Saturday, February 12, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, February 12, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, despite the persistence of rain and cloud cover halting Allied air operations, Allied warships pounding the German lines in the Anzio sector had repulsed some of the advancing German troops while the infantry had fought to a stalemate during the previous few days. The only Nazi attack the previous day was one repulsed west of Cisterna against the American lines.

CBS radio correspondent John Daly, future host of "What's My Line?", stated that, after four anxious days, the core of the Allied beachhead below Rome remained secure.

The weather had rendered the ground so soggy that the German tanks could not operate efficiently, ending for the nonce the hit-and-run operations for which the tanks had been utilized of late with effectiveness.

During the afternoon of this day, the sun began to peek through the clouds, suggesting that soon Allied air operations might resume.

In the Cassino sector, American troops moved to within a mile of the Via Casilina, the road to Rome, and were storming the hillsides with greater strength to rid the German defenders.

The status of the fight for the Anzio beachhead, reported A.P. correspondent Edward Kennedy, was not good, but it appeared the Fifth Army could hold long enough for the troops on the Cassino front to break through the German lines and join the fight from the rear. The situation, while serious, was not so dire as that encountered by the Fifth Army during the initial days after the Salerno landings when the Germans nearly drove the Allies back into the sea during early September. It was not so bad as in North Africa in summer 1942 when Rommel chased the British Eighth Army two-thirds of the way across North Africa to El Alamein.

The Germans were desperate for a major victory to sell at home and thus were pouring now all of their best troops into the fight above Anzio.

From Russia, more details arrived of the Red Army victory at Shepetovka, taken the previous day by Nikolai Vatutin’s First Ukrainian Army, as other forces continued their move toward the center of the German ring around Korson, west of Cherkasy, into which now were trapped up to 150,000 German soldiers.

A joint force of American Liberators and RAF fighters again struck the coast of Northern France at Pas-de-Calais. The heavy raids on Germany temporarily had ceased since January 30 because of bad weather.

Following the lead of the House, the Senate voted 43 to 28 to cut off food subsidies, contrary to the position advocated by the Administration. The President was expected to veto the measure.

Hal Boyle tells of a makeshift traffic officer from Boston keeping traffic flowing around the curve in front of the house he occupied on the Cassino front. He went inside the house and abandoned his duties whenever shells started falling near the trucks. In that event, they had to unsnarl themselves.

Mr. Boyle also reports of the new German mines being discovered in the area, dubbed “Sohu mines”. They would explode under the pressure of the foot, blowing the foot off at the ankle and shredding the leg up to the knee. Prior to this time, the Germans had used in North Africa and Sicily the “bouncing baby” mine, buried canisters filled with steel balls which flew as shrapnel when tripped.

Mr. Boyle finds tank repair crews suffering through harrowing conditions trying to tow stalled tanks to the rear for remedy. The Nazis regularly opened fire on them as they tried to attach the tow cables, even fired on them at night.

On the editorial page, "The Gaps" stresses three areas in which Japanese strength had notably declined in recent weeks: the 150-mile Bougainville-Buka gap in the northern Solomons, the 370-mile gap between Cape Gloucester and the Arawa Peninsula on New Britain, and the 200-mile gap between Madang and Wewak on New Guinea. Enemy activity in these areas was now sparse and limited primarily to defensive operations. Inland operations on New Britain and Bougainville had now penetrated to a depth of 25 miles, no longer creeping at a snail's pace.

As these positions protected the route north to Truk and to the Philippines, once they were thoroughly conquered, the way to those critical Japanese positions would be opened.

"Detour" comments on the efforts of America's clergy to save the youth of the country from damnation by banning female wrestlers and walkathons. Female wrestling shows amounted, they contended, to no more than burlesque--or as Raymond Clapper's favorite song from Oklahoma! called it, "Burleycue". Walkathons, they said, were attended only by morons.

There was plainly Trouble in River City and with a capital "T". The solution, no doubt, lay in the cutting and distribution of more Sinatra records.

"Oh, Johnny" finds only political motivation in the criticism by Ohio Governor John W. Bricker, candidate for the Republican nomination for president, leveled against the British press for its favoring re-election of FDR for a fourth term, premised on the notion that it would not upset the existing applecart with respect to the Allies.

Governor Bricker had suggested that the British ought leave American politics to the American voter and bug off.

The editorial asserts that, had the British press found suitable timber among the potential contenders to exceed the leadership capabilities demonstrated by President Roosevelt during the war, they would have favored that candidate instead of the President. There was no need for self-censorship by the British press.

"Memories" looks back to observations by various politicians on the prospect of FDR's running for a third term in 1940 and to events of the time, by way of comparison to matters extant in 1944, finds that while everything had changed, everything pretty much remained the same.

Thus, while the carpers carped and predicted the end of Roosevelt in November, the editorial saw no reason why the President would not garner about the same electoral majority, 449 to 82, as against Wendell Willkie in 1940.

In fact, the result in the electoral college was not much different in 1944, 432 to 99 versus Governor Thomas Dewey of New York, even if the popular vote had narrowed to the closest margin for FDR of his four elections to the office, 53.4% to 45.9%, compared to 54.7% to 44.7% in 1940. The President's 1932 and 1936 elections, respectively over Hebert Hoover and Alf Landon, were by landslides.

Dorothy Thompson examines the forward looking Soviet Union, much in the same light as had Samuel Grafton the previous day, finding its foreign policy far advanced over the stultifying trend now followed by the United States, most visibly characterized by tenderness toward former or current Fascists, in Italy, in North Africa, in Spain.

Should the U.S. lead with its domestic policy, it would set an example for the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, one which would cause them to resist the tempting pull of the newly energized Soviet Union and gravitate instead to the West, without the necessity of armies of occupation and formal re-education of the German masses.

Should the country instead, however, "turn our fight for freedom into a fight for power based on markets, oil, and capital investments, we are going to head straight into World War III with the Soviet Union."

Drew Pearson discusses the President's reassurance provided Congressional representatives of the Pacific Northwest that the region, and the Western United States generally, would not be forgotten in the post-war environment insofar as government support for industrial development.

Mr. Pearson also looks at an amendment proposed by Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, a former isolationist, to include in the bill establishing the fund for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, relief to the starving masses of India. India had agreed to contribute 35 million dollars to the fund and thus should share in the benefits. Enough members of Congress had switched their positions to support the Mundt amendment that it would become law, despite initial opposition by Britain and thus by the State Department to inclusion of India in the distribution of relief.

Samuel Grafton begs of his readers to be allowed once again to use "obscurantism", abandoned because of complaints of its too complicated meaning. For he finds examples of the dodging art continually cropping up in the prints: the advocacy by some newspapers that the U.S. exchange Japanese prisoners of war for American civilians held in Japanese prison camps; contradictory claims that the American military was withholding crucial facts about the war from the public and that the maintenance of gasoline rationing was only to underscore to the American people the serious state of the war; the notion that food scarcity was on the horizon in the country, coupled with the proposition that the storage facilities for food were bursting at their seams; that the country ought send more planes to the Pacific theater, taking them away from Europe, while plumping also for even more bombing of the Continent, to obviate the necessity for invasion.

All of this obscurantist dogma, asserts Mr. Grafton, was still in need of a word to embrace it, and no better word had yet come to his mind than "obscurantism".

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