Wednesday, February 2, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, February 2, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that American forces had landed on Kwajalein both in positions north and south on the largest atoll of the Marshalls. The Fourth Division Marines, under the command of Maj.-General Harry Schmidt, landed in the north near the Japanese air base at Roi, while Army infantry, under the command of Maj.-General Charles Corlett, landed near Kwajalein Islet, sixty miles to the south of Roi.

Rear Admiral Richmon K. Turner, commander of the naval amphibious forces, indicated that the landings had gone so smoothly that the forces could either assault the Japanese positions or wait for attrition to set in.

Kwajalein was the central Japanese fortification within the numerous atolls of the Marshalls and a central block to the Allies against further sea and amphibious operations toward Truk, 1,200 miles to the southwest, and Tokyo, 2,700 miles to the northwest.

New York Times correspondent Robert Trumbull reported that the landing forces met little resistance, after heavy air and naval bombardment, beginning at dawn on Monday, on Roi and Namur islands, a mile apart and connected by a sandbar, had cleared the beaches of all except occasional sniper nests. The islands received the most concentrated bombing in the history of naval warfare, 5,000 tons. At 9:51 a.m. on Monday, the Marines first went ashore on Namur, two years to the day since the ships of Admiral Nimitz first shelled the Marshalls. During the day, five small islands in the vicinity were taken, each with little or no resistance, the Marines walking upright onto the last of them, at 6:24 p.m., secured by 8:12.

Charles McMurtry of the Associated Press reported that the ease of the landing operations should not deceive the public that the taking of the Marshalls would be accomplished in three days as with the Gilberts. The Japanese had a far more intricate network of fortifications within the islands and had been securing them for a much longer time than the Gilberts. The most immediate air threat to the operations would be from Kusale Island in the Carolines to the west and Wake Island to the north, both of which had been heavily bombed to neutralize that threat.

In Italy, the fighting continued in the same areas as reported the previous day, with French and American troops north of Cassino converging to advance further in a wedge through the Nazisí Gustav Line. In the Anzio-Nettuno sector to the northwest, fighting by the British continued on the outskirts of Campoleone and by the Americans at Cisterna, as the Allies repulsed a strong German counter-attack west of Littoria.

Captain Herschell Green of Mayfield, Ky., was reported to have distinguished himself as a fighter pilot by dispatching six Luftwaffe planes in a matter of a mere fifteen minutes in fighting over Italy.

In Russia, the Red Army, under General Leonid Govorov, continued its advance westward from captured Kingisepp, reports suggesting that the Baltic troops had moved into Estonia.

The Supreme Soviet provided to the sixteen republics comprising the Soviet Union the authority to deal separately with foreign nations and to raise their own armies, a move toward autonomy of each of the republics which observers suggested might prove a diplomatic coups, enabling the U.S.S.R. to wield enormous influence in any post-war United Nations organization.

In a roll call vote, the Senate defeated decisively an offered amendment to the Presidentís absentee-soldier vote bill, an amendment which would have left to the states determination of the validity of Federal ballots. (This defeat, no doubt, pleased Senator James Eastland of Mississippi who two days earlier had stated this provision to be "absolutely unconstitutional and utterly void", even if he had other thoughts about the proposed bill itself.)

Encouraging of the security of the country's shipyards, the police chief of Somerville, N.J., reported that the plans for Navy destroyers and destroyer escorts were found by two boys in a storm drain close by the train station.

Whether a deceased individual named Harry Lime was seen nevertheless in the flesh ducking into the shadows of a nearby doorway, was not related.

Frederick Snyder, Nostradamus of his day obviously, having predicted in February, 1941 at a Rotary Club meeting in Buffalo a Japanese attack, now asserted at another Buffalo club that the Japanese would not be defeated until 1947.

He did not foresee the mushroom-shaped cloud in his visions of the future. He had not read enough of Alice or even viewed with sufficient perspective the vanishing point within a painting by Titian--unless, that is, your roving eye was attached to something else.

Hal Boyle reports on the differences between the terrain experienced by the troops in Sicily during July and August and that in Italy below Rome. The mountains were steeper and less easily traversed in Italy, and were defended far more tenaciously by the Germans, more of whom were defending the hills and mountains of Italy than in Sicily.

He goes further to explain how, with several colonels passing through a yard, a WAC in an upper window proceeded to hang out her stockings and pink panties, the colonels the while remaining oblivious, as rapt attention to the ritual was being paid by some of the enlisted men across the way. As the WAC waved to the men in recognition of their apparent awe and admiration, the pink panties fluttered in the breeze above the colonelsí heads.

