Wednesday, February 16, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, February 16, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the largest air raid in history had transpired the night before with the RAF dropping over Berlin more than 2,800 tons of bombs from 800 to 900 planes. Forty-four British planes were missing. Cloud cover favored the operation, limiting German fighter response, but also adversely affected RAF bombing accuracy.

The entire raid consisted of a thousand bombers and 200 lighter craft, with other contingents striking Frankfurt. Because of intervening poor weather, it was the first major raid on Berlin since January 30. The tonnage eclipsed the previous record drop over Berlin, 2,578 tons on January 20. The previous record raid for the war had been that over Hannover on September 22, dropping 2,800 tons. In fifteen heavy assaults since November 18, Berlin had been hit by approximately 28,000 tons of bombs to this juncture three months later. The RAF had lost 467 bombers in those raids, an average of 31 per mission.

Overall in 1943, disclosed the British Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair, 2,369 RAF planes had been lost over Europe while 997 American planes had not returned, a total of 3,366. In January, 319 British planes and 196 American planes had been lost.

In Italy, the Fifth Army lost Carroceto, also known as Aprilia, ten miles north of Anzio. A lull, however, in the fighting now characterized the beachhead with only patrol activity reported in the areas of Cisterna and Carroceto. The previously reported British advance four miles north of Carroceto to Campoleone, within 16 miles of Rome, had been pushed back by the Wehrmacht.

Allied planes bombed the German positions on the beachhead while Navy ships sent artillery shells into their lines.

Allied bombers hit the rail yards within the suburbs of Rome; Paris radio reported that Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Pope, had been struck the day before.

Despite the immediate setbacks, General Sir Harold Alexander, commander-in-chief of all Allied forces in Italy, stated categorically that the Allies were winning the battle of the Anzio beachhead, even if moving less rapidly than originally hoped upon the successful initial landings at Anzio and Nettuno on January 22.

On the Cassino front, artillery barrages continued against Monte Cassino and the area of the Benedictine Monastery, demolished by bombs dropped from American Flying Fortresses the day before. Some breakthroughs in the German lines were reported on Monte Cassino.

Fighting intensified within the town itself as Allied soldiers began destroying house by house the German concrete pillboxes, from which the enemy aimed their machine-guns by means of periscopes to protect themselves from Allied fire.

In Russia, the Red Army under General Leonid Govorov in the north below Leningrad were fast approaching Pskov, making headway along highways and side roads, a tactic of the Russians in that sector, as the Nazis established their lines within a deep forest southeast of Lake Peipus, necessitating Soviet flanking maneuvers to trap them.

The Red forces were within seventeen miles of Byelaya, on the rail line between Luga and Pskov, and were even closer to Keofilova-Pustin, twelve miles east of Byelaya on the Luga-Pskov Highway. The final drive to Pskov would take place only after the outer ring of defenses was neutralized by taking Byelaya and Keofilova-Pustin.

In the Pacific, landing forces of American and New Zealand troops took the Green Islands on the northern tip of the Solomons, 40 miles northwest of Buka, 230 miles southeast of Kavieng, and 120 miles east of Rabaul, against light enemy resistance as they landed at 8:00 p.m. the night before. The horseshoe-shaped atoll was composed of five coral islands.

The action trapped 22,000 Japanese soldiers on Choiseul, Shortland, Bougainville, and Buka islands, isolating them from their supply route to Rabaul, thus forcing a Hobsonís Choice of either surrender or starvation. The Japanese airfields had been destroyed and the barge traffic to supply and reinforce them had been terminated.

General MacArthur therefore stated that, "for all strategic military purposes", the operation taking the Green Islands concluded the Solomon Islands Campaign, begun August 7, 1942 with the landing at Guadalcanal and continued with the landing at Rendova Island in June, 1943, that beginning operations in the central and northern Solomons, on New Georgia, Choiseul, and Bougainville, landing on the latter at Empress Augusta Bay on November 1.

The General also asserted, when asked by the press whether the Pacific war could be won through air power and blockade, that it definitely could not, that the strongest component of the Japanese military was its Army and thus it would have to be defeated by land troops working in concert with the highly effective air sorties and blockade of supply routes.

