are ye also cruel? Did ye like to look at my great pain as men do? For man is the cruellest animal.

At tragedies, bull-fights, and crucifixions hath he hitherto been happiest on earth; and when he invented his hell, behold, that was his heaven on earth.

Mr. Clapper made no direct reference to Thus Spake Zarathustra or the quote. This notion of the wheel or the ring, a flawed notion of existence, was that on which all of Nazi thought was premised. It is not only flawed but idiotic for its conveyance of a failure to consider the simplest notions. It is short-sighted and provincial. The seasons, indeed, in many places, run to four in a cycle of sorts, but even there they vary, and in other places on the globe they run only to a couple of dramatic borders, the cold and the dark interfacing then with the extended period of the relative warmth and the light. One need look no further for the flaw in the premise.

Yet, moreover, every passing instant of every cycle around the sun, of every daily revolution of the earth, is different for the fact that life is always passing, changing, never immutable, never static, whether of flora or fauna or both; and thus the constituency of the planet changes along with it. Water flows from the surfaces of the oceans into the clouds on different and irregular cycles; else storms and rain would occur precisely in the same pattern and amount each year. One need look no further.

Nietzsche, we hasten to add, wound up in an insane asylum. While not necessarily detracting from his work, in his case, it might be indicative of some flaw in the writing and the logic of the notions conveyed, interesting though they are for their having been co-opted by the Nazis, stupidly so and foredooming them in their Übermensch conceptions of reality, when, in all likelihood, Nietzsche was conveying the futility of such a conception, that the Superman was ultimately an insensate being, a robotic creature devoid of humanity, thus unattainable from within the mortal clay.

That the Nazis took up the theory for their own nationalistic ends, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with Nietzsche. He wrote a story which was badly manipulated and misunderstood by some idiots who couldn't understand what they read.

To blame Nietzsche would be to blame for the slayings by the Manson Family in August 1969, the video accompanying the release in February, 1967 of the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields", which contemporaneously aired on The Ed Sullivan Show. Or the filmed representation of "I Am the Walrus", airing on the same show in November of that same year--right around the time we performed in ninth grade our first term paper, the subject for biology being the chemical-neurological basis for memory, which kept us up all night the night before, our first of many subsequent all-nighters, a Sunday 'twas, just before Thanksgiving, the church which we then attended irregularly being protected from itself, if not by barbed wire, by Army personnel manning the battlements of the streets of the divided city--for the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington.

Rather, the blame was of the perpetrators, the bestiality engendered from the Triumph of the Will, the id over all reason and superego, just as the Nazis brainwashed themselves into like behavior patterns, releasing all responsibility for their actions to a surrogate father, a demigod whose assumed direction came from some supposed higher god within the celestial ruins, wherein resides Lucy.

Yet, the reference of Mr. Clapper to the young airman's story having, he said, gone "far down [his] throat" was similar enough to the passage surrounding the quote from Thus Spake Zarathustra contained in "Rain" to become of interest.

—And how that monster crept into my throat and choked me! But I bit off its head and spat it away from me.

Did Mr. Clapper have this sentence in mind as he wrote that last line of his last contemporaneously published story? Was it merely subconscious, a running train from having seen the play earlier in time and then, himself, having read the above passage from which the line comes, then pondering it at some length?

Was the "monster" fear? at least as Mr. Clapper might have consciously or unconsciously related it to the sad, but eerie, story of the airman and his trepidation before the mission which ultimately resulted in fact in his death.

Was this fear of the airman psychic warning, supernatural in occurrence? Did he sense somehow the future? Just as Lincoln was reported by members of his Cabinet to have told them on the morning of that Good Friday of a dream he had the night before: coming into the East Room, viewing a corpse on the bier, being told by weeping mourners that it was the earthly remains of the President.

Was the death of the airman merely resultant, as the strict empiricist might argue, of the fear playing on his conscious mind during the mission, causing him to be less than alert, indeed causing loss of sleep the night before, ultimately increasing the odds of his death in a dangerous bombing mission? In other words, was it, in a sense, self-fulfilling prophecy?

Was his death the result instead of a telepathic phenomenon, that the Japanese flier who killed him sensed instinctively a weak, fearful being in his sights and struck him down as a predatory beast in the jungle might? as a Tiger, Tiger burning bright.

Did one of these phenomena--excepting the last one because Mr. Clapper's plane was piloted by one of the Navy's most experienced fliers and crashed in mid-air with another American plane--account for Mr. Clapper's death also? Was the story, conveyed to him not long before his own death, sticking in his mind such that his fate became determined by that too vivid conception? Did it generate fear? Did that fear distract during the mission, pervading the atmosphere of the cabin palpably to the point that the pilot himself became distracted, if only momentarily, yet enough in inertia and momentum to be fatal?

Or is that as much speculative psychological mumbo-jumbo as a supernatural explanation?

Was Mr. Clapper's death, indeed, that of the airman, deliberate? in the former, for probing too far, in the latter, for probing not far enough, thereby in both endangering the whole crew, as the commanders saw it, in the latter not taking the advice of the chaplain to stand down until the individual fear returned to embrace esprit de corps, in the former, likewise, but in a more literary, figurative context?

Was General MacArthur upset with Mr. Clapper for dashing his ambition to be president by questioning in one of his pieces written in January his fitness for the role while extolling his stern virtues as a military officer? Did the pilot and crew of the Avenger actually bail before the crash? Was the other plane into which it collided only a drone? Or, were the pilots and crews aboard both planes somehow also amiss, bound to their fates within the perceptions of their commanders, thus consigned as sacrificial lambs, deliberately set by the coordinates of the missions on collision paths, to take Mr. Clapper on a final ride, that of the Dragon, the monster from the deep, the dark lagoon?

Perhaps, ultimately, how you answer those questions might be determined as a function of your own particular faith and how strongly that faith inheres in your being. We pose the questions only for resolution in your own way, through your set of beliefs and filters.

We find the questions in this instance, without more evidence before us, unanswerable. Yet, posing them leads to clearer thought as to how they might be resolved, at least in the face of more factual information.

We depart from the death of Mr. Clapper with reference to the note of June, 2009 associated with June 11, 1942. The note speaks for itself. We recounted what happened that day as it occurred.

What is the explanation? Should everyone, to avoid unintended but untoward results, stop writing, talking, putting forth music, poetry, art, books--and thus in the process become devoid of thought, insensate beings, Nazis?

The world does not stop spinning. But it is not on a wheel, nor perfectly round. We repeat: it is oblate, throwing weight to its middle by its centrifugal spin about its axis at a rate in excess of 1,000 miles per hour. If you sometimes become dizzy just standing still, that may be part of the explanation, Lizzie.

Some things get thrown off it, some for the better, some for the worse. We no longer, for instance, go to the Colosseum to view the lions fighting the Christians to the death for our enjoyment--"Christians" who included both Protestants and Catholics, as well as Jews, probably, too, a few future Muslims, you dumb hick, dumb Belle hitter and runner. We no longer go to public crucifixions for our pleasure and sense of worth at the pain of a less fortunate. We no longer, in the United States, literally lynch the hapless scapegoat to atone for our sins and weaknesses, a scapegoat who happened to stare too long at the white woman placed for the nonce on a convenient pedestal to excuse the wanton act, all to seek to atone for the mistreatment of the statue in the first place by the murderers.

Yet, there are many conventions which still need to be thrown off the oblate-shaped planet on which we ride daily.

In any event, we are reminded of this one.

Peace to the spirit of Raymond Clapper who was a brave and responsible journalist, one who merely sought to relate a part of the story for the continuing education of mankind.


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