A psychology professor and dean of the University of Pennsylvania College for Women stated that he was using the 1943 novelty song "Mairzy Doats" as example by which "to illustrate the meaning of the meaningless". His students, however, preferred to substitute "Goatzy", for unstated and thus meaningless reasons. He also stated that the new song craze had spoiled the use of the old nursery rhyme for classroom purposes, as now all of the students were hepcatted to the lyrics. By implication, prior to the popularity of the song, they had difficulty.

Well, we confess that, until last night, we had never heard of this song, let alone heard the song itself. And, candidly, we are sorry now that we have. Songs such as "Mairzy Doats" should be banned; they stick in your head, as the Doublemint Gum advertisement of the 1960's, which we do not even wish to hear again right now and so you will have to look it up for yourself should you not be familiar with it. But be forewarned: you will never be the same. That wriggly figure will be stuck in your mind for the remainder of your days, distracting you, dangerously so, even should you live to be 954.

"Mairzy Doats" had to be erased from our mind today by listening to a lot of other antidotal and anecdotal and antipodal music possessed of a more edifying content and complexity of melody. As a result, we could not continue last night with reading the day's pages for the interference of "Mairzy Doats", coming tunefully into our head every other sentence read, and so now are another day behind as a result of this sick and silly song, which indubitably led to several subsequent pathologically motivated homicides for registering ineradicably on the subconscious of its dedicated listeners.

We are tempted to change the cloying lyrics somewhat, to embrace a horse, bulls, and pans, but shall resist the temptation.

When we were coming of age, we were confronted daily on the radio with songs of social relevance and import, serious, enlightening, chocked full of mind-nurturing lyrics of consequence, gravity, and fulsome generational self-realization contraposing to ontological angst in need of the thusly conveyed teleological catharsis, even if on occasion there was that ringer, possessed of the unfortunate allusion to drugs, attempting to insinuate itself surreptitiously, resistlessly, if only adventitiously, to interfere with the blooming cradle of illuminating renascence, and thus which had to be resisted as Ulysses tied to the mast before the Sirens, while coursing between Scylla and Charybdis.

"Mairzy Doats" just goats to shoats that the older generation was, when all is said and done, a bit frivolous, low-brow, and, at times, downright unsivilously so.

On the editorial page, "Dissent" examines the small sample of political opinion of the soldiers which Raymond Clapper found aboard his LST headed to New Britain. Most of the men favored Roosevelt in 1944, but with reservations not to be overlooked. Some were not planning to vote for him at all. The exceptions primarily pertained to the Administration not taking tough action to put down the calling of strikes--especially those armed by the umwire.

The editorial concludes from the unscientific random sample that there was a great disconnect between the soldiers and the people at home in how they viewed domestic matters. There was a great and single-minded clarity to be obtained on the frontlines.

"The 99th" gives notice and praise to the 99th Air Squadron, the famed Tuskegee Airmen, for its role in providing air cover for the Nettuno beachhead, shooting down eight of the 25 German planes shot down by the Allied forces. It was the first major engagement in which the crews trained at Tuskegee had been involved.

"The Ex-Duce" finds the echoes of Mussoliniís voice on the radio urging Italians to continue to fight to save Rome from the Allies to be hollow and lost, no longer appealing to the largest part of the Italian populace, desirous of freedom from the Nazi yoke.

"The Jews" reminds, in the wake of anti-Semitic hysteria raising its ugly head within the country during recent months, that at least two Jews, Luis de Santagel, chancellor of the Spanish royal household in 1490, and Gabriel Sanchez, treasurer of Aragon, were both highly influential in obtaining from Ferdinand and Isabella the royal imprimatur and patronage for the voyage of Columbus. Jews were responsible for collecting the funds to support the voyage.

By the time of the American Revolution, despite there being only 3,000 Jews in the country, several were instrumental in the War for Independence. Among them was Major Benjamin Nones, on the staffs of both Lafayette and Washington. Haym Solomon, without charging interest, kept the Revolution financed. James Madison attributed his solvency to Mr. Solomon.

Beginning in the 1840's, there were a large number of Jewish immigrants from Germany to the young nation, many of whom fought with the Union in the Civil War, three of whom becoming delegates to the 1860 Republican Convention.

Many of the Jews in the country by 1840 were of Spanish and Portuguese heritage and were well-established. Senator David Levy Yulee of Florida had been elected in 1840. Judah P. Benjamin was a Senator from Louisiana at the outbreak of the Civil War and held several important posts in the Confederacy, including Secretary of State. The Quartermaster General and Surgeon General of the Confederacy also were Jews.

The third major immigration wave of Jews came from Eastern Europe around 1880. During the ensuing forty years, the Jewish population grew from 700,000 to two million. In 1944, there were five million Jews in the country, making up four percent of the population. They were spread unevenly through the land, a heavier concentration in New York, 17 percent, with 28 percent in New York City, while in the South, the number comprised only a half to one percent of the population, in other areas, varying between 2.5 percent in California to four to six percent in the Northeast corridor.