Hal Boyle, still on the Cassino front on February 2, tells of a three-man patrol led by one sergeant to reconnoiter the Rapido Valley north and south of Cassino. They encountered a German patrol when they reached a bridge on Highway 6 leading into Cassino. The Nazis held the high ground and opened fire at close range. The American patrol was pinned down into the night, taking refuge in a canal and a water-filled bomb crater until Allied air cover could light their way with flares to return the one and a half miles back to headquarters. The muddy water in the bomb crater, said the sergeant, felt good, even if cold. His first order of business upon return to camp had been to have his uniform cleaned.

And Benito Mussolini told a Japanese reporter that he was sure that the Japanese would understand his sense of duty to honor when he forsook the feelings of his daughter and had his son-in-law, Count Ciano, executed for treason.

Most Honorable Il Duce.

Certainly, therefore, Il Duce could understand why the sense of honor of his own people required that his corpse be hung upside down and stoned, on a public street in Milan in April, 1945.

On the editorial page, "For Peace" comments on the cancellation of a discussion by Dr. George Hartmann of Columbia, scheduled to speak on behalf of the group which he chaired, Peace Now. Threats of breaking up the meeting and assaulting Dr. Hartmann had led to the cancellation of his talk, titled, "Peace Now--Why Not?"

Well, why not?

While the editorial finds the threats of violence to be interfering with Dr. Hartmann's rights to free speech, it also opines that the proposed talk would have been an interference with the cohesive war effort.

Dr. Hartmann was certain that the threats had come from Communists. The piece questions how he had been so certain that they did not originate with American patriots rightly concerned, if too demonstrably so, over such a divisive message.

The message was that the leaders of the nations could strike a peaceful co-existence by meeting in a roundtable discussion to iron out their differences. The editorial found the notion of such a Pax Romana preposterous given the current state of prolonged warfare with the Axis and given its leaders' intransigence--especially as each faced his own assured death by war crimes tribunals after the war.

"Amendments" suggests that more items of post-war planning and revitalization within the community should be included to supplement those already proposed by Charlotte's Mayor.

One city planner had some suggestions, among which was the proposal for construction of badly needed "reception centers" for whites and blacks. "Reception centers" was specifically suggested as more pleasing and commodious nomenclature than "comfort stations".

But just who would be in the segregated reception centers to engage in the reception was not indicated.

"See-Saw" comments on the report issued by Charles Wilson, head of the War Production Board, stating that airplane production in the country had reached new heights while the bombing of Germany had reduced its aircraft production by fifty percent. Moreover, the Eighth Air Force, formerly considered subordinate in Europe to the RAF, had now nearly reached parity in its bombing effort and efficiency of operation in the European theater.

The piece concludes these facts to comprise good news as the invasion of the Continent came nigh.

"November" finds North Carolina Governor Melville Broughton commenting to his fellow Wake Forest alumni at a meeting in Philadelphia that North Carolina might swing to Willkie in 1944 should he become the Republican nominee and should FDR not run for a fourth term. He also foresaw the possibility that the Republican convention might deadlock between Governor Thomas Dewey and Mr. Willkie, in which case Governor John Bricker of Ohio might emerge as a compromise candidate for the Republicans.

The piece accepts the notion that North Carolinians might view favorably Wendell Willkie were FDR not to run, but shudders to think that they might fall in line behind Governor Bricker, the new Warren Harding. Were he to become the nominee of the Republicans, concludes the piece, then any Democrat would serve to woo the voters of the Old North State.

"The Bill" suggests that Finland would find not so hard to swallow the terms of peace offered by Russia. They were unconditional surrender, Soviet occupation of Finland for the duration of the war, cession of the port of Petsamo to Russia, and confinement of German troops still in the country.

While not so bad as it might have been and probably acceptable to Finland, the strict terms nevertheless sent a message to small countries in the future not to get caught geographically in time of war between two great powers.

Samuel Grafton continues his short "book" on why it was preferable after the war to exile the top 100,000 Nazi military and political leaders rather than place them on trial in war crimes tribunals. To do the latter would only protect them by insuring preservation of their rights, would thus have a tendency to diminish revolutionary ardor in Europe just as its stimulus was most strong at the end of the war. In contrast, to place the Nazis and Fascists in exile would deprive them of the glory of trials and enable the revolution to flourish in the face of their segregation from society.

Drew Pearson discusses the principled stand taken before the President by four Congressmen, Lyle Boren of Oklahoma, Joe Hendricks of Florida, Will Rogers, Jr., of California, and John Fogarty of Rhode Island, each of whom desired that FDR rescind his directive that Representatives and Senators could not constitutionally serve the Government in two capacities, in Congress and as a soldier.

The Representatives argued with the President that the Constitution only meant to forbid service in other civil offices of the Government, not in the military, that during World War I, members of Congress were permitted leaves of absence, eleven having obtained them to enter service. The President responded, however, that he, himself, had desired to enter the Navy while Assistant Secretary during President Wilson's tenure in office, but was told by the President that he could not do so, that his services were needed in the Navy Department.

The four also argued that the directive was unfair because, should a member desire to enter service, he would, by resigning his post in Congress, lose all seniority rights.

Moreover, British members of Parliament were granted leaves of absence, indeed eleven of 85 members of Commons in service having been killed in the war. Fully 156 members of the House of Lords were in uniform. Similarly, the Canadian Parliament, and that of New Zealand and Australia, permitted leaves of absence to join the service.

The Congressmen were determined and, if the President would not, as it appeared, relent in his directive, then they would seek legislation to permit leaves of absence and, failing that, would appeal to the leadership to amend the rules of Congress to restore seniority to those who would quit their seats to join the military, should they return to the Congress after the war.

Mr. Pearson next discusses the courage of eighteen Republican Congressmen who bucked their partyís trend, voting for the bill to establish a special Federal ballot for soldiers. Likewise, many Southerners had bucked the trend in the South toward the Statesí Rights bill to return the manner of soldier voting to the several states.

The House bill on States' Rights had been co-sponsored by Congressmen John Rankin of Mississippi, notorious racist, and James Eastland, also of Mississippi, not far behind in his embrace of segregationist dogma.

Among the several House members from the South voting for the Federal ballot measure were Albert Gore of Tennessee, John Sparkman of Alabama, the future Senator and 1952 vice-presidential running mate to Senator Adlai Stevenson, Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, future Senator and running mate in 1956 with Senator Stevenson, and Lyndon Johnson of Texas, future Senator, Majority Leader, Vice-President and President.

Despite the victory for the Rankin-Eastland States' Rights bill being hailed as indication of the Republican coalition with Southern Democrats, many Democratic delegations, those of Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky, had voted almost unanimously against the measure, favoring the Federal ballot for soldiers.

House Minority Leader Joe Martin of Massachusetts had stood firmly in favor of eliminating a roll call vote on the Federal ballot bill, initial approval of which anonymity by the House had been overturned by subsequent vote after a hue and cry developed against it in the press and across the country, as well raised by FDR.

Sounding paradoxical, Congressman Martin had, says Mr. Pearson, commented at the beginning of the session on January 5 that he supported the Federal bill to enable the soldiers to vote.

--Man behind the counter in a tunic coat with runic lore wants five cents; you only got four.

A grief ago,
She who was who I hold, the fats and the flower,
Or, water-lammed, from the scythe-sided thorn,
Hell wind and sea,
A stem cementing, wrestled up the tower,
Rose maid and male,
Or, master venus, through the paddler's bowl
Sailed up the sun;

Who is my grief,
A chrysalis unwrinkling on the iron,
Wrenched by my fingerman, the leaden bud
Shot through the leaf,
Was who was folded on the rod the aaron
Road east to plague,
The horn and ball of water on the frog
Housed in the side.

And she who lies,
Like exodus a chapter from the garden,
Brand of the lily's anger on her ring,
Tugged through the days
Her ropes of heritage, the wars of pardon,
On field and sand
The twelve triangles of the cherub wind
Engraving going.

Who then is she,
She holding me? The people's sea drives on her,
Drives out the father from the caesared camp;
The dens of shape
Shape all her whelps with the long voice of water,
That she I have,
The country-handed grave boxed into love,
Rise before dark.

The night is near,
A nitric shape that leaps her, time and acid;
I tell her this: before the suncock cast
Her bone to fire,
Let her inhale her dead, through seed and solid
Draw in their seas,
So cross her hand with their grave gipsy eyes,
And close her fist.

--Dylan Thomas, 1936

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