"The Ladies" gives praise to the New York Legislature for its passage of a bill to provide women in industry equal pay with men for the performance of equal work. It was responsible progress, says the piece, long overdue. Women in war industry in Britain were reported by industrialists to be working with greater efficiency under pressure than men. Similar reports had been received in the United States.

The editorial expresses the hope that the trend would spread and the belief that over time it would.

Samuel Grafton contrasts the celebration ongoing in Russia regarding the end of the siege of Leningrad with the grim mood characterizing the United States, regardless of victories won. The joint report by the Army and Navy on the atrocities occurring during the Bataan Death March was being touted by many as a morale-building factor. Mr. Grafton winces at the notion, indicating that morale should be built from positive gains, not from emotional outbursts and expressions of anger regarding setbacks or, in the case at hand, belated disclosure of inhumane treatment of American prisoners of war, whom the Japanese, according to the sources of the report, chose instead to view as war criminals.

Drew Pearson looks ahead to the Republican Convention and assays its delegates to be split roughly evenly three ways between New York Governor Thomas Dewey, Ohio Governor John W. Bricker, and Wendell Willkie. The Southern delegates were held by Ohio Senator Robert Taft and would likely be handed over in whole to Governor Bricker. Conventional wisdom had it that the convention would wind up split between the conservative-isolationist side of Dewey and Taft, including Bricker, and the liberal-interventionist leg, represented by Mr. Willkie.

With the convention thusly split, it might turn to a dark horse, the most prominent among whom was Senator Harold Burton of Ohio, later appointed by President Truman to the Supreme Court. Senator Burton was an internationalist, having been among the co-sponsors of the bill to provide the Senate's stamp of approval to the Moscow Agreements made in late October at the Foreign Ministers' Conference.

Mr. Pearson next provides the inside scoop on that which transpired leading up to the decision of Argentina to sever diplomatic relations at long last with the Axis. The State Department and the President had, in mutual consultation, determined to freeze all Argentine assets in the United States. The U.S. banks then alerted the Argentine Government underneath the rose and, to save itself economically, voila!

Diplomats, however, still expressed the opinion that the Argentine would continue its pro-Axis propaganda, spying efforts, and anti-U.S. propaganda within Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay.

Raymond Clapper, on the day he would lose his life while observing during a bombing mission over the Marshall Islands, has a story printed which he had written earlier for periods in transit or under fire. He continues to relate of the trip from New Guinea to Cape Gloucester on New Britain aboard an LST. There were two pet dogs aboard, one a black cocker spaniel named Laddie, and the other a fox terrier named Mickey.

The LST carried C-rations and other foodstuffs for the troops, as well as "Alligators", the small tracked vehicles which could negotiate the swampy terrain of Cape Gloucester.

Onboard were black and white troops mingling with one another. A couple of the black soldiers were engaged in a game of checkers.

Mr. Clapper's last piece, which would appear in The News February 11, was prefaced with the advice from the editors that he appeared to have foreseen his death on the mission he was about to undertake. We have not yet read it and so will await along with you what Mr. Clapper said in that regard.

He was the fourth syndicated columnist appearing on the editorial page of The News to depart since December 1939, when Heywood Broun died at age 51 of pneumonia. Hugh Johnson had died at age 60 on April 15, 1942. Paul Mallon had been retired from the page at the end of 1942, in favor of Samuel Grafton. Mr. Mallon would also die at a relatively young age, 49, in 1950. And, of course, W. J. Cash died in Mexico just a little more than a month after departure from his duties as associate editor at The News. The war impacted everyone in the country, not just those brave soldiers facing the bullets on the front lines.

Mr. Clapper, a native of Kansas, had begun his career at the Kansas City Star, which he references in the piece appearing this date, a copy of which newspaper happened to be in the possession of one of the ensigns onboard the LST. Mr. Clapper was 51 years old. His death, resultant of a mid-air collision between American planes, would be reported the following day.

Incidentally, we were not trying to be cute in selecting among our silly songs above Roger Miller's "Kansas City Star". While somewhere in the back of our mind, we had the fact tucked away that Mr. Clapper had begun his career at the newspaper of that name, it was not within our conscious intent to make the association when we chose that particular among the several silly but entertaining songs written and recorded by Roger Miller. We leave it, for what it's worth. We do not know to what Mr. Clapper's musical taste tended as he never mentioned it, save once noting a player of a concertina outside his office window in Washington. But perhaps on occasion he liked the absurd and ridiculous, as surely as the entire war itself, in which he died bravely, was.